LIVE REVIEW: THE MELVINS – THE HIFI, BRISBANE [08/12/13]

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Reviewed by Bec Hennessy

I went into this knowing not much of the Melvins, other than they are name checked by a lot of bands I do love. I suspected/hoped I was in a for a wild ride. At first I’m naïve/confused/skeptical [“Wait..what.. two..drummers? No one needs two drummers”]; but then, comforted by a familiar Sabbath-y doom, I relax.  

Buzz coaxes solos from his guitar like a snake charmer, lolling at stage right. Basking in slow shamanic riffs, preaching a droning sermon. But it’s not pure sludge and gloom, there’s jazzy stoner rock jams and metal riffs. It’s heavy, heavy.  But it’s a heavy without that ‘double kicks exploding your chest’ feeling. It  builds, sneaks up on you – genre twisting and turning, molding it all into their own.

The drummers –  Coady and Dale are  a perfect example of their ‘do what we want/tongue in cheek’ whimsy.  The costumes proving appropriate as both those guys work with a sportsperson like speed, precision and passion. Alternately mirroring and complementing each other –  I’m transfixed.  

I tried and discarded a million adjectives to describe this band, this gig. Impossible. I think you either get it or you don’t, and you enjoy the ride rather than analyze it.  The ride tonight includes an intense yet happy pit of writhing, stumbling, smiling, shoving bodies – that I didn’t expect either. This doesn’t strike me personally as ‘mosh to music’, but I suspect it’s more about trying to match/respond to/express their joy at the energy emanating from the stage.

The finish is mesmerizing. It feels like I’ve been inside some kind of tent in the desert for days undulating to a never-ending jam. Dale and Coady a rhythmic  tribal frenzy, Bassist Jared is on his knees chanting into the mic. It all feels very ritualistic and cathartic, without any of the negative emotions you might associate with those terms. Not happy or sad but just pure and transcendental.

Melvins may be a writhing mass of eclectic parts, but it’s the sum of which that matters. It’s a sum I can’t sum up here. Discover for yourself like I did, or if you’re already converted just revel in it.

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