Show Review: Mudhoney @ Brighton Music Hall 7.11.15

by Terence Cawley (Biology), published July 13th 2015

photos by Ben Stas (Journalism/English)

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Before grunge veterans Mudhoney took the Brighton Music Hall stage, a local band called White Dynomite treated the audience to their best ‘70s rock star impersonations. The group’s members wore white suits, made dumb jokes about drinking and women and played standard-issue hard rock while strutting and posing with a sincerity that left no doubt that they took their shtick seriously. While the sheer silliness of the whole affair initially entertained, the novelty had worn thin by the end of the set, despite the band’s attempts to mix things up by occasionally speeding into a hardcore gallop.

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Mudhoney is one of those bands that just rocks. You ask me exactly what it is that Mudhoney does, and I will tell you that what they do is rock. It is the only way they know. The first song, “Suck You Dry,” set the tone for the rest of the show, with singer/guitarist Mark Arm howling with a ferocity that belied his 53 years and the rest of the band following his lead by absolutely tearing into the fuzz-punk gem. They kept things at a similarly fast and loud clip for the next five songs before slowing down for the Sabbath-esque plod of “1995,” which was one of many songs on which lead guitarist Steve Turner let loose with a feedback-drenched solo. Two songs later, Arm pulled out a slide for a delightfully brutal four-song stretch which climaxed with “Touch Me I’m Sick,” Mudhoney’s best song and the one which first solidified the “Seattle sound” that would inspire the likes of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. Suffice it to say that hearing that song live remains a very powerful experience.

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After “Touch Me I’m Sick,” Arm took off his guitar and spent the rest of the concert stalking the stage, microphone in hand, while gesticulating wildly and generally throwing his whole body into every song the band played. Arm has not merely grown to look more like his hero Iggy Pop as he has gotten older; he’s learned how to channel the unhinged charisma of the lead Stooge’s stage presence as well. Arm’s spontaneity was much appreciated, for while Mudhoney are great at writing songs within the grungy style they’ve pioneered, those songs occasionally threatened to blur into a single monotonous distortion blast when played in rapid succession. The over-the-top arm motions and hammy faces Arm pulled during snotty numbers like “I’m Now” and “Chardonnay” brought Mudhoney’s often underrated sense of humor to the fore and helped the band close out their first set on a fun note.

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Just when it seemed impossible for Mudhoney to turn up the intensity any higher, they somehow managed to do that during their encore. Once “Into the Drink” and “Here Comes Sickness” had succeeded in inciting mosh pits and stage diving, the band got quiet for the first time all night with the slow burner “When Tomorrow Hits.” This brief reprieve only served to make the glorious noise of “In ‘N’ Out of Grace,” a highlight from their seminal debut EP Superfuzz Bigmuff, hit even harder. Mudhoney wrapped things up with an astoundingly rage-filled cover of The Dicks’ “Hate the Police” and another cover hearkening back to the band’s punk roots, Black Flag’s “Fix Me.” It’s a good thing Mudhoney left for good after that, because the crowd might not have been able to withstand the aural assault had it gone on much longer. At 27 years old, Mudhoney might be ancient by rock ‘n’ roll standards, but if their performance at the Brighton Music Hall was any indication, they’re going to outlive us all.

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