Concert review: The Melvins, The Powerstation

By Chris Schulz

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The Melvins have a 30-year history of grungy muck-raking.
The Melvins have a 30-year history of grungy muck-raking.

First you see the hair, a gigantic frizzy mop of grey dreads on top of front man Buzz Osborne's head that resembles an ageing Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons.

Then you notice the drummers, two of them working in tandem as their arms flail about in time, sweat coating everything within range as their double-time kick drums slam right into your chest.

Lastly, the riffs hit you, a gigantic wall of rugged and raw caveman licks that come flying out of Osborne's guitar, beaming in like a teleportation device to the '90s.

Welcome to a Melvins show circa 2013. It feels good to be alive.

Last time the four-piece were here in 2011, the Montesano rockers survived two separate earthquakes - in Japan, then in Christchurch - that saw their tour cut short.

There were no interruptions this time around as the iconic grunge stalwarts kicked off with the thrillingly sluggish grind of Hag Me, a combination of downtuned bass, thundering riffs and Osborne's pained wail.

It set the tone for the night, as the searingly loud speed metal riffage of War on Wisdom bled into the deliciously sprawling Lizzy and A Growing Disgust, which saw Osborne delivering a searing solo that inspired crowd surfing and stage diving amongst those in the front rows.

Despite the obvious charm of a band still grinding away underground after a 30-year career, you can see why The Melvins never made it as big as their '90s counterparts like Nirvana and Soundgarden.

Their sludgemaking racket never holds onto a rhythm for more than a few seconds before moving onto another one, and songs like Your Blessed come laced with so much fuzzed out feedback they can be hard to love.

And this would have been a show better suited to a smaller, more intimate venue - one where you could see the white's of Osborne's eyes as the perpetually petulant front man eyed the crowd while delivering those muck-raking riffs of his.

But it all came together on Let It All Be as they slowed their riffage down to a simple, head nodding groove that, just like Osborne's hair, became the wild and woolly highlight of the night.

The Melvins
Where: The Powerstation, Auckland
When: Wednesday, December 4

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