Mudhoney at Parkteateret 21th of July 2016
Mudhoney is one of the original grunge bands from Seattle and the band saw the light of day in 1988. They have always been a little in the background but, despite the absence of any large commercial success, Mudhoney has inspired countless Grunge and Alternative Rock bands and musicians like Nirvana and Sonic Youth. The band also had a great influence on the development of the ’90’s “Seattle grunge scene” and its dirty, distorted sound. Mudhoney with their slightly uncool (or absence of) image strikes me as the type of band that it’s easy to underestimate. But appearances can deceive; turns out they are much funnier than they look. Mudhoney has 10 full-length albums up their sleeve, the last “Vanishing Point” came in 2013. Currently, Mudhoney are in the middle of a tightly packed European tour, and we appreciate that they swing by us here in Oslo despite the fact that it’s only been a year since the last they played here.
Tonight gig takes place at the Parkeateret in Oslo – an old movie theater from 1907 that has basically just been stripped of inventory, but with its sloping surfaces intactincluding the stage that slopes gently down onto the saddle, so if you have a slight touch of vertigo, you feel yourself involuntarily sucked onto the edge and towards the floor bbeyond. A friend of mine made an ugly fall from this stage a few years back.
The atmosphere is good among the audience as we are waiting for the band, the room is gradually being filled and gets to become pretty full of thirsty, expectant people. The crowd is rather mixed, most of them on the same age as the band, the so-called Generation X who experienced the Grunge period up close. There is a lot of black fabric. In between you catch sight of an occasional young face inbetween. The technique turns out a little lopsided in the beginning of this evening at Parkteateret; the venue is hot as in Hell even before the band goes on, the light is disastrous at first and the sound is crackly and weird. Fortunately, it gets better later in the concert, but it does not seem quite as if Parkteateret have proper control on the joint now in the middle of the holiday season.
The communication among the staff is perhaps not quite on top as the band comes strolling into the stage as if it were a som band practice, shortly after the evenings dj has put a new song that is instantly turned off. Vocalist Mark Arm asks us in a humorous way if we didn’t think this was a nice entrance, before the band hit loose with the instrumental “Fuzzgun ’91”. “Suck You Dry” and “I Like it small” follows closely after and the songs blend into each-other. The crowd is relatively quiet, as they wathc and drink som nodding along to the rythm. The concert starts off a little slow, but fortunately it gets better. It seems that the band play themselves into the music, but it is mostly when vocalist Mark Arm puts down the guitar and is solely a vocalist with proper attitude that it starts to swing really well from the music, and the mood in the crowd rises along rapidly. Bassist Guy Maddison and guitarist Steve Turner also lets themselves more loose and at times it is real proper punk. There is a and near mosh pit in front. Suddenly Mark Arm’s microphone stops working in the middle of a song. At first he first tries to get the crowd to sing for him, but a little embarrassingly, it seems as if no one or too few knows the lyrics. A new microphone appears and Mark declares death of the old. The “microphone death” becomes a sort of an “ice breaker” and he finally chats bit with the audience in between songs. From there it’s done, and it just gets better and better, even if the microphone “dies” again once more. Mudhoney also play several cover songs like Roxy Music’s “Editions of You”, Circle Jerks “Behind the door” and The Dicks’ “I hate the police”. Their own debut single “Touch Me I’m sick” is also included i the set.
This unpretentious, antisnob and laid back gang does an overall good concert. It starts out a little slow, but gradually picks it self up. Mudhoney is clearly at its best when Mark Arm puts down the guitar and is focuses solely on being a vocalist firing up the audience. With guitar, he seems to disappear a little behind the guitar and his voicec is unfortunately not big enough to carry the show alone. A little savagery and wildness on stage suits Mudhoney very well, otherwise they can easily seem a little too much like any other American Alternative Rock band. Their sound is dirty and characterized by noise, fuzz and feedback. I sense a touch tone of self-loathing beneath the surface.
After full applause and cheering there’s an encore starting with the good old “You Got It” which was played regularly at Hulen in Bergen in the early ’90’s, and it’s a bit nostalgic and very cool to hear it live. It seems people appreciates hearing these old hits. The atmosphere takes off towards the end. And … .. there flies a beer through the air!
When Mudhoney smiling and waving leaves the stage for the last time, it’s to full applause and cheered from a delighted audience. Guitarist Steve Turner stays a little longer and hands out picks to the crowd.
Those who have come to see a repeat of the legendary concert Mudhoney did at Vulkan last summer will probably be a little bit disappointed. Tonights venue must take some of the blame for that. Mudhoney had a real challenge this evening, not least because of the heat. Parkteateret may not be the best scene in the city, at least not in the summer.