While looking for parking near his house (impossible), I drove by the Troubadour and noticed Dale Crover outside talking on his cell phone:
Aaron and I had Greenwich Village pizza that was about as Greenwich Village as Tustin, but at least it was cheap, fresh, sanitary, and on the way to the show.
Melvins played all of Eggnog and then all of Lysol, both in the reverse order. Buzz started it all of with somewhere on the order of five to ten minutes of feedback (which I didn't immediately recognize as Charmicarmicat, thinking they were gonna start with Hung Bunny); Dale and guest bassist Trevor Dunn eventually walked on, with Dale doing a kind of mock gruff slap-aside of Dunn's bass so he could get to his drum kit.
And that's about when the transcendent, out of body experiences started happening for me. The Troubadour is a very, very small club, and their PA system is both distortion-free and impossibly loud. For those of you who don't know this song (and I assume that's 99% of everyone reading this journal), it's very slow and very, very loud. They would build up to a physically overwhelming cymbal fiesta and then back it off, repeatedly, and when that happened, all the air went out of the room and I experienced the beautiful, the terrible, the joyous feeling I sometimes do when confronted with a work of art that overwhelms my senses and reminds me of the endless beauty in the world.
Thirty-five minutes later (I timed it), they moved on to the rest of the album, and then all of Lysol. I've never seen the Melvins in better form, at least not since that original show at the Kennel Club; Dale's drumming was terrifyingly loud and clean, and Buzz's singing was strong and forceful. Such beauty with such force of intent doesn't come around often.
Afterwards, we had tart mango yoghurt with mochi (yum) and I drove back to San Diego with a case of wine from K&L stashed in my trunk, not listening to music, just thinking about what I'd experienced at that show. On the walk back to Aaron's place, we talked about a particular type of artistic experience that, for me, is one of the most wonderful things in the world when it hits me: the way that some works of art exist in a constant flux between ugly/beautiful, on/off with an ever changing sense of what it is with no final resolution. Clonakilla wine is like that for me: it oscillates between beautiful and ugly, resonating with old meat, decay, and the striking beauty of springtime flowers. There was a painting that hung in the Berkeley art museum of what I thought might have been a Madonna and child, totally obscured by a thick layer of what could have been beeswax: you could stare at it for hours, sensing a beauty there, hidden behind that layer of distortion. Just as a Max Tundra song will sometimes deny resolution by ending exactly when you expect it to go on, a good Melvins show will remind you that there is beauty in chaos, calm in turmoil. I'm still smiling.
Bonus ComiCon edition: Yeah, I bought swag at the Melvins show, too. Feast your eyes upon this bit of awesomeness: