Getting the Band Back Together: Mr. Bungle at LA’s Palladium (Live Review + Photos)
If there’s one tour that earns the overused distinction of "not-to-be-missed," it’s this one. Serious fans of thrash, punk, metal, and all things Mr. Bungle will forever kick themselves for passing on this lineup.
The highly acclaimed Ipecac Recordings tour package, known as The Geek Show, which includes the audio punishment of The Melvins and equally ruthless Spotlights, is causing a frenzy as it quickly sells out across the remaining dates in the U.S. and Canada. And it's no wonder why.
The recent show at LA’s Palladium was a welcome return on many levels beyond a simple post-pandemic celebration. Singer Mike Patton marked a triumphant return from a mental health break that took many fans by surprise, as he is often considered superhuman. Just seeing him at full strength vocally and in command of the stage in front of endearing (albeit gray-bearded) fans was reason enough to remember why this band has been hailed by critics and musicians for over thirty years. True to form, this Mr. Bungle reunion would have nothing in common with any other rock rehash.
In a stroke of genius, Patton and the visionary Bungle founders Trevor Dunn and Trey Spruance decided that a reunion would be best served by revisiting their thrash demo from 1986, entitled The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. But they didn't stop there. They enlisted the heroes of their own youth to re-record it, and fortunately, these heroes happen to be avid fans of Mr. Bungle themselves.
One such legend, Dave Lombardo, is considered by many to be drum royalty. Rumor has it that Miles Davis once commented on the Slayer drummer’s skill. He has had a working relationship with Patton for many years, so being asked to play on a recording inspired by Slayer was a bit of a no-brainer. The results speak volumes.
Joining the ranks of this musical powerhouse is none other than the esteemed Scott Ian from Anthrax. As members of Bungle have referenced Reign of Blood as one of their biggest influences, getting Ian onboard was a bit like snagging The Hulk for your new superhero club. A longtime Bungle fan himself, Ian jumped at the chance to play and now wears a new Mr. Bungle tattoo as a ribbon on the gift. On stage, he just could not hide the child-like grin he had simply to be in this band.
Die-hard fans of the 1992 Warner Brothers’ first Bungle release who are expecting a cornucopia of stylistic mashups might be a bit disappointed. This is a thrash/metal/punk show and is billed as such. Expecting anything other than the unexpected from this band is rather naïve. But there are some truly Bungle-esque fun ones, such as the pitch-perfect rendition of Spandau Ballet’s "True" and the theme to Welcome Back Kotter (for those old enough to remember the pre-Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta). But the real reason to attend this show is to witness an unparalleled collaboration that defies comparison.
These so-called "supergroups" often disappoint because the idea is better than the music. In the case of Mr. Bungle, their superpower-level disregard for business worries has, once again, brought into focus the only thing that has ever mattered: the music.
So go because live music is back. Go because your mates are going. Go because you want to headbang. But most of all, go because you will never hear a band like this again. It is an "I-was-there" moment that will have deep meaning years from now.
Keep scrolling for more photos from the show.
Setlist (Hollywood Palladium, May 11, 2023)
Welcome Back (John Sebastian cover)
Spreading the Thighs of Death
Territory (Sepultura cover)
Speak English or Die (Stormtroopers of Death cover) (changed to "Speak Spanish or Die")
Glutton for Punishment
Anarchy Up Your Anus
Hell Awaits (Slayer cover)
True (Spandau Ballet cover)
Cold War (Siege cover)
Raping Your Mind
World Up My Ass (Circle Jerks cover)
Loss of Control (Van Halen cover)
My Ass Is on Fire
The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo was released on October 30th, 2020 via Ipecac Recordings.