Here's something moderately interesting I did last week: I went to both of the Melvins 20th anniversary shows. Sunday night at the Showbox in Seattle; Tuesday night at an old movie theater in Olympia. Although I half-heartedly tried to get someone - anyone - to go with, it would appear that absolutely no one I know in Washington state is even remotely enthused by the prospect of going to a Melvins show. Ah well.
So: the first show at the Showbox. Got there right on time, found free street parking nearby. Showed my ID, bought a copy of their new art book for $60, and grabbed one of about ten seats in the entire place, where I tried to read the book. That didn't work - artsy book, tiny text, poor lighting - so I sat and smoked and drank a Heineken waiting for the show to start. Eventually, a young Canadian from Surrey BC sat down on the other chair in the area and we talked for a while. The opening band, Big Business, played about three songs, which they did well; I thought it was classy to keep it short as the other bands playing were far more famous. At some point Mudhoney did their set; my only thought was something like, wow, this is an actual band. However, their songs were largely boring, except perhaps for Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More. So, they eventually finished. While waiting around for the Melvins to come on, I passed my book around so that everyone could have a read, which was fine; people were exceedingly polite and careful to keep the book clean. Most concertgoers seemed to be folks in their late 20s who had recently discovered the Melvins... hard to say why they were so fascinated, but some things defy explanation. [Me, I first saw them in San Francisco at the Kennel Club about twelve years ago with cbertsch; I fell in love immediately, but over the years that love has been tried by repeated irritating excursions into different musical directions. I love them to death when they're slow and loud and powerful, but they haven't done that much in recent years.] Anyhow, Melvins came on and did a song from about 1998 that was perfectly good. Very controlled playing, very musical, and best of all with plenty of space between the drums, the bass, the guitar, the vocals. It was very Helmet-esque in that regard. For a few minutes I remembered why I like them so much.
Then, they went into speed metal stuff for the next hour. Yawn. Songs like Hooch were ruined by playing them too quickly; I think they were desperate to get out of there, largely because the crowd were behaving badly in the mosh pit [security kept dragging people off the stage and throwing them out the emergency exits]. Kevin [the bass player] got hit at least twice by thrown objects; everyone was looking really pissed off, and Buzz just kept playing the material faster and faster. Finally, Dale said thank you, they took off, the lights went up, and that was that.
So, the show was largely a C+. One good song, lots of bad too-fast playing. Feh.
Two nights later during the 100 mile drive south to Olympia, I kept wondering why I was bothering. Sure, it was a Special Night, twenty years to the day since their first concert ever, but I don't know. It sucks standing around shows by yourself, especially when it's out of town, late, and on a school night.
I had plenty of time to take a long walk around downtown Olympia beforehand; it's a charming town. I had no idea. There's also an amazingly good tea shop there called Tea Lady. The Tea Lady herself was charming, knowlegeable about Yunnan, and excited to see the Melvins playing. Hm. Had some suboptimal Chinese food down the block, got a bubble tea to go, and then headed over to the theater to see the show.
There wasn't really anywhere to sit, at least with an unobstructed view. The opening band started and played for about an hour. I'd had enough. I bought another copy of the book as well as the 250-copy 7" single recorded just for this show. I went home.
So... I find myself wondering how the Melvins were that night, but I also enjoyed getting to bed early.
I think the most fun I had in Olympia that night was staring at the Melvins' sound engineer, who was very traditionally Bear.