On May 17th, 2023, in Salt Lake City, Utah at a venue called, The Union Event Center, Mr. Bungle gave the crowd a glimpse at the male human body while simultaneously tearing the roof off the building. The last part was a metaphor, the first, not so much. The night was full of mind-blowing performances of insanely talented musicians and crazy antics. There is something unusual about these bands that brings an indescribable feeling of euphoria, which tends to stay with you long after the show is over. Mike Patton is not only a master of his vocal craft, he is a genius with his stage presence. All I kept thinking, was Mike is back. Yet, before the “close encounters of the naked kind”, two dynamic bands took the stage and ignited the crowd. For this writer, it was a night full of bucket listers, checked off.
Spotlights began the night with a dark and ominous set that felt straight out the 90s. My teenage soul was comfortable and at home with this experience. The moody three-piece haunted the room with an incredible sound and stage performance. While I am new to this band, I recognized the song, “The Alchemist”, with the dark lyrical theme and grungy guitar tone. The haunting vocals really dig into your stomach and pull out some cathartic gunk that has been stuck, probably since the 90s. Husband and wife, Mario Quintero (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and Sarah Quintero (vocals, bass), teamed up with drummer Chris Enriquez to create this atmospheric encounter. Spotlights got the attention of Ipecac Recordings, Mike Patton‘s record label), and soon they were not only represented on the label, but were able to share the stage with Mr. Bungle on this tour. They did a phenomenal job of getting the crowd warmed up for the rest of the show.
Melvins have been on my concert radar for many, many years, and being able to witness them firsthand was just as special as I had imagined it to be. King Buzzo (vocals, guitar), Dale Crover (drums), and Steven McDonald (backing vocals, bass), put their full effort on the stage like they were a fresh and new band full of energy. If I had not already known this band is 40 years old, I would have been shocked at that information. McDonald really stole the show with his eccentric stage presence and flashy red jumpsuit. I kept finding my eyes navigating back to him to see what eccentricity he was portraying. Dale annihilated his drumming and was on fire, I felt a strong appreciation for how incredible of a musician he is, every time I looked his way. Buzz was doing his trademark head shakes with his hair bobbing from side to side, while wearing his signature black dress-like outfit. They played a personal favorite, “Never Say You’re Sorry”, and a crowd favorite, “Honey Bucket”, with many memorable moments in between. One of the highlights of the night was when they played “Night Goat, and Trevor Dunn and Sarah Quintero joined McDonald for a meeting of the bassists. The three on stage and jamming together was truly incredible and they all looked to be enjoying themselves, which says a lot as an onlooker at a concert.
Before I begin to attempt to explain what happened next, I must say, I am a huge Mr. Bungle fan. Having the opportunity to see these guys was the closest thing to concert heaven as possible for me, and I have seen some really incredible concerts my almost 41 years in life. When Mike Patton (vocals), Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), Trevor Dunn (bass), Trey Spruance (lead guitar) and Dave Lombardo (drums), came out, the lights turned to a bluish purple and they jaunted into “Welcome Back”, from the TV show, Welcome Back Kotter. Spruance and Ian slowed their thrash speed for the catchy riffs and backing vocals while Patton snapped along while singing. This quickly transitioned to a red lighting and the Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny ensued, starting with “Bungle Grind”. The energy never stopped. A little ways into the show, Patton addressed the crowd, looking for a male brave enough to strip down on stage while the band played “Hypocrites/Habla Espanol O Muere”, a Stormtroopers of Death cover of “Speak English or Die”. He encouraged the man to dance during the “La Cucaracha” part of the song, and the guy was more than happy to deliver the hilarious dancing and helicoptering of his shirt over his head. Patton laughed, gave the guy a hug, and it seemed the hijinks was over for the night, but the end of the concert proved this to be untrue. Speaking of true, Mr. Bungle covered Spandau Ballet‘s song, “True”, while everyone sang along with their lighters in the air. I honestly had no idea people even brought lighters to shows anymore. Mike’s vocals were just as clear and beautiful as they have ever been.
The band was tight, you would have thought they have been practicing nonstop since releasing Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. Scott Ian looked like he was having a blast, as Dave Lombardo drummed his heart out. Trey Spruance is a remarkable guitarist, which I already knew, yet, I was still in complete shock and awe of him. Trevor Dunn hustled around and looked right at home. Mike Patton dangled the mic, walked in his own personal circle pit, and wowed the crowd with his charisma and vocal brilliance. He smiled the whole way through as tears crept into my eyes to see him so happy again. They played “Methamatics”, “Eracist”, “Raping Your Mind”, and covered “Hell Awaits” originally by Slayer and “Fuck The USA”, originally by The Exploited.
When the band said their first goodbye’s after doing, “Sudden Death”, the crowd waited around, hoping for that encore. As Mr. Bungle hopped back on stage, Patton once again looked for a volunteer to strip, but this time he encouraged the man to strip completely down during their cover of Sepultura‘s “Territory”. The fan quickly had his clothes off down to his underwear with his derriere for all to see before the first chorus. As he danced around and kept pushing closer to complete nakedness, he stopped short and was escorted off stage and out of the building by staff, but not before a quick “ride” from behind from Patton, a hug, and a “we’re not worthy” bow to this daring fan as a thank you for playing along. Now, I understand this has not happened at any other show on this tour, so I am fairly certain this was Patton being Patton in a state that has very strict rules. He likes to push the envelope, and this is one of the many reasons he is so beloved by people. They ended the night with one of the older experimental songs, “My Ass Is On Fire”, and the crowd erupted.
Mike. Is. Back, and being a part of this experience was remarkable. All three bands made the night unique and special. I have many concerts on my radar this season, but I can’t imagine any of them will come close to Geek Show. This is an event I will never forget and I feel very fortunate to have had the pleasure of witnessing something so significant and phenomenal. If you have a chance to see any three of these bands, I suggest you do and don’t miss out.