Show Review: Mr. Bungle and Battles at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, PA

Unlike many bands with famous members from other groups, Mr. Bungle are no Mike Patton side project. They are the band that let him discover himself and explore his eclectic musical interests. They predate his tenure with Faith No More, and after reforming in 2019, continue to evolve and perform to this day, now in their 39th year. With their reunification came 2020’s The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, their first release with new members Scott Ian of Anthrax fame on guitar and drummer Dave Lombardo of Slayer. With the influence of the refreshed lineup, the new album took a definitive dive back to their thrash metal roots.

With 2023’s fall tour starting in DC and continuing through Philadelphia’s Fillmore on night two, this marked the first time the band have played Philadelphia since they reunited four years ago. It was a show I was eagerly awaiting. Joining them were experimental rock duo Battles composed of vocalist Ian Williams doubling up on keys and guitar and drummer John Stanier of Helmet and Tomahawk, the latter being a direct connection to Mike Patton.

Mr. Bungle notably played a set almost exclusively off their most recent 2020 album, making it a very heavy set overall with only a few exceptions. Halfway through the night, the band displayed their softer, ironic side performing Spandau Ballet’s iconic new wave ballad “True,” showcasing Patton’s un-ironically lovely, soft voice. It would turn into a mashup with the speedy hardcore “Cold War” before making a soft landing with the last chorus of “True.”

With more thrash metal being doled out, the band took a moment to have a bit more silly fun as Mike Patton launched into an a cappella version of the Pepto Bismol theme song, “If you have nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach…” to which the crowd joined in on the punctuation of the theme, the final word, which of course everyone is familiar with!

Playing a couple more songs as an encore, Mr. Bungle ended the night with a cover of Van Halen’s “Loss of Control,” a deep cut for most. For this unapologetic old-school Van Halen fan, I recognized it immediately. With a bit of an experimental metal sound of its own, it’s not terribly surprising that it was the band’s VH cover of choice.

Mr. Bungle

Battles

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