Recently I've been making more of an effort to finally see bands I've never seen before. Mudhoney are one of those bands I've been meaning to see for decades, but just never got around to. It seems every time they've come around in the past ten or so years, it just hasn't worked out for me. Luckily, this past Thursday fit into my schedule and I finally got to see the grunge legends.
Mudhoney started off the show by going all the way back to "When Tomorrow Hits" off their 1989 self-titled album. It was an interesting choice, as it's a more laid back and moody song than I expected to open the show. It ended up being the perfect way to ease the crowd into their set. For their second song they went back even further to 1988's excellent Superfuzz Bigmuff and "In & Out of Grace" to really get things going. Seeing as they're touring to promote a new album (Plastic Eternity, which was released back in April and is more than worth your time), they did play more than half the new album during their set, but the songs more than held up to the classics.
A surprising move by Mudhoney was playing "Sweet Young Thing (Ain't Sweet No More)" and "Touch Me I'm Sick" right in the middle of their set. At this point, the vast majority of the crowd at a Mudhoney show are die-hards who just want to see them play anything, so there's no need to save these classics for the encore.
A couple of stray observations on the show. Mudhoney might have been the least grunge looking people in Brighton Music Hall that night. I have no idea how the under thirty crowd handled the unseasonably warm night in their winter hats and flannel shirts as they larped the 90's, but they pulled it off. Also, as Mark Arm's voice ages, it fits the music better and better. A lot of artists definitely lose their vocal chops as they age, but the extra gruffness to Arm's vocals just fit the music more and more as the years go on.
It would have been easy for Mudhoney to choose one of the dozens of neo-grunge bands popping up in recent years to open the show, but instead they went with Hooveriii. Pronounced "Hoover Three," the Los Angeles based band seem to have taken just about every subgenre of rock and use them all to comprise their sound. There's some grunge, some pop punk, some glam rock, some power pop, some prog rock... literally everything is just mushed into a new but familiar sound. They included the heavy use of keys and saxophone in every song, which is rare for a rock band. In fact, saxophone player Gabe Flores joined Mudhoney on keys and sax sporadically throughout the set. They're the type of band that is going to drive music journalists insane since they don't fit into a neat category, but you'll want to check them out next time they come through your city.