Mainlining the Melvins
Step by step, I wonder into Launchpad (618 Central SW), each foot coming closer and closer to what seems to be a natural unison. I'm late as usual, but the wave of approaching sound sends my brain into an anticipatory flutter. The clamorous BOOM of drums begin to flow into the veins of the ground, straight through my arteries and directly into my heart like I'm mainlining each crash and thump as burning metal into my veins. As the last foot reaches it's destination, I realize exactly what I've stumbled into. It takes a moment, an isolated, but rewarding moment, to realize I'm in a pit of sonic obliteration.
As I look towards the stage, I see three figures, covered from head to toe in scarlet – almost silhouettes – taking the idea of sound to an increasingly devastating level. An explosion is occurring, right before my very eyes, in the form of a human named Terri Gender-Bender. She sways and screams, she strums her guitar like an accelerating hot rod burning off the flesh of god; she rocks! Along with Terri, Jamie Aaron Aux handles bass and Chris Common plays the sticks. It's a finale, a consequence of my tardiness, but it's all I needed to hear, to understand. It's an aural bomb and I'm riding each sonic boom with full cooperation, all the way into the apocalypse.
The band quakes in unison to a litany of head bangs and devil horns, offering sacrifice like appeasement for the immensity before them.
As the last note bends itself into forced cooperation and the feedback of the amps release all the demons everyone was holding in that night, Le Butcherettes finish their set and receive a loud cheer from the crowd. I watch them walk away into the dimly lit background of the alley. I stand in absolute amazement of what I just heard. It's hard to believe that great rock n roll, in it's true trail-blazing form, still exists on planet earth. But I witnessed it first hand, in the form of Le Butcherettes.
The noise dies down and I hit the wall like gravity intends me to. Observing the crowd, I feel a certain camaraderie. The show attracts a variety of black-haired lion manes and sweat soaked battle jackets with scars of experience you couldn't count on one hand. But no matter what the musical affiliation or statement of fashion, we are all there for the same reason. A reason that binds our brains and hearts into motion, anticipating the unadulterated and refined crunch of what is to come. As I begin to delve into the analytic recesses of my mind, I hear the music halt, and a cough-like noise begins to fill the building. It's a sound loop, a repeating exertion of human reflex, as if clearing a palette. I recognize it as the cough from Black Sabbath's “Sweet Leaf” – the song begins to play as I see a robed man take the stage.
Two more men, with sticks and bass, take their rightful places on stage. What appears to be the eye of Horus – patterned into gold on the robed mans black cloak – stares into the crowd, as if to observe the worthy and destroy the undeserving. Aleister Crowley comes to mind, a powerful charisma surrounds the stage. Then a sound, distant at first, grows into a overwhelming cloud of distorted catastrophe. The deep CRUNCH of the first chord sprays black all over my red veins and I know exactly where I am. I know exactly what this is. This is the FUCKING MELVINS!
Buzz Osbourne displays a concentrated focus, Dale Crover begins his smash into oblivion one ball- blasting beat at a time. Jeff Pinkus raises his shivering metal bass into the air, guiding the increasingly kinetic headbanging in the crowd. The crowd thickens near the stage, and and the transformation process begins. First it's a few, then more and finally many begin to scream, sweat and convulse in awkward and intense unison. We continue, forming a sludge as we come together in our love for the brutalization of eardrums and bodies. The sludge grows thicker and thicker, and from each chord comes a melting wave of music that forces our nervous systems to disconnect from our heads – shaking those motherfucking skulls like we're trying to rattle a pick out from the body of an acoustic guitar.
My feet shake and my head bangs. They don't stop for one blinding moment, not even when Buzz Osbourne breaks the sonic wall for a cover of the Butthole Surfers “Moving to Florida.” As Osbourne shouts “And I'm gonna build me the Atomic...” we all scream “BOMB!” in anticipation. He waits, and whispers “bomb”, breaking back into the bass-blasting segments of the song, and demonstrating a masterful understanding of the music surrounding him.
Osbourne shreds, Crover blasts, Pinkus pounds and the show winds down to the last song. Jumping from the shadows like the blast of a supernova, Terri-Gender-Bender enters, immediately breaking into what seems to be an interpretative dance to summon the spirits of punk and metal. She aids the Melvins in building the climax of the show. With one last blast of soul and energy, the show ends with Osbourne saluting the crowd like the commander in-chief of sonic crunch.
They all leave their instruments on, generating deafening feedback to drop us all down from the musical high that had been keeping us up for hours. Dale Crover is the last to leave. Like the proverbial bridesmaid catching the bouquet on her best friend's wedding day, I jump into the air to catch the drumstick he throws to the crowd.
I didn't catch it and fumbled with it as it flew to the ground. But I fought for it and came out victorious with a new souvenir of one of the best shows I've been to in a really, really long time. As the band leaves and the crowd dissipates, I walk straight towards to the door, drumstick clutched in hand.
I stroll to the parking lot, attempting to regain my serious loss of hearing, I reflect on the show. So many other people have seen this band, and they have played a myriad of cities and venues. But I now have my own triumphal moment. In the back of my mind, I know – with the utmost pride and certainty – that even if it's just a fragment of the bands long prolific history, I got rocked the fuck out by the Melvins.
The Doors of Connection
Access blues, EDM, punk and mathy prog rock
Ode to grunge
Depending on your aural upbringing and age, the term "grunge" may conjure up wildly divergent things. Read all about Alibi Copy Editor/Staff Writer Mark Lopez's romance with the Seattle sound in Seattle Wall of Sound: A paean to grunge. For me, Nirvana's Bleach was revelatory; Lopez prefers In Utero. Exploring difference is fun, no? In honor of this myriad genre, I compiled an hour-long grunge-tastic playlist for our dear readers, featuring tracks by: Flipper, L7, Babes in Toyland, 7 Year Bitch, Hole, Nirvana, Mudhoney, Tad, Wool, Melvins, Sleep Capsule, Coffin Break, Soundgarden, Killdozer, Pixies, The Breeders and Green River. Stream it below. Less-than-fresh coiffures, well-worn flannel and Dr. Martens are optional.