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NOISE GROWS UP SO FAST: MELVINS & UNSANE AT WEBSTER HALL IN NYC, 4/29/12

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Too many folks have an unfortunate chip on their stupid shoulders about noise rock. “Ohh, it’s too screechy” some say, “why can’t there be more harmony and/or pleasurable melody?”

Well, admittedly on some level they have a point. But in another more open-minded way, these naysayers are missing out on a daring subgenre that deserves all of our patience and ears.

Thankfully certain bands have safely fused the gap between cacophony and dulcet tones, bringing stellar musicianship alongside groundbreaking experimentation.  It’s usually such acts that pave the way for new generations of fans and bands alike. And since 1983, the grandaddies of one such innovative sound has undeniably been the muthafuckin Melvins.

This legendarily goofy yet ridonkulously rockin outfit brings an unexpected level of groove and syncopation to its fierce riffage that can’t be fucked with. I had heard initially that the band would be playing this tour as a trio (aka Melvins Lite, w/Trevor Dunn on bass — rumor has it this lineup plans to release an album entitled Freak Puke in June of 2012 on Ipecac Records), which was disappointing but thankfully inaccurate news; guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osbourne & drummer/vocalist Dale Crover were joined once again by the thunderous rhythm section duo known as Big Business (a part of the group since 2006), and the Melvins tore through mostly new songs to a largely enthusiastic crowd.

Yes, several diehard fans seemed to find this particular show a tad snoozy, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree: the band seemed to have more energy than ever, and ripped through now-trademark mirror’d dual drumset jams & 4-part vocal harmonies with a playful sense of humor. Some notable older faves that made the setlist included “The Bit” and “A History of Bad Men”.

With equally poofy crops of curls and a shared display of maximum rockage, onstage Buzz and bassist/vocalist Jared Warren seem like father and son, save for the former’s regular garb of intergalactic robe from planet what-the-fuck. But there is something about this elder-meets-protege vibe (also present with the two drummers) that is extremely endearing and frankly unique.

Local NYC noise legends Unsane opened, sadly missing a crucial piece of the puzzle as drummer Vinnie Signorelli was in the hospital. Our best wishes go out to him for a speedy recovery.

Big Business/Melvins second drummer Coady Willis started the set with Unsane as a trio, but things didn’t seem fully kicked into gear for the band until he swapped himself out for Crover, and subsequently BOTH drummers (setting the stage for the headliner’s notorious/glorious drum jamz).  Unsane rocked a solid run of gritty dissonant songs that perfectly paved the way for the awesome might and contrastingly positive mood of the Melvins.

All in all, a largely enjoyable night of confidently comfortable and soothing noise.

-KW

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