27 November 2011

MR. BUNGLE

I worked at a local chain restaurant when I first moved to San Francisco, providing excellent customer service to business men and women downtown, giving everything that wasn't nailed down to any person who appeared to have a shred of humanity, and doing lines off the food prep counter at 4:30 in the morning just because I could. That job helped finance many of my early tours - band shirts were printed on the inside of restaurant shirts that I ordered from corporate, gasoline was paid for with money leftover from excessive manager voids, and a charming smile ensured that it would all be waiting for me when I came home a few weeks later. I crossed paths with a lot of interesting people during my stint behind the counter, and food was unofficially free to any bike messenger, punk or weirdo smart enough to work through the unspoken code of the illicit hookup. The tattooed electrician who came in for lunch with his crew turned out to be the guy who was distro-ing my band's then new EP, the straight looking dude in khakis who I had seen a few times at shows wound up married to my good friend and I toured four continents with him behind the drum kit. Bands would quietly stop by on their way out of town based on a rumor of a cheap meal, and people I met only because I gave them free food became friends that I still have today (nothing lasts like a relationship based on free shit). One morning, one of the regular recipients of my "fukk the man" disguised as generosity asked if I wanted to come see his band that night - he offered to put me on the guest list as a thanks for all the free sandwiches. He looked to be a pretty square dude, a rather noteworthy beard if memory serves, but I figured a random show was as good a place to take drugs as my bedroom, so I told him thanks and asked him where the show was. "The Fillmore," was his reply. This was about to get interesting (for the non-Bay readers, The Fillmore is one of the oldest venues in town and holds several thousand people, random squares typically don't play there - famous squares do), my free lunch guy had seemingly secured a gig opening for some rock stars, and I was going to waltz into one of the most storied rock clubs on the west coast. I didn't see the dude for most of the night, but the place was packed as shit and I got my first glimpse of MELT BANANA that night (they were the first band, and they blew my mind). MR. BUNGLE was the headliner, before Patton had gone off the deep end of overindulgent art/weirdness and scatological obsession, and they were actually pretty good. Though I was more interested in trying to figure out if the masked saxophone guy on stage left was in fact the same Zorn who had contributed to MR. BUNGLE's then new album (still not sure), they blasted through a legitimately ripping set and left the stage with a packed house screaming for whatever was their funk/metal quasi-hit at the time. They didn't play it, but instead returned to the stage to clear the room with a 30 minute improvisational noise encore - no structure whatsoever, just cacophony and a chorus of bewilderment from the quickly thinning audience. The free food guy? He was the drummer. I never talked to him about the show, but I kept on giving him free sandwiches whenever he stopped by.


This demo came from 1986, years before anything approaching notoriety, when MR. BUNGLE lived in Northern California and seemed as obsessed with EXODUS as with toilets and funk.

5 comments:

ironcoffin said...

http://www.bunglefever.com/index.html
the site is a bit out of date but has lots of tasty cacao.

Harvester said...

Timely...two nights ago at work, I watched an hour's worth of John Zorn videos, which led into the Boredoms, Curlew, Naked City and Mr Bungle. Youtube K-hole.

gooniestorm said...

thanks for the bagels, robert. also, mr. bungle rules.

Sonki said...

Stoked this is posted on your blog.

Chris said...

Actually, John Zorn produced the first album, but Clinton McKinnon aka Bär played sax, and that's who you saw onstage.