Ah, dear readers, let me regale you with a tale of a night that shattered the confines of convention and left the hallowed halls of History in Toronto forever echoing with the resonance of raw, unbridled experimental rock. It was September 13, 2023, a night etched in the annals of musical history, or it was just a damn fine time for all of those that ventured out on a Wednesday night. The stage was set for a night of experimental rock, and the air crackled with anticipation, for the evening to start as enigmatic duo known as Battles took the stage with the promise of a patchwork of sounds that defied the boundaries of ordinary perception. Yet, it was the looming presence of the incomparable Mr. Bungle that hung like a tantalizing enigma over the proceedings.
Alright, let’s unravel this peculiar sonic saga. The eve unspooled with Battles, and I must confess, they took my cerebral faculties on quite the spin. This “experimental” outfit, a duo comprising the percussive dynamo John Stanier and the versatile Ian Williams, who dabbled in a menagerie of gadgets from keyboards to ipads and laptops, left my synapses firing in all directions. I’ll grant Stanier his due, his drumming was a force to be reckoned with, a tempestuous ten-song affair that seared through the airwaves.
Yet, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking we’re witnessing a live performance when the ghost of playback lurks so prominently. When a bass line grooves, like in “A Loop So Nice…”, I’m yearning for a flesh-and-blood maestro plucking those strings, not a pre-recorded charade. Vocals floated about, disembodied from either performer, simplicity personified. Stanier pounding those skins, cymbal looming like a metallic sentinel, while Williams wielded a guitar that seemed more prop than instrument. He twirled and pressed ‘play’, leaving me yearning for a strain of experimentalism that, alas, eluded this curious endeavor. I hungered for a Deep Purple-esque odyssey, a freeform rhapsody where Blackmore and Jon Lord spar for dominion… what unfurled before me was, well, something else entirely.
John Stanier – Drums
Ian Williams – Guitar, Keyboards, Electronics
1. The Yabba
2. Hiro 3
3. Summer Simmer / Ice Cream
5. A Loop So Nice…
6. Titanium 2 Step
7. Sugar Foot
Ladies and gentlemen, if there ever was a tour to etch in the annals of musical history as the epitome of unmissable, this is it. We’re talking thrash, punk, metal, and that special brand of Bungle madness, all wrapped up in a package known as The “Geek Show”, brought to you by the venerable Ipecac Recordings. And let me tell ya, folks, it’s selling out faster than a hot ticket to the end of the world.
The Bungles recent gig at Toronto’s History was a revelation in more ways than one. Witnessing Mike Patton, the vocal powerhouse, reclaim the stage after a much-needed hiatus, was like seeing a phoenix rise from its own ashes. A mental health break, they said. But the man is no mere mortal; he’s an icon, and watching him in full throttle, commanding the stage, was a reaffirmation of why Mr. Bungle has held sway for over three decades.
Now, let’s get to the genius behind this reunion. Patton, alongside the visionary architects of Bungle, Trevor Dunn and Trey Spruance, decided that a return to their roots was in order. And so, they dusted off their thrash demo from ’86, christened it The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, and decided that it deserved a fresh coat of paint. But they didn’t just stop there, oh no. They called in the cavalry, the heroes of their own youth, who, as luck would have it, are fervent Mr. Bungle enthusiasts themselves.
Enter Dave Lombardo, a drum maestro, an icon in his own right. A longstanding collaborator with Patton, when asked to drum for a project inspired by Slayer, it was a bit of a no-brainer. The outcome? Sheer sonic glory. And then there’s Scott Ian, the illustrious axman from Anthrax. The man is to metal what a spark is to a powder keg. Considering Ian has once asked Patton to join Anthrax, having Ian on board was bringing the partnership full circle. A devout Bungle acolyte himself, the sheer elation radiating from him on stage was contagious.
But, hold on, devoted disciples of the ’92 Warner Brothers Bungle era, curb your expectations. This is a thrash/metal/punk extravaganza, through and through. Anticipating anything less than the unpredictable from this crew is, well, a bit quaint. However, fear not, for there are Bungle-ian twists aplenty, from the pitch-perfect rendition of Spandau Ballet’s “True” to the Seals and Crofts cover, “Summer Breeze.” Yet, my friends, the real allure here is witnessing a collaboration so profound, it defies comparison. See, these so-called “supergroups” often crumble under the weight of their own hype. Not Mr. Bungle. Their superpower? A nonchalant disregard for the industry fuss, focusing on what truly matters: the music. It was engaging, fresh and powerful.
So why go, you ask? Go because live music, my dear friends, is back. Go because your tribe is going. Go for the headbangs, the camaraderie, the sheer thrill. But, above all, go because an experience like this, an “I-was-there” moment, is a chapter you’ll recount with reverence for years to come. This, my friends, is music history in the making. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.
Mike Patton – lead vocals, keyboards, samples
Trey Spruance – lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Trevor Dunn – bass, backing vocals
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Dave Lombardo – drums, glockenspiel
MR. BUNGLE SETLIST:
1. Grizzly Adams
2. Sudden Death
3. Hypocrites / Habla español o muere
4. Bungle Grind
5. I’m Not in Love
7. Glutton for Punishment
9. Anarchy Up Your Anus
11. Hell Awaits
12. Summer Breeze
13. You Lose
15. Spreading the Thighs of Death
16. My Ass Is on Fire
17. Raping Your Mind
19. Satan Never Sleeps
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