The Fantômas Melvins Big Band - From Kentish Town Forum, London, May 1, 2006

Thursday, January 01 2009 @ 06:21 AM PST

Contributed by: Blond Adonis

Track Listing:

01 Sacrifice
02 Page 27
03 Night Goat
04 Page 28
05 Page 3
06 Electric Long Thin Wire
07 The Bit
08 Page 14
09 Pigs of the Roman Empire
10 The Omen
11 Hooch
12 Nombius Hibachi
13 Page 23
14 Skin Horse
15 Cape Fear
16 Let It All Be
17 Lowrider
18 04/02/05 Saturday
19 Page 29
20 04/08/05 Friday
21 Spider Baby

The Fantomas Melvins Big Band is sort of a side project for both The Melvins and Mike Patton's new band, Fantomas. Both bands record on the indie label Ipecac Recordings which make things smoother for collaborations, contractually, etc. Anyway, the “side project” here is the two bands merging together – Fantomas is the brainchild of Mike Patton, vocalist extraordinaire and ex-of Faith No More and even better, Mr. Bungle. Along with Patton in Fantomas is Buzz Osborne and Trevor Dunn from The Melvins and drummer Dave Lombardo from Slayer. As Fantomas Melvins Big Band there's an extra drummer, probably Coady Willis, the 2nd drummer in The Melvins as well as one other guitarist, David Scott Stone. He is a shy, diminutive, tweed-jacket-wearing nerdy looking guy who turns out to be quite the intense rocker. The weird thing, something you don't usually see at a rock show is that guy using a music stand – reading the score of the songs as they go along? The songs they do are so frenetic, so up and down with almost inertia-free, whiplash time changes that it seems hard to have all that down on a written piece of music, it seems more improv than written but that is the genius of the project: they make it look easy.

This new DVD, which captures one of the “Big Band”'s shows in London, specifically, the Kentish Town Forum in May 2006. From the start, Patton, the charismatic wildman leads the rest of the band, between his onstage antics and his unique vocal stylings and Buzz Osborne, frontman for The Melvins combine their respective bands into one big amorphous machine that emits a night's worth of intense entertainment. While Buzz is more of a scream-o or a guttural vocalist, Patton is an almost clownish vocal experimentalist and has different microphones for different effects. There are all kinds of different sounds that come out of his mouth. He makes the most of all the stuff he's got around him, not just singing but manipulating the synthesizers for maximum noise and weirdness value.

The concert is a good 90 minutes or so, covering a whole lot of tunes, including “Sacrifice”, “Night Goat” “The Bit”, “The Omen”, “Mombius Hibachi”, a vicious cover of “Lowrider” that ends abruptly and goes right into one of their more experimental jams, called “04/02/05 Saturday”, obviously a jam that was made up on that particular night; there is also a “04/08/05 Friday”. There is also the Melvins' classic “Hooch”as well as a bunch of experimental jams each with a “page” number - “Page 27”, “Page 14”, “Page23” and “Page 29”. It is all a swirling, busy show, not full of theatrics or fireworks or any other pyrotechnics, or big screen backdrops, etc, just an intense bunch of people, that are so loud, so “don't care”-ish that it just goes on and on at full speed, no slowing down, no quiet droning, no breaks or solos to give the rest of the band a break, but nonstop hyperkinetic Patton gyrating while he presses this key and that button and switched around mics. But it is not solely Patton that make the band worth watching; it's the whole of the parts, the bombastic duo of drummers, the loud, heavily sustained guitars, the bass and all of them, together, blowing the crowd's minds.

Towards the end of the show, right before they do their one and only encore (at least the only one caught on film) Patton introduces the band and after he gets to the drummers, Dale Crover of The Melvins, introduces Mike Patton. Patton does this ghetto boasting schtick, strutting around the stage with a kind of “Gangsta Rap” swagger, wherein he overemphasizes each band member as “...can kick all your English asses!” and so on, it's kind of funny, sort of corny, but it at least has some merit in that typically only in America can you find such wildly and outrageously experimental music, not to be chauvinistic or anything. The one and only encore turns out to be one of the best tunes in the whole show: “Spider Baby”, which has a hell of a hook to it. After they plough through that one Patton says goodnight again and blows them kisses and they all exit the stage, in need of a well-deserved break.