By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
It seems the Melvins are in the center of a storm—or arrive right after one—whenever Rock At Night covers one of their gigs. When Rock At Night covered a concert in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a tornado swept through during the evening (and that didn’t keep correspondent Haintso Rakouth from seeing the band). She later covered their Detroit show when somebody reportedly pulled the fire alarm (or called the fire station) cutting the concert short. The last time I personally reviewed one of their gigs was in 2017 shortly after Hurricane Irma.
At the Orpheum-Tampa on October 13th, the Melvins rolled into town a couple of weeks after Hurricane Ian. This was my first time at the Orpheum since the venue moved from Ybor City to its current location in North Tampa. The venue is large with high ceilings, good ventilation, and a sizeable stage (and better lighting than its predecessor). If you want to escape the music and have a conversation, there’s an outdoor patio area. Get to the show early because parking flows over to the lot next door and down a side street in a neighborhood.
The evening opened with Austin “freak rock” band We Are the Asteroid (WATA). This powerful trio led the crowd into their world of experimental psych rock with a touch of sludge, metal, and groove. Lead vocalist Nathan Calhoun, donning white-framed shades and a 70s striped t-shirt, ripped into the bass after having minor issues with the sound monitor. Gary Chester tore into the electric guitar, prancing about the stage, and smiling like a Cheshire cat. Frank Gary Martin kept the tempo hard and steady as the music slowed to a grungy groove or revved up to punk rock speed. The punters pressed up against the stage, head bobbing in approval, as the band warmed up this discerning Tampa metal crowd. Highlights included a cover of fellow Texan band Dicks’ song “Wheelchair Epidemic” and the band’s originals “Halloween One” and “Rats”.
By the time the Melvins appeared on stage, the room swelled with patrons. It was standing room only—and included a lot of 20-somethings in the crowd—excited to see a band their parents likely grew up with. These guys totally wrote the book on sludge doom metal so I always view them with great respect.
“King Buzzo” Osborne came on stage wearing his trademark tunic and wild (now silver) kinky ‘fro. Bassist Steven Shane McDonald looked very distinguished in a white tunic and matching pants and shoes. Virtuoso drummer Dale Crover was perched behind the drum kit wearing a simple black t-shirt, ready to bang his toned arms on the drum toms.
The band led the audience into the world of doom metal with its array of sounds, distortion, and vocals and performed a slow-downed grungy version of Flipper’s “Sacrifice”. The audience was taken into another dimension with stoner punk song “Oven” and “Lovely Butterfly”. More early-90s hits stood out like “It’s Shoved” which features Dale Grover’s hard-hitting drums (the man is a monster and never paused during the entire show). More doom music ensued with “Anaconda” and the angry, grungy “Lizzy”. The band performed more recent songs like “Never Say You’re Sorry” and “Mister Dog is Totally Right” from an album Bad Mood Rising, released last month.
Overall, the concert was nothing less than amazing and aurally satisfying. At times I felt myself transcending consciousness as the blanket of sound oozed otherworldly noise and bass grooves.
The Melvins are celebrating their 39th year of performing and still continue to mesmerize crowds and take us places we’ve never been before. Fans need to check out their Five Legged Dog (and 25th) album which features acoustic versions (I didn’t know it was even possible) of many of their classic hits.
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