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The Melvins, Big Business, Porn
One of the many great things about events such as the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is that they bring in bands that wouldn't normally appear in dear old NI.  And in that respect they have probably excelled themselves tonight, for landing up in dear old Belfast we have the legends of music that are The Melvins.

Now, a brief potted history of the Melvins is that they are pretty important, for if there had been no Melvins, there would have been no Nirvana. But we'll not dwell on that, and instead acknowledge that they've made some darn good music throughout their career, and are pioneers of grunge and all its children.

Opening tonight are Porn (not an easy band to find in your average search engine I would wager), a three-piece stoner affair with a barrage of Kyuss-esque sludge rock with a decent dose of Black Sabbath for good measure.  Mostly instrumental with the occasional lyric from Tim the bearded hippie, they veer into art-rock experimentation with the use and abuse of pedals and effects, but generally stick within the heavy blunt instrument of stoner-grunge rock.  

As an aside, were the bubble machines on either side of the stage there as a replacement for smoke machines in these days of clean air at gigs?  If so, I agree with Ozzy, �bubbles?  What's so evil about ******* bubbles?�

Leaving us with a declaration of drunken intent, Dale Crover, (surely the hardest working man in music as he's in all three of the bands tonight), departs along with his fellow Pornstars, leaving the stage for Big Business (who contain two other Melvins).  The assault continues with these guys with an almost guttural barrage of noise of �Prepare To Die', with Dale making an appearance (this time on guitar), and the almost funky breakdown of �Living'.

Not giving us a chance to recover, Dale, who had departed the stage briefly, and Buzz Osbourne stroll on stage and we're straight into The Melvins.  It must be stated at this point that Buzz has, quite probably, the biggest hair in contemporary music - forget your Winehouses and your wig-era Elton Johns - think Sideshow Bob and you're getting there.  

As for their music, they are known as godfathers of grunge, but to limit them to just grunge would be to do them a disservice, for their range is the entire spectrum of guitar based rock.  As long as it's loud.  They are a military industrial complex of noise featuring two drummers with Buzz battering his guitar as hard as both drummers are hammering the kits.

But it isn't noise, it's excellent rock music going from either end of their career - to give you an idea of how prolific they've been, I sent a mate to investigate their back catalogue last month, he hasn't been seen since and the tracker dogs are scared to go any further.  Alternating vocals between three of them, they create delicacy within the assault, while storming through tracks such as �Hooch' that whip a sizeable chunk of the crowd into frenzy.

They may be getting on, but their bubble hasn't burst.

William Johnston

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Gig Details
Venue: The Black Box
Location: Belfast
Date: 4/5/2007