High Noon Saloon
The Legendary Melvins arrived at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI in the middle of their “The Electric Roach Tour”. The venue is an intimate space with hardwood floors and rustic visuals littered across the room. When entering the area the merch is direct to your left next to the front entrance. The Melvins have various items available such as shirts and vinyl. The two-foot-tall stage stands all the way at the back of the room. As you walk towards it the bar is off to your left. It has horseshoes and other various cowboy images tacked to its walls. To your right is another bar that lies empty, but buried into the wall. The stage may be small and the lighting may stink, but it makes a perfect recipe for a metal show. The stage setup is simplistic. Guitarist Buzz Osborne has his two stacks on the far left of the stage, drummer Dale Crover has his kit at the back of the stage in the center, and off to the far right bassist Steve McDonald had a single stack tucked back. That it is. No cheap scrims or band banners. A traditionally stripped-down visual. The way these shows should be.
This show was for the long-time Melvins fans. The setlist encompassed pretty much the dark and sludgy history of the band. Mostly a best-of compilation. Most prevalent were the songs from their early 90s albums “Houdini” and “Bullhead”. Having a discography with 25 full-length releases they have plenty of songs to dish out, but keep it to the heart of the band’s origins. With the theme of the “Sanford and Son” TV show pouring out through the overhead speakers, The Melvins took the stage. There was no greeting the audience or talking to them over the PA. It was simply grabbing their instruments, plugging, and making sure they were tuned because as anyone who has seen them before knows they will not stop in between songs to make sure they are. They most notably make adjustments as they go. Point in case, a small microphone glitch during the start of “Oven”. The soundboard lost Buzz’s microphone about halfway through, so they adjusted and started the song over again from the beginning. It was gold.
The crowd surged forward multiple times over. The room was packed. There was barely any breathing room. Buzz and McDonald spent nearly the entire show living in the middle of the stage or right on the edge in front of patrons’ faces. So close you could feel the heat from their string picking. Buzz was doing what he does. Decked out in a full-body Mumu with a skull and bones over it he was whipping his hair around and swaying around the room with a stern look. Dale Crover on drums had his head down and was completely focused on the task at hand. Twice during the set, Dale had small drum solo-like interludes that seamlessly transitioned into the next song. His performance was a master class. Bassist Steven McDonald was perhaps the most engaged with the crowd. Often he leaned into and over the audience in front of him while playing. He danced around his microphone and delivered high leg kicks while decked out in what looked like spiritual robes. Their uniqueness has really shown through just as it always has. Musically, they couldn’t be any more cohesive. The songs performed sounded like they did when written. Every once and a while there were little nuanced differences, but it was for the betterment. Time does that.
It was once said that the Melvins were the godfathers of the grunge movement. What a load of crap. The Melvins clearly are an influential metal/rock band that paved the way for more radio-friendly sounding artists to capitalize. Through it all, they still produce high-quality art at breakneck speeds for their fan base. Their live show hasn’t slowed down either. The band is royalty and continually shows it. This show was amazing. They ripped through their set and you couldn’t look away. My ears were filled with musical perfection. Luckily, enough for those of us in Wisconsin they often make stops. All in all, they are everything modern metal and rock needed to be. It was about the music and the performance. No fluff or nonsense. There was so much to appreciate. It is easy for me to say this, but their shows need still to be seen.
2. Lovely Butterfly
3. It’s Shoved
6. Electric Charlie (Redd Kross cover)
9. Never Say You’re Sorry
10. Evil New War God
12. Honey Bucket
13. The Bit
14. With Teeth
15. Ballad of Dwight Fry (Alice Cooper cover)