- 09 Jun 16
Grunge lifers storm Wexford Street.
Let’s not bury the lead: Bob Log III just crowd-surfed through Whelan’s on an inflatable dinghy while playing guitar and wearing a velour Evel Knievel onesie and glittery flight helmet.
How was your Wednesday night?
That this ridiculous feat only scraped across the line as the highlight of a madcap delta blues/lo-fi techno/noise/revival/balloon-burster of a support slot should give you an idea as to why this (allegedly monkey-pawed) outsider features so prominently on the night’s posters and ticket stubs. His maniacally frantic take on the blues is a pure joy to behold; like an acid fried, amphetamine fueled road-trip to Roswell, soundtracked by a Mississippi Fred McDowell record being played at the wrong speed.
It takes a certain amount of confidence to allow such a wildly entertaining nutter to open up proceedings, but then; nearly 30-years into a career that began with them basically inventing an entirely new genre of music on the back of debut single, ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’, Mudhoney have very little to prove.
But, for an hour and a half, they’ll give it their best shot anyway.
They open with the instrumental ‘Fuzzgun ‘91’, Steve Turner immediately a flurry of curls and ripping guitar leads, before they all pile into the filthy stomp of ‘Suck You Dry’. So begins a setlist filled with favourites from their classic releases like the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP, their eponymous debut, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge and My Brother The Cow, and a respectable dose of latest release Vanishing Point; the offerings from which sit comfortably alongside the older material, with 'Chardonnay' being a particular highlight as things get a little bit hardcore.
Half-way through the set Mark Arm sheds his guitar and about 25 years; instantly reminding us that as the wiry, bleach-blonde lovechild of Iggy Pop, Ian McKaye and Stiv Bators, he’s still one of the most effortlessly engaging frontmen around - all lunges, wide eyes, wild gesticulations and a scream that could set your hair on fire.
And let’s not even get started on Dan Peters, the one–time Nirvana sticksman is still an absolute powerhouse behind the kit, driving and sometimes wrestling each song forward at kinetic tempos.
One telling symbol that encapsulates the maturity with which Mudhoney operate these days, is the image of Arm and Turner casually sipping wine from proper stemmed wine glasses throughout the set (Hear that Eddie Vedder?! Get a glass, you filthy barbarian!)
Yes, the girl who invaded the stage and wouldn’t let go of Mark Arm was a respectable 34 years of age and yes, the crowd-surfers had more than a little salt and pepper running through their respectable haircuts – but the crowd skewed younger than this reporter had expected and, by the time the sludgy goodness of ‘Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More’ slithered out of the speakers, the room was a heaving, sweaty mess. That it was immediately followed up by the aforementioned belter, ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’, ensured that all of those in the 35 and up demographic got their weekly cardio workout long before Mudhoney bowed out on the main set.
If tonight proves anything it’s that Mudhoney are still the true heroes of that weird time in the nineties out there on the Pacific Northwest. They were there before the Big Three (Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden) and it looks like, with the possible exception of Pearl Jam, they'll be around long after them. Thanks to a simple reliance on the foundations of 60s Nuggets era garage rock, and the important fact that Mudhoney are FUN, their sound hasn't been dated or dampened by time. Mudhoney sound as relevant and vital today as they did when they tore a hole in the RDS at Sunstroke ‘95.