BY BEN CURNETT
It’s not reaching to say that Melvins are too powerful for most venues. That was literally the case on Tuesday night at Denver’s Gothic Theater when the lights went out, prompting a two-ish hour delay before sludge metal’s reigning trio could play. But when Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover wordlessly took the stage along with current-and-touring bass player Steven Shane McDonald* (Redd Kross, Off!), they proceeded to use every available volt in the building. At least, that’s how electricity works for the sake of this metaphor.
I was disappointed that The Spotlights set got cut short by the power outage, although their live set wasn’t doing justice to last year’s LP Tidals. Their studio stuff, at least, is not to be missed, and I will absolutely try to catch them the next time they come through the Mile High City. If you like the long build/break with a side of drone style of metal that certain bands are taking up, you’ll really like Tidals, I’m guessing. It’s good and you should buy it.
Melvins’ sixteen song show started with Sacrifice, the Flipper cover from their 1992 Boner Records release Lysol (aka s/t). This is a perfect opener for a Melvins show for a lot of reasons. For starters, with more albums than most bands will ever dream of making, why not start with something from 25 years ago? That’s a treat that most real metal fans that aren’t into arena rock will never get to experience, but Melvins fans were in luck. Also, who starts their show with a cover? Well, if you make the cover so much your own that it’s more distinct than the original, go right ahead. That’s for sure the case here. Finally, clicking in at around the 6-minute mark, it’s one of the shorter songs in the catalog. Other songs fell right in, with a few gems from the first record of their new first-ever-double-album A Walk With Love And Death (the second album is mostly concept/noise, which, honestly, they could have played without reservation as well, though it would have generated a lot of questions).
To their everlasting credit, Melvins do what they want. That includes being nice guys that I would really want to have over for dinner with my family. I like metal, but I just can’t get in to the whole living-in-an-isolated-scandinavian-fjord-and-sacrificing-goats part of it. I mean, it sounds good in theory, but in practice that just makes you a real johnny-stick-in-the-mud. To me, that type of persona makes a big difference in the show. I kind of rocked out and just had fun without having to be more metal than the next guy (which, believe me, the next guy wins). The show Melvins put on was misfit music for true misfits, ones that don’t even fit into the misfit category that the rest of the misfits fit.
Which is all to say that this show was amazing, one of the best shows I’ll see all year, in a large part because Melvins are the absolute real deal. They don’t pretend to be heavier than they are, because they don’t have to. And if you go see them, you don’t either. Just put your earplugs in and enjoy as the bass, drums, and distortion wash over your body and cover you in an evening of wonderful, glorious sludge.
*It should be noted that Shane wore a sleeveless v-neck shag-fur jerkin(?) for the show. I’ve never written about fashion before, but if I were to ever start, it would be there. Bold.