Sludge metal goofballs The Melvins played Velvet Jones last Thursday, September 16. The small downtown venue was full of mostly men, a lot of dudes in their thirties or forties. The Melvins accessibility is quite a feat, considering the genre; even in terms of metal, they have an odd, sort of whimsical, sense of humor and groovy jams. The Melvins pace their live shows the same as their albums: there is a lot of energy and chanting, but ambiance slows up the performance as they gain momentum. This grudge style is said to have influenced the Kurt Cobain scene before there was any Kurt Cobain to have a scene about.
Considering the sleeve-tattoos and Dickies shorts, I’d say most of the older audience members were fans from the early eighties, though I had a difficult time immersing myself in the adult crowd. Velvet Jones separates 21+ and the underage audience members by placing an alleyway upstairs, above the bar, for those who can’t drink. The spaces connect again in front of the stage. Before The Melvins even hit the stage a thick smell of liquor haunts the upper level. As soon as I saw the kid across the dingy upstairs pull out his flask I instantly regretted my own temperance.
Regardless, The Melvins are fantastic performers. They played very little from their new album The Bride Screamed Murder. It was mostly tracks from their 2006 release A Senile Animal and 2008’s Nude With Boots. A war chant entitled “The Killing Machine” started off the night as the band slowly traversed through the extreme, the fun and the relaxed. The performance felt like a drum-filled journey with heavy guitars wailing constantly. You can’t ask for a better kind of performance in this space. The sound is heard and, of course, the audience feels the music. The speakers are so loud at Velvet Jones. One of my favorite things about this band is their choice of track-titles, like pump up track “Rat Faced Granny”. Towards the end the celebration got a bit darker with a slow, demonic cover of The Rolling Stones’ “My Generation”. This led into the progressive rock groove “A History of Bad Men”. “Star Spangled Banner” came next and, of course, The Melvins changed the tone of the anthem drastically. The night ended with “Boris” a crowd favorite, and really one of the band’s best tracks.
Overall The Melvins held it down with loud music. All you live musicians, remember to play loud so everyone in the back can hear.