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Melvins with Big Business and Porn - The Paradise (Boston, MA) - Saturday August 9, 2008

11 August 2008

I’m sure that most rock fans would agree that when you boil down the music to its base elements, all that remains is a black, sticky tar consisting of guitar, bass, drums and volume. Add a mu-mu, some electro-shock hair, jet-black humor, and MELVINS stare back at you from the bottom of the crucible. Looking back now, it’s actually somewhat hard to believe that I was on the fence for this show, as another band with equal allure was booked the same night, but I’m more than confident that I made the correct choice. Touring on Nude With Boots, the second disc which matched KING BUZZO and DALE CROVER with COADY WILLIS and JARED WARREN from BIG BUSINESS, the new record didn’t have the immediate boot-to-the-head crunch that predecessor (A) Senile Animal delivered, but some re-assessment has now convinced me that my initial take was inaccurate.

If Buzzo ain’t a riff machine like no other, then you just haven’t been paying much attention; the kick-off of “Nude With Boots” just hints at the sort of boogie-ass shake/head nod/fist pump combo which would bludgeon our collective heads over the duration of the show. “Suicide in Progress,” “Kicking Machine” (with its obvious intro nod to Zep’s “Good Times, Bad Times”), “The Hawk,” “Honey Bucket” – it’s like Buzzo just flicks some hidden riff toggle on his black Les Paul and the magic pours out of the Hiwatt behind him. It’s not all like that; Buzzo and Dale have always shown a sly sense of humor and an unpredictability streak a few meters wide, and the glacial doom of “Dies Iraea” tosses a speed bump under the suspension, while the dirgey “A History of Bad Men” tosses a few shovelfuls of dirt into your gaping maw…it’s a bulldozer coming straight for you at the slowest speed imaginable, but you can’t escape. An inventive cover of “My Generation” (think Moon on a handful of Mandrax) and an a cappela reading of “The Star Spangled Banner” continued the counter-balance approach.

“Bad Men” and “Civilized Worm” underscore how well Jared and Coady have woven themselves into the fabric of Melvins; when the four guys all sing, Dale and Coady locked in like some crazy beast intent on trampling you in the most painful manner possible, and Jared’s (dressed just like Danny Noonan at the yatch party of “Caddyshack”) evil-tinged higher register perfectly matching Buzzo’s howl, it all comes together. In the chorus of “Worm,” the “believe it” part was one of the true highlights of the night. They left you no other choice than to believe it. The crushing closer of “Boris” cemented it, and we left an encore-less show with the theme from “The A Team” ringing in the night.

One last word on the band; you really have to see Dale and Coady playing together to fully understand the power, precision and pure energy they bring as a unit. Wearing gloves more suited for roping calves, they hit their kits so hard it’s like armor-plated cobras are swarming from all drum heads, and they are desperately trying to kill the reptilian mass. And the sound…the glorious, deafening sound…I bet Dale’s rack tom is larger than some bands’ floor tom. I’m sure they were setting off all car alarms in a half mile radius, and stunning small rodents in the back alley behind the club.

Big Business has now ballooned to a lusty three piece, with TOSHI KASAI adding some heavy prog guitar lines to the barreling drum and bass attack. “Just As The Day Was Dawning” remains my favorite BB song, and they didn’t disappoint me. Toshi was pulling double-duty, as he also played some plastic children’s keyboard/electronic bits with PORN, putting some window dressing on the droney, sonic mess that TIM MOSS was dishing out via his Travis Bean guitar. Dale was pounding behind his kit for about two-thirds of it, joining late and leaving early.

as always, more shots are on my site