Mudhoney and Meat Puppets Punk Up the Regent: Mudhoney and Meat Puppets — two punk-adjacent rock bands formed in the ’80s (though the latter formed much earlier in the ’80s than the former) that have endured lineup changes, multiple random issues, and an often dismissive music industry. Yet both have endured, and in fact excelled.
Friday night at the Regent Theatre in Downtown L.A. couldn’t have been more simple: just these two bands and, while Mudhoney performed first, it’s billed as a co-headlining tour. One hour each. Easy-peasy.
For Mudhoney, that meant 19 songs, no need for encores, and very little in the way of between-song banter besides a few thank-you’s. They just blasted through, and my god did it sound magnificent. 2018’s Digital Garbage is their most recent full lengther, and they played five out of the 11 tracks at the Regent, including manic renditions of “21st Century Pharisees” and “Paranoid Core.”
The last time this writer saw Mark Arm performing, he was fronting a version of the MC5 (tagged DKT/MC5 at the time), and his frantic energy seemed at home with the Detroit proto-punks. But Arm truly belongs with Mudhoney, and he was glorious in L.A. The rest of the band were equally great, particularly guitarist Steve Turner who seemed to be grinning all over his instrument.
Mudhoney may have gotten pulled into the whole grunge thing because, y’know, Seattle and Sub Pop. But ultimately, this is a punk band plain and simple. Always was. Crowd favorites from the classic Superfuzz Bigmuff and Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge albums highlight that very thing. “Good Enough,” “In ‘N’ Out of Grace” and, in particular, “Touch Me I’m Sick” sent the crowd at the front and center into raptures. As they should.
Phoenix cowpunks the Meat Puppets take a similar “don’t fuck about” approach, performing their 14 songs with barely time to breathe.
Amazingly, the band released its 15th studio album in 2019, Dusty Notes, and they are showing no signs of slowing up, even if the emphasis has maybe shifted more towards the “cow” than the “punk”nowadays.
Back in 2017, Cris Kirkwood told this writer that, “There was always this sense that we could do it forever. There was a purposeful way that we went about things so that we never really painted ourselves into one particular corner. We were careful about the material from the very first, and had the idea of carrying for as long as we could maintain it. It’s still kind of the same thing now, but we’ve gotten older. You don’t have that youthful thing that you had when you were a kid, but you have all of this experience in exchange for that. By having not put any parameters around ourselves, it allowed us to continue to grow artistically. It’s as vital as it ever was, in a way. We don’t go out and try to recreate something that we did when we were younger. We still play songs that are real old, definitely, but we also do newer material, and there’s still this improvisational part where we go off on different tangents.”
We got three from the new album at the Regent, including the opening “Warranty,” the title track, and “Nine Pins.” Two of the set’s highlights came from the ’90s — “Sam” from Forbidden Places and “We Don’t Exist” from Too High To Die. But there were no bad moments.
Both of these bands were superb, and you can’t ask for more than that.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.