Mr. Bungle pulled no punches on their live stream last Saturday, October 31st. Coming out of a twenty-year dormancy with a re-recording of their first demo, the aptly titled “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo”, they presented a thrash metal barrage with their typical experimentation sprinkled throughout the set.
The stream started with a mini-documentary with the current lineup telling the story of how the demo tape from 1986 was brought into life with the newly recorded album, released officially just one day before. Mike Patton (lead vocals), Trey Spruance (lead guitar), Trevor Dunn (bass), Scott Ian (rhythm guitar) and Dave Lombardo (drums) all chimed in about the impact of that demo when it did the rounds on the tape trading circuit, and what it meant for them to re-record it in the current circumstances.
The set on the dimly lit stage started with a 15-minute routine by Neil Hamburger, the character created by comedian Gregg Turkington. His anti-jokes poked fun of bands such as Kiss, Foo Fighters, The Grateful Dead and many more. His style of comedy would be misunderstood by a major portion of today’s population, but jokes such as “The only thing worse than police brutality is The Police discography” would go down well with the right audience.
It was time for Mr. Bungle to hit the stage, and kicked it off with “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, with Mike Patton dressed as Mr. Rogers, and segued into “Anarchy Up Your Anus.” Their sonic onslaught would be relentless right until the end, with only a few exceptions: there were humorous interludes of special guests like Henry Rollins, Josh Homme and Brian Posehn, and a waiter would bring expressos to the band members between songs.
During their career, Mr. Bungle dabbed into other styles such as avant-garde jazz, ska, disco, and funk, and even had a saxophone and keyboard player in their lineup at some point, but tonight it was all about thrash. Bringing in Dave Lombardo and Scott Ian to their lineup was a master stroke, and they fit in perfectly with Trey and Trevor, and with the mad genius that Mike is.
The highlights of the set included the heavy and vertiginous “Bungle Grind”, the hard rock inspired “Methematics” which evolves into the sheer brutality of Slayer‘s “Hell Awaits” with touches of grind-core and a sick breakdown at the end, and “World Up My Ass”, a Circle Jerks cover. The vibe was akin to a glorified band rehearsal, and the band sounded so tight that it seemed they have been playing together for ages!
Mike Patton is no strange to melodic explorations, but it did seem weirdly cool to hear him sing Seals & Croft’s “Summer Breeze” alongside such staples of the thrash scene like Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo. And if you still need proof of his vocal prowess and versatility at this point, their version of Corrosion of Conformity’s “Loss For Words” on that night’s set will clear any doubt you might have.
Pretty much all songs at the event warranted endless moshing, but “Sudden Death” took things one step too far, and I caught myself headbanging with headphones in my living room. And Kerry King could learn a thing or two from Trey Spruance’s bag of tricks: the man can do crispy and inventive solos at the speed of light, with the usual dive bombs and arpeggiated solos that have been played in thrash metal since its inception, without sounding repetitive.
The show ended with a homage to Eddie Van Halen, with the band covering “Tora! Tora!” and “Loss of Control”, from Van Halen’s “Women and Children First”, with Scott playing an EVH Ibanez Destroyer. Mr. Bungle brought in a much needed thrash metal fix for 2020. If you haven’t checked out “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo”, it’s already available on the usual streaming platforms, and here’s what we had to say about it.
MR. BUNGLE Setlist:
Won’t You Be My Neighbor (Fred Rogers cover) / Anarchy Up Your Anus / Raping Your Mind / Bungle Grind / Methematics / Hell Awaits (Slayer cover, instrumental intro only) / Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts cover, partial lyrics changed in second verse) / Eracist / World Up My Ass (Circle Jerks cover) / Glutton for Punishment / Hypocrites | Speak English or Die (Stormtroopers of Death cover – “Speak spanish” version) / Spreading the Thighs of Death / Loss for Words (Corrosion of Conformity cover) / Sudden Death
Tora! Tora! (Van Halen cover), live debut by Mr. Bungle) / Loss of Control (Van Halen cover, live debut by Mr. Bungle) / Grizzly Adams (Outro played over PA)