“What have I done?”, the plaintive call from Mark Arm in “Blinding Sun”, was exactly how I felt after getting blasted by Mudhoney at the Black Cat on July 7, 2015.
The problem, to be precise, involved standing too close to the speakers for an inappropriate amount of time without ear plugs. My ears are still ringing.
Mudhoney gave the expectant crowd (just over half filled) wave after wave of fuzzy and distorted salvos of music, punctuated by lead singer Mark Arm’s howling and often manic vocals. Few heads failed to nod along with the beat.
There is something to be said about heavy music permeating your face and your bones at a live show. This cannot be captured in a recording and it is why grunge is an experience to be had, not merely listened to.
Mudhoney, among the pioneers of the grunge music scene that roared out of Seattle in the early 1990’s, sing angry lyrics. Yet with a wink, like they’re in on the joke. Not really angry, just looking to entertain.
In “1995” they want to know “What are you looking at?”, as if they’re the cool kids and you’re the nerd that accidentally stared a second too long.
In “Touch Me I’m Sick”, their first single in 1988, they embrace the paranoia around living with disease, and dare the woman to go for it anyway. “I Like It Small”, from their latest album Vanishing Point, is an ode to the mantra that bigger isn’t always better in life (and other things).
They introduced the cover of the Angry Samoans’ almost perky break-up song “You Stupid Asshole”, as a “rock ballad for everyone”, but the song still finds a way to acknowledge that they are assholes too.