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The Melvins – September 1, 2004 – The Gothic – Denver

The Melvins

The Melvins
Tuesday, September 1, 2004
The Gothic, Denver

Seeing a Melvins show is something any fan of rock music should do at least once in their life. Whether you are familiar with the albums or not, it will certainly remain a unique feather in your show-going cap, and you will likely never see or hear any band like them. September’s show at The Gothic in Denver was no exception, coupling The Melvins with Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant, an avant-jazz act that complimented and contrasted the onslaught that was to follow. The Melvins are no strangers to the avant movement though (frontman Buzz Osborne is a solid member of Mike Patton’s peculiar group Fantômas), and should even be hailed as one of the few pioneers in the avant-rock movement.

Tracks from their latest offering, a collaboration with Lustmord (a.k.a. Brian Williams) entitled Pigs of the Roman Empire, dominated the show. As a pleasant suprise to hardcore Melvins fans, tracks from the elusive STAG outnumbered songs from any other album during the set. The inclusion of The Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” which segued suddenly out of Stag’s “Tipping the Lion,” was extremely unexpected, and the crowd responded well. That is testament to the nature of Melvins fans, though; you’ll find yourself at a ‘metal’ concert and be somehow surrounded by people of discerning taste.

The word ‘taste’ has everything to do with the Melvins, as most fans – even some of their former bass players – will admit that it takes some time to warm up to their inimitable sound. The new record relishes in the occasional ambient tendencies of The Melvins. While the band performed songs from the new record, the crowd slowly rolled around itself according to the speed and ferocity of the music. It was almost like water molecules would look while slowly heated activity increased as the heat rose. Fans waded eagerly through the thick and ever deepening river of sludge pouring from the stage, but it was evident that they were not familiar enough with the territory to find their way easily through the muck.

The MelvinsEvery so often a few fans would jump, attempting to pull themselves up onto whatever debris drummer Dale Crover chose to dislodge and loose into the current.

During a particularly poignant ambient moment, a trio of airport-style lights – authentically bright – blinked regularly over bassist Kevin Rutmanis’ head at the audience. It was at this point that the trio chose to land some massive interstellar aircraft; or at least that was the vivid image evoked by the blinking lights and ambient sound. The Melvins always take their audience right to the edge of surreal without alienating them.

“It’s nice to come to a town that’s so friendly,” said Osborne to the audience towards the end of the show. For whatever reason, The Melvins rarely skip Colorado on their tour circuit. With the congress of excellent bands that do skip our middle-of-nowhere state, seeing an act like The Melvins is a rare treat that should absolutely not be missed.


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