With all due respect to Lars Ulrich, the only real Napster priority I had was finding all the Mr. Bungle demos, which due to the internet I knew existed but still had no idea how to obtain. At last, I was going to hear the mythical Goddammit I Love America and the perpetually-misnomered Bowel Of Chiley and for the love of gawd The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny. I spent ridiculous hours researching and compiling these songs, this is the pre-google era people, and printing out cover art for CD-Rs, and finally, there they were. (Yes yes OU818 as well but that one is hardly crucial.)
Raging Wrath was clearly the best of these. Bungle’s very first recorded work was a brutal blast of deathy thrash with only a couple brief detours into their ska/funk tendencies, just enough to remind you that this isn’t just some metal band, it is Mr. Bungle. But good lord, the sound quality. The pure amateurism of the thing. We could only dream of what these songs could sound like, if only they could’ve been played by the maestros Trey Spruance and Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn were to become, and with some incredible drummer, with the benefit of proper musical equipment.
What a drag, the whole idea of the reunion tour, the cash-grab, the pathetic attempt to recapture dead glories, the inevitable tarnishing of whatever legacy remains. Is it even possible to avoid these trappings? Is there one band in history that could actually enrich its legacy with a reunion tour twenty years post-breakup?
There will always be a part of me that wants to see “Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz” live even though I consciously hope it never happens. I just can’t see these guys becoming an actual viable force again, touring and sprinkling in the old hits and acting like this is somehow okay. I’m sure they could pull it off, but what they actually did this year was so stunningly expected and brilliant that I think it’s got to be the lone coda, the very end of Bungle. They of course will do whatever they want.
I went in thinking ‘they’re not seriously gonna play “Hypocrites”’ but I can’t understand why they had to omit “Grizzly Adams”, come on, the first song on the damn album, I was so prepared to raise my arms to the sky, this is the song that sounds the worst on the demo that would be so glorious now with that gnarly iconic Trey tone, but no. Denied. Instead, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, well fuck I guess that’s the more Bunglesque move now isn’t it. Assholes.
I was kinda right, they didn’t really play “Hypocrites”, just a tease really, and no “Evil Satan” either and these are without a doubt the two least essential songs on the album and would hardly have been fitting, you’re going to make Dave Lombardo lower himself to this level? No. I’m sure Scott Ian would’ve been game. But it’s all good. Instead they padded the show with three heretofore unheard originals from that era that absolutely crushed. I think I had heard tales before of a mythical song that featured an early stab at the chorus riff of “Love Is A Fist”; apparently that’s called “Eracist” and is incredible. They’ve got to release a live album from these shows, right?
I was also right in thinking they’d cover Corrosion Of Conformity’s “Loss For Words” but I’m surprised they left out DRI’s “I Don’t Need Society”; it would’ve fit perfectly in this set. “Hell Awaits” was a good choice. “Speak Spanish Or Die” was a very nice touch. Seals & Croft’s “Summer Breeze”, obviously. Encoring with The Exploited’s “Fuck The USA” was just about as perfect a choice as they could’ve dreamed up, although I really, really couldn’t let go of the tiniest hope that they’d come back and do “Everyone I Went To High School With Is Dead”. Just one, is that too much to ask??
Yes it is. That’s not what this night was about. It was about recognition that the songs these kids wrote back in 1985 were actually fucking amazing and that Mr. Bungle can now play the shit out of them. And about paying tribute to the people who helped make Mr. Bungle who they were. It wasn’t about turning anyone new onto the band; it was about if you know, you know. It wasn’t about reliving the past, it was about doing justice to music that never got its due. Now there are no more questions, no what-ifs. For two weeks, Mr. Bungle was the greatest fucking band on Earth again, and that’s only fair.