The Melvins Take On the Big Room

The Sayers Club at SLS, August 29

Photo by Tony Tran

Photo by Tony Tran

The Melvins are one of the last acts one would expect to see in a casino. Almost aggressively schlubby in appearance, playing music characterized by pummeling rhythms, abrasive guitars and deafening volume—nope, not an act for the proverbial big room. Probably not even the lounge.

But, curiously, the Melvins gave us their best Vegas, even if it wasn’t one Elvis would recognize. Leader Buzz Osborne slouched in a VIP booth during fellow Seattle band Big Business’s opening set, looking a little uncomfortable behind the velvet rope. Between bands, a standup comic did a brief routine, comics before headliners being a classic Vegas trope since before Sinatra wore a toupee. Once their set began, the Melvins seemed to take it upon themselves to macht a little extra schau in honor of playing the Strip: Buzzo wore a brightly patterned duster, bassist Jared Warren did some extra rolling around on the ground, and at one point the drummers (yes, there’s two) stood up on their stools while playing.

Still, the Melvins never lost focus on the music. “Bride of Crankenstein” seethed with walls of feedback that seemed 3 feet thick and 10 feet high. “Evil New War God” opened with an astonishing display of power and synchronization from drummers Dale Crover and Coady Willis. At the close of the set, Warren tumbled into the audience, slithering through the crowd, intoning “Always… Always… Always… Bet on black” as Buzzo set his guitar on screech. Liberace closing with “I’ll Be Seeing You,” it wasn’t. ★★★✩✩

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