words by Black Bubblegum, photos by Ryan Muir

The Melvins

The Melvins, in retro formation, played Webster Hall on Friday (5/15) as part of their 25th Anniversary celebration. As advertised, the band played the complete and slightly reconfigured Houdini, as well as portions from their 2005 collection of early demos, Mangled Demos.

Mangled Demos material leans more toward their hardcore roots, and I was always more of a fan of their heavier Sabbath-y material. That said, it was interesting to see Dale Crover on bass (he was introduced as ex-bassist, and ex-Mudhoney member, Matt Lukin) for a few songs. The trio for this opening portion of the night also consisted of Buzz, and original drummer Mike Dillard. Then Dillard left the stage and The Melvins became just Dale and Buzzo, sans bass (Dale moved back to drums) - all of the low end punch was gone out of the instrumentation.

Luckily, the Melvins-as-hardcore-duo was short-lived, and Trevor Dunn arrived later in the set clad in a camo druidian robe to set Webster Hall a-rumblin'. With Melvins the trio now on stage, Houdini was disassembled and played out of order with the band closing the show with a drum solo (with Trevor Dunn and Mike Dillard providing additional percussion) and a short Trevor Dunn bass solo. No encores (natch). As an experiment, I tried to listen to as little of Houdini as humanly possible before Friday, attempting to try and get a fresh perspective on a record that I had admittedly played to death years ago. Houdini classics such as "Honey Bucket", "Hooch", "Going Blind" were fantastic, and for a moment, they helped erase the fond memories of latter day Melvins with Coady and Jared (of Big Business). Smiles.

Packing in a smidge over two hours worth of material, Melvins finished just in time for Webster Hall curfew, and luckily I had Grey Wolves, Thrones, and Bastard Noise at No Fun Fest (at Music Hall of Williamsburg) to keep my energy and spirits high. More on that later.

More Melvins pics, a couple of videos, and the full setlist, below...

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Melvins @ Webster Hall in NYC - May 15, 2009 - setlist (via)

FIRST: [Dillard/Buzz/Dale]
1983 material, including "Forgotten Principles" and "Set Me Straight," and, I'm pretty sure, "If You Get Bored" and "Snake Appeal."

THEN: [Buzz/Dale duo]
1) "Second Coming"/"The Ballad of Dwight Fry"
2) "It's Shoved"
3) [slow unknown blues - cover? Crover sang; chorus sounded like "let me roll it"--anyone know what this was?]
4) "Suicide in Progress"
5) "Oven"
6) "Black Bock"
7) "Let God Be Your Gardener"

LAST: [Buzz/Dale/Dunn]
8 ) "Hag Me"
9) "Pearl Bomb"
10) "Hooch"
11) "Honey Bucket"
12) "Night Goat"
13) "Lizzy"
14) "Joan of Arc"
15) "Set Me Straight"/"Deserted Cities of the Heart"
16) "Sky Pup"
17) "Teet"
18) "Goin' Blind"
19) "Copache"
20) "Spread Eagle Beagle" [Crover, Dillard, Dunn]
21) "With Teeth"
22) "The Bit"
23) [band intros/loungey outro]