Has it really been three decades since Buzz Osborne corralled a couple of friends together and formed The Melvins? A year later Dale Crover would join the band, and their story would unfold in a myriad of fascinating ways. Countless albums (and bass players) they are still at it, always keeping their fans and detractors on their toes. They do this by constantly confounding expectations while still tapping the main source of the riff. Buzzo’s written many mean, heaving riffs and unlike the concept of peak oil, there is no projected decline in sight.
As befitting an anniversary, the band liberally pulled from all phases of their past, with nine different records comprising fourteen of the Melvins songs played. And the fifteenth? That was a nod to bass player guest of honor Jeff Pinkus, who was subbing in for the newly-minted father Jared Warren, on paternity leave. Say what you want about the band, but apparently they have a good benefits package. Anyway, “Graveyard” was a fitting end to the show, with dual drummers Crover and Coady Willis just pummeling the oxygen out of the air. The Butthole Surfers had a pretty good dual drummer attack and that imprint made this song instantly recognizable, but King Coffee and Teresa Taylor never yielded nearly the same sturm und drang levels. I’ve seen The Melvins about a dozen times in the last seven years, and it’s always been nothing less than a grand night out. Opening an evening with “Hag Me” sent a message that the trachea was their prime target, and they never loosened their grip.
After spending so much of their life in vans and crappy hotel rooms, The Melvins have got efficiency on the road down to a science, and they continued that trend by clever recycling of the opening act. Honky comprised of Jeff Pinkus on bass (who’d do double duty with The Melvins), Bobby Ed Landgraf on guitar, and Crover filling the drum seat. While nothing revelatory, their take on dirty Southern Rock was fun and brash; at one points Pinkus spoke of starting an all drug olympics and was seeking sponsorship in the MMA PCP division. Think Weedeater with less cough syrup and more Jack Daniels.