Written by Samuel Barker
Nov 15, 2006 at 08:00 PM
ImageIt’s quite the accomplishment to stay on the cutting edge of music for any amount of time, but for the Melvins, it has been 20 years of pushng the envelope of hard rock.

With the exit of bassist Kevin Rutmanis, the band invited Big Business to comprise the rhythm section of the band. However, Dale Crover stayed on to drum and give the band a double drum attack. While many bands do this in a gimmicky way, the Melvins have used it to increase the power and aggression of their sound.

Though all the tribal-like beats and solid bass playing, guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osbourne creates a wall of fuzz-laden riffage that defies common sense. When most guitarists would spend a great deal of time showing off their solo and lead abilities, King Buzzo simply shreds through a few bars of a blazing lead and then drops back to the heavy solid riffage that is the signature of the Melvins.

For a band that once prided themselves on their sludgy version of heavy rock in the face of speedy metal and hardcore, the Melvins have kicked the songs up a notch over the years to keep the sound progressing. Old favorite, Revolve, saw a solid speed-up that made the song take on a bit of a new life.

The real treat of the night was hearing the songs from their new album, A Senile Animal, in the live format. On album, a lot of the dynamic of the dual drummers and trading vocals are lost in the mix. Live, however, the songs blow the listener away as the sounds are more divided to show the uniqueness of each part.

For a band I’ve seen 3 times now, it’s amazing that I am still shocked and amazed as a listener while being envious as a musician. Few bands can maintain a solid level of excellence, let alone keep the bar rising over the years like the Melvins have.

Before King Buzzo hit the stage, Big Business performed with Dale Crover adding some guitar on a couple songs to the duo’s drums and bass.

I’d never seen nor heard Big Business before, but as a former fan of the Murder City Devils, I was excited to see Coady Willis’ supurb drumming on display and see how Jarred Warren’s bass parts could fill out the sound without guitar helping along. Of course, as I stated earlier, Crover from the Melvins was out on stage for the second time of the night helping the band out on a few songs, but it was more as an extra topping, as the band was killing the audience as a duo.

At times, the band touched on sludgy rock songs and at times I felt a Minutemen vibe as Warren played some steady basslines and quickly talked his way through the lyrics. The set was awesome and fed directly into a seemless transition to the Melvins.

Opening the show was Porn. Not until today did I know this was Dale Crover’s side band, but even knowing that, my opinion is not the least bit swayed. This band was pointless.

I hate to use a phrase like that, but it’s the only way to describe it. I brought a friend to the show last night and he stared at me with contempt as he thought this was the Melvins. Luckily I diffused the situation and he realized this was just some sort of toll to pay for the rest of the show.

Experimental rock is great. There is nothing better than improvisation, toying with feedback and pushing the sonic envelope. However, there is a point where it becomes weirdness for the sake of being weird. The complete abandon of song structure, melody and relevance destroyed the set. The boat sounds and feedback played through the speakers between sets was much more enjoyable than what we were all subjected to.

As with anything Crover does, the drums are solid. Even through an Elvis costume, Crover was able to bring some killer drum beats. However, when these drum beats are met with nothing of any value, the whole piece is lost. Except for the occassional chord, the guitarist, doning a Santa Claus costume was just a ball of noise. Literally sitting the guitar down on the ground would have accomplished the same effect of just providing feedback and noise. The best way to describe his sound would be to envision the melody provided by a monkey trying to fuck a guitar that is plugged in and ran through a pedal board.

The bassist had no obvious use. Perhaps he’s a good friend of Crover, he rarely played anything and looked pretty bored for the most part. And that is where a lot was lost. Perhaps if the band looked more intense and like they weren’t just 3 guys doing the musical equivilent of jerking off on stage, it could have been better. But, they didn’t look it and they weren’t good.