Melvins at Park West, July 31, 2018

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.

Roald Dahl

Ah, the Melvins! Once again trekking through the U.S.A. to leave their mark on eardrums across the land. The Melvins are like…well, a certain analogy from Forrest Gump regarding chocolates is apt, but I’ll spare the reader. Suffice to say that the Melvins are not ones to settle into a musical formula. For the uninitiated, the question of “where do I start?” is not easily answered. At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the slow-motion wrecking ball heaviness of a track like Roman Dog Bird; at the other, the more airy and mid-paced Black Heath. And a variety of experimentation in between.

Variety was delivered on Tuesday, July 31st at Chicago’s Park West. The band played a  cross section of their catalog, with songs from almost every record of the last decade, and some fan favorites from earlier records like Ozma, Gluey Porch Treatments, Bullhead, and Houdini.

This tour — in support of the band’s latest album Pinkus Abortion Technician — finds the band configured as a four-piece: the core duo of Buzz & Dale, and two Melvins veterans on bass guitars: Jeff Pinkus and Steven McDonald. Live, the dual bass approach definitely provides a lot of low-end, but not overwhelmingly so. Both players also bring their own brand of charm to the band. McDonald seems to have a blast, at times swaying from side to side and periodically crawling on the stage. Pinkus holds his bass aloft and seems to angrily interject “Stop!” while the band plays the song of the same name. When you’re going to see a band with a guy in a mu-mu and a gigantic poof of hair, some stage antics are par for the course.

It was a great rock show, and my first time at Park West (cheers to their very friendly staff). I will miss seeing the Melvins at the now-shuttered Double Door, which they consistently played at for many years. But, c’est la vie.

The Melvins continue their summer U.S. tour through mid-August and will tour Europe in September-October.