The bearded, intense- looking dude next to me at the bar has tattoos around his eyes and looks strangely familiar. I takes me a few seconds to realise it’s Dylan Carlson, founder of drone legends Earth. I let him grab his drink and disappear in the crowd. He doesn’t look like the kind of guy who appreciates being accosted by strangers.
It’s that kind of night. Earlier, Redd Kross warmed us up with a stream of jangly, spindly power pop, featuring Dale Crover on drums (how the Hell can he piston through TWO band sets is a mystery as far as I’m concerned). Redd Kross appears to have a small but loyal following and they are generally well- received. I have never paid much attention to their career, but I’m pretty won over by the crunchy guitar solos, Hanna- Barbera goes glam fashion sense and endless exuberance. And they do a mean version of KISS’ Deuce.
Come to think of it, bassist Stephen McDonald also does double duties with the Melvins, which explains why the two bands are inseparable these days. Melvins are of course vastly different in sound and approach. They don’t do much in the way of crowd banter and look pretty monolithic bathed in red light. Osborne wears a permanent frown, which is pretty rich for a guy wearing a shiny robe like an extra in a KLF video.
Fun fact: I once contacted Buzz Osborne to request an interview for my fanzine GangBang Press & Sound. He said “sure”, got me to write up a bunch of questions and mail them to him and then never got back to me ever again. Bastard.
Whatever, they are excellent. Crover gives the songs an almost jazzy precision and the music is surly, occasionally hilarious and wildly idiosyncratic. They are a law unto themselves and they do as they please. I haven’t heard the new album and recognise almost nothing for several songs, but it doesn’t matter. Wandering around, I bump into a work acquaintance who has seen them live five times and is bristling because they didn’t bother with stuff from Hoodini, but I don’t care. I didn’t expect them to do anything remotely crowdpleasing and the music itself more than makes up for it, if you let it.
And anyway, they played The Bit. I like that one.