Die Kruezen, Hepa/Titus, Mudhoney, Gay Witch Abortion, Negative Approach, Honky, Melvins
July 20, 2013
It’s a shame that Amphetamine Reptile Records quit putting out new records. The label is responsible for a lot of the noisier independent rock of the late ‘80s-‘90s. On the plus side for Minneapolis, though, the inactivity of the label has been led to an annual bash featuring some amazing alumni. 2013, aka Bash 13 was no different. With the Melvins celebrating 30 years by opening the show, here’s how it went down on a perfect sunny afternoon in the Grumpys Downtown parking lot.
The best introduction here would be the personal. I like the Melvins. They can cut a fine noisy jam among the best of them. That said, I don’t own any of their records and had never seen them, so don’t expect talk of discography and diatribes about stylistic changes here. Playing with substitute bass player Jeff Pinkus (Honky, ex-Butthole Surfers), the four-piece line-up took the stage in the some of the brightest sun of the day. Whatever that thing Buzzo was wearing didn’t look too comfortable in the mid-day sun, but it didn’t affect the dedication and he and the rest of the band sweated out fierce and LOUD rock. They don’t move around much onstage, and the interaction between them was likely reduced a bit by the member substitution—still the highlight was definitely in watching the dual drumming spectacle of Dale Crover and Coady Willis. As they wrapped up a full set, Honky took stage with a smooth handoff of instruments and Pinkus jumped right into his other band’s catalog sans downtime. It got an awkwardly ahead-of-schedule afternoon moving. Verdict: I’ll see the Melvins again (hopefully later in the day).
These guys have a fitting name. It’s warped, punky rock, but it definitely comes from the Southern rock side of the fence. Enjoyable enough, but with a line-up this stacked, the second band of the day was the time to move around, check out the merch, and grab my first beer (Surly Overrated, if you’re curious).
I saw Negative Approach in Gainesville last year at Fest 11, but this time it packed more punch. Being up close and personal, John Brannon has the best angry face going in rock, and the rest of the band slays as if it’s still the early ‘80s. While I haven’t confirmed the rumor, I hear this was their first Minneapolis appearance, and the crowd of all ages was active and feeling it. They were something of a stylistic outlier on the bill, but it was clear there was a universal appeal in the crowd and they helped to steal the show…well, for the time being. It’s not the kind of line-up that warrants headliners, per say. Simply put: this is no cash grab reunion here.
Gay Witch Abortion
Nothing against GWA, but they play in town often and it was time to get out of the sun for a bit. I can catch them anytime, and the noise-duo sounded alright from afar for the first couple of songs before I ran down the street for some eats.
If I was here for one band it was Mudhoney. That’s why, when I left the restaurant with 20 minutes to spare (according to set times), it was disappointing to hear them playing from a block away. Anyway, I only missed 1-2 songs and when I got there and moved up front in the adjacent parking lot (which curiously offered better sightlines than much of the area for people who paid), I was rewarded with a set straight out of the early-to-mid ‘90s. Well, for the first half.
The band played with an intensity that wasn’t expected for such old songs. Sure, the whole show is something of a tribute to old friends at AmRep, which basically means everybody is on their A-game anyway, but it was impressive to see so many older rockers delivering with force that it puts a lot of their younger kin to shame. The first half of the set harkened to the Sub Pop and Reprise days, and the latter half was mostly off 2013’s Vanishing Point. The old songs definitely had a stronger pull with the crowd, but the new set material didn’t turn anybody away either, showing that the night wasn’t just a nostalgia act.
Two former Cows are at the heart of this band (and ex-Heroine Sheiks too). Here, I was losing energy and fell to the back. The set wasn’t bad by any means, but they never really pulled me in. Two-thirds into it, Shannon Selberg (also ex-Cows) joined for a few songs and the old Minneapolitans had a veritable reunion on their hands. Personally, he was more showman than vocalist, as my vantage point near the back didn’t allow much to reach me—but I’m not sure if the band is to blame or I am, as outdoor shows are notoriously better in sound up front.
Actually, my original plan was to head home after Mudhoney, but the night was young and I had some energy left. Unfortunately, the post I took up in the rear left a ton to be desired in terms of sound. The energy was good and the crowd obviously came out satisfied, but what I heard from my perch left me unimpressed. A bit too much ‘80s wailing sing to the vocals and flashier guitar than the rest of the day’s sets. I’m glad to say I’ve seen them, but it’s nothing I’ll seek out.
The moral of the story: always stand up front. Not just to show support, but because it’s a world class difference in sound in most venues. In retrospect, all of the highlights of my day are bands I saw up-close and I doubt that’s coincidence. Mudhoney impressed with their overall performance, Negative Approach with their energy and power, and the Melvins in sheer talents and volume. Still, everyone deserves some accolades for such a line-up, showing that age has nothing to do with it, both on stage and in the crowd.
Photography: Jessie Matz
Photos (top to bottom of page): Melvins, Negative Approach, Mudhoney