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[Review] Mudhoney @ Northcote Social Club, Melbourne 26/04/2023

Review By Andrew Pauley

If you don’t know it, then here’s a bit or two on the cruisy Northcote Social club.

The NSC shits all over the Northcote Theatre which is only a couple of puffs on a dart down the road. This sweet establishment has some Cherry Bar vibes. The venue knew that the gen X & Y alike were coming for a taste of grunge resurgence even if only for a couple of hours. As I sat with pints and took stock of the bar preshow, I was licked with Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, flannelette shirts and dirty jeans. NCS have their shit together and the draught was neck gobbling good.

As for the line-up, as I saw it, here it goes. Here is my account!

Seminal Rats were the opener and funnily enough, unknown to me these guys were drinking beer right next to me at the bar. I just thought they were some older dudes than me coming to see MH. Upon entering the “let’s call it rehearsal room (designated stage band room) I see the same older fellas racking up on stage. An unknown outfit that I am now fully ashamed to say I didn’t know and hadn’t heard a single bar of their tunes before.

I’ll get to MH in a bit but within the first track Seminal Rats smashed out Forever Blue, my instant thought was, will anyone notice my punk rock boner!! NCS is intimate right? So, when you’re close enough to smell an arm pit it’s clear for you to watch every musician doing their thing. They had me with a wink of their eye so I tucked punk rock boner away and paid attention. Completely captivated from the first 12 bars was I. Rat Race was thumped out with a cowbell and triplet kick drum intro slipping into some proper dirty punk. Expansion Joint, Stigmata & The truth Never Lies were some others that pashed our faces at tempo.

Maybe these cool motherfuckers haven’t gigged for a while as there were a couple of issues. From Todd having some issues with his bass drum pedal on one number, followed up with a sliding 22-inch silver sparkled Ludwig 80’s bass drum on the next song (drummers angst). But they are tight!!

At one point Dave on bass stood on his lead and kicked it out of the amp. Didn’t matter, jacked it back in and hammered that bass fret board and fingered those strings as punishment. Full credit to Dave for caning that four stringer at that tempo, in time for that long, like I said, Seminal Rats at weight for age can jam.

And that maybe the best part, with all the tech issues, as minimal as they were, made the full set a humbling one and it was like we the viewers were privy to a garage session. It was Intimate and I felt like I was discovering a new Love Buzz for the first time.

In conclusion for first act, let’s not discount Ruebin, been awhile since I saw in the flesh someone spreading five frets of G Chord with suspended hammer ons at tempo – it was deliciously quick and well executed.  As for Michael, and this will be the same for MH, the mix wasn’t good for vocals, a tad lost until while Todd was messing around with his kit, I got to hear Michael float his throat instrument by itself as they prepped for I Don’t Like That Guy which incidentally was probably my favourite song of the entire night. If they ever play again, I will suck acid chunks off a sidewalk to be there and I implore you to be there too, here’s hoping but either way I was glad to be there.

Tough first assignment for me to review a band that was for me a hum of indifference in the background of bands, where in that era I preferred other outfits.

What do you say about a band that was learning a craft stemming from Green River and playing with artists that would later go on to be instrumental (no pun intended) for other bands like Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam and 35 years later front up at the NSC?

I’ll say this, even though outside of some cracking tunes, a very evident stage confidence and poise, Mudhoney came to NSC to nut one out!! With bangers like Nerve Attack, Touch Me I’m Sick, This Gift, Who You Driving Now?  and You Got It to list a few that made my nipples hard.

It’s one thing to have a massive studio catalogue, it’s another to pick your setlist when you’re playing to 350 dedicated punters in a tightly packed room with no margin for error. By that I mean you get instant feedback from the scuzz heads if they’re not happy right?! But as they ripped into The Farther I Go it was game on. By the time we were into Nerve Attack with a sleezy bass intro before getting smashed with Steve-O’s siren sounding lead the room was hot with energy.

Again, the mix was shite and Mark’s mix was lost on me until I moved off to the side of the stage, where his scream and raw drone of Little Dogs a song lost on me, Mark became a tad more distinguishable from the overall mix. In saying that, the room was full of MH purists and they knew when to chip in & shout lyrics to the likes of Touch Me I’m Sick, even when the vocal mix was consumed by the unapologetic sound that is Mudhoney, giving a contained sea of bodies a chance strut their bodies to This Gift, hard not to with that rack tom & riff intro.

Unbiasedly I can say our home-grown lad from W.A, Guy, owned his Fender 4 string. That fucking dude! And he is a fucking dude! Ladies & dirtbags, he was outstanding!

My best moments of that gig were the songs that had drum & bass intro. Another Ludwig 4 piece kit was being beaten to death and if you were at not present, another four-piece band was had this night, and were turning it on. As I write this, I have vivid recollections of seeing Guy’s E & A strings wobbling that much that when they were, I could feel them through my feet and simultaneously bashing the inside of my rib cage.

Steve! This guy knows how to lead and totes looks like one of them fellas you just want to have a jar of beer with after!! While Mark’s lyrics and vocal style don’t resonate with me, the fact that these guys as rhythm and lead know how to blend Mark’s vocal instrument with distorted mud muff adds an extra layer of grunge jizz.

Collectively the band are tight, as you’d expect for a band that has been a part of a movement since said movements inception.  The dedicated guest list at the NSC came together to squirt their honey buzz love all over each other. It was beautiful to witness and I was glad I came along for the Mudride.

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