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Where Did Our Sludge Go?

The Melvins
Turner Hall Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI
May 1, 2012
The Melvins The Melvins The Melvins

Story and photos by Gypsy Davey

Let me start by saying that I'm no self-proclaimed Melvinite, or is it Melvinist? I've dabbled in the scene of punk metal first cutting my teeth with the likes of Black Flag, Dead Kennedy's and The Butthole Surfers - to name a few, but never dipped a toe into the sludgy waters The Melvins have been churning since their inception in the early 80's. How this band slipped past me will forever remain a mystery. That said, allow me the naivety and join me on my maiden voyage.

Any reviewer worth their weight will do a cursory overview prior to an assignment. Perking my interests were name drops of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Green River, natural offshoots inspired by Melvins' slow tempo experimentations. Attributed with the assist - in some respects - in helping create what became known as "The Seattle Sound," was enough to get me through the doors, to witness firsthand the genius behind these accolades.

Arriving a bit late, I stepped in amidst the noise-rock sounds of the evening's opening act - NYC's very own, Unsane. This being one of the loudest shows I've seen at Turner Hall as there must've been a speaker stack for every ear-drum in the place. Down drummer Vinnie Signorelli - hospitalized for an undisclosed illness - Melvins' Dale Crover filled in for their set, and the Metal Gods didn't seem to miss a beat. Regretting my tardiness, the set closed just as I was beginning to warm up. Under the rise of the house lights, I awaited the Main Act.

Fronted by the eccentricities of guitarist King Buzzo, aka Buzz Osborne, or is that vice versa, or does it even matter...with his rag-mop top and celestially adorned Kaftan of black, Buzzo fuzzed his current vibe on his axe of clear acrylic. Joining the cast of characters to carry the evening's plot through to resolution are founding drummer Dale Crover, drummer Coady Willis (since 2006), and bassist Jared Warren (since 2006). The band was tight, comfortably playing off of each other as they opened the evening with Dog Island, from their 2008 release Nude With Boots. Segueing from there into a Lysol medley, before entering into the heavy sounds of 2010's The Bride Screamed Murder, with the back-to-back tracks of "Water Glass" and "Evil New War God." So where's the slow tempo "sludgy-stuff?"

Next is "Manky," off The Maggot, the Wispers' cover "Youth of America," and their entire 2012 EP release The Bulls & The Bees. The night closed with "The Bit" from their 1996 Promo of the same name. The entire show - from opener to main - was balls-out Metal. For older fans who anticipated the earlier sounds that The Melvins have built their career on, I would expect the show to be a letdown, newer fans with a metal lean, a raving success, and one like myself who knew diddily, an impressive display of an ever-evolving thoroughly talented group of pioneers that'll go on to inspire countless waves of punk-metal youth to carry their banner of non-conformity into the next millennium.

Milwaukee Set list:
Dog Island
Water Glass
Evil New War God
History Of Bad Men
Youth Of America
A Growing Disgust
War On Wisdom
We Are Doomed
Friends Before Larry
A Really Long Wait
National Hamster
The Bit
The Melvins The Melvins
The Melvins

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