Artist: Fantomas / Melvins
DVD: The Fantomas/Melvins Big Band
If you're a fan of either Fantomas of Melvins you know this show is NOT going to feature a greatest hits list of the two bands. Neither Mike Patton nor Buzz Osbourne has ever shown much interest in pandering to the masses. Expect the unexpected should have been the modus operandi of anyone attending this show or picking up this DVD.
And right from the beginning, it's clear the band has no intention of providing a straight-forward rock show. It begins with a slow, repeating drum beat that goes on.....and on....and on. For about eight minutes...as if teasing and tempting the audience to get frustrated. From there, it's a smorgasbord of insane technical freakouts, sound experiments, improv call and response sets and general musical mayhem.
In fact, there are only about a half dozen "songs" on here, though the band does manage to get around to playing such recognizable favorites as Hooch, Cape Fear and Spider Baby. In short, it's a mish-mash of craziness that only the devoted will truly enjoy. Make no mistake, this is not for the light of heart.
While no individual is the star of the show, Mike Patton does take ring-leader status. He "sings" most songs, though he spends as much time contributing vocal "instrumentals" as actually singing. He advanced vocal structures can sometimes amaze but just as often annoy. His call and response improv with the dual drummers is impressive if not all that enjoyable to listen to.
It's obvious these are all outstanding musicians hellbent on being artists, damn the reactions. Unfortunately, that doesn't make for the most compelling show. It's herky jerky throughout with no flow, just random jolts of mayhem. The relatively amateurish video doesn't help matters, as you can never get a sense of who's where or where the music is coming from. Add some ill-advised editing and the whole ends up being less than the individual pieces.
I've always admire but Buzz and Patton, and there are things to like here. But overall it left wanting something a little more structured with a view towards the overall aesthetic as opposed to a long list or random pieces.
If you're a fan of avante-garde noise or arty music, this might appeal to you. For anyone else, it's highly unlikely.