Towards the conclusion of their incendiary opening set, Redd Kross co-founder Steve McDonald sees fit to pay heartfelt tribute to Melvins linchpin Buzz Osborne for dreaming up this most magical pairing, that sees two of THE most respected bands of the alternative rock era combine forces to deliver an all encompassing aural extravaganza at opposite ends of the heavier musical spectrum.
With both bands officially sharing members (Melvins drumming powerhouse Dale Crover now moonlights in Redd Kross, while Redd Kross bassist Steve McDonald is now also a fully fledged member of The Melvins), a dash of musical cross-pollination might be considered somewhat inevitable. And while on the surface they’re an unlikely pairing, the night turns out to be a versatile heavy rock fan’s dream..think of it in terms of Kiss sharing a bill with Black Sabbath and you might be half way there!
Redd Kross, founded by the brothers McDonald, Steve and Jeff, have been banging out their good time racket since the early 80’s, when they were still fresh faced lads barely in their teens. Tonight they deliver their melodically charged riff-erola with gusto and conviction, expertly channeling the gods of classic rock, punked-up power pop and glam into their own inimitable musical stew..with just a hint of Melvins inspired sludge-erama lurking around the periphery.
They lead out with the triple banger of ‘Lady In The Front Row’, ‘Switchblade Sister’ and ‘Stay Away From Downtown’, and immediately the true believers down the front are in rock and roll nirvana. Equal parts down to earth goofy long hairs and flashy rock god showmen, they keep the good times rolling with a handful of well chosen covers, including long time staple ‘Deuce’, originally performed by Kiss. ‘Annies Gone’ is a swooning anthem to die for, with Jeff McDonald getting theatrical and singing the second half of the song with a glittery, sequined shawl draped in front of his face. They go out with a bang, smashing out legendary early number (and Exorcist homage) ‘Linda Blair’, complete with mid song, psych-heavy freak out.
Then it’s time for the primal ooze that is The Melvins, fronted by the unmistakably affro’ed presence of legendary Seattle musical pioneer Buzz Osborne, to stride out and slay. The most unlikely survivors of the 90’s grunge era, the band that virtually invented the genre (while not really sounding much like many of its most celebrated protagonists) are a finely honed amalgamation of pounding, proggy rhythms and primal, power chord worshiping guitar overload.
With bassist Steve McDonald and drummer Dale Crover returning to the stage for their second stint, the band hit the ground running with Flipper cover ‘Sacrifice’, Osborne belting out the songs “demand a sacrifice ” refrain with demented glee. The sound throughout is razor sharp, clearly delineated and crushingly heavy, Osborne barking and howling his twisted inner muse while unleashing punishing waves of primal six string skronk and rumble.
With a massive and wildly varied back catalogue to call upon, ‘Oven’, ‘Kicking Machine’, It’s Shoved’ and ‘Hideous Woman’ serve as particular highlights from their all-encompassing set.
They also see fit to pull a rabbit from the hat and channel their inner Redd Kross with a souped up, psych tinged take on The Beatles ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’, which actually owes a lot to another cover of the song, performed by 60’s garage-psych band The Moving Sidewalks, whose main claim to fame was featuring a young, pre-ZZ Top Billy Gibbons.
As their set draws to a close The Melvins depart on the molten wave of sludgy doom that is ‘Roman Bird Dog’, leaving the crowd buzzed (no pun intended!) and well and truly satiated.
Redd Kross and The Melvins: a genius pairing if ever there was one..