Words – Clare

It was 2007 and I was alone, sitting on a red-eye flight, flying above Eastern Europe when the turbulence suddenly kicked off. The metal tube violently rattled around me, my knuckles white, my fists gripping the armrests. I looked to my left and looked to my right. I tried to asses the situation by gauging the facial expressions of the flight staff or other passengers, but I was completely alone. All the while, erratically pumping through my headphones into my brain was a Mr Bungle track from their 1999 album California titled The Air-Conditioned Nightmare and I laughed maniacally, thinking, so this is how I die?

Turns out I actually survived long enough to see Mr Bungle reform to perform live on an Australian tour at Melbourne’s Festival Hall last Wednesday night. Never thought I’d see the day. Don’t get me wrong, Mr Patton and I have had a long-standing (albeit one-sided) relationship where we have crossed paths many times. I first saw him a mere few feet away from me outside the Palace Theatre in St Kilda when he was touring with Fantomas on their Suspended Animation tour in 2005. Next in 2009 was at Donnington Park the UK when Faith No More finally reunited to play at the Download Festival (ya girl was in the front row for that one, and yeah you can spot me in the live footage on YouTube). But now, I’m finally getting to see Mr Bungle live, and being supported by Melvins (hell yeah!).


Now there’s always been an unspoken rule in band T-shirt etiquette, you don’t wear a a band T-shirt of the band you’re going to see, but I just couldn’t help myself this time. I dug my way through to the back of my closet, dusted off my 17-year-old Mr Bungle tee that I so excitedly purchased on my first trip to California, I slipped it on, and it felt right. With a jack n cola in hand and surrounded by folks just like me (old as fuck but with excellent taste in music), the house lights went down and Melvins took the stage in the most suave threads you ever did see. Steven Shane McDonald wore a fitted red and black suit with a red axe to match and Buzz Osborne was draped in a garment fit for an Illuminati cult leader. Now I’m going to be completely honest, I wasn’t too worried about what tracks Melvins were going to play in this set, I was just super pumped to watch three prolific, super talented musicians have a jam session and rock it out on stage for an hour, and that’s what I got. They rocked the fuck out. To be even more honest though, I also would have been happy just watching Buzz’s trademark animated hairstyle bouncing around for an hour straight.

Melvins used the song ‘Take On Me’ by A-ha for their intro which paid off, the already excited crowd let their excitement rise even further as they belted out the chorus with gusto. Then they launched into a track from the Hold It In album released in 2014, Sesame Street Meat. The set list was a jumble of hits from across their long discography including It’s Shoved, Anaconda and Your Blessened from the 1991 album release Bullhead, Hag Me and Honey Bucket from Houdini released in 1993, A History of Bad Men from 2006 Senile Animal and Never Say You’re Sorry from Bad Moon Rising released just 2 years ago. Although the veteran musicians seemed to have experienced some technical difficulties with the band crew member rushing on stage to switch Buzz to a different amp and to secure Dale Crover’s drum kit, it did not seem to impede the performance from these long-time professionals with Dale rocking out some pretty sweet drum solos throughout. Bassist Trevor Dunn joined Melvins on stage for their final track Night Goat, with Trevor and Steven pushing and rubbing their respective guitars up against each other in the same fashion as when children make their dolls smooch. It was a blissfully entertaining set that seemed to end way too quickly.

Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, Dave Lombardo Trey Spruance & Scott Ian appeared on stage in this new iteration of the band Mr Bungle to perform and present The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo released in 2020 to it’s old and now new fans. They thrashed their way through the tracks from the album including Anarchy Up Your Anus, Bungle Grind, Eracist, Spreading the Thighs of Death, Methamatics, Raping Your Mind and Sudden Death. But in the classic showmanship style of Mr Mike Patton, we were also entertained with a plethora of covers. The band opened with a cover of the Mister Rogers theme song Won’t You Be My Neighbour and later on they performed Hopelessly Devoted to You which is the song our very own Olivia Newton John performed in Grease, which I’m sure Patton used as a love letter to Australia (and as a way to flex his famously great vocal range). But it wasn’t until they covered True by Spandeu Ballet that the room was filled with undeniable joy, it was hard not to get swept up and even I couldn’t help from joining in the melodic chorus. Patton kept up the chatter with the crowd throughout the evening, exclaiming his favourite Aussie word being ‘cunt’ followed then by ‘maggoted’, and even gave a shout-out to Briggs who surprised Festival Hall patrons yet again when he joined Bungle on stage. Although I was ecstatic to be watching this new version of Mr Bungle performing live, I did feel immense gratitude near to the end of their set when they played a track from the self-titled album released in 1991, the track was My Ass Is on Fire and it lit a fire under mine. The set seemed to winding up and as Mike put it,  ‘time flies when your sucking shit’, but after Sudden Death, they would return for an epic encore.

Joining them on stage this time were the original Bungleheads Danny Heifetz and Clinton McKinnon who not only were members of the original line-up but who both moved to Australia after Bungle’s disbandment. What a reunion after 24 years! The encore opened with a cover of John Sebastian’s Welcome Back followed up by 24 Mila Baci with trumpets and all. Then in a most satisfying finish, Mr Bungle covered Sepultura’s Territory. Now I’ve seen this track played live by Max Cavalera himself, but maybe Mr Bungle has now taken the top spot in my mind for best Sepultura covers. Would you challenge me on that?

Thanks to the Festival Hall Crew for having us and Dave at Cult Etiquette for arranging media access.