The Melvins

The Melvins

with Melt Banana and Vaz

Cotton Club, Atlanta • August 9, 1999

If the Cotton Club had thought ahead, they would have made this their last show. The venue is scheduled for demolition, and they could have saved the trouble by renting some extra PA gear and letting these guys sonically level the entire block.

Vaz started off the show, a duo (guitar/drums) descended from AmRep’s Hammerhead — pleasantly noisy, but uneventful. I felt a little ripped off when the guitarist broke a string, yet the wall of feedback continued on without him. Noise band using samples alert!

Melt Banana was next, the illegitimate children of Sonic Youth and Godzilla. Hailing from Japan, they don’t play songs so much as attack them. The singer sounds like a cross between Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex and a Brillo pad rubbed across a microphone — the guitarist wears a surgeon’s mask duct-taped to his face, and plays samples from toy weapons as often as he hits his guitar. The high point of the night was their version of “Surfin’ USA,” dedicated tonight as “a celebration of American rock, the best fucking rock in the whole world!” I couldn’t agree more.

The Melvins might be just a shade on the light side of Black Flag, but on the heavy side of every other band that’s ever existed. If they’d been around in the early ’70s, the MC5 would have given up. KISS would have never formed. Slade would never have written the songs that tormented millions years later in the hands of Quiet Riot. They’re that loud, and that good. In case I haven’t made my point, let me say that they make Black Sabbath sound like the Campfire Girls on a weekend outing.

For the first song, the drummers from all three bands played together in a bone-crushing barrage. King Buzzo (guitar/vox), with his “Sideshow Bob” hair now splattered in gray, played the riffs they’ve played since the Dawn of Grunge. It was loud and sludgy, the perfect music to play full volume at a steel mill or car factory.

I’ll swear I felt the walls cracking, just a bit. I won’t be surprised if the Cotton Club goes down without a fight when they finally bring in the ‘dozers.

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