Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Melvins w/ Big Business Pops, Sauget, Ill. | 09.26.07

October 1993: 

The Primus "Liquid Pig" Tour rolled into Kansas City. Seated in the balcony of Memorial Hall was Lavis Dichiud: a young college freshman and devoted Primus fan. This evening was the first time that he saw Les Claypool & Co., and boy was he excited. He had no time or patience for some sludge metal band from Washington. He wanted Primus and he wanted it now. The scene was brutal. Melvins were treated to a chorus of boos and shouts of "PRIMUS!" throughout their opening slot. Thirty minutes passed and the Melvins left the stage with a torrent of sarcastic cheers. Primus soon came on, and Dichiud had the time of his life. He would later go to a Stone Temple Pilots show and boo the Butthole Surfers. If only he knew at that time how stupid he was.

Like all of us, my musical tastes evolved greatly over the years. A year after that Primus gig, I transferred to the University of Kansas, where I got involved with the student radio station. Suffice to say, the volume of music that I naturally stumbled upon was enormous. My college degree may read "Journalism," but it might have well had an asterisk on it with "Minor in College Rock" at the bottom. In my tenure at the station, one of the bands that I really got into was Olympia, WA's Karp. The written review on the sleeve of their 1997 Self-Titled LP went something like this: "R-O-C-K. Black Sabbath + Melvins." Hmmmmm. Very interesting. It did take another five years or so, but a re-examination of this band called "Melvins" commenced. It did not last long for a verdict to be read. It turned out that Kurt Cobain really was on to something: Melvins rocked and I had heckled them. Amends had to be made. Apologies were in order.

Meanwhile, Karp had broke up years back and bassist/vocalist Jared Warren moved on to Tight Bros From Way Back When. Disappointingly, they were nothing like Karp. However in 2004, Warren started Big Business with ex-Murder City Devils drummer Coady Willis. It was not Karp, but it was close enough. Tuned down, loud and booming, Big Business had the smell of Melvins all over them. So it came as no surprise (Okay, that's a fucking lie) when the head Melvins Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover invited Warren and Willis to join as full time members. Melvins now had two drummers. The fruit of the latest incarnation of the Melvins was (A) Senile Animal. Deservedly touted as critics as the best Melvins record in years, the disc was personal revelation. I finally got it - Absolutely and completely. 

With a crowd mixed with youngsters in Nirvana shirts to old-timers who probably resented their presence, Pops was not at capacity. However, it was not sparse to say the least. Following a screening of A Purge of Dissidents - a collection of ten animated shorts - Big Business took the stage. In what was a small surprise, Big Business finally brought a guitarist - Toshi Kasai - along with them. In previous tours, BB mostly performed as a two-piece, thus leaving out any guitar work that appeared on their records. Kasai's presence was felt the most during "Easter Romantic," which when played with just drums and bass loses a great deal of its punch. The set was great, marked by two great moments of banter from Warren. As he paused between songs, Warren commented on how Pops looked like a venue that Whitesnake would play. Hoots of sarcastic laughter filled the room at the dead accurate quip. Warren quickly backtracked, stating he meant nothing insulting by the observation. Later, while introducing Kasai, Warren pointed out that the guitarist had brought his own PBR with him - which in the world of music is a true rarity. Trust me, it was funny. It was a visual thing. You just had to be there.

The drum set of Willis and Crover needs to be seen to appreciate fully. Basically two drum kits welded together with communal toms in the middle, it resembled a medieval torture device. It also had the name "MELVINS" stretched across the fronts of the two bass drums which was a nice touch. Their set in essence was divided in two, with the "classics" filling the front half, while numbers from (A) Senile Animal dominated the latter section. The crowd was loud and appreciative - myself included. Strangely enough, there was no encore.

After the show, I did not get the chance to personally apologize to Crover or Buzzo for that autumn night in Kansas City. A dorky, sappy sentiment indeed, but it does prove that sometimes you do get a chance to redeem your crappy taste in music.

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