Dale Crover and King Buzzo can do no wrong. The two have been the torch bearers for sludge metal for nearly 30 years, and have been doing it well. The duo have been flying under the radar, just high enough to get noticed, and long enough to influence a multitude of musicians and artists.
Red Fang is that rare band that mixes head numbing sludge metal coupled with a humor rarely found – levels only The Melvins and Mastodon can reach. The Portland, Oregon outfit have been around since 2005. They’re back after touring incessantly for three years with their fourth full-length record Only Ghosts. It’s a badass record from a badass group pushed by hilarious videos that have since gone viral on the interwebs. Red Fang and Only Ghosts have entered the upper-echelon of rock stalwarts with boogie rock that hits as hard as it does dances.
The Melvins can do anything that their little heart desires and us fans will all applaud with glee. They have been a go-to punk, metal, outfit for 30+ years and have influenced a dictionary of bands along the way. They invented sludge metal, brought a dry sense of humor to an otherwise gray region of the country, and remain music monoliths in a world of broken glass. I can’t say enough about the band except that The Melvins are the real deal and continue the tradition on their newest record Basses Loaded.
I’ve heard about this legendary band for years, and finally I had a chance to catch the uniquely talented trio (at least for now) as they toured thorough Orlando this week.
The band had been touring with the uber-intriguing Le Butcherettes for the beginning of this tour. (See our recent album review) They’re a talented, creative outfit out of Mexico via Los Angeles with an interesting sound. However, unknown to me, they’re not on this leg of the tour. Instead, we were treated to Austin Texas boogie rock from Honky.
The trio just drips with pure musical talent and was a nice surprise. Jeff Pinkus of Butthole Surfer fame doled out fantastic bass and Bobby Ed Landgraf tore it up on guitar. Pinkus sang most of the vocals and played a technically challenging bass throughout the forty-five minute set. Landgraf’s guitar was impeccable, as he dished out difficult riffs and solos.
The band was backed by Melvins’ drummer Dale Crover, who beat the hell out of the drums and seemed the perfect complement for his talented Austin-based bandmates. Sporting Gibbonesque beards, Pinkus and Landgraf at times offered up favorable memories of ZZ Top with their pristine boogie rock. Aside from being super-talented, they were having a blast on stage, often joking with the crowd.
Highlights were “Love To Smoke Weed” and a killer surprise, their cover of Pat Travers “Snortin’ Whiskey.”
After their 45 minute set, it was a quick turnover before The Melvins took the stage. Quick because Crover slid back behind the drum kit and Pinkus retrieved his Gibson Flying Eagle bass. The only new performer to the stage was the heart and soul of The Melvins, Buzz Osbourne. King Buzzo, as he’s know to his loyal legion, didn’t need much of a soundtrack, because he incessantly re-tuned his guitar throughout the set.
Osbourne is different, but I love different. With a huge flowing grey mane, he took the stage draped in a long blue tunic. He was a sight on stage and just immediately started tearing it up. His music, sludge, is hard to come across these days, and his guitar playing was absolutely top notch.
I wasn’t sure if I’d really love the King of Sludge, and actually left the show feeling kind of ambivalent. What I can share without a doubt is that Osbourne is a fantastic guitarist. He played difficult pieces, nailed them all and dished out the riffs at a feverish pace; and he has surrounded himself with similarly talented musicians in Crover and Pinkus.
The primarily male crowd was younger than I anticipated, but the mostly bearded crew had a killer time. There was no doubt that the near sold out crowd loved the music. They sang along to Osbourne’s aggressive vocals, swayed along to the hard-driving tempo and at times raucously moshed along.
I was looking forward to seeing the dual drummer set-up that the band was known for, but perhaps due to the small stage set-up, we saw only Crover beating the skins on this night. Still, he was damn impressive, and the highlight of the night playing for both bands.