Monday, 16 September 2013

Mudhoney at Il Motore

Mudhoney at Il Motore


When I was a much younger lad in my woodshedding days, I drew musical inspiration from a number of groups in the Washington grunge scene alongside the music of the metal greats of yesteryear. I would sit on the bed in my bedroom with my guitar in my hand and jam along with CDs, tapes, and CD-R mp3 discs (as I was not yet fancy or affluent enough to own an mp3 player at the time), and along with The Melvins and Nirvana I jammed along with songs recorded by Mudhoney. In particular, I liked jamming along with the song “In ‘n’ Out of Grace” from their seminal 1988 full-length album Superfuzz BigMuff. Both the verse and chorus riffs in the song are just a lot of fun to play on the guitar; they’re simple enough for even guitar novices to play, and one can never go wrong with sliding power chords. 

Now, for a little bit of history: Mudhoney are incredibly influential in the grunge scene as they are one of the original bands in the scene. In fact, front man/guitarist Mark Arm and guitarist Steve Turner, along with some future members of Pearl Jam, formed and played in the what many argue to be the first grunge band, Green River. After releasing what are now some incredibly rare releases (even on mp3 back when I first tried to find their music; not so much now), they broke up. Mark and Steve then later recruited former Melvins bassist Matt Lukin and drummer Dan Peters to form Mudhoney and released Superfuzz Bigmuff. That EP and later album after a re-release with songs from singles, named after two classic 1960s fuzz pedals (the Univox Superfuzz and the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, respectively), is full of great guitar jams. It influenced grunge artists of all stripes - even Kurt Cobain, who recruited Mr. Peters to play in Nirvana for a short period of time - and continues to influence budding young musicians today. 

Fast-forward to the present, and I find myself, once again, at everyone’s favourite urine and vomit-stained punk venue, Il Motore. Here, I found both younger fans as well as dudes who fully remember and were there for grunge’s glory days in the early 1990s in for a night of loud guitars and gravelly vocals. Mudhoney emerged onto the stage with a rather well-preserved lineup, especially compared to other bands of their age. Everyone on stage except for bassist Guy Maddison, who joined in 2001, was from the original lineup. It’s nice to see considering how many older bands there are that have maybe one guy from the classic era plus a bunch of random jobbers. They started with some cuts from their newest album Vanishing Point to a warm reception, but things started cooking when they launched into “Touch Me I’m Sick.” Everyone sang along with the chorus, and a glorious pit formed. They played a few more older songs to great fanfare, then Mr. Arm put away his guitar in favour of a more traditional front man role and they got into a string of newer tracks, starting with “Chardonnay” off the newest album. I have to say, Mark Arm can effectively command a crowd both with and without the axe. They finished up their set, but there was more to come.

After a some time of the crowd frantically chanting for more songs, clapping in unison, and banging on the floor, Mudhoney returned to the stage. The first song that they played for their encore was my woodshedding favourite, “In ‘n’ Out of Grace.” While the songs from their regular set were faithful to the recordings, they decided to jam this one out a little more. The drum break from the recording became a grooving percussion bonanza. The guitar solo section attained a life of its own and inspired worship from the frenzied audience. It incited strange sensations within one’s own abdomen. Good ones, though. After this rousing rendition of a classic song, they continued on with some cover tunes, one of which was Black Flag’s “Fix Me.” Thumbs up from me on that one. After the encore ended, I headed to the metro and thought “yeah, that was a good one” all the way home on the orange line. 

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