Mudhoney continues to defy physics in Allston
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
Watching Mudhoney in 2015 is akin to witnessing some sort of scientific impossibility.
The band that roared out of Seattle in the late 1980s is here in their 50s, blasting out songs old and new at a ridiculous clip and commanding all the power of a much younger band. It’s expertise in sludgy, burning punk, burning and corralled in a way that only the years could provide.
In the small, contained walls of Boston’s Brighton Music Hall on Saturday night, it was all on display, what biographer Keith Cameron dubbed The Sound and the Fury From Seattle, a 90-minute spectacle that practically left my jaw on the floor. That they rock isn’t news, but seeing them in their element is a nightly revelation.
It’s all so tightly wound that when they break out into some overdriven break in the middle of a song, as on the ridiculous move in the middle of “Chardonnay,” that they become Steve Turner’s fuzz-driven jet engine, roaring and blasting away at once mindlessly and with complete control. It works on their oldest songs, like “Flat Out Fucked” and “Touch Me I’m Sick,” or on their more recent stuff, like the winding “Blinding Sun” and their ferocious anthem “I’m Now,” which may as well just be the band’s mission statement at this point.
That the newer material blends so well with their early classics is a testament to how well this band has aged, which isn’t so much gracefully as it is science-defying. The years have been accounted for in the fact that they are blindingly incredible on stage, a modern-day Stooges with the prowl and power of the early Ramones, all tied up in Mark Arm’s intense delivery and propelled by Dan Peters behind the kit, who’s as skilled and inventive as any drummer in the genre right now.
The show’s furious pace was set immediately, opening with “Suck You Dry” and never relenting, through deeper tracks like “1995,” obscurities in “You Stupid Asshole” and onto the encore set and the final rush to the end in “Fix Me.” If the show has to be boiled down into one song, the push-and-pull of “The Only Son of the Widow from Nain” could serve that well, beginning with another frantic Turner riff punctuated by Peters’ cymbal hits before a guitar-free Arm quite literally launches himself into the song, his scratchy screamed, “Hey man who turned out the lights?” triggering another assault by the band.
The song breaks down in the middle, down to just Peters and Guy Maddison’s bass, sliding back into Arm’s quieter delivery of, “they call me the only son of the widow from Nain.” Then Turner’s guitar is back, everyone starts to step up, step up, step up and finally it crashes, guitars flying, cymbals thrashing and Arm’s wiry frame thrown back to the front of the stage as he screams the song’s climax.
It’s impossible to see all this and see Mudhoney as anything other than the most powerful pillars of this psychedelic trash punk calling. This has been honed and crafted not so much as art but as an attempt to craft the loudest, craziest music possible, heavily controlled and with caution thrown away. Every show and every song counts.
It’s all in a night’s work, of course, and it’s not magic. This kind of experience and expertise doesn’t usually follow the young.
Email Nick Tavares at firstname.lastname@example.org