Show Review: Melvins, Boris, and Mr. Phylzzz at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, OK

A long-awaited cold front swept through Tulsa and Mr. Phylzzz, Melvins, and Boris were blown in along with it. The Twins of Evil co-headliner made a stop at Tulsa’s historic Cain’s Ballroom, marking Melvins’ highly anticipated return to Tulsa nearly a year to the day of their last show in the city.

The night opened with support act Mr. Phylzzz, a Chicago-based two-piece who knew exactly how to amp up the crowd. Sporting an almost deranged preppy look—complete with button-up and tie with markings—Vocalist and guitarist Clinton Jacobs has a siren-like voice, magnetizing and dangerous, as he takes the audience to a church with a religion of his own making. Stepping away from the microphone, Jacobs said, “Welcome to the church of flies. I’m in Tulsa, baby. I don’t need a microphone.”

“All at once, you were surrounded by four kings and it sounded like this,” Jacobs says, bringing out Melvins’ (sit-in) drummer Coady Willis and Boris’ drummer Atsuo to join Mrs. Phylzzz drummer Danny Sein for a deafening song. Jacobs jumped into the crowd wailing and wielding his guitar like a weapon as the three percussionists beat their drums into submission, making the 1800 occupancy ballroom feel like a dive bar. As their set came to a close, Jacobs joked, “How the fuck do I get one of my pictures up here,” referencing the giant portraits of various honky tonk legends—think Tex Williams, Eddy Arnolds, etc.—adorning the venue. “I mean, I dress like ‘em,” he laughed.

Melvins took the stage next. It would be an exercise in futility to try and describe the numerous contributions Melvins have gifted to the scene—most notably, of course, would be the creation of grunge—so it’s fair to say that Tulsa really came out for these legends.

The trio came on stage as the loudspeakers began playing “Take On Me.” Bassist Steven Shane McDonald put his hand to his ear, urging the audience to sing-along to the song louder before the band eventually crashed into “Ligature.” McDonald, known for his charm, gave shouldering looks to the crowd as the band powered through their take-no-prisoners set.

Fans of the band may have noticed that drummer Dale Crover was not sitting by the kit for this performance—along with the rest of the tour. Earlier this year, the band took to social media to announce that Crover needed immediate emergency spinal surgery. Drummer Coady Willis, who has spent many years touring and shadowing Crover, took up the weighty challenge of temporarily filling Crover’s shoes—a challenge he more than succeeded in.

About midway through the set, a couple of members of the audience got a little too into music as a small scuffle broke out, which security charged into the pit to break up. From then on, the tone for the rest of the evening had been set. The old dance floor shook as the crowd thunderously clapped in unison with McDonald, confetti from a previous show rained down from the rafters. Feeding off the crowd’s incredulous energy, he promised the band would soon return to Tulsa.

Taking a small moment, the band gave an update on Crover’s condition, saying that he “is well on his way to recovery” and asked for everyone to “send a positive laser beam in your mind to Dale.” McDonald thanked Willis for stepping in for Crover, making this tour possible.

The killer set came to a close with “Boris,” lovingly dedicated to their twin Boris, who of course took their band name from this exact song. Full of primordial ooze and sludge, “Boris” ended Melvins’ set on the highest note possible. The band even treated fans to a performance of the song in its entirety, complete with Buzz Osbourne’s solo outro. Slowly pacing the stage from right to left, Osbourne brought the song to a close as he sang, “See Boris had a way of seeing through my eyes.” Serving as the perfect segue to Boris, the song came to an end with those signature dissonant chords.

Last to take the stage were Boris. Between the sets, a fan excitedly told those near him that this was his 10th Boris show, having seen them open for Nine Inch Nails twice. “I don’t fuck around when it comes to Boris,” he laughed.

The Twins of Evil tour marked a special occasion for Boris as they treated fans to a special album play of their 2002 record Heavy Rocks. The set opened with “Heavy Friends, in all its doom metal glory. Guitarist Wata gently swayed in time to the music, hair hanging down in her face.

“It’s such an honor to be on this wonderful tour,” she explained. Wata later said, “Arigato!” Before kicking off, “Soft Edge,” a fan favorite. Sludgy bass riffs filled the air as this metalcore song brought their set to a head.

The evening came to an end with a double dose of “Boris,”—Boris cubed, really.” A touching homage to Melvins, the band did the original song justice, while still adding their own unique twist to the classic song, truly making it the most fitting end for the evening.

The Twins of Evil tour is quickly coming to an end, but it was a blast while it lasted. Let’s hope we’ll see this trio again sometime in the future.

 

Melvins

Boris

Mr. Phylzzz

 

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