Melvins and Boris Pack The Varsity For Perfect Wednesday Night


I was desperate for a show. It had been a couple of days since my last one due to being sick and I could feel my body started to build with frustration and anxiety due to lack of live music. It’s a crazy thing. I always joke that I’m addicted to shows but, after a couple of days without a show, it has become abundantly clear that that’s exactly what I am. Thankfully for me, the show in town on Wednesday was one I was legitimately excited for so I took another dose of DayQuil, packed up my stuff, and headed to The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis.

Although I didn’t write about the show, I saw two of the three bands performing just last year at Grumpy’s Northeast. One of those two was opening act Mr. Phylzzz. I have to be honest, I don’t really remember their performance from last July. Maybe that was because of all of the socializing I was doing or because of the weird (yet perfect) setting of the show (it was just in the “lawn” of the small dive bar in Northeast Minneapolis). Regardless, they sadly didn’t make a lasting impression on me at that time. That changed on Wednesday night.

To say this band is quirky would be an understatement. These self-proclaimed “two idiots from Chicago” brought such a fun and intriguing vibe to the stage throughout their opening set. Their music is definitely leaning into the noise category of things but there’s also something familiar about some of the classic and glam rock n’ roll vibes they bring to the stage and the punk attitude that radiates from the duo as they play. It was an intense set that, at times, had the vocalist merely shouting into the audience rather than using the microphone. It was moments like that that made Mr. Phylzzz’s set feel personable and intimate in a perfect way. Add the quirky “just got off my 9 to 5 job and hate my life” outfits and the almost childlike voice used between sets and I was left with something that will not be soon forgotten.

The other band to perform on Wednesday night that I had seen last summer at Grumpy’s was up next-Melvins. No, I’m not kidding. I was one of the lucky ones to catch Melvins in that super intimate space last summer and although nothing will ever beat that performance for me, I feel like as I stood there watching Melvins power through their hour-long set on Wednesday night, their sound finally clicked with me.

Stylistically, Melvins are a bit all over the place but, if I had to boil it down to just two styles, it would be grunge and sludge. Having been around since 1983, this band has seen trends come and go for literal decades but have never once bowed down to those trends. They have stayed comfortably situated in their own world and it has truly paid off. Like the rest of the packed audience, I was completely captivated by their dazzling guitar solos, epic bass lines, and intense drum fills. The magic of this band is in the music, not the performance as they really just get up there and play their music yet I found myself with my eyes glued to the stage (not just on vocalist King Buzzo’s signature hair).

Although I have seen Melvins a couple of times before, I feel like their music has just never done it for me. Something about that changed on Wednesday. The balance of sounds blaring through the speakers, although loud, was so perfect that I felt I really heard all of the parts that come together to make Melvins, well, Melvins. Even though drummer Dale Crover is out for this tour due to spinal surgery (which, according to the band, was a “raging success”, this band sounded perfectly together with Coady Willis filling in for Dale. Long story short, although I’ve always recognized Melvins as a legendary band, I think I finally got what all the hype was about on Wednesday night and it has me already craving another performance from them.

Closing out the night was Japanese band Boris. Like Melvins, this is a band that, although I appreciate and understand the importance of, I’ve just never quite gotten hooked on. That being said, as the lights went down and smoke filled the stage, I felt myself getting lost in the anticipation swirling in the atmosphere around me. Boris doesn’t come around here often and it was brutally clear that the audience that had stuck around for this headliner (Melvins have a cult-like following here in Minneapolis and I noticed a chunk of people leaving after their performance although the room still felt full) had been waiting for this moment for a very long time.

Much like the two previous bands, Boris’ sound is a bit unclassifiable which made them a perfect fit for the night. The entire set felt a bit darker than the previous two performances. From the music to the lighting, the mood shifted ever so slightly to something a bit more droney and much more dramatic. Being that I really haven’t spent much time with this band, I couldn’t tell you which of their numerous records the songs they played on Wednesday night came off of but I can tell you that every new song marked a roar of applause from the audience. That applause would quickly stop as the songs really kicked in as the audience settled into the sounds and ambiance. It was an odd phenomenon that I only see every once in a while– when an audience is so enamored by a band that there isn’t a single clap out of place as if to not interrupt the band’s genius. Although this caught me off guard, I feel like it added that magic dust to the performance that I was hoping for.

I have to be honest, I don’t think I walked away from Boris’ set as a new die-hard fan but seeing them perform their songs definitely left me with a new appreciation for this band. Their sound was just a bit darker than I tend to go for when it comes to the daily playlists of my life but I will say that their dramatic (yet understated) performance left something imprinted on my mind. It was truly the perfect way to end a perfect night.