Mudhoney keeps fighting creeps everywhere, one show at a time
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
Life has been rearing its head lately. It’s not isolated or unique, but there’s still some comfort when, in the midst of the stress of putting a house together while juggling that with work and life commitments, it’s still possible to walk into a venue to hear Steve Turner stomp on a fuzz box while Mark Arm lets loose an unholy rasp on the ills of the world.
So it goes and so it was with Mudhoney at Brighton Music Hall on Boston, on a Saturday night more than 31 years since “Touch Me I’m Sick” was released as Sub Pop SP18. But not surprisingly, this was not an exercise in nostalgia or a sad facsimile of band long beyond it’s original glory. This was a rock show by a band fully engaged, firmly planted within the now, and it was carried forth accordingly.
Fittingly, the set was heavy on 2018’s Digital Garbage and this year’s Morning in America EP, and all their pointed attacks at the worst kinds of people, those who suddenly have a hateful mission and voice within the discourse. Backed by the frantic fuzz of the band, Arm has no issue calling them out in his delightfully skewed, sarcastic manner. “Prosperity Gospel,” “Hey Neaderfuck” and “One Bad Actor” were especially targeted at the current climate, but this is hardly new territory for the band. “F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers)” has been in their set consistently since appearing on 1995’s My Brother the Cow, and it’s presence in the show on this night highlights how that particular issue is unfortunately still a reality 24 years later.
But the targets are not just political. “Kill Yourself Live” takes aim at the kind of crass, voyeuristic destruction that can be harvested for clicks. Their perennial cover of the Angry Samoans’ “You Stupid Asshole” is still the kind of jabbing finger in the face of polite discourse.
Alongside all the new songs and subjects, there was still plenty for the fan who just remembers seeing Singles in theaters — classics like “Touch Me I’m Sick” and “Suck You Dry” still retain all their filthy authority, and the opening “In ‘N’ Out of Grace” served as a showcase for the band’s musicality, with drummer Dan Peters launching into a brief drum break in the middle (accompanied by Arm playfully shushing the crowd while Peters kept rhythm) before bursting back into sleazy riffing.
The show really took off towards the end of the main set. Arm put his guitar aside, went into a prowling punk godfather pose and launched into “I’m Now,” still a mission statement for a band that has persisted and grown through more than 30 years without really altering sound or style. The venue’s no-moshing policy was put to the test while the crowd pogoed through “Paranoid Core” and “21st Century Pharisees,” with Arm glaring and whipping the crowd into a fervor before breaking character and cracking a smile or a quick laugh. And the quick finish of the encore — a trio of Mudhoney classics “Into the Drink,” “If I Think” and “Here Comes Sickness,” followed by three of their staple punk covers — left the crowd dizzy and certainly wanting for more.
And we’ve gotten so much more from this band than either they or their audience could’ve predicted. Fit in between the rhythms of real life — work, families, travel — they’ve found a groove and space where their march to fuzz looks to continue into a fifth decade. All this, and wrapped up at the tidy time of 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday. We are all getting older, there’s no need to pretend otherwise, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still time to make the most of it.
Email Nick Tavares at firstname.lastname@example.org