Review
The Fantômas Melvins Big Band
Live in London 2006 DVD

Ipecac (2008) Kevin Fitzpatrick

The Fantômas Melvins Big Band – Live in London 2006 DVD cover artwork
The Fantômas Melvins Big Band – Live in London 2006 DVD — Ipecac, 2008

The Melvins and Fantômas. Two great tastes that taste great together. This is the first visual release of this clash of the titans. Sure, they released a live album back in 2002 of one of their first live shows, but as cool as it was, like so many live releases, you really have to be there to truly see what it's like.

For a band that's really only done a handful of live shows, this DVD is as close as us poor bastards are gonna get. Thankfully, we now have proof positive that they're every bit as great as we assumed they would be.

Those of you that may be unaware the chocolate of Fantômas and the peanut butter of The Melvins smash into each other on only rare occasions. The Big Band consists of both drummers, Dave Lombardo and Dale Crover two genius musicians who here are at the top of their game. Two guitarists, Buzz Osbourne and David Scott Stone, a bassist, the omnipresent Trevor Dunn and ringmaster general, Mike Patton who, as usual provides all other accompaniments.

The stage is set up similar to a Fantômas show. Both drumkits stage right, facing Patton, who is stationed at stage left. In between and back, are the guitars and bass. The reason being, of course, for the musicans to keep all eyes on the conductor watching constantly for Patton's cues. The music lends itself to be misinterpreted as improvisational, but the reality is that the precision required and executed is in fact, truly frightening.

The concert begins ominously enough with a cover of Flipper's "Sacrifice," sludge in it's original form, here, slowed to a dead crawl. The band then kicks in with "Page 27" from Fantômas' debut album. Fantômas' entire career is represented well on the release, while The Melvins' songs don't precede 1993's Houdini. This isn't a detriment in the least as the songs chosen have just the right tempo to keep the energy going. For the drummer geeks out there, check out "Page 14" and tell me you don't want to hang up the sticks in dismay knowing you'll never be half as cool as these two. Considering he hasn't logged a hundredth the rehearsal time with Patton as Lombardo has, Crover does a damn fine job representing on this track.

Telling you this is one of the best live DVD's you're likely to see in a long time won't be a surprise for fans of either band. For those aware of either band peripherally and as such, may be on the fence in regards to making this purchase, I urge you to keep this one thing in mind: the running commentary consists of (among others) Crover, Osbourne and Danny fucking DeVito. This inclusion isn't as random as you think DeVito was dragged to a Coachella festival by one of his kids and was initiated into the music of Fantômas on the car ride over. Seeing them then play the festival solidified this unlikely fanboyism, and DeVito and Patton have become fast friends ever since.

Purists be warned, the commentary is the antithesis of "screen-specific." Band members, booking agents, and DeVito skew off on unrelated-yet-informative tangents about their respective businesses but the prize goes to DeVito who dishes the dirt on assholes in the business, as well as priceless anecdotes about working with Marlon Brando and Andy Kaufman. The commentary is unpretentious and loose to the point of having the listener wonder just how many Limoncellos were consumed during the recording. This is all just icing on the cake, however for what really is an excellent and accurate depiction of two of the best live bands coming together for a night of mayhem and madness that you don't want to miss.

The Fantômas Melvins Big Band – Live in London 2006 DVD cover artwork
The Fantômas Melvins Big Band – Live in London 2006 DVD — Ipecac, 2008

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