Melvins Turn the Spotlights on New York City’s Sold Out Irving Plaza Show [Photos + Review]
Catching a Melvins show is always a good time. The band routinely brings out an assortment of fans ranging from crust punks to indie rockers to metalheads to alternative supporters, proving that the band’s modus operandi of writing whatever the hell they want is widely appealing. Naturally, when you unite people from these various musical corners in New York City, it’s a guarantee that the room will be packed tight, which was just the case last night (Aug. 3) at Irving Plaza.
Per usual, the Melvins were in the midst of an exhaustive world tour, which began in early July and isn’t set to wrap up until the second week of November. Post-sludge rock act Spotlights were tapped for the North American portion of the run and fit the bill perfectly with their highly atmospheric yet crushing wall of sound approach. The band, which consists of husband and wife duo Mario and Sarah Quintero at the core, were reunited with drummer Chris Enriquez who had performed with the group at a number of shows earlier in the tour, putting the “power” in power trio.
Spotlights ran through a number of tracks off their 2016 Ipecac debut, Tidals, putting an already sizable crowd into a dream-like state of enigmatic bliss as a sea of heads slowly bobbed in unison with the undulating rhythms. Seamlessly sliding between somber, delicate moments straight into lumbering riffs, the band cleverly employed the use of a couple electronic beat tracks to switch up the mood, transfixing the audience only to wallop them with crescendoing cymbal strikes that signaled some of the heaviest moments of the set were about to come.
With Irving Plaza now bursting at capacity, fans lined the room from wall to wall, even spilling out from the doorways that led to the merch stands (side note: the Melvins had some awesome custom art on display), and it was time for the Seattle weirdos to hit the stage. Performing as a trio consisting of constants Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, the two were flanked by bassist OFF! bassist Steve McDonald, who shared in the vocal duties as well.
It was a good night for Lysol fans as the band played half of the 1992 album opening with their cover of Flipper’s “Sacrifice.” It was a peculiar choice to start the show with considering the stumbling nature of the riffs, but this is the Melvins; why would anything be ordinary? Sticking with the older material, the Ozma track “Oven ” was next followed by the Boris favorite “Anaconda.”
Always a spectacle onstage, frontman and riff wizard Osborne donned his custom robe, emblazoned with a flashy spiral design on the chest and a bunched turtleneck-like attached garment made of the same material as the insignia. Stalking the stage, he swung his guitar around in awkward movements, which were matched by his jagged strides, lost in a world of high-level distortion and squealing feedback as the Melvins ripped through new and old songs, pulling out “Edgar the Elephant,” “Euthanasia” and “Sober-delic (Acid Only)” off their new record, A Walk With Love and Death.
The night was also marked by two unique covers, one being David Bowie‘s “Saviour Machine” and the other coming from one of the Beatles‘ early hits, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Of course, these renditions deviated heavily from the originals, even turning the poppy Beatles cut into a mammoth performance.
Closing out the set the way they began it, the Melvins sourced the final two songs of the night from Lysol, performing the album’s first pair of tracks, the drum-pulsing “Hung Bunny” and “Roman Dog Bird.”
There’s just something intangible about a Melvins gig; perhaps its the unpredictability of their set or the chance to marvel at a band who has found success completely on their own terms, defying standards every delightfully awkward step of the way.
Melvins Set List – New York’s Irving Plaza Aug. 3, 2017
01. ‘Sacrifice” (Flipper cover)
05. “The Kicking Machine”
06. “Saviour Machine” (David Bowie cover)
07. “It’s Shoved”
08. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (The Beatles cover)
10. “Edgar the Elephant”
11. “Sober-delic (Acid Only)”
12. “The Bit”
13. “Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad”
15. “Hung Bunny”
16. “Roman Dog Bird”
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