Mr. Bungle | The Warfield, February 8th 2020
All Techies, Codgers, Millennials and LGBTQs welcome to thrash! No Rambos.
I attended the final Mr. Bungle show on September 9th at Rock City in Nottingham twenty years ago. So when it was announced that they would return in 2020 - fate, destiny or a very understanding wife decided I would be at one of these shows. It was my life-long curiosity of San Francisco, the city that gave birth to and nurtured FNM, that determined which show.
It is fascinating how fans of Bungle hail from so many different groups - metal-heads, funksters, weirdos from all over the world crowded under the billboard sign outside The Warfield Theatre on Saturday February 8th. And I was amazed how many faces were familiar even though I was 5000 miles from home.
Amongst the throng, in my thread-bare classic 1991 'there's a tractor in my balls... again' shirt, I was surprised to see the lack of Bungle shirts. Back in the day half the crowd would have a ‘Patton-band’ shirt on, tonight was not the case which led me to believe that the addition of Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo had also stirred the mix well.
Talking of shirts, the queue for the merch stall was almost as massive as the cost of a beer.
It immediately struck me how alike the auditorium of The Warfield and that of Brixton Academy are - with cavernous ornate ceilings it is easy to see why FNM feel so at home in the London venue. We found a good spot just out reach of the pit, and as the room filled so did the air with the smoke of countless joints. Man that place was like the interior of Cheech and Chong’s Chevrolet.
First band of the night were Intestinal Disgorge. These guys were great and judging by Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn and Trey Spruance’s enthusiasm from stage left, they were very welcome.
Second on were old school punk/funk trio Victim's Family who were once on Mordam Records at the same time as FNM. Another nice addition to the night.
Not much time was spent in the marijuana fogged depths of the pit until the curtains opened and Mr. Bungle 2.0 took to the stage, immediately launching into a twisted cover of goofy 60's TV presenter Fred Rodgers' ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbour’.
Patton had swapped Coolio for Snoop Dogg style braids but still looked equally as maniacal as the band chugged into ‘Anarchy Up Your Anus’. A second glance to the stage and we noticed that Dave L had sneakily been replaced behind the kit by an unknown drummer. At the end of the song Patton revealed that the sticks man was none other than Jed Watts who recorded the original 'Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny' in 1985. Very cool.
We were stood not too far from the speakers and I am sure the volume setting was illegal, the sound vibrated my body so much that the next morning the muscles in my legs throbbed. Those riffs that had showed so much potential from the crappy 35 year old cassette certainly sounded fleshed out, and ‘Spreading the Thighs of Death' was brutal.
The band payed tribute to the late drummer Reed Mullins with a cover of Corrosion Of Conformity's 'Loss for Words'.
‘Thank you guys for coming, you’re here to hear a bunch a shit you’ve never heard before...' said Patton with a cheeky smile as the band performed the first of the new 'Raging Wrath' era songs 'Glutton for Punishment'.
'Malfunction' by Cro-Mags, 'Raping Your Mind', 'Just Sit There' by Crumbsuckers and 'Bungle Grind' follow for 30 minutes of pure head-banging delirium. The second of the new Bungle songs is 'Methamatics' which includes a riff from 1991 Bungle song 'Love Is A Fist', something I missed at the time as I was doing my best not to piss my pants!
The first respite in the torrent of thrash metal, and the first real glimpse of classic Bungle is a cover of Seals & Croft's 70's pop song 'Summer Breeze' which kind of weeded out (excuse the pun) some of the Anthrax fans from the Bungle fans in the room. Patton tells us, ‘It’s not stopping...’
The third new 'Raging Wrath' era song 'Eracist', and a cover of Siege song 'Cold War' were up next. It was a little disappointing not to hear 'Hypocrites' in full or 'Evil Satan', however without the presence of a horn section logistics explain their absence from the set.
'Speak English or Die' by Stormtroopers of Death, 'World Up My Ass' by Circle Jerks and 'Sudden Death' and my face was officially melted, ears bleeding.
Sometimes it felt like the three original Bunglers had given Scott Ian the stage and were standing back to watch him play, which is cool and understandable but not what I’d come to see. I came to see the unity of Patton, Spruance and Dunn, which at times was a little fragile.
I imagine the right crowd was there for this show, but I’m not sure they would be the right crowd for future Bungle, too many 'Rambos'.
Overall it was a great night, and to see the Bungle trinity onstage again was definitely worth the 5000 mile journey. I am sure that this line-up will release re-recordings of 'The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny', but I think we are all now praying this leads to a regrouping with Danny Heifetz and Bär McKinnon, for some more eccentric music. Bring back the saxophones, bring back the keyboards, bring back the surf pop, bring back the noise, bring back MY Bungle...