One could classify The Melvins as grunge or hardcore or sludge or affix the tricky label alt. metal to their leathery hides, but as evidenced at yet another Rex Theater stand, there’s bits of prog in that soup along with blues and classic rock. With two bassists in the fold, The Melvins rumble as never before, trotting out prehistoric slammers that borrow as much from The MC5 as they do from Black Sabbath and Hellhammer, wattage wizard Buzz Osbourne looking like a character from a Silver Age Dr. Strange comic book as he manically, angrily carved riffs out of stone as Steve McDonald, his morbid Vegas showman fatstring-slinger #1 caged him in as best he could while cro-magnon warrior Jeff Pinkus barked out lyrics almost as a warning for us to stay out of the way. Skinsman Dale Crover was a true delight to watch, his mixture of controlled, deliberate, and intuitive drumming a la Peart met the wild abandon of Moon and Bonzo, his solo being a highlight of the set, something that often serves as a cue for a bathroom break. It would take a madman to write these songs and a genius to play them. Or is it the other way around? Nevertheless with a wealth of material at their fingers, a set that only lasts 75 minutes is inexcusable, and after having felt cheated for the third time in a row, I’m not sure I can say I’ll be back even if The Melvins most surely will, the show’s ample draw portending regular visitations. Shaggy like a Sasquatch, self-indulgent, and at times a complete mess, The Melvins have branded their name onto Pittsburgh’s psyche through force of will…and a little smoke and a few mirrors.
Opening Act Note: Warm-up band All Souls failed to stoke my appetite but seemed to excite the crowd with their Pixies, Kyuss-lite stylings highlighted by the mild, Santanaesque guitar heroics of Erik Trammell.