There’s always a “last day of school” sort of party atmosphere to the last night of a tour, especially a tour that Mutoid Man drummer Ben Koller has called their best ever, and with obvious apologies to one Andrew W.K., nobody parties harder than Mutoid Man. So, needless to say the grand finale of their east coast trek in support of recent masterpiece War Moans at Underground Arts on Wednesday night was a head banging, fist pumping salute to ass kicking as only MM can bring it.
Local three piece (trios being the order of the night) Coronal Mass Ejection opened the show with a doomy, psychedelic take on instrumental head trip prog in the Russian Circles vein, including a stirring and well received cover of Soundgarden’s “Pretty Noose”.
Speaking of Russian Circles, when last we checked in with noise tinged Seattle Sabbath worshippers Helms Alee, they were sharing the stage with RC in one of the cities bigger venues, Union Transfer, but Dana James’ ultra-crunchy bass, Hozoji Margullis’ tribal, apocalyptic drumming and Ben Verellen’s accomplished, esoteric axemanship resonated much more powerfully in Underground Arts’ intimate basement setting. Despite technical issues involving disobedient microphones the band soldiered through a pounding set that earned the crowd’s complete adoration. A friend who’d never heard of the band before even approached us after to show gloating about how impressed he was, fully converted. Thus is the power of Helms Alee.
Mutoid Man is a band that needs no introduction, so they don’t bother with one. Shuffling onstage, noodling hilarious covers of Bel Biv Davoe’s “Poison”, and barely giving the crowd a chance to brace itself before launching into a ripping rendition of War Moans opener “Melt Your Mind”, the lauded Converge/Cave In love child’s enthusiasm only matches its technical skill in recreating the madcap energy of their records and how perfectly the songwriting chops on display translate to a raucous live setting.
Now three releases deep into what will hopefully be a long career, the Mutants’ set ran the gamut from new NWOBHM love letter “Irons In The Fire” to “Bleeder” favorite “Reptilian Soul” (hilarious, incongruous mid-song Led Zeppelin detours and all) to “Helium Head” rallying cry “Gnarcissist” and everything in between. Setlist content and sonic aptitude aside, just seeing these guys do what they do is worth the price of admission, and the ever-broadening positive reception that their good natured riff mongering has attracted can’t help but warm the heart in a heavy music landscape that can sometimes be bogged down in dour seriousness. To paraphrase the Animals cover that has become a live staple for the band: they’re just some souls whose intentions are good, oh lord please don’t let them be misunderstood.
Photos by Megan Hawkey, Words by Kevin Hawkey