Mudhoney at the Middle East Downstairs, June 6, 2008
NO NOSTALGIA: Mudhoney have maintained their total, sneering contempt for almost everything.
“We want to thank the Cynics!” were the words that emerged out of Mudhoney vocalist Mark Arm’s enormous mouth — and though he was giving props to the openers, he might just as well have been addressing his audience. Although his band will most likely be perpetuated in legend solely on the awesome time and place of their early-’90s heyday and the manner in which it was captured for posterity in blurry black-and-white Charles Peterson photos, the real Mudhoney were a sneering neg fest compared with other alterna-heroes of the era.
Arm took the stage focused and mean, his Sam the American Bald Eagle poker face glaring as the band ripped into their cover of Fang’s “The Money Will Roll Right In.” Mudhoney have always proved to be better record collectors than songwriters — meaning that righteous covers like the Fang tune and the closing take on Black Flag’s “Fix Me” stood out next to the long stretch of tracks from their new studio disc, The Lucky Ones (Sub Pop). Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, and company blazed through an angry-yet-trad set that that sounded like their heroes the Stooges with every single ounce of sexual energy sapped out — unless you consider quasi-political powerhouses like “Hard-On for War” sexual.
What Mudhoney have, and what so many of their contemporaries lacked, is a total contempt for almost everything. Given that they were playing to an adoring/moshing audience decades into their career, there were no platitudes. “When tomorrow hits, it’ll hit you hard,” Arm sang (from a tune released nearly 20 years ago), and the world-weariness of the whole thing made it clear why this is the wrong band to look to if you’re trolling for Day-Glo flannel nostalgia.
: Live Reviews
, Entertainment, Music, Charles Peterson, More