Daily Texan December 1995
Bungle in the Jungle
by Kevin Schooley
-Losing faith in their radical live approach, audience members wish for a more familiar Mr. Bungle
Sometimes chaos is a good thing. Just ask the guys in Mr. Bungle, who provided a set Monday night at Liberty Lunch that was nothing short of sonic disembowelment.
This band's recipe for songwriting would make Julia Child implode. Add one part art rock, one part mind-altering effects, one part performance art, and two parts Faith No More and--BOOM!--all hell breaks loose.
The most common inquiry about Mr. Bungle these days is in regard to their hiatus between albums and tours. But according to bassist Trevor Dunn, the band wasn't under any pressure to rush things this time.
"After our last tour, we took some time off, about six months," he said. "Then, after that we ended up doing this New Year's Eve show with Primus in San Francisco, which was terrible, and we really got screwed by the sound system. But after that, we just took our time, assembled riffs and got this record done."
However, the lapse between albums may have had a different effect on the fans who showed up Monday night.
Bounding onstage with half of the band in black all-star wrestling style masks, and the other half in those Phantom of the Opera-looking things, Mr.Bungle seemed intent on boggling the collective mind of the audience.
The opening sequence of songs seemed to lull the anxious mass into a strangely serene mood. But Mr. Bungle's songs don't stay in one place for too long, and before you could say "My Ass is on Fire," Trey Spruance, Dunn, Mike Patton and the rest of the Bungles released the musical hounds.
Dunn's thick, distorted basslines anchored a set list consisting mainly of tracks from Mr. Bungle's latest effort, Disco Volante, which proved to distance the crowd a bit,as most of the newer material hadn't been digested yet. And despite Spruance's inspired back-and-forth thrashing between keys and guitar, the crowd remained hungry for the familiar crunch-funk from the band's 1991 debut.
But Mr. Bungle didn't really seem to care, as the majority of the show was a game of musical keep-away between the band and the audience, culminating in an extended guitar "solo" that ended up pissing some people off a little too much.
Then again, that's part of the twisted charm of Mr. Bungle. In Dunn's words,"we just try to keep ourselves entertained."
It may be unfair to pigeonhole a band like Mr.Bungle, but what the show boiled down to is a loud set of acid rock. Both Mr.Bungle's live shows and the songs on wax are more than danceable funk-metal. And Monday's Lunch show was no exception, as a barrage of noise experimentation left people a bit queasy, but happy nonetheless. After all, how many bands would bang out a cover of "Working for the Weekend" in sign language? Everybody's goin' off the deep end!
In between some of the more comprehensive songs like "Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz"(no that's not a typo) the crowd got a chance to see the seperate parts of Mr. Bungle contribute to the good of the whole. Each member tinkered about the stage in their own individual twilight zones, from Dunn's sulky bass feedback sessions to Patton fidgeting about with his vox effects box a la Gibby Hanes.
Ultimately, the band found cohesiveness again, as "Travolta", the lead-off track from Mr. Bungle, bellowed forth to a crowd that, by now, was getting hopped up.
Too bad for the crowd, though, cause save for some extra improvisation, that was it. As Mike Patton waxed-Carlisle, the night came to a close with four words muttered backstage: "My lips are sealed." Ah, to quote a Go Go.
Thanks to Alan Demafleez and Tom Benton