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BEING THERE: The Melvins @ Underground Arts

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

Few bands have pulled off such a consistently strong, decades-long discography as sludge-metal legends The Melvins. Throwing down hard since their ’86 debut, Deep Six, their latest, the just-released Pinkus Abortion Technician, is no exception. Named after the Butthole Surfers’ infamous 1987 album, Locust Abortion Technician, Pinkus Abortion Technician delivers five original tracks and three covers, including The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The album’s title is not the only element borrowed from Butthole Surfers. As the title suggests, former Surfers bassist and songwriter, Jeff Pinkus, joined forces with The Melvins to write and record Pinkus Abortion Technician and take it on the road. I had the pleasure to experience The Melvins Thursday night at Underground Arts, where head Melvin, Buzz Osborne, looked like a space warlock in this black, Snuggy-esque, cosmos-themed, turtle-necked robe, with his weightless gray afro lazily trailing the motions of his head. Both he and Pinkus played the fabled Travis Bean instruments (other notable Travis-Bean-players include Jerry Garcia, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Efrim Menuck, and Mac Demarco), with Travis Bean speaker cabinets to match. Ongoing Melvins bassist, Shane McDonald (yes, two bassists on stage) donned a blood-spattered black suit and made crazy eyes at me from stage-left when he wasn’t jumping around. Thursday night’s set was a healthy blend of oldies, like “Honey Bucket” and “At a Crawl,” as well as their latest, which I thoroughly enjoyed: the darkly comical “Stop Moving to Florida” and the hauntingly spellbinding “Don’t Forget to Breath.” Pinkus created wacky radio frequencies during song transitions, and those brief moments were the only periods of moshpit cessation. Look, I enjoy large, sweaty men body-checking me and spilling PBR in my face as much as the next guy, but truth be told I prefer enjoying my sludge in stillness — sonic-pummeling over body-pummeling. But, I suppose not every crowd can be a Swans crowd. Aside from an occasional respite from the relentless moshing, the only other thing that would have made this show better is an encore. Those impatient Philly crowds, man. They booked it to the exit as soon as the band put down their instruments, save for one devout fan at the front chanting “One more song!” three times before succumbing to the silence that ensued. – KYLE WEINSTEIN

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