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- The Melvins »
Ok so this wasn’t strictly a *Melvins *show. Providing the soundtrack to a trilogy of short films by acclaimed artist and film-maker *Cameron Jamie *this was less a Melvins performance than a unique, intimate screening of Jamie’s work, brought to life thanks to the Melvins’ dark glowering presence. As such, the air of excitement building amongst diehard Melvins and *Ipecac *fans is almost tangible as they await the pre-gig series of talks that are due to explain this collaboration. Except these talks don’t actually materialise, and for about an hour and a half we're left sipping away on £3.20 pints and biting our nails in anticipation at what awaits us.
Eventually the lone figure of drummer Dale Crover - dressed in a fetching skimpy black dress – appears at his kit on the floor in front of the stage. As he pounds a slow, ominous beat, welcoming the electrified barnet of vocalist/guitarist Buzz, bassist Kevin crackles out an earth-shakingly low bass-line and the first of the three films begins on the huge screen on the stage.
Filmed on Krampusday on December 6th last year Kranky Klaus sees Jamie follow a group of locals in the village of Bad Gastein, Upper Austria re-enacting a medieval ritual where the benign figure of St. Nicholas travels through the village rewarding the good while a group of mythical ‘anti-santas’ – Krampus – punish the bad. A quaint, harmless little ritual you might think. Well, you’d be wrong. It’s actually a hilarious and, at times quite scary sight, watching this procession literally rampage through the village, the figure of St. Nicholas – who looks more like the straight-faced Gandalf from Lord of The Rings in a red santa suit – first entering various meeting points where local villagers have gathered and handing out small sacks of gifts before the shaggy-coated ‘beasts’ burst in the room and attack those not chosen by Saint Nick, at times even ripping off their clothes as they wrestle them to the ground. All the while The Melvins’ slow, marching groans keep the pace. And to think I’ve actually been to this village and met these people!
Following on from this was ‘Spook House’, an intriguing window into an American cultural phenomenon as Cameron Jamie films the various suburbs of Detroit in the period leading up to Hallowe’en. As he explores a variety of intricately customised gardens, homes and trailers The Melvins utilise all manner of eerie echoes and samples as he reveals America’s startling fascination with the fiendish horror imagery associated with Hallowe’en. In fact this is probably the scariest thing about the film, seeing the extraordinary lengths most Americans will go to when all us Brits can muster is a half-arsed hollowed-out pumpkin and a plastic witch mask from Spar.
Finally the third, but most disappointing film, was *BB*. Having been advertised as a “visceral portrait of the teenage backyard wrestlers of Los Angeles”, it’s immediately clear as the kids involved undertake some of the lamest, yawn-inducing pantomime wrestling I have ever seen that the film-makers blatantly haven’t seen the official Backyard Wrestling DVDs, never mind the abundance of websites dedicated to the more, shall we say, hard-core devotees. I mean, where was the glass tube smashing or the nutters jumping off a house onto a burning table? What about the idiot who gets his mate to run him over in his car? Talk about a disappointment.
Thankfully following this film The Melvins treat those fans frustrated at not hearing any Melvins tracks to a quick blast of ‘Nightgo’, after which everyone gives the band and Cameron Jamie a standing ovation. The last two films may have been a slight disappointment but with such an original concept - and a unique performance from The Melvins - everyone leaves contented nonetheless. And secretly planning a holiday to Austria on December 6th.
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