LIVE REVIEW: Melvins, Hamden’s Space Ballroom


When The Melvins come to town, they come to annihilate. They bring with them heaps of hair, grinding, sludgy noise, and this time around, not one, but two bassists. At a Melvins show, faces will be melted.

On tour for their latest album, last month’s Pinkus Abortion Technician (Ipecac), Melvins staples, singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover, brought along Steve McDonald (Redd Kross/OFF!) and Jeff Pinkus (Butthole Surfers), two bassists who each added unique bass lines to every track. For fans front and center (a crowd that is predominantly 35+ and male) the hodgepodge of metal, psychedelia, grunge and stoner rock was nothing shocking, but nonetheless intense and gratifying. For the slightly younger n00bs to the circus, the Melvins’ 75-minute show that was a spectacle to behold, some not daring to inch forward (especially during a “Honey Bucket” pit), intrigued by the danger, content to being flies on the wall.

Opening with a one-two punch of “Sesame Street Meat” and “At a Crawl,” the Melvins brought it from the very first licks of demented mania they served up. Once they took off, the band was relentless, barely stopping to notice the crowd or draw a breath. King Buzzo has a dark kinetic energy to him, his signature mop of gray hair didn’t stop whizzing through the air once. Crover, seated in the way back, plays hard. He pulverized his kit, tearing every single song wide open with booming kick drum beats that paired well with the plural bass lines, a sound that added intricate depth and moshy rage.

In the midst of the incessant pummeling, Buzz and co. squeezed in new tracks “Stop Moving to Florida” (a fused medley of Butthole Surfers and James Gang tracks) and “Don’t Forget to Breathe,” among a line-up maxed out with classic cuts and covers. Curveballs like the Rolling Stones’ classic “Sway” were unexpected charmers, as was a Melvins-style rendition of Bowie’s “Saviour Machine.” And goddammit, do I love a good cover. With a catalogue of 21 albums (not including compilations and live releases), the band ripped through songs new and old, spanning all three decades of the group’s battle-scarred career. By the time the band churned out the night’s last two songs, “Evil New War God” and Gluey Porch Treatments’ “Eye Flys,” the crowd was fired up and feisty, hankering for more. A perfect cue for the foursome to exit stage left. Short, sweet, loud, and straight to the fucking point.

Sesame Street Meat
At a Crawl
The Kicking Machine
Saviour Machine (David Bowie cover)
What They Say (Redd Kross cover)
Stop (James Gang cover)
Moving to Florida (Butthole Surfers cover)
Edgar the Elephant
Sway (Rolling Stones cover)
Let It All Be
Honey Bucket
The Bit
Don’t Forget to Breathe
Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad
The Talking Horse
Evil New War God
Eye Flys

Tour Dates:
May 31 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom
July 12 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory
July 13 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
July 14 Fresno, CA Strummer’s
July 16 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
July 17 Sacramento, CA Holy Diver
July 19 Seattle, WA Neumo’s
July 20 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
July 21 Vancouver, BC Venue Nightclub
July 24 Edmonton, AB Union Hall
July 25 Calgary, AB Marquee Room
July 27 Winnipeg, MB Pyramid Cabaret
July 28 Fargo, ND The Aquarium (Dempsey’s Upstairs)
July 29 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
July 30 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon
July 31 Chicago, IL Park West
August 2 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
August 3 Detroit, MI El Club
August 4 Columbus, OH A&R Music Bar
August 5 Indianapolis, IN The Vogue Theatre
August 6 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Company
August 7 Des Moines, IA Wooly’s
August 8 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room
August 10 Englewood, CO Gothic Theatre
August 11 Ft. Collins, CO Aggie Theatre
August 13 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
August 14 Las Vegas, NV The Bunkhouse Saloon
August 16 Los Angeles, CA The Echo