The Melvins Prove Why It’s Good To Be King

Photo by Ryan Johnson
Photo by Ryan Johnson

The sold-out Venue Nightclub on Granville Street played host to a hodgepodge of musical genius from around the world Monday night. The line-up as esoteric as the bands themselves featuring United Kingdom headliners Napalm Death, the United States based trio The Melvins, and the iconic Japanese duo Melt Banana.

Despite all three bands having a propensity towards experimenting within their respective mediums, all three having the word “noise” somewhere in their bios, and each outfit thwarting the test of time, essentially ruining the curve for band shelf life, the three acts have less in common with one another than more.

Napalm Death, The Melvins, and Melt Banana combine for a staggering 46 studio albums and 36 Live Albums / EPs released and are not showing any sign of slowing down. Add to the fact that the youngest band on the Savage Imperial Death March Tour has a quarter century logged in his/her band odometer; it is amazing that any of these acts are still relevant. Not only do these unconventional bands remain in a state of relevance, but somehow they remain in high demand as evidenced by the midpoint of the opener’s set when already the building’s capacity was being challenged. Despite policy, folks could be seen billowing out of the front door for a reprieve from heat and body contact.

Management’s decision to keep the upstairs bar closed until after the opening act will need as much addressing as their in and out policy moving forward

Following a very true-to-self set by Melt Banana and a throng of black shirts liberated from sweaty middle-aged backs was the infamous trio, sometimes quintet known as The Melvins. Since their 1984 inception just over the 49th Parallel in Washington state, The Melvins have had two mainstays, drummer Dale Crover ( With the band prior to their first album) and guitarist / vocalist Roger ‘Buzz’ Osborne (founding member). Steven Shane McDonald rounded out the usual threepiece on bass / vocals as he has done for a little over a year now.

On the subject of bass, it should be noted that another instalment of the Nirvana/Melvins saga was recently carried out in an effort to make The Melvins forthcoming Basses Loaded LP (June 03) truer to its title. Ex-Nirvana bassist and Men’s Big & Tall frequenter Krist Novoselic will appear alongside five other bass players on what is set to be The Melvins’ 28th studio album.

Slowly and languidly going about his entrance to the stage the easily spotted Kosher Cut of King Buzzo (Buzz Osborne) didn’t let a shorter set rush him to get started. Buzzo’s famous afro may have proven useful beyond aesthetics, as due to crowd volume it may have served as one of the few physical parts of the The Melvins witnessed if one had a bad angle of height issues. Having not seen King Buzzo live since his time in Vancouver with The Fantômas in 2001 at Richard’s on Richards the eight minute series of ring outs and drawn out notes leading up to the Melvins launching into their first song of the night“Eye Flys”, felt like eight days, or just one Robert Nix corus.

Following the eventual opener was a version made better of the Kiss classic “Deuce”. If every Kiss song sounded as good as The Melvins made “Deuce” sound, I may have gotten into makeup and platforms way before that night with Oscar De La Hoya.

Not only do the Melvins sound as good as they always have but it was the appearance of having not aged in the last 15 years that had them looking good as well. This fact was later confirmed upon meeting the legend, King Buzzo himself post show behind the Venue Nightclub. Though in retrospect I wouldn’t have been mad at him had he still been adorned with his stage accoutrements for our picture together, specifically the yellow cape with the Egyptian Eye of Horus insignia.

With the extensive back catalog The Melvins possess, coupled with another offering just a month from breaching the band’s afroed uterus, one can never go into a Melvins show hoping for a track, or for something in-particular to happen. Last set The Melvins played in Vancouver. Buzzo cut the night short choosing to walk off stage after getting hit in the chest with a beer bottle. The accused Vancouver resident was quoted as having been “tripping balls” at the time of the alleged incident. Ending the set on a more conventional note The Melvins welcomed  Napalm Death bass player Shane Embury on stage to perform “Night Goat”, from arguably the  most commercial of all of The Melvins albums Houdini. Houdini, being the famous 1993 collaboration with the late Kurt Cobain as producer and on guitars for much of the masterpiece.

In the end when your biggest gripes about a show fall on aspects outside of the band’s themselves, like a shabby fans – real estate ratio, or desire to see a longer set, you know you are in the wake of a damn decent show. The later of the two gripes being prevalent post Melvins show at any point and regardless of set length.

The Melvins Setlist:

Eye Flys

Deuce (Kiss Cover)

Queen

The Kicking Machine

National Hamster

Magic Pig Detective

Leech

Sesame Street Meat

The Water Glass

Onions Make The Milk Taste Bad

The Bloated Pope

A Growing Disgust

The Decay of Lying

Revolve

Halo of Flies (Alice Cooper cover)

Night Goat