Sep 8, 2009

Down / Melvins - Sonar

By Bob Suehs

MELVINS / DOWN / Weed Eater


Baltimore, MD

The power of the riff compels me....anyone who's ever seen "The Exorcist" knows that Phil Anselmo borrowed that line & added "riff" where "Christ"'s a great analogy though for this particular show, because the 3 bands on this billing wouldn't be what they are if it wasn't for bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC & all the classic riff rock bands that paved the way for modern day stoner rock!

Weed Eater opened the show & it's ironic that the bands name is the same as a brand of lawn mowers, because these guys look like they just got done mowing the lawn, strapped on their guitars & started jamming! They look dirty, they sound dirty & they....honestly, I hate to trash a band, I can appreciate what they do, BUT, the distortion they use is just too freakin' loud...the guitar tone sounds like a lawn mower, the bass sounds like a weed whipper & the drums are the cleanest thing in the mix! Overall, I'd compare their set to when a record gets stuck on one spot & repeats for 30 minutes...redundant, repetitive & you kinda zone out after a few minutes.

The Melvins were up next & I knew they were about to tear the roof off the place with their twin drum attack! Dale was the first drummer for Nirvana, he's an amazing musician, & I'm really surprised the band has 2 drummer.....Dale is honestly more than enough, but they have 2 full drum kits onstage & they rock it hard! What I noticed this particular night though was, after I got done taking pics for the first 3 songs of their set, I went to the right side of the stage & leaned against the wall to watch their set & the bass tone from their drums were soooo intense that the walls were actually vibrating in the club!

Buzz looks like a chubbier version of Side Show Bob from The Simpsons, his guitar playing inspired the bulk of the Seattle Grunge Scene from the 90's, his hair is as big as his guitar riffs & he's totally cartoonish in all honesty...he's the most interesting rock frontman to take a rock stage in the past 2 decades, yet, he's still not well known outside the underground rock world...that's a tragedy if you ask me!

Buzz quiped that he was glad the crowd decided to see The Melvins, as opposed to say, donating time as an orphanage, doing charity work, or doing some sorta good in the world....the band has a weird sense of humor that you have to pay attention to really "get"...their intro them was the theme to TV's "The A-Team" & they closed their set with an acapella version of "The Star Spangled Banner" sang by the entire band! MY big question is, "Why in the hell doesn't the main stream realize The Melvins are god?".

When The Melvins finished, there was a small breakdown period, then DOWN, the New Orleans super group headed by Phil from Pantera, with Jimmy Bower on drums, Pepper from Corrosion of Conformity on guitar & Kirk from Crowbar on guitar, minus Rex Brown, due to illness, stormed the stage for nearly 90 minutes of riff rock mayhem!

DOWN's set was tight...Phil did some talking between every song, BUT, it wasn't like when he was strung out & would babble endlessly...what I did notice though was that Phil was smoking onstage & he's sporting a 'hawk hairstyle again! The bands set was a nice compilation of all their studio albums, BUT, the clear highlight of the night was an impromptu jam where a bunch o' rare covers were played! They played "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" by Van Halen in it's entirety & Phil said when it was done that was the first & ONLY time they'd EVER played that song...then Kirk kept tossing out covers...they played "Grinder" by Judas Priest in it's entirety, the beginning of an Iron Maiden classic, & then Kirk started ripping into other Van Halen riffs & the rest of the band kept chiming in & they actually did little pieces of some VH gems! That's what made this show such a special one...the band was tight, but loose...they were not afraid to be goofy, Pepper was sporting a full beard, Bower kept the drums moving & free, while Kirk was the riff-meister ALL night! The show concluded with "Bury me in Smoke" & the band gave their instruments to crew members, then Phil sang the end of "Whole Lotta Love/Stairway to Heaven" before exiting the stage for his final goodnight bow....what can I say, this was the ultimate stoner/riff rock show EVER!