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Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Melvins! 25th anniversary show 5/15/2009

Thank you for all patiently waiting but after almost a three month lay off we’re back in business. I would like to welcome you all to the eleventh installment of the Jay Porks Never Ending

Concert Series which brings us back to Webster Hall to witness The Melvins on their 25th anniversary tour advertised as playing “Houdini in its entirety”.


Shocked by the turnout; utterly stunned is more the phrase. Doors are set to open at 6:30 with the Melvins hitting the stage at 8 and I’m on line at 6 o clock, on a line that is stretching down the block just about to 4th avenue (The door is closer to 3rd avenue on East 11th). I seriously thought that it would be me and about seven other people there. I didn’t know the Melvins were big in NY, considering that for four months I’ve been telling people I’m going to see them and there response would be only a puzzled look.


So I’m inside, it’s about 7PM. After I hit coat check I head upstairs to the floor area and I  begin to notice the subtle difference between this show and other. I can honestly say that I didn’t see not one person I would label as a “hipster” but instead saw a sea of people from all shapes and sizes: Long hair with skull caps, bald guys with Santa Claus beards and most importantly- saw a few dudes in flannel. I was taking note of the band tee shirts I saw fans sporting as they came in. From the likes of Kiss and the Ramones to the token Led Zeppelin tee shirt on Mr. Macho Man over there downing his beer. I mean, I knew I’d see a Nirvana tee shirt and even the Sonic Youth, but I wasn’t expecting to see the Wu-Tang shirt. I like the eclectics. But what I’d like to know is where in the world did that one dude get the Devo shirt? That shit was one hundred percent cool. I even saw a Wipers tee shirt. I swear, besides the $7 draft beers and the balloons hanging from the ceiling along with the chandeliers; I now feel as if I’m at a true Melvins show.


So it’s about 8:10, 8:15 and the place is packed to the point where I am leaned up against a wall bent over some....some… thing-I can’t even name it, it was like a big block sort of, with like a foot of space between it and the wall. That’s what I was using to write my notes on. Note to self: don’t take notes in the dark because it all makes no sense when you read it later at home.


     And the clock strikes 8:16, and here they are ladies and gentleman: THE MELVINS! There’s Buzz Osbourne with his crazy hair and nutty looking self.  He plays a Les Paul Custom, as usual. Over the years the Melvins have undergone some line-up changes if you will, but this is the original Melvins line-up from like 1983. Buzz puts it “The original, original drummer Mike Dillard! Who has just gotten out of prison”. Mike Dillard drummed on a demo for Kurt Cobain’s first band, “Fecal Matter”. “On bass we have Matt Lukin who has just gotten out of prison-and needs a place to stay”. Matt Lukin would go on to form the band Mudhoney after leaving the Melvins in 1988. Buzz to start off the night says something to the effect of “This is our 25th anniversary tour….and uhhh…I was thinking man that’s a long time. Why the hell did I do this?  I could have done anything. I could have been a fucking lawyer like three times already!” while the crowd laughs he says “ We’re going to first play some stuff that we used to play like way back in 83, 84. back then I used to be totally drunk performing these songs so…”

      Those first couple of songs, the old school ones before they went into Houdini was some really cool sounding stuff. More punk rock-ish, but at the same time not as punk as advertised. It was faster paced too, unlike a lot of their later stuff. But man it was hard rocking. I bet Buzz couldn’t play those songs like THAT back in 1983.  It was so rocking that I hadn’t noticed Lukin leave the stage at about 8:40. The absence of the bass was a non factor, Buzz and Dillard were just getting at it, as if they didn’t just recently reunite after 20 something years. Also not to be lost in translation here, there is an extra drum on each side of the stage, and at times the drummers get going into cool beat sessions. Then 9 o clock and Lukin is back and they get into the performance of Houdini (which I’m certain they threw other songs in there) starting off with “Hooch”. I have to say throughout the set, the drumming from beginning to end was intensely vicious, and they had a hug cymbal behind the drum set which was used in one song. At first hit you can tell this thing is going to fall over. Sure enough a few minutes later, I think it was during “Hag Me”, that the thing fell over backwards and the crowd, of course, we all cheered loudly in love with destruction. My opinion, from the roars of the crowd on each song, “Set me Straight” and “Lizzy” were the biggest fan favorites of the night. It’s a great song. Lots of quiet-loud-quiet dynamics there. Both Dillard and Lukin sang lots of harmony(can you call it ‘harmony’ when it’s as sludgy as the Melvins?). To put it to people who don’t know much-imagine Black Sabbath with a  Fuzz box. Buzz riffs heavily while maintaining elements of experimental noise and lots and lots and lots of feedback. Towards the end Buzz walks off stage at about 9:48 and two drummers drum along with Dillard (I’m assuming one of them in Lukin, but I’m stuff in a corner) and they jam for a while. It’s extraordinarily continuous and that’s when I look to the far left and notice that Buzz hasn’t really left the stage, he’s just chillin out behind the amp watching them rock. Around ten he came out and they did their last song and after that Buzz thanked the crowd and said “and now we leave you with a killer bass solo” and he walks off as Lukin plays a pretty cool solo. I noticed he faded out around 10:08 and they unplugged the gear as we all filed out.  


What a show; what an atmosphere. True Melvins fans rocking out to Melvins tunes. No one left disappointed. I hopped took a cab to the ferry, first time I ever hailed a cab in my life. I’m a high roller now I do those sorts of things. I kid, of course. Anyway, it’s a very quick turnaround as the Jay Porks Never ending Concert Series moves to the Music Hall of Williamsburg for the “Vaselines” May 18th. Thanks for reading if you did. 

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