The Melvins, Unsane Trees Monday, May 7
The turnout at Trees was surprisingly strong for The Melvins' 90-minute set last night. Taking the stage to orchestral gladiator music, guitarist Buzz Osborne, drummer Dale Crover, drummer Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren kicked in hard with "Dog Island." Jumping way back into their extensive catalog for the next two songs, "Hung Bunny" and "Roman Dog Bird" from Lysol, the pace turned slow and turgid.
If you were expecting the band to have any interaction with the crowd, this wasn't the night. They kept to themselves, especially the muumuu-clad Osborne, rolling through one song after another without any considerable time to take a breather. Dynamics and tempos varied, from the demented pep rally chant of "The Water Glass" to the slow ride down the highway of "Manky."
As great as the tones of Osborne's guitar and Warren's bass were, they didn't overpower the nuances of the double-drumming. With identical Tama kits placed next to each other, Crover and Willis beat every inch with marching band-sized drumsticks. And they wore matching gladiator garments to boot. The overall power started to wane as the band finished with a neverending version of "The Bit," but the crowd stayed all the way to the end.
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The bluesy, crusty punk of Unsane made for a very special opening set. With their regular drummer Vinnie Signorelli recuperating in a hospital, Willis and Crover filled in. Willis played half of the 10-song set while Crover played a couple and then both finished the set. And yes, they played the song many people know them for: "Scrape."
Personal bias: I've always respected The Melvins, but besides (A) Senile Animal, I can't really say I've spent a massive amount of time with their music. A chance to see Dale Crover hit drums and cymbals like a punching bag? I'll see that.
Random note: During Unsane's set, a flip-flop belonging to a female member of the audience flew onto Crover's drumset. The woman had been pushing around in a friendly mosh pit, but how it wound up flying onto stage defies simple logic.
Set list: "Dog Island" "Hung Bunny" "Roman Dog Bird" "The Water Glass" "Evil New War God" "Manky" "A History of Bad Men" "Youth of America" "A Growing Disgust" "The War on Wisdom" "We Are Doomed" "Friends Before Larry" "A Really Long Wait" "National Hamster" "The Bit"