Tomahawk / Melvins / Dälek Majestic Theater, Detroit MI - May 16, 2003

Tomahawk / Melvins / Dälek Majestic Theater, Detroit MI - May 16, 2003
What went down in the dirty 'ol motor city this night was some real spooky and heavy-ass shit — the legendary sludge-rock cortex-scrambling Melvins, the freakish hip-hop of Dälek and Duane Denison's groovy crime spree paced Tomahawk. Beginning the evening in the same amazing venue where Houdini took that fatal punch, Dälek, a hip-hop trio of laptop, vocalist and DJ, provided what is perhaps the real hip-hop sound — punishing Sabbath-esque psych drone heaviness — creating hip-hop that's shot into the veins with the same kind of outer space substance that only New Kingdom could dish out or Techno Animal could weld. Their "man" is the DJ, who seems to be permanently electrocuted, with that insane hair, and what he does with a turntable is otherworldly — playing guitar with it, feeding it effects George Lucas couldn't conceive of on acid, and screaming into the needle on the tone arm. They were worth the drive but then came the Melvins. Although the past few years have consisted of hokey-jokey experiments in noise, they (with King Buzzo on guitar, same freak hair as the DJ) decided to go back to their old-school steamroller sludge route, playing a stunning hour-long medley of numbers extracted from their almost two decades of punishment. Drummer Dale Crover is the god — the only drummer who makes staccato silent spots sound heavy — and Buzz was in top form, likely due to all that calculated playing with Fantômas. And as the evening progressed, so did the "ominously possessed drunk Mr. Hyde audience member" element. When Tomahawk hit the stage, so did el Diablo (aka Mike Patton), who has an ability to speak in tongues while gazing about the audience from his pulpit of electronic goodies. Musically, this gang pulled off a brilliant set of extremely eerie psychedelic weird dynamic heavy art rock sounds, including screams, and were rounded out by John Stainer, Duane Dennison and the Melvin's bassist. But the real "devil" proved to be the audience, in the form of some of Detroit's unschooled and primal finest — the severely violent kind. The result was an unwelcome complement to some of the eerie and mysterious musical moments Tomahawk can make, with a lot of blood being tossed about. Good thing I am not a hypochondriac.