Billed as Jello Biafra with the Melvins (fans refer to the union as "the Jelvins"), the coupling of the former Dead Kennedys frontman and one of heavy music's most enigmatic forces proved as manic and combustible as anything in either band's history at the Henry Fonda Theater on Wednesday night.
A solo set from the Melvins transitioned seamlessly into the night's marquee billing, as Melvins guitarist-frontman King Buzzo (wearing a gray camouflage house dress and black combat boots) and bassist David Scott Stone (in a "Psycho"-inspired smock) donned black ski masks amidst their metallic din, and Biafra took the stage in a blood-smeared surgeon's jacket.
The frontman played the mad scientist at the helm of a fabulously frightening musical experiment. For Biafra, the songs seem secondary to the political pulpit they provide. The Melvins, who delivered the music with fiendish intensity, take a seemingly opposite approach, as any messages in their molten missives are an afterthought to the sonic mayhem erupting from their instruments.
Combine those forces -- melding one of punk rock's historic voices with the Melvins' doom metal soundscapes -- and the results are as evolutionary as they are revolutionary.
...The highlights... came in the form of the timeless DK classics "When Ya Get Drafted," "I Am the Owl," "Chemical Warfare" and "Holiday in Cambodia," which closed a two-song encore that also featured underground icon Wesley Willis' "Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's." Biafra's delivery was a schizophrenic blend of prancing and performance art, as torn from the pages of a graphic novel. But the manic delivery always subsided when the songs took their frequent back seats to Biafra's revolutionary rants.
I admire Jello Biafra's tenacious hold on his Overtness. Though maybe he's Advanced and I just don't know it. In either case, I'm a fan.