MR. BUNGLE | 09.11.1999 | Irving Plaza
Mike Patton's merry madmen get out on the road to promote new album "California".
Kerrang! | Issue 777 | 20.11.1999
Don Kaye | kkkk
You have to wonder how Mike Patton does it. The former Faith No More vocalist and all-round eccentric has been making some of the most un-commercial, deconstructed music out there for nine years now with his band Mr Bungle. His eclecticism and continued willingness to spit in the face of convention must be what draws fans back again and again to see what he has up his sleeve. two sold out nights at Irving Plaza, of which this is the second, are proof indeed.
These shows also confirm that Mike Patton gets a genuinely subversive thrill out of taking various music genres- from thrash to punk to bossa nova and from rockabilly to plain old pop- throwing them into the air, then kicking and scattering them once they land on the ground again. Sure, new album "California" may well be the most straightforward Mr Bungle album yet, as songs like opener "Sweet Charity" attest: but for every reasonably normal moment in the show, there are a dozen more where Patton's pranksters crash two utterly different musical styles together just to hear what the wreckage sounds like.
Of course, it wouldn't work at all if Patton didn't the musos to back him up. The six-piece ensemble behind him has the unerving ability to turn every corner and skirt every cliff edge the music traverses without missing a step. What we have here is controlled chaos, with the main jester himself lodged at the centre, snapping his fingers to a jazz groove one minute and starting his own personal mosh-pit the next.
Mr Bungle's genre-hopping is definitely an acquired taste, but watching the band perform it can be thrilling. Highlights include the swinging, surftastic newie "None Of Them Knew They Were Robots" as well as a sardonic, industrialised version of Billy Squier's '80s pop-metal anthem "The Stroke" with Patton spitting out the song's inane lyrics in a death metal growl.
Even when he addresses the audience, the man's words drip with restrained sarcasm: " Can you hear the bongo player?" The crowd roars. "How do you know if you're fucking screaming so loud?" A true original.