Sunday, January 09, 2011

A New Year

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
January 8, 2011

I was running late for this show and for the first time in memory I blew off looking for street parking and instead dropped $9 for a pay lot around the corner. I felt lame for doing this but I didn't have time to fuck around. However, I felt better about my decision when I got my envelope at Will Call and then found myself in the dressing room saying "Hi" to the band and seeing old friends again over a beer.

Ironically, the first gig I saw last year was also the Melvins at the Great American. Tonight's show was a quick trip up the coast for the band as they had started a January residency at Spaceland in L.A. the night before. For the newbies: The Melvins are playing Spaceland every Friday this month with each show featuring a different classic Melvins album being played in its entirety. Pretty cool.

According to the Umlaut Archives this was my 35th Melvins show and my Inner Music Geek always tweaks out on the familiarity of seeing bands who I have a long history with take the stage. However, unlike other bands, with the Melvins I never know what to expect from them as they walk out into the stage lights... and tonight was no different. As I found a spot at stage right to watch the show, a quick glance at the setlist made me say "Holy Shit!" to myself. The band launched into an epic 20 minute opening instrumental onslaught circa 1992 of 'Charmicarmicat' (from 1992's Egg Nog) > 'Hung Bunny' (from 1992's Lysol). EPIC. It was cool to watch the faces of the people in the front couple of rows as they got that expression of awe and worship towards the Melvins as the set unfolded. I've been there, kids... I've totally been there.

(Point & Shoot by Umlaut)

After the initial instrumental onslaught, the opening set continued with a selection that included other 1992-era gems 'Hog Leg' (also from Eggnog!) and 'With Teeth' (also from Lysol!). At that point I'm pretty sure I had the same expression on my face as those kids in the front row had... Deja vu, man. Then it was time for a brief intermission for everyone to catch their breath before the 2nd set of the evening. Beer me!

For their 2nd set the Melvins played 1 song from EVERY one of their albums. HOLY SHIT. It was brilliant and for the next hour or so it was also crushing beyond belief... and I was reminded that few bands have pushed me to the brink with their volume like the Melvins have over the years. In keeping with their tradition of doing the unexpected the band closed the night with a blistering cover of the song 'Bacon Industry' by Jared's old K Records band Karp.

Buzz's 21st Century Weapon of Mass Destruction

The Melvins are one of those rare bands who have managed to maintain a career by redefining themselves just enough to keep themselves interested but without sacrificing too much of their original selves for their fans. The old songs still grab me by the throat... but watching the Melvins perform newer standards like 'Civilized Worm' and the call-and-response cadence of 'The Water Glass' makes me appreciate the band in a new way every time. The consistency of their loud eclectic brilliance is still unmatched.

After the set, and as the dust settled, I went to check out the merch table and then went back to the dressing room for a nightcap and to say goodbye. The aftershow backstage Rock Star action was filled by Mike Patton. Yes, even Rock Stars have favorite bands. Tonight was 2+ hours that started off my year in perfect fashion. For awhile back in the 20th Century the Melvins were my favorite band... and as I drove back to Casa de Umlaut after this epic show I thought that, as this new year starts, the Melvins might be my favorite band again.

If you bought one of every Melvins merch item you would have been able to buy a poster, a limited edition 12", and a limited edition CD box set... but no shirts. Bummer. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. For some reason drummers always want their picture taken with Umlaut... Weird.

Drummer Acid King > Scary Umlaut > Drummer Melvins

Click HERE to see Photo Ray's shots from the night!