The Punk Vault

The Melvins 9/27 at Double Door

Thursday night my friend Liza and I went to see The Melvins at the Double Door in Chicago. I realized that this would be the first time I have seen them play in about seven years. I then realized before that, it had been probably seven years between that and the time before it! I sort of inadvertently have a seven year Melvins show tradition so I figure it was about time that I go see them play again and see how they’ve held up.

When we got there, about a half hour after the doors were scheduled to open, there was still a pretty good sized line waiting to get in the door. We got in it and immediately were hounded by quite a few folks asking if we had extra tickets. It turned out the show had sold out which meant two things; it was going to be uncomfortably crowded in the place, and it would be uncomfortably hot. For those not familar, the Double Door holds about 600 people and it’s laid out in such a way that when full, movement is near impossible and no matter what time of year it is, with all the people and all the smoking, it is like a sauna in there. They had fans up on the stage in an effort to keep the bands cool even!

About 40 minutes after the show was listed as starting, they started showing some animated films on a big screen on the stage. Some of the crowd were paying attention while most people were drinking and continuing their conversations. I was among the latter for the most part but would look over and see what was going on from time to time. It turned out this video was put together by Tom Hazelmeyer, who was in Halo of Flies and ran/runs Amphetamine Reptile Records. I believe the feature was about 20 minutes long or thereabouts. Had I known ahead of time who did it, I would have paid a lot closer attention to it!

Big Business

Big Business

Big Business

As soon as they got the big screen off the stage, Big Business walked on and plugged in. I knew this band had some sort of Melvins connection but I didn’t recognize anyone on that stage as being in The Melvins the last time I ever saw them, but a lot could change in seven years. They played a pretty good set of their sort of muddy style of abrasive rock and I recognized some of the songs from their album I just picked up a couple weeks ago on Hydrahead Records. About 2/3 through their set, Dale Crover from The Melvins joined them on second guitar. “This must be the connection” I thought. I’d turn out to be only partially correct. Big Business played for 45 minutes and a good portion of the crowd seemed to be into what they were doing, myself included. Their guitar player had a bunch of gadgets for making sound effects and the like that he manipulated during the songs all while still handling all his guitar duties, which was a pretty impressive feat.

Big Business

About 15 minutes later, The Melvins took the stage. Buzz was decked out in some sort of camoflage kimono and suddenly as the other members took the stage, the connection between the two bands made a lot more sense. The bass player of The Melvins was the bass player/singer for Big Business. Not only that, but The Melvins now have two drummers, Dale and the guy who is the drummer for Big Business. This is the first time I saw the band as a four-piece and I was very intrigued with this two drummer scenario. Dale is probably one of the most powerful drummers at least independent music and his powerful drumming is the backbone of what makes The Melvins so unique and enjoyable. Now would they would have twice the power?!

The Melvins

Yes! Whoever in the band decided to add a second drummer had the best idea in that band’s history! The Melvins with two drummers are twice as good as the single drummer version, which was already great! The band plowed into their first song and maybe paused one time in the next 45 minutes. They just went from one song to the next without so much as a break in between. In the times that they needed a minute or two to adjust guitars, the dual drum ensemble would fill the space with some kick ass pounding that would segue perfectly into whatever the next song on the set list was. I seriously could have listened to those two drummers go at it for at least a half hour straight without losing any interest.

The Melvins

The Melvins

While they pounded away, Buzz belted on his guitar and delivered his trademark sludgy sound as perfectly as he had nearly a decade ago when I saw a younger version of the band. His hair may have grayed some (but has probably doubled in size!), but age hasn’t taken one ounce of power from him. As he beat this guitar like it owed him money, he wailed away in his signature style, all the while the new (to me) bass player did his own part in the power department, while also providing additional vocals. This “Super Melvins” was like a fine tuned machine that just pressed start and delivered song after song until their set list was finished, then left the stage. There was no talking, no pausing, just this onslaught of sound. Because I’m not up on the current Melvins material, I wasn’t familiar with a fair amount of what they played, but this performance has inspired me to fill the holes in my Melvins collection. They even snuck a Beatles cover in there as their second song and it was cool to hear such a song delivered in The Melvins way, you’d barely recognize it as being a Beatles song if you weren’t really paying attention.

The Melvins

The Melvins

Seeing this show has also inspired me to not wait another seven years before I go see the band again, they are too good of a live act to wait that long to see. I’ll be making a point to see them far more regularly if this show is any indication of just how good they still are and how they still have a lot to offer.



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