Since its inception, Ipecac records has done its best to sign up acts of such varied styles that the label has become a mighty beast generating a cult following. This is in a large part thanks to the die-hard fans of Mike Patton and his myriad projects and, of course, the almighty Melvins- a modern legend in the music world. Accordingly, it made sense that these would be the featured players in what has been dubbed the Ipecac Geek Show.
With heavy hitters the Melvins and Tomahawk sharing the bill, the Geek Show promised to be a healthy reminder of why we listen to rock music. Every crash of the cymbal, every fifth chord, every scream made perfect sense within this world that Patton and company have created and this tour is a sort of a gift to followers, like a Star Trek or Buffy the Vampire Slayer convention. Sort of. The show itself did, on a smaller scale, what Lollapalooza has tried so very hard to accomplish: feature daring music by true heroes of the underground. The Geek Show did this without the distractions of a side stage, the pretense of Perry Farrell, and without the exorbitant ticket price. And it did it in a small club as opposed to one of Dante's outdoor planes of arena hell.
Opening for the Chicago stop was the odd little machine known as Skeleton Key. Augmenting the standard line up with a percussionist of dangerous intensity, the band did justice to the better songs on its Ipecac release, Obtanium, and even made some of this reviewer's least favorite songs sound damn fine. The highlight for many fans was their rendition of "Spineless," a wonderful rock number the band co-performed with the Melvins on their record The Crybaby. Watching the band relish in their eclecticism was fun and the sound itself was enough to make many of the attendees, (more than one of whom I heard say, "these guys are kinda soft compared to the other acts here?") grow very excited very quickly.
Without much ado, the Melvins took the stage. After creating a wall of dissonant feedback, the trio slowly pounded out the mighty "Night Goat," as wonderful an opening number as any from their massive canon. Never pausing for breath, Dale Crover established himself as an undisputable rock god pounding frenetic beats like Animal from The Muppets while Kevin Rutmanis poured noises from his bass one might not have thought possible. Leading the band was the incomparable King Buzzo, standing tall with wild hair and his Les Paul, the man loomed over the microphone and growled out his lyrics like a fevered beast. Melvins classics such as "The Bit" sounded fantastic along side the more recent Ipecac material, ("AMAZON" and "Old Black Stooges" being remarkably executed) and the crowd was fed a good supply of hard rock mayhem without a moment of rock star bullshit posing. The guys never even acknowledged the audience's existence, as if to say, "we're the Melvins, we're the greatest band in the world and we are not about to kiss your ass to make you believe it. We don't have to. We're that good."
Considering the fact that Kevin Rutmanis plays in Tomahawk as well, the time between setups was not as long as it could have been. The gangly bassist retook the stage along with his other bandmates, starting their set with "Bird Song," the opener to their latest disc, Mit Gas. Duane Denison's guitar screeched with treble while Mike Patton alternated between four microphones and a buffet of electronic toys to deliver Tomahawk's trademark sound that balances rock sensibilities and experimental fun. The boys seemed to be having more than a little fun on stage as they grinded through songs from both Ipecac releases, two discs that have done much to delight long time Patton fans eagerly awaiting his return to a more straight ahead rock sound. Patton and company can make this music, they can take chances and deliver a collection of material that might easily find its way to the airwaves if the world of radio had a goddamn clue.
The tour is sure to hit a limited amount of cities, so check it out at all costs. Select gigs will feature the incredible Dalek in opening slot, a band whose live show is second to known in any of the genre of hip hop, or any other for that matter. Catch this tour if you give a damn about rock music.
Chicago: the Vic. 5/13/03 Photo by "Moshmasher" on the IPECAC Recordings BBS Forum