Archive for London

Melvins Play Stoner Witch

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , on August 17, 2013 by Noise Road

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Stoner Witch is the weirdest album of all the Melvins records on the display across the last two evenings. Melvins just don’t care, and that is the definition of outsider art – art made without an audience in mind.

When I got into the Melvins in the nineties, Stoner Witch was second only to Houdini for my favourite Melvins album. The teenage version of me remembers the big grungy rock of Queen and Revolve. Back then, I tolerated, and often skipped, the weird noise sections. Now I know that the weirdness and noise is what makes Melvins… And it is what makes Stoner Witch.

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The set was bookended by long, repetitive drum tracks. After the extended noodling at the start of June Bug, the big tracks kick in. I was unable to resist entering the throng for Queen and Revolve.

Stoner Witch does not have the consistent moshibility of Houdini. The crowd were in a stop/start animation. However I think that the album, and consequently set, has more depth. It is certainly a different experience to last night’s Houdini set.

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I don’t know if Melvins care about crowd response, but they have to be happy with level of crowd sing-along tonight. The crowd joined in the whistle outro of Roadbull, like they were at Wacken singing Maiden’s Fear of the Dark. I know that does not happen everywhere.

Although the crowd response probably was not always ideal. Late in the set, there was some fisticuffs in the front rows.  Bouncers quickly descended on the scene and dragged the punters out, as a girlfriend comically, limply, slapped the bouncers back.

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Once again the night ended with Buzzo leaving the stage, the drums driving the riff and Jared, the bass player, descending into the crowd. This time he marched through the crowd with his cardboard, homemade sword and shield.

2 nights. 4 very different sets. Melvins retain their championship title.

Melvins Play Bullhead

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , on August 16, 2013 by Noise Road

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First off. Boris. Holy feck, is that track huge?!

“I say I can’t! But I really mean I won’t!”

Every successive set that the Melvins play at this Endless Residency makes me think “No. This is my favourite Melvins album”. Once again the set was loud as feck, with the drums pounding throughout.

Oft Melvins collaborator, Trevor Dunn, referred to Melvins’ Ozma album as outsider art. Bullhead is in the same vein – but it is a little crowd friendlier. The short bursts of odd riffs, are balanced by the long droning repetition of, well, odd riffs. It’s a half way house between Ozma and Lysol… and, of course, the huge drums never fail to get the crowd moving. It is weird stuff, but it is still rocky.

A Weekend in the City

Posted in Travel with tags , , on August 16, 2013 by Noise Road

A day of annual leave in London, with last night’s Melvins gig still ringing in my ears, and tonight’s set eagerly anticipated…

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Working to a budget to ensure we had bus fare for work for the rest of the month, Noise Road set up digs in a hostel above a pub in Paddington. My dorm buddies were an interesting assortment of characters – an accountant from Texas celebrating graduation and the securing of his first proper gig, a software dude from New Zealand drowning his sorrows after England destroyed the Kiwi cricket team at Lords, an Irish dude checking out some awful electro-pop at Brixton Academy… and a stereotypically stunning Scandinavian girl from Finland, who was way too pretty to be staying in a mixed dorm. She had just finished high school. Everyone back home was worried about her travelling by herself. I understood their concerns. If I ever have a daughter, fresh out of high school, she ain’t staying in a mixed dorm…

The Finnish lass was frustrated by her friends and family coddling her. The Kiwi and I told her it was nice. No one in the world was 100% sure where the Kiwi and I were. If we went missing, days would pass before anyone really noticed. It’s like the Ginsberg riff…

who wandered around and around at midnight in the
railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
leaving no broken hearts,
-Ginnsberg, Howl

I left the Kiwi to nurse his head, and the Finn to write home. I headed over to the British Museum. There is no need to travel anywhere outside of London. The British Empire have stolen anything worth seeing in the world and conveniently housed it for you in one place, the British Museum.

Ancient Egypt is of course the draw. I am always amazed at being able to walk amongst these millinnea old marvels. The Rosetta Stone stops me in my tracks every time. Of course, I soundtrack the visit with OM’s Thebes and At Giza… But then there is only so many times you can see Alexandria written down, before you queue up Pig Destroyer’s best track on your IPod.

In desperate need of a haircut so that I can win a new job, I braved the extortionist London prices. The girl cutting my hair told me that my accent was very southernised. What the feck does that mean? Whatever it means, I’m pretty sure that I should be offended.  Are you saying that as an Australian, I’ve magically picked up a southern English accent whilst living in Scotland?… but she was a nice alterno girl, and she dealt me the best haircut I’ve ever had. Too bad, I’ll be dealing wristies for the foreseeable future just to cover the cost.

I continued my museum run the following morning, before my exit to Glasgow.

The Melvins albums, Lysol and Bullhead definitely bring thoughts of outsider art. So when I saw the add for the Japanese Outsider Art exhibition at the Wellcome collection, I decided to book across. The exhibition was great! I love weird stuff. It’s why I love the Melvins. Life is pretty homogenised and boring. Melvins rock – but they do more than rock, they challenge without being pretentious… And most importantly, they just do things differently.

On the advice of Rosie, my new hair girl in London, I also tried to hit the Bowie exhibit, but it was way too busy, dude. So I headed back to the hostel and attempted a jog around Hyde Park… Dodging the squirrels and locals sunbathing under the chilly grey May sky, I completed a successful lap of the long water. With a bit of exercise, I felt vaguely human again… and ready for night 2 of the Melvins Endless Residency…

Melvins Play Houdini

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , on August 16, 2013 by Noise Road

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Noise Road has seen Melvins play the Houdini album before. It was mid afternoon, in Melbourne… possibly above a Chinese restaurant.  Buzz, Dale and Trevor Dunn were touring Oz as part of the Fantomas Director’s Cut sets at the Big Day Out. With a Houdini live album recently released under the Buzz/Dale/Dunn configuration, the band used the opportunity to play a couple of sideshows in the one day in Melbourne.

So, this should be something that I know. Nothing new here, right… Wrong. This is the Melvins after all.

Although the order of tracks was different to that on the record at the Melbourne show, it was a reasonably straight-up rendition of the tracks. In contrast, the London gig was a honed live beast of a set rather than a replication of the album.

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Houdini is probably the Melvins’ heaviest, rockiest release… but that is tempered by the noisey and experimental tracks on the album.

Tonight’s set went for the jugular. Hooch had the crowd moving, but when the opening riff of Honey Bucket kicked in, the crowd exploded into a frenetic mosh. I’ve seen Melvins shows all over the world for the last decade and I’ve never seen such a manic crowd response. This is the same crowd that nodded their heads for the previous Eggnog / Lysol set.

I do not know if Melvins really wanted the kids throwing themselves around and crowdsurfing, but they had loaded the front end of the set with the rocky numbers. As the crunch of the Lizzy chorus kicked in, the frenzy was unleashed again.  The pop punk of Set Me Straight had the crowd bouncing.

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The noise/experimental tracks were saved for the end. Buzz left the stage, while the dual drums drove the riff, and bassist, Jared, gave us a performance art set on the mic as he wandered into the crowd.

In 15 years of Melvins gigs I’ve never been as surprised. An almost straight-up rock show from the Melvins. I left far sweatier than I intended, but as entertained as I had expected.

Melvins Play Lysol / Eggnog

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , on August 16, 2013 by Noise Road

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What are Melvins doing tonight? Are they a 3 or 4 piece? How many drummers are there? Are they wielding a regular bass guitar or a stand up bass? Is Patton there? Is Adam Jones there?… If you go in blind, you will never know which face of Melvins you will catch.

Tonight is structured into 2 sets – a set of the Lysol / Eggnog tracks and a second set of the Houdini album. The Eggnog and Lysol tracks were jumbled up – perhaps to more suit the live setting, rather than the track order for listening to whilst lighting up a doob in the egg chair of your Glasgow flat.

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Melvins love covering songs… But even their relatively straight covers still have a distinctive Melvins twist on it. Even when playing their own old material, they are unable to be faithful.

The current dual drum configuration means drums are even more upfront compared to the recorded versions. The famous drone of Lysol is newly tribal with the massive drum sound. Even the quiet parts are loud. We expect to hear again sometime in the next couple of months.

It was great to see Melvins in a drastically different mode to the recent gigs that I’ve seen. In particular the frenetic guitars of Eggnog show the energy of an early Melvins configuration. Hog Leg is particularly raucous with Buzz alternating between jumping all over the guitar fret to wailing on the mic.

The almost straight up rock of With Teeth and the Ballad of Dwight Fry are crowd favourites.  With Teeth is so god damn happy and positive. How did Buzzo ever park his cynicism for 3 minutes?… And the Alice Cooper cover, Dwight Fry, brings the first sing-along of the night.

Sacrifice, the wildly unfaithful cover of the Flipper track, is once again changed. Buzz is let loose to spoken word and wail on the mic.

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It’s great to see Melvins in a wildly different mode, yet not reliving past glories. The tracks are not played safe and true to the record. They celebrate the strength of the material but are played by who the Melvins are now.

Melvins in Residence at Electric Brixton

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , on August 16, 2013 by Noise Road

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Brixton is that part of central London where there is always a crazy dude singing to himself on the tube ride there. Tonight was no exception.

It is a vibrant, but slightly sketchier, part of London. It is the home of one of London’s best music venues, the famous Brixton Academy. If your favourite band is any good then that’s where they recorded their live album.

Brixton is also home of tonight’s venue, Electric Brixton. Over the next 2 nights Melvins play 5 of their early to mid nineties records. This era saw major label releases, critical and commercial successes, fan favourites and a true golden period for Melvins.

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A few weeks away from summer and spring has finally sprung in the UK. Trade in your winter jacket for, well, a slightly less thick jacket, and book to Brixton for the 4 Melvins sets over 2 nights. We hope to regain partial hearing sometime before the end of summer.

Join us!

On London and the Destruction of Pigs

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , , on November 17, 2012 by Noise Road

On London

Every now and then Britain reminds you why you love it…  Not just Scotland or the North…  but the whole g0d d@mn rock.  Just when the 30 school kids in your train car were starting to sh!t you, Britain shows something.

The windscreen wipers on the train from Glasgow to London failed.  If there is a train that needs windscreen wipers, its the Glasgow to London train.  No matter how passionately Axl Rose sings “Nothing last forever; even cold November Rain”, it’s a lie.  November rain does last forever in Britain.

At Preston, we did a complete passenger switch with the train coming the other way.  I can’t believe how smoothly it happened.  People just did what they were told and adjusted for changes in seats…  Sure they complained about it – but the British are miserable if they don’t have something to be miserable about.

The whole operation went unbelievably smoothly.  Its been a few months since I’ve stayed in a hostel and I feared that I might have passed over the hostel hump.  I’m 32, my hairline thin and grey, and my waistline thick and pale-white.  My fellow hostel guests were 19, fit and French.  However, the hostel was a win.

Right next to King Cross train station to get in and out of London, the hostel was also only one tube stop away from tonight’s venue.  It had everything you can ask for £19 in London – lockers, free breakfast in a cool common room basement, and a small 5-bunk dorm with friendly Slovenians.  Although the Slovenians were the loudest whisperers I’ve ever heard…  After 5 or 6 pints at the show, I was probably snoring up and stinking up that dorm room – so who am I to complain?

On the Destruction of Bacon or a Pork Product of Some Type

Running a little late from the earlier train switch, I didn’t even have time to have a pint at my favourite-named pub.  The Famous Cock sits directly across the road from tonight’s venue, the Garage.

There was no need for C0ckless panic though.  None of the openers had boarded the stage when I bought my first beer at the Garage.  London’s £4.20 pints are a step up from Glasgow’s £2.10 pints…  especially if you don’t know where the busfare for Monday morning work is coming from.

Previously recommended by Converge and Pig Destroyer, Leeds’ Blacklisters are an interesting choice to support Pig Destroyer on their UK run.  The obvious choice for Pig Destroyer’s first UK tour in 8 years would be a grind band.  The UK is the originator of grind after all – Napalm Death, Carcass…  If not a grind band, maybe the support could have been a death metal band or a thrash band or even a hardcore band…  but a noise rock act?

Blacklisters bring thoughts of the Jesus Lizard.  A tight band with a loose frontman.  Thankfully the frontman doesn’t get his c0ck out as much as The Jesus Lizard’s David Yow.  He is an excellently loose fontman though.  His off-mic singing and banter is a novel way to engage the crowd.  It took a bit of effort to win the punters over, but by the catchy Trickfuck, the crowd were well into it.

On Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer should be a sh!t live band.  Sure the material is amazing, but they hardly ever play live.  How could they possibly be any good?…

…  but this rarity of the show makes it an event.  The crowd anticipation is high.  The feel from the stage is not of jaded road warriors.  This is not just another date in a 6-week European tour, coming off the back of criss-crossing the states.  The band isn’t burnt out.  They’ve played one show and only have one more to go.  They aren’t spent and they don’t need to leave anything in reserve.

Frontman JR Hayes is the embodiment of the event.  You wonder how he’s going to be able to punch out a single word tomorrow night in Leeds.  In between desperate roars, Hayes paces the stage like a lion while mainman Hull unleashes 30 second blasts of riffs.

Hayes approach shows the difference between the live show and the record.  Hayes is the best lyricist in metal.  Its worth studying the lyric sheet whenever a new record drops.  However tonight just try deciphering a lyric out of that madmen exorcising his guts.  Just try.

Tonight the message isn’t in the words.  The message is in the delivery.  While the human-riff machine generates angular grooves from stage right, Hayes is desperately scary.  Scary – not in an evil metal way.  Scary – like that time the 11pm bus home from work broke down and it was just you and the jonesin’ meth head waiting at a bus stop in a Glasgow scheme.  As the adds on the bus say:  Glasgow, choose life, not a knife.

Then the string of sub-minute tracks break, and the loveable teddy bear appears where Hayes was purging his guts a moment ago.  Hayes quietly asks if you guys have had enough beers yet.

A Henry Miller quote sampled on the record opens the set:

This is libel, slander, defamation of character….This is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants to God, Man, Destiny, Time, Beauty…what you will. I am going to sing for you, a little off-key perhaps, but I will sing. I will sing while you croak, I will dance over your dirty corpse.

The quote is a perfect fit for Pig Destroyer – intelligent art delivered in a purposely shocking, disturbing way…  But Hull is also the delivery system for the gnarliest riffs squeezed into 30 second bites.  Tonight, we aren’t mulling over Hayes wordplay, or the cleverness of the arrangements.  Tonight, we are rocking the feck out to the riff assault.

From the opening Miller quote, noise dude, Harrison, saturates the room with a high level of ambient noise that fails to clear for 50 minutes.  Onto the noise canvas, Hull and new drummer, Jarvis, groove between the blasts.  I’d like to comment on the importance of the interplay between the only two instruments on stage, drums and guitar, but the sets flies by.  I’m too caught up in the moment to notice the detail.

The ambient noise drops for a brief moment.  The crowd shout along to the robot-voiced, spoken-word Jennifer piece.  “No. No. This is beautiful.  This is art.”

Tonight wasn’t beautiful.  It definitely wasn’t arty… but it was a special event.  Few gigs feel this special.