Hard Rock Luminaries Bring the Heat to South Florida – Review of the Concert at the Culture Room (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
The Melvins have always been a band in an interesting situation. If you ask any ten random people from the street, there’s a good chance that only one or two of them will have heard of the group, if you’re lucky. But their influence can be heard in pretty much any rock group that has made it big in the last three decades. Having been cited as the primary inspiration by such huge acts as Nirvana, Tool, and Mastodon, who have all gone on to become huge successes in the public eye while selling out huge arenas almost without lifting a finger, The Melvins have always been a “fan’s band”, catering to a small group of hardcore supporters that “get it”.
The hardest working band in the scene, they frequently tour the United States year round (this was their third visit to South Florida in as many years) and play small venues, enabling their devotees to get up close and personal to the group. Founding members Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover have been bringing their unique brand of chaos to audiences worldwide for over 34 years, releasing an astounding 21 albums during the group’s massive career. Backed by a revolving door of bassists throughout the years, this time around they employed Steven Shane McDonald, best known as being the bassist of Tenacious D and the punk rock super-group OFF.
Opening for the legendary founders of the Washington grunge scene was the group Spotlights. Made up of the husband and wife team of Mario and Sarah Quintero playing guitar and bass respectively, the Brooklyn based group merges riffs of elephant sized heaviness with the slowness of a sloth (in a good way!), creating a sonic landscape reminiscent of Pelican and Intronaut. Melding the abrasiveness of sludge metal with the slow, atmospheric pace of shoegaze, the pair performed songs from their upcoming new album Seismic, including the song Learn to Sleep which is available to stream via their bandcamp. I was not aware of this group before seeing them perform that night, but I was impressed with how tight and focused the group sounded. They also did not utilize a drummer, instead performing as a pair using a laptop to play the backing drums in their music. After a few songs, the group thanked the audience for their time and let The Melvins’ techs get to work on setting up the stage.
After a short wait, King Buzzo himself made his way onto the stage, clad in his infamous black robe adorned with chrome spirals and various other trim. As the rest of the band assembled onstage, the group kicked off into their first few songs, including Oven, Anaconda, Queen, and The Kicking Machine. All three members took on singing duties during the songs, and I was very impressed with the way Dale was able to sing his lines while also maintaining a killer drum line without missing a beat. They also played a few covers, including David Bowie’s Saviour Machine and The Beatles I Wanna Hold Your Hand, before breaking in four songs from their latest album A Walk With Love & Death. Once Buzz began the opening riff to Melvins classic The Bit, the entire place went wild as a giant mosh pit exploded in the center of the room. After a few more songs, Buzz brought out their opener Spotlights and performed Hung Bunny and Roman Dog Bird from one of their most well-known albums Lysol, after which they departed the stage with a crowd baying for more. Unfortunately, they did not play an encore (probably due to time constraints), but they say its better to leave the crowd hungry for more than overstay your welcome and The Melvins definitely left me waiting impatiently until the next time they made their way to my part of town.
The Melvins are currently on tour throughout the US