Anybody remember that guy Kurt Cobain and his band Nirvana? Yeah me either. This guy told me once that he tried out for (the) Melvins and totally tanked his audition, but since King Buzzo and crew were amused by his enthusiasm they gave him a position as their roadie. This, of course, was all prior to his MTV Generation X explosion into his (undesirable) popularity. Several years and one dose of Courtney Love later Cobain’s career had come to a tragic close, but his sludge pioneering super heroes are still releasing and touring in support of fresh studio material despite having already released twenty full lengths, ten EP’s, and twelve live albums. This time around das Melvins are touring to support their newest split EP with veteran hardcore trio Unsane who are consequently the second band on the tour package. Interestingly enough the new split features covers of one another’s songs.
Monday’s show took place at downtown Orlando’s “premiere live venue” that most of us natives know as: The Social. When I arrived I was only about ten minutes early to the first set, but the floor was already entirely filled. I had just received two texts from two irate friends of mine that were turned away at the door: it was a sell out. I managed to maneuver my way through the crowd to a better vantage point with the help of my rowdy Miami sludge sisters in the band Shroud Eater charging ahead to the bar with a fervent thirst. After getting my footing with beer in hand, Unsane had taken the stage joined by Melvins drummer Coady Willis. Unfortunately, their drummer Vinnie Signorelli (ex-Swans) had taken leave to the hospital. Chris Spencer (guitar) and Dave Curran (bass) reassured the crowd that their long time friend was making a speedy recovery and would rejoin them behind the kit very soon. While it was unfortunate not seeing Unsane for the first time as the complete lineup, I’d say that Coady was a more than adequate fill in.
“Unsane slingin’ that hardcore tough love.”
I’d given myself the treat of surprise by intentionally not listening to Unsane before their performance. I made the right choice. The entire room became enveloped in a caustically hypnotic groove. People’s heads obediently banged through the aural grime of the first three songs that stirred a reminiscence to the 1996 Bloodlet record: Entheogen. Think if a stoner rock group like Karma to Burn adopted aggressive half time variations to each of their backbone riffs. Enthrallment overcame the room when Coady rose and left the stage followed by a coy retort from Chris who said “welp looks like Coady is done”. In seconds Melvins resident drum master Dale Crover situated himself behind the second elaborate drum spread on stage.
In between songs the roar of the crowd could barely be heard over the restrained uproar from each set of speaker cabinets mushing with Dave’s erratic warm up motions. Dale’s drumming provided an dexterously articulate interpretation to Unsane’s rhythms. For those unfamiliar with Dale’s style he utilizes contorted rhythm structures that can provide foundation on, in, behind or in front of a song’s tempo. An addition to those accents Dale also sports unparalleled stamina even after having toured virtually non-stop for over twenty years. Using that proving point Dale continued through the entirety of the set alongside Coady who had jumped back behind the kit after about three more tunes by Unsane + Crover. What a climax it was to see not one, but two sets, featuring the Melvins percussive duo. However, even such a tremendous display couldn’t rival the best Melvins set I’ve ever seen that had yet to come.