It’s not such a big deal to see Mudhoney in the Effenaar in Eindhoven. They played there a few times before… Just realize that the last time was actually 23 years ago and this makes yours truly feel very young again (I was 7 at the time). Tonight they bring with them two support acts and a vast back catalogue of fuzzed out grungy rockmusic.
There’s not the huge crowd that this line-up deserves, but the venue knows how to respond to that, by making it shrink a bit to still create the atmosphere that’s needed. It’s not that full yet when Barton Carroll walks on to start up the night with a set of his acoustic songs. The Seattle-based singer-songwriter might be from the other side of another continent, there’s definitely a folky streak to his voice and tone on songs like Poor Boy Can’t Dance. Barton Carroll is aware of his odd role in this night filled with guitars, so a few jokes here and there offer some relief. In the tradition of Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, he plays the harmonica as well. Though most visitors seem less then interested in the singer, he does deliver.
It takes a long intro song before White Hills climbs the stage, but when they do it’s clear that this is what part of the crowd has been waiting for. By that I don’t mean the men rushing forwards with cell phones to take pictures of bass player Ego Sensation, but the ones who dig the music. The bands kicks of with a rhythm driven, droning track, where only drums and bass form the sonic carpet they’re rolling out. This is mainly what the set consists of, spacy, repetitive rhythms with the occasional vocals, effects or guitar play by Dave W.
The whole set seems to be one rhythmic jam with gentle shifts in pace and timbre. Ego Sensation also takes up some vocal duties, which gives a bit of a different vibe to the songs. Though the band never misses a beat, you really have to be into the groove of their sound to fully appreciate it. The 45 minutes of music provided by the New Yorkers is just long enough for them not to become boring with what is generally a flat sounding set. Still, it can be one hypnotic trip with this band.
So you would think that a band, which has been around for 27 years would start taking things at their own pace? No, just not the thing Mudhoney does. Unless their pace is that of a kid having a tantrum on a sugar rush. The whole venue is literally resounding with the sheer volume of this band. Mark Arm’s shouted bark is as venomous as it was when the band started out with their debut on Subpop, when the group rose from the ashes of Green River. The energy on I Like It Small from latest release Vanishing Point doesn’t show a band that has aged, but a bunch of guys on fire and loving being on the stage.
Chugging out fuzzy riffs and groovy bass lines, Steve Turner and Guy Maddison seem to have a great time playing the fan favorites like Suck Me Dry and of course Touch Me I’m Sick, to which the crowd seems to go berserk as if the last 20 years never really passed by.
Some technical problems with the drums stop the set from raging on, but as soon as Dan Peters has fixed his high-hats, the fuzz continues. The voice of Mark Arm, who puts away his guitar for the next part of the set, is an equivalent to the sound of ripping up paper. While doing his dance moves his shrieky voice pierces your eardrums.
All in all, Mudhoney totally delivers tonight, which must be surprising to many visitors. The energy and playfulness in their set shows a bunch of guys who just can’t get enough. I guess some people will still hear the fuzzy sound in their ears tomorrow morning.
Scribed by: Guido Segers
Photos by: Patrick Spruytenburg