There’s a reason Kurt Cobain liked these guys so much. Of course, when I say “these guys,” I’m talking about the Melvins. The seminal art-metalers from Montesano tore through their sold-out Webster Hall set last night with theatrical finesse, combining spectacle and sound in a very thrilling way. There was no time for chatter but plenty of time for an onslaught of sludgy magic.
By now, fans have gotten to know the band’s most recent incarnation, featuring Big Business alums Jared Warren (bass) and Coady Willis (drums). The sound showcased on the band’s most recent release, March’s The Bulls And The Bees EP, is some of the group’s heaviest material in ages, and those dynamics were definitely matched live. Anyone who forgot the double-drum onslaught of Willis and longtime drummer Dale Crover was swiftly punished with the superhuman booms that punctuated the grimy guitars like peals of thunder. At the same time, though, the percussive pummeling was balanced with plenty of catchy melodies, some familiar (“The Bit,” “Manky”) and some new (“Friends Before Larry”).
This tug-of-war came to a head shortly after Buzz Osborne (whose Afro still remains ever-glorious, by the way) had drifted offstage. As “The Bit” wound down, the rest of the band crescendoed to deafening noise, followed by a slow descent into chaos. As the drummers bowed and bowed out, Warren writhed around on his knees with the microphone touching the instrument directly, producing an eerie screech. Then he turned the pedals up, put the guitar down and walked off to revel in the delicious noise with his bandmates. The audience, in a daze, could only cheer and rub their sore ears gleefully. “I have to do my taxes now,” a fan mumbled woozily on the way out, and suddenly, the real world seemed so much more boring by comparison.