Thunderstorms with Buzzo



I went on a solo mission to see King Buzzo from the Melvins play an acoustic set last night.

If you’re familiar with the Melvins, that sentence probably doesn’t make any sense.

Yet, it happened. And it was fantastic.

I showed up just in time to catch the opener — Mary Halvorson.

The review I read of her said that she was, “light years ahead of her peers…the most impressive guitarist of her generation.”

I know a lot about music. At least, I think I do.

That being said, I don’t play guitar. But if I sat on my couch right now and tried to make a song, I imagine it would sound something like Mary Halvorson’s songs.

Yeah, that sounds cocky. But that’s how I felt.

It also made me really think about noise. How did it become a genre of music? If it’s noise — isn’t it just that? How can noise be considered music? Music is what happens when noisey things are played in a way that sounds half-way decent, right?

Anyway – King Buzzo came on soon after and played songs. I appreciated that.

If you didn’t know anything about King Buzzo or the Melvins, it would have been an impressive set.

As a fan of the Melvins — and having seen them more times than I can count — it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Buzzo is a fantastic guitar player, but when you have the thunder of Dale Crover’s drums to hide behind, some of your ability gets lost.

He didn’t have anything to hide behind this time.

The set list was basically the Melvins greatest hits, along with an Alice Cooper cover.

I heard songs played that I’ve listened to hundreds of time in a whole new way. It’s amazing what one guy can do with one guitar.

(I should try to play one someday. If I really do end up sounding like Mary Halvorsham, at least I know I’ll be able to open for Buzz someday.)

Still, the best part was the intimacy of the whole thing. For a guy that’s been playing music professionally for close to 30 years, you could tell that he was still figuring out how to perform by himself.

When he was playing, he was possessed by it. When he wasn’t, he was at a loss.

It was endearing, though. He told stories mostly (about his wife and Mike Patton). An awkward, goofy laugh followed each and every sentence.

Everyone there could tell that he was a bit shy.

The thing is, if you’re at a King Buzzo acoustic show, you’re basically a Melvins cult member — Meaning that anything Buzzo says is gospel.

It was humbling. A 50 year old guy with over 50 albums and innumerable world tours under his belt is just now learning how to play by himself on a stage.

It was amazing. Made me imagine what it would be like if we all went outside of our comfort zones just a bit each day.

So everyone laughed — even if the jokes, stories, or comments weren’t funny.

That’s Mary. I can’t really play guitar like her.


We Are All Devo


I realized last week that I’m a nerd.

I’m ok with it. I always thought I was ok with it. But last week it really clicked.¬†

I went to see Devo by myself. 

Alan Myers? Dead. Bob 2? Dead. I still had to go. 

The crowd seemed nice. Mostly middle-aged white guys. Some brought their wife and kids. 

Regardless of who was or wasn’t with them though, they were pumped. Devo hats, old tour shirts, work attire…whatever, they were chanting (the “Bob 2” chant was very touching), yelling, recounting stories of seeing them here or there.¬†

It made me realize that these weren’t just music fans. They may not have even been music fans. They were DEVO fans.

They knew every word to every song, they probably cried when they heard about Alan or Bob 2. They might have “Honk if you’re Devo” bumper stickers or Devo tattoos.¬†

I felt similar when I was surrounded by Eels fans a few weeks prior, but this was a different thing. 

It made me think about music, art, whatever. 

When I was 8 and I heard the Dead Milkmen it triggered something. The humor, the tempo, the hyper self-awareness parading as nihilism…I got it.¬†

For the 2 hours that Devo played last week, everyone in the room was united. Nobody felt weird or alone, awkward or self-conscious, ugly or depressed. They were all Devo. Devo triggered that thing in them, so they were united. 

The band felt it. The crowd felt it. I felt it. And then it was over and everyone went home. 

I wish every show made me feel that way. 


Apollo Theater drama



I’ve never been to the Apollo theater before.

I love Eels, they announced a show there, so I bought a ticket.

When I went on ticketmaster, there was a front row seat available. At least, that’s what it looked like.

Not the case. I got there and was ushered up to one of the smaller balconies on the sides of the stage.

Initially, I was excited. I’ve never been to the Apollo, and now I’m sitting in one of those special boxes on the side of the stage where (presumably) only special people sit? Cool!

Inside the box were 5 chairs and 4 people pushing 60. Their ages didn’t matter. What did matter was that they were already fighting about the seating situation.

All of our tickets said “Row 1″…but when you have 5 seats in a 5 square foot area, the lines get a bit blurry.

One of the women found this completely unacceptable. At first, she refused to sit until the couple, who were there first, left their seats. Once she sat down, she continued yelling about a refund. The band were slated to start any minute.

Finally, she calmed down a bit, but continued to mutter under her breath the entire time. Her husband never said a word.

Once the band started, she intentionally moved her chair directly in front of the other couple in order to block their view. When the woman behind her politely asked if she could move a bit to the left, she threw up her hands and said, “What?! I’m just trying to relax and have a good time!”

With this, I left the balcony, found an empty seat elsewhere and enjoyed the show.

As the show ended, I got on the A train and sat down. I looked up and caught eyes with the person next to me. Sitting there was the woman and her husband.

Her husband read the newspaper and the woman sat quietly. Neither spoke.

I wonder if they had a good time.

Apollo Selfie


Record of the Day: Tony Molina’s “Dissed and Dismissed” 12″




It takes a special skill to make a song feel effortless. Wilco, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath were great bands…but never, at any point, did they make it look easy.

This isn’t to say that Tony Molina sounds anything like those bands. He doesn’t. Dinosaur Jr., Weezer, and Thin Lizzy are the obvious points of reference here, but that’s not what I want to write about. I’m more curious as to why I can’t stop playing a record that feels unfinished.

I don’t mean unfinished as a criticism. Guided by Voices made a career out of releasing songs that were, for all intents and purposes, demos. This record feels like that, like you got your hands on a great practice tape.

If I had to guess, the short songs have less to do with Guided by Voices and more to do with Tony M’s punk rock background. Why repeat the verse and chorus? What would it accomplish? Nothing. In fact, had he extended any of these songs any longer than he did, it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.

“Dissed and Dismissed” is 12 songs in just as many minutes, and he still manages to fit an instrumental guitar piece (“Sick Ass Riff”) and a Guided by Voices cover (“Wondering Boy Poet”). It’s fuzzy, catchy, and over way too soon.

I’d like to think that Tony rolled into the studio on no sleep, ran through each track once, and threw the tape to his friend with the record label, all while giving zero fucks whether his buddy liked it or not.

That’s what it sounds like, but not what happened. That’s what makes it such a special record. And it’s probably why I feel like I’m wearing the grooves out on it already.

Buy it
Listen to it
Follow Tony Molina


The Breadcrumb Trail


Slint - Spiderland

My dad loved music. He got me into a lot of good stuff. Pat Metheny was one of his favorites, though not one of mine.

I remember going to see Metheny with my dad in New Brunswick, NJ. During a break in the set, Metheny quietly asked the audience, “do we have any musicians in the crowd?”

A huge number of people yelled back that they were, to which Metheny responded, “you should all be home practicing. Why are you here watching me?”

If you’re unaware of who Metheny is, he’s a progressive jazz guitarist with 3 gold albums and 20 Grammy’s. So if he’s suggesting that there’s always time for practice, you better start practicing.

I thought about my Metheny experience this past weekend after watching the new documentary called Breadcrumb Trail. It tells the story of a band called Slint, a short-lived post-punk band from Louisville, KT, whose classic album, Spiderland, just celebrated its 20 year anniversary.

The documentary itself was fantastic — A must-watch for anyone who has even a minor interest in American underground music. But that’s not the point.

What really struck me about the documentary was Slint’s dedication to their craft. One scene shows them practicing a song called¬†Good Morning, Captain¬†endlessly. They play it slower. They play it faster. They begin syncing up on accents, groove, and feel. It never seems finished, but that’s perfectly alright. They aren’t there to find perfection. They’re there to play. It’s a perfect example of art for art’s sake.

Frankly, it left me feeling embarassed. I remember playing music as a kid, in my first bands. We would practice most days, and when we practiced it was serious. Of course we joked around and had fun, but the purpose of being in that room together was to play, so we played. Records and tours followed, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to play. If we hadn’t achieved anything other than being in a room playing music together, it wouldn’t have made a difference. We would have felt just as accomplished.

When I’m in a practice space now, all I can think about it the final outcome. I think about how this song will fit into the context of the record, what the bassist should be doing differently, or what vocal patterns might sound good at specific points. I know that my mind tends to go to these places, and I do my best to keep it in check, but I feel like my experience as a musician differs greatly from what it used to be.

Slint’s records still resonate with thousands because they lived that music. They probably played those songs 500 times before putting them to tape, and even then, it probably wasn’t the best take they’d ever played. It’s the same reason those early Beatles recordings sound so alive after 50 years. They played those songs so many different times, in so many different situations that they couldn’t have botched a note if they wanted to.

If you want to play, play. But don’t let the desire for records and tours, let alone fame and fortune, drive you. Your best song will come when you let it flow. Your best lyrics will come when you’re not suffering over every word. And your happiest moment will come not because of anything external, but because you’re truly in that moment at that time.

What do you think?