Thursday, July 09, 2015

Mudhoney in Pittsburgh

I didn't expect Mudhoney to play all the songs that I knew and loved from 25 years ago, but they did. Well they didn't play "This Gift," but about three times they played something that sounded a helluva lot like it. So between that, and getting to hear "Touch Me I'm Sick," "Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More" and the favorite of my household in 1989/1990, "You Got It," it was a great night. The band came to Mr. Small's Theatre last night, with locals the Cynics and the Nox Boys opening for them.

Personally, Mudhoney always personified all that was good and wild about music coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Most of it came down to Mark Arm's off-the-rails vocals, which were always at the brink of hysteria, without sounding like a metal screamer. Then there were those power chords, which the blending with hot riffs, like the lick to "You Got It" or the tremolo in "This Gift." After all these years, one can't expect most bands from a quarter-century ago to maintain a wild-eyed visage without looking like either a bunch of screw-ups or dudes who don't realize the Peter Pan frame of mind isn't fooling any of us. Just age, and then rock.

I mention all this because Arm and guitarist Steve Turner looked relatively clean cut from where I was standing. In fact, they looked they could've been in Big Star, circa 1973. Shorter hair, white guy 'fro. They had it. It was strange to see, but I think there was something in the gin last night.

Their set stretched on to about 90 minutes, encores included, and when you consider most of their songs last about three minutes, that makes for a dense set. They hit the stage with the same fury they put out back in the day, kicking off with "Suck You Dry" and it stayed at a high level.

The Cynics played right before them, getting kudos from the headliners, who reminisced about seeing our hometown garage heroes back in their hometown way back when. Our locals also took us way back, opening the set with "Blue Train Station" the title track to their 1986 album. They went on to kick out "No Way" and another number of two from the '80s. But unlike memories of days gone by, they rocked these oldies to prove they were still relevant. After falling off the stage at a show in another city, vocalist Michael Kastelic looked fine and played as if nothing had happened.

The evening began with young Get Hip labelmates the Nox Boys opening the show. Vocalist Zack Keim's guitar was pretty buried in the mix, so it was hard to fully get into the hooks of their songs. But Bob Powers' slide guitar added a lot to the music, and the band sounded really tight. Things sounded catchy.

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