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SHOW REVIEW: MELVINS AT SPACELAND IN LOS ANGELES, JANUARY 28, 2011

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Melvins’ January 28 show in Los Angeles was a victory lap within a victory lap. It was Stoner Witch night, the final installment of a month-long residency that found the still-relevant, still mindfucking metal crew play a different Melvins album in its entirety each night. It was also a high-profile sendoff to the outgoing Spaceland Productions, which announced they would cede the venue to new management and a new name (The Satellite) not long after King Buzzo and bassist Jared Warren banged their respective ‘fros for the last time.

The short first set was business as usual, including a helping of tunes from their 2010 chart-bottoming album The Bride Screamed Murder, and a killer sludgification of Flipper’s “Sacrifice,” committed to tape on Melvins’ 1992 platter Lysol. The place was packed and sweaty long before intermission hit, and it only got more so once Warren re-entered to begin the bassline to “Lividity,” Stoner Witch’s final track. My girlfriend opted to avoid heat exhaustion and moved upstairs to watch the festivities from behind a glass wall.

If this full airing of a stone-cold (Stoner-cold?) classic album was one of the must-see metal shows of the season, everyone seemed to acknowledge it but the Melvins. There were no explosions, no surprises (the second Spaceland gig featured a cameo from Mastodon’s Brent Hinds) and a minimum of stage banter, even while the band was waiting to repair a vocal mic that blew out during “Skweetis.” Buzzo’s guitar solo on “Revolve” destroyed the recorded version, and Coady Willis’s second set of drums made the doomy crawl of “At the Stake” even heavier. But aside from that, Melvins offered up nothing more or less than solid performances of songs that King Buzzo and Dale Crover have been playing for nearly two decades.

Admittedly, my perception that this was a merely workmanlike Melvins concert probably had less to do with any lack of effort on their part, and more to do with the band’s sky-high standards of weirdness. Any other band whose singer/guitarist performed in a Snuggie covered in colorful donkeys, or whose two drummers played in feathered gladiator regalia, would get immediate thumbs up. Maybe I should be grateful that Melvins refused to treat this hallowed material with any special regard– it shows that they don’t give a shit about nostalgia. Nor should they, since they’re still pumping out quality albums. Maybe hearing some of my favorite music played live should be enough. The five beardos jerking around in the weaksauce moshpit certainly thought so.

The band ended off with a doo-wop version of “Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite” that found Warren repeating “duh-duh-duh” nasally, long after his bandmates had left the stage. 27 years in, and Melvins are still kicking ass and irritating the fuck out of people. Keep at it, gentlemen.

-SR

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