The Melvins Lite / Big Business: Bristol – live review

The Melvins Lite/Big Business
The Exchange, Bristol
22nd April 2013

Tonight is the first of three dates The Melvins are playing at the Exchange in Bristol this spring. We are treated to the single UK exclusive ‘Melvins Lite’ show before heading round Europe with Tevor Dunn from Mr Bungle/Fantômas/Tomahawk in tow on bass. I’m pretty excited about these shows, it has been over twenty years since I saw them last. They were first on the bill at Reading Festival when Nirvana headlined and lucky for us it isn’t muddy and raining and the gig is inside.

The place is packed as I make my way through the crowd to see Big Business who pound away heavily at their strings and skins causing a right ruckus. Heavy and sludgy in the same vein as The Melvins, they groove the fuck out of their riffs like Sabbath. The heat is rising higher and higher and it’s pretty obvious it’s going to be a sweaty night. Big Brother are the prefect opening band for The Melvins setting the vibe to just the right frequency.

The first thing we realise as The Melvins take the stage is there is nothing ‘Lite’ about what these guys are playing tonight. It still sounds ultra-heavy, almost heavier! Trevor Dunn’s Double Bass is just that. Double the size and double the rumble. ‘The Fusion of Captain Pungent Berthas’ and ‘Berthas’ sound massive as we are treated to the incredibly ferocious drumming of Dale Crover whilst Buzz Osbourne proves his vocals can reach equal heights over his staccato riffing. Dunn’s Bass slapping ads a lovely rounded groove to the noise.

‘Worm Farm Waltz’ from their 2012 album, ‘Freak Puke’ stomps along whilst Dunn uses his bow to elongate the notes sufficiently. ‘Hooch’ really gets everyones blood rising now that the heat is almost unbearable, so unbearable that I have to get some air as I am feeling faint. ( I hear a new aircon system is being fitted real soon, thank fuck!) Watching from the back of the venue, it is apparent how much groove and dare I say it ‘Jazz’ the Double Bass brings to the equation. Songs such as ‘A History Of Drunks’, ‘Electric Flower’ and ‘Inner Ear Rupture’ take us to a place where we experience a metal/jazz odyssey (with added JAWS Theme tune) and for once I am not surprised.

The Melvins exceed all expectations this evening. The ‘Lite’ aspect is merely a trick as there is nothing mellower about the version of the band. They are a band that many aspire to emulate but very few capture their humour and intensity. A behemoth amongst minions. Roll on the two date residency in May.

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