Monday, April 6, 2009

Melvins...

Tuesday 27th January 2009.
The Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne.

(Yes... I am finally getting around to posting this review.....)

What do you do if the ticket to see the Melvins you were hoping for falls through, both shows that day sold out long ago, you are completely stuffed from work and the city is in the middle of a record long heat wave into the 40’s???

You put your balls in your back pocket and you do what you have to do to get yourself a ticket!

First set of the day started at 5:30pm. The ticket I was hoping on had fallen through. I had been calling different people on and off over the last few days hoping someone would be able to swing my name on the door, but alas, they had no friends in high places. I was working and walking between stores. Couldn’t hurt to quickly drop into the Ding Dong in case I could swing one ticket?!? In case I got one, I would more than likely go straight from work. So I had a photo of Buzz and myself from when they played the Cherry Bar – fuck that was loud!

If I was lucky, they would be in the middle of their sound check, although I wouldn’t be able to stay as I was working. I did go in while they were doing sound check and Buzz was walking around so I asked him to sign the photo. For someone that could tear metal to shreds through sheer noise, he is so chilled. I spoke to some cool people, but I had no luck getting a ticket (or my name on the door). The quest continues…

Made a couple of calls to get some folk on the mission for me, but again, no luck. What was I to do? Where was I to turn? One thing I have long realised is that I desperately need someone to get me on the door at any gig! The elusive gig connection!

I raced home after work to hose the sweat from my body. I felt like a slug soaking in a mucus bath,

Meanwhile, back at the venue…

The line was growing quickly and the punters were eager. Bouncers shooed away the odd person in waiting from the other side of the laneway, trying to keep the diners in restaurants from having to peer out at leaning backsides on the windows. One of those backsides was mine.

I slid a little further down the building and spoke to others that dare escape the confines of the line. I shared gig memories with those fellow ticket seekers and the now lonesome smoker or two, feeling more left out now than I.

I heard stories of grandeur from the previous days Fantomas gig and a little confusion over the pairing of them with S.O.A.D.’s Serj Tankien.

Then that’s where the rumour, for me, started - that a very special guest may very well appear up on stage tonight. Was anyone supporting? Who was it? I heard who the special guest may be… I couldn’t believe it! I damn well just had to get in there no matter what the price. Was tonight the night I had to harvest a kidney?

It seems though that the price is actually right! During the day I thought that there might be a few trying to make some extra cash this week by draining keen punter’s pockets on the ticket price. Scalpers seem to have left the Melvins alone and I walked the line losing hope. Dead man walking, got any spare tickets to keep me from the hangman’s noose? Finally someone had a spare. Two guys standing in line had a couple of spares. Two of their mates couldn’t make it. Oh, I am so sorry to hear that! How much? $50. How cool is that! They were the coolest, they got me in there. Shared a few gig stories on the way in, BDO sideshows, Fantomas, Melvins, Public Enemy at the Espy front bar!?!

The line was slow and not so steady, about an hour to get the whole line up the Ding Dong stairs.

On a page up on the wall next to the door as we finally shuffled in like snails melting on hot summer’s concrete, Umläut were support. We started to go in the door and even had to pause on the stairs a few times… ‘Pregnant woman coming through!’ We were wondering if they were only letting a few in at a time so the bar didn’t get overrun like a Myer Boxing Day Sale! Everyone shrieking and clawing each other like the last beer was on offer for half price! It was actually only checking the Moshtix receipts, not the fastest process at times.

Umläut finally came out. Punters were melting into the floorboards, the temperature inside just got hotter as more clambered in. Umläut was absolutely insane. And I mean literally. The music was at times frantic, chaotic and intensely mesmerising. Sometimes it was like listening to Frank Zappa on a sugar rush! Very talented and completely crazy! Members changing instruments like I wanted to change my sweaty shirt… quickly. I hadn’t heard Umläut before and I think sometimes that’s the best was to see a band. An Umläut virgin I was. No expectations, not knowing where it’s leading and then before you know it you realise the euphoria you are experiencing and have previously been missing out on is so readily available. And like being a virgin, sometimes the only way you can get it is if you pay for it, unless of course someone you know gives you a mix tape! Old school, but still awesome!

Umläut was put together by multi-instrumentalist and ex-Bungle saxophonist Bär McKinnon. A songwriting wizard and amazing to see him on stage switch it up (saxophone, flute and keyboards). You’re there, you have heard the rumours, you know about the guest vocalist appearance on Atlas Face featured on Umläut’s debut release, but when Bär introduces the one and only Mike Patton and he comes up on stage…. Well, I felt like I was 18 again and back at the Uni Bar in Canberra, Faith No More were killin’ it and we were in awe! Have to say that some of the gear Patton does these days is not my trip, but the guy is a true genius. It definitely made the night. Patton was in form and had us in the palm of his hands, even if it was for only one song. Fuckin’ awesome!

Downing more than usually enough liquid didn’t cut it and it was back again and again to the bar. Like a junkie getting his hit, sweet and cold beverages were my vice. It got more and more packed down the front as the stage was set up for the Melvins to come out and fuck with our hearts and our eardrums. The band have been around for about 25 years, released something like 25 albums, have a following similar to Kyuss in the way fans don’t listen to the music, they fall into it and let it consume them, they obsess, the get nailed and they go nuts! They were hear with original members, guitarist, singer and legend, Buzz Osbourne and drummer Dale Crover along with Mr Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn. It gets called sludge metal, they say it gave birth to the Seattle Grunge scene. Seems Kurt Cobain may never have been who he was without them, tonight all we were here for was the second coming of their 1993 release ‘Houdini’. Playing it in its entirety to those that just couldn’t escape the 90’s.

King Buzzo cruised out, mellow, hair like Sideshow Bob had become a mad scientist. When he rocks out it just mesmerizes you and sways as if underwater. It was still 1993, nothing had changed, except it was just way hotter. Then it came across us like we were in the path of an atomic explosion. The butterfly effect. If King Buzzo dropped his pick gently onto his e-string, will a bar full of punters get thrown sixty feet backwards through a concrete wall. Hell yeah! Chunky is an understatement. Straight into it. It just got more and more packed in there from that moment on and it was hard not to bump into a hot infested human next to you. Any oxygen had long been sucked out and the sweat oozed down my arm like an extra layer of skin and pooled on the floor below my hand. And the strange thing was, it was a hot night, we were all dying in this gig and King Buzzo had on a sweater of some sort while Trevor Dunn was wearing a long coat?!? WTF? Losing weight whilst making our ears bleed… Highlights… The entire set! Just being there was great. Hearing songs you used to go crazy to when you were younger and live! Loved it.

After they finished, I was hoping they would just keep playing through their back catalogue, they were selling signed posters up on the stage. Limited to about 50, I missed out. You get that, not something that usually happens to me but the pool of sweat had taken hold of my shoes by this stage and movement was not an option.

It was strange for me, usually I get a drum stick, guitar picks, set list, limited edition print, something. Now tonight I only had one mission. A mission that yet again reminded me of that Uni Bar gig in the early 90’s. I had to get Mike Patton’s signature for one of my mates. I was tired, sore and feeling older than that first FNM gig, but what would become of me if Nik knew I was so close? I hung around and spoke to Bär and a few other punters. No one knew where Mike was and it seemed he had gone home. I had a couple of drinks, took in a few breaths as the oxygen slowly seeped back inside and decided to empty my bladder before heading off. I came out of the toilets and there he was. He had a few hanging around him, I wondered if one woman holding a hammer thought I was a security risk?! I excused myself and fumbled through my words. Mind if I take a photo? No… Bare with me as my phone doesn’t have a flash… Then Mike said something like ‘Well that’s your problem isn’t it’… until he realized it was an i-phone and it changed to… I feel for you! I got the photo – albeit with no flash and barely recognizable, but just as awesome as seeing the Melvins rip it through ‘Houdini’, I got Mike’s autograph on a grubby piece of bar soaked paper for Nik.

That was it for the night. I just left, what more was there to do after that…?







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