During May 2023 Mike, Trey, Trevor, Dave and Scott aka Mr. Bungle 2.0 embarked into their third year of touring the Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny re-recording.
In most cases this would be the first time the band had played in these cities since the California tour 23 years ago. There were surprises along the way such as adding classic tracks My Ass is on Fire and Fart in a Bag, the appearance of old drummer Hans Wagner, and a cover of True by Spandau Ballet. Plus a brief reunion of Fantômas for the song Experiment in Terror.
Here is a recap of all the action with a collection of photos, videos and reviews.
Singer Mike Patton marked a triumphant return from a mental health break that took many fans by surprise, as he is often considered superhuman. Just seeing him at full strength vocally and in command of the stage in front of endearing (albeit gray-bearded) fans was reason enough to remember why this band has been hailed by critics and musicians for over thirty years. True to form, this Mr. Bungle reunion would have nothing in common with any other rock rehash.
At this point, it’s glaringly obvious that Mike Patton’s energy, stage presence and enthusiasm hasn’t dipped a single bit. He’s just as much of a showman as ever, and the room is filled with good vibes at the sheer act of him being back on stage. With waist bent, squatted, elbow-snapping and wailing with fury, he commands the stage with every beat and somehow delivers all this material with more conviction and passion than other vocalists half his age. The man is an icon in this space – there’s no other way to frame it.
Mike Patton’s vocals were unrelenting, delivering his trademark range of vocals from soaring falsettos to guttural screams with ease. Mike has a determined attitude and you can clearly see that he still loves performing, dancing around in circles, providing many crouching poses, arm swinging, and head banging. For this, Patton proved to be both a fun and difficult subject for myself to photograph. At one stage he asked the audience if they had had enough? After a loud “No!”, he apathetically replied “Well, we are, we are old and tired”. I found that hard to believe as the entire band's vitality never wavered.
But the true strength of Mr. Bungle in its current incarnation is in the originals and it was a thrill to take it all in, just the spectacle of it all. These five mad scientists of Metal and Punk, all legends in their own right, just vibing together. Aside from Patton, the star of the show is clearly Dave Lombardo and the band made it a point to gesture to him and spotlight him whenever possible, as deserved.
If music was meant to escape the craziness of the world outside, it is only appropriate that Mr. Bungle would get things kicked off with their own version of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” from Mr. Rogers; talk about chicken soup for the soul. That however is about as calm as it was going to get, without warning the band got right into the frantic all-out madness of “Bungle Grind” from the newly re-recorded The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. This was all out thrash in its perfection, especially with the massive riffing of Scott Ian and ear shattering drums of Lombardo.
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.
For being gone from the stage for so long, it was refreshing to see Mike and company get back to their roots and come back to where it all started. There were a lot of newer fans out in the crowd with their parents, sharing a moment together. There’s something magical about how music can bring people together. Do not miss this tour, whether you’re a diehard Mr. Bungle fan or just discovered them this will exceed your expectations.
Midway through the set, Patton introduced the audience to a pink rubber pig.
“Say something to him. His name is Pig,” he said.
The set included a reworking of mid-’80s thrash band Stormtroopers of Death’s “Speak English or Die” as “Habla Spanish or Die.” Patton and company also managed to sandwich a verse or two of their song “Cold War” in between verses of Spandau Ballet hit “True,” on which Patton implored the crowd to sing along.
Toward the end of the set, Patton managed to pull down a significant portion of Lombardo’s drum kit, which both Patton and a pair of stage hands worked to right as Lombardo played on, unperturbed. After playing an unrecognizable Van Halen song, the band closed out its encore with a scorching version of “My Ass is On Fire,” from its self-titled 1991 album. Patton gave the audience one last look at his pig before shuffling off stage.
The energy was through the roof by the time Mr. Bungle took the stage. The band powered through a high-speed seventeen-song set laced with covers and originals, with a majority of the material coming from The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo. As far as the cover song selection, pieces ranged from metal (Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”), to punk (7Seconds’ “You Lose), to the unpredictable (Spandau Ballet’s “True”). The banter between songs was kept to a minimum, allowing the music to flow continuously from one song to the next. It worked very well and helped solidify Mr. Bungle’s Bay Area stand as one of the must-see metal performances of the year.