Tomahawk + The Melvins + Dalek

[10 June 2003]

By Matt Gonzales


Tomahawk
Photo credit: Dustin Rabin
The Melvins
Dalek

8:11 PM: My companion and I arrive at the Vogue in Indianapolis. We each get a Rolling Rock and head toward the stage, where a smattering of black-clad white men smoke, drink and converse. Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” plays over the PA system. Two anomalous suburbanite white guys dressed in short-sleeved polo shirts pretend to play guitar.

8:28 PM: Dalek takes the stage. He clutches a bottle of water and stands before the mic as Oktopus stands behind a glowing laptop and DJ Still readies the turntables. Dalek is a large man. He wears a baseball cap. Oktopus is bald. Dreadlocks shoot in every direction from Still’s head.

8:49 PM: Dalek makes noise that is clearly very different from what most of the audience would listen to if given a choice. Politely, people continue to proffer their attention as Dalek emits ill-tempered syllables over an amalgam of hard-hitting beats, esoteric samples and vertiginous record-scratching.

9:00 The coda of Dalek’s set is offensively unmusical, and it lasts upwards of five minutes. The discomfort of a few of the audience members begins to manifest itself in conspicuous ways, but most of the audience seems intent on outlasting Dalek’s auditory assault. Suddenly, a white guy in a leather S&M mask comes on stage wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “C*nt”. He adds to the noise, screaming into what looked like a miniature, glow-in-the-dark megaphone. Finally, it all stops. Ambivalent applause follows.

9:05 PM: My companion and I decide that we would be more comfortable awaiting the commencement of the Melvins’ set in a less aromatically disagreeable environment. We walk down the street and enter a bar where a large television screen is broadcasting the Lakers-Spurs game. We order beers and watch. The Lakers lose the game and the series. Kobe Bryant weeps. We leave.

9:40 PM: We arrive back at the Vogue, where the Melvins are already sludging forth their allegedly legendary and seminal grunge music. If the previously speechless audience’s reaction to the Melvins could be translated into words, those words would be: “This is what I’m talking about.”

10:01 PM: My feet hurt. My back hurts. I don’t like listening to the Melvins. I told myself that I would be open-minded, that I would be willing to change my mind about music that I had previously written off as being “not often listened to for a reason.” I come to terms with the fact that I am not hardwired to like music that revels in monochromatic gloom.

10:22 PM The Melvins finally quit. My friend and I again trek to the other bar.

10:51 PM: We come back. Tomahawk are taking the stage. Mike Patton wears a red T-shirt that reads “IRON CHIEF” in bold letters. His jet black hair is slicked back. It looks very much like the hair of Pat Riley when he coached the Lakers. He hands out White Castle hamburgers to fans near the stage. He eats one himself. My companion says, “Mike Patton is cool.”

11:00 PM: The audience is exuberant. I am not a big Mike Patton fan. I generally cannot listen very long to his inventive variations on what it means to sing. Because of this, I did not know that he had such a large and devoted following. Tomahawk’s performance is much more interesting to me than that of the Melvins, but I still find myself watching my watch. It dawns on me that there’s something about metal in any incarnation that chafes me.

11:01 PM: I realize I might be a wuss.

11:25 PM: Mike Patton passes out yet more White Castles. He gets down to the last one, and declares that if anyone wants it, they must eat it from his mouth. Many volunteer. Finally, Mike points to an individual and directs him (or her; I couldn’t see) to bring their mouth toward his own. The tiny burger disappears between their faces. Applause ensues.

12:01 PM: During a performance of “Laredo”, someone from the audience steals a mic. The show ends. On the way out the door, I see a signed photograph of Big Head Todd and the Monsters on the wall. “Now if I liked that,” I tell myself, “then I’d be a wuss.”

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/tomahawk-030515/