The Spin sauntered into TMR’s Blue Room to find the stage looking like a glorified drum riser, with dueling Melvins drummers Dale Crover's and Coady Willis’ mirror-image kits set up front and center, taking up much of the performance perch’s real estate. The setup forced local openers Cy Barkley and his Way Outsiders (with the exception of drummer Acme Brown, of course) to set up house-show style on the venue floor in front of the stage — at eye level with the audience of super-psyched 30- and 40-something metalheads, grunge fetishists and TMR faithful.
Luckily, attendees encircled Cy & Co., warmly receiving the band’s speedy, slapdash thrash punk, as the unusual setup — in concert with the pumped-up volume that left little headroom for sonic nuance, clearly made it hard for the band to hear themselves and each other, resulting in a false start or two. The borderline-nauseating decibel level made the set sound like a thrice-dubbed mixtape of old SST favorites getting garbled by a cassette player — an aesthetic that, truth be told, paired well the band’s brash barn-burners. We were literally light-headed by opening set’s end. (MVP award goes to Barkley though, as he made it over to The Basement in time to play his role as sideman in Joey Plunket's power-pop troupe JP5.)
But that ear-canal-cleansing sonic assault was nothing compared to cult-robe-clad, perennially grunge-fro-sporting King Buzzo, who, along with bassist Jared Warren, flanked Crover and Willis on the edges of the Blue Room stage and immediately deafened even those wearing ear plugs. The wrecking crew kicked off the set with an end-of-the-world-sounding fury of deconstructionist drum soloing and braying noise, leading into an opening “Charmicarmicat.” On the live album the band was cutting, the song — a terrifying-sounding, sludgy, slow trudging, 20-minute-plus muscular dirge — made up the entirety of the A-side.
The effect of both the enormous sound and the duration was literally physical, rumbling guts en masse and, to our dismay, rattling one of our earplugs right out of its place and onto the floor, never to be found. Although we unfortunately forgot to get in a gravity-bong hit before departing for the show, the performance still gave us quite the cathartic body high.
For the set’s second half, and the live album’s second side, the band busted out a choice handful of muscular ‘90s alt-metal fan favorites like “Anaconda,” the hard-chugging, hard-grooving “At the Stake,” the foreboding riff-fest “Queen” and the dueling-drum-anti-solo-boasting Bullhead-closer “Cow.”
By Jack White’s quick-fingered request (as documented in this Vine TMR posted), the band encored with a careening “Honey Bucket,” preceded by the shambolic sonic sea-sickness of “Your Blessed" [sic]. And blessed, albeit deafened, we were.