(originally posted on 12/18/16)
Last night I went to see the band Mudhoney at the Crocodile Lounge in downtown Seattle. It was a great show from a local band at a historic venue, but Mudhoney is more than that. They are an integral part of the history of grunge, preceding more successful Seattle acts such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. But Mudhoney never caught on to the mainstream, and they seem content to occupy their current niche as an artifact of the pre-mainstream, post-punk alternative rock movement.
Mark Arm is the principal songwriter and front man for the group, and while his growl can reach the intensity and angst of the late Kurt Cobain, his songwriting chops never enabled the band to reach the masses like Nirvana did. Although this band has not compromised their raw sound to reach a broader audience, they still attracted a throng of dedicated (and aging) music fans. The show represented the 25th anniversary of the Crocodile, and also saw the band celebrating 29 years together making music. At one point Arm announced that all the songs they were playing are 25+ years old, which pleased the old-school audience.
Overall, the show was a high-energy affair, with plenty of back-and-forth between Arm and lead guitarist Steve Turner, as well as a couple noisy/psychedelic breakdown jams. The band moved from raging guitars (as in original Sub Pop single, “Touch Me, I’m Sick”) to bouncy basslines with ease, and left the audience wanting more than the 4-song encore they offered to close the show. It was a raucous Sunday night at The Croc (Croc-ous?)
Taking equally from the raw energy of The Stooges and the avant-garde experimentation of The Velvet Underground, Mudhoney has forged a spot in the pantheon of modern rock music. Their influence can be heard in countless contemporary bands, from Sonic Youth to The White Stripes, and the fact that they continue to not only tour, but also write and release new music, is inspiring.