Meat Puppets – Mercury Lounge – April 4, 2013
That the Meat Puppets are even still around is something of a miracle. They’ve lived through multiple decades of adversity that have swallowed up other bands whole. One of those groups, a grunge band out of Seattle that helped the Meat Puppets gain in popularity by covering their songs on national television, has been gone for almost 20 years. The Meat Puppets’ history reads like a Behind the Music clichés grab bag, including everything from stints in prison to hard drugs and an on-again, off-again history spanning four decades. That brothers Cris and Curt Kirkwood are still even on speaking terms having lived through all this is pretty crazy.
One wouldn’t think that there’s any need for the Meat Puppets to prove anything to anyone anymore, but those crazy motherfuckers out of Phoenix are still at it, plowing through a fiery two-hour-plus set last night at Mercury Lounge, giving each song everything they’ve got and then some. Exhibit A: Cris Kirkwood’s face, home to some of the most interesting facial expressions you’ll find in rock music. Grimacing, wincing and pursing his lips like a monkey, it looked as if each bass note he slapped out hits him like a punch to the stomach. Every second got its own performance. Curt stood at the other side of the stage, effortlessly ripping through searing guitar solos like it was nothing at all. The world should reconsider any Greatest Guitarists lists without Curt’s name on it. Few people have the hand gymnastics it takes to steal guitar styles from so many different genres and toss them all into one blazing guitar solo.
The band’s set included songs from every moment of their lengthy career, including some unexpected covers. There was a surprisingly beautiful rendition of the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B,” which bled into a near-perfect performance of their classic “Lake of Fire,” complete with a raging solo that kept picking up pace until it had nowhere else to go but to dissolve into its own unstoppable momentum. The band ended their set with “Backwater,” which included the appropriate refrains of “some things will never change.” It felt like an appropriate cap to the night’s performance. Against all odds, the Meat Puppets still fucking rule. Some things will never change indeed. —Dan Rickershauser