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Mr. Bungle
August 16, 1999
At Fitzgerald's
Houston, TX

by Samuel Barker
February 13, 2000

mike patton Heading out to my favorite local club to see Mr. Bungle was a bit awkward. I knew the singer, Mike Patton, was the former singer of Faith No More, so I was under the illusion it'd be somewhat close to seeing Faith No More....Well, I was dead wrong. Mr. Bungle took me by the arm and proceeded to give me a kick in the ass. And you know what, I needed it and am thankful for it. I was frightened by the end of the first band that played, The Dillenger Escape Plan. Apparently these guys are talented on album, and play jazz/hardcore mixes. Well, when they took the stage, the bassist was playing jazz bass lines, and I was kinda stoked for them. Them they started their set, and I witnessed one of the worst spectacles I've ever witnessed. The lead singer screamed, and that's it. He sounded like my mother when she was pissed at me in my high school years. By the third song I was giving evil glares to my friend that told me "You HAVE to go!" and he was staring back at me with this "I don't get it" look. So after 20 minutes of screaming and strobe lights, I felt like this was gonna be a terrible night.

After the Escape Plan kindly escaped from the stage, a near miracle happened. Mr. Bungle took stage. And suddenly you heard the most heart pounding metal beats you've ever heard, and Mike Patton grabbed his distortion mic and the voice of the devil herself came out of the speakers, and the show began. This was Mr. Bungle's rendition of the Billy Squire classic "The Stroke" and they turned it into the most evil metal song ever heard. Then Patton unbuttoned the top button on his hawaiian shirt, and relaxed into the opening track of their new album California, "Sweet Charity". This was the first time I had ever heard the band, and I was amazed how they could go from something so dark and sinister to this light, mellow song, and not have a moment of awkwardness. But alas they did it. They played a great deal of their songs. Mr. Bungle is great to see because of their ability to play one song, go into another, and come back to the original song. It was very impressive to see. The bass playing of Trevor Dunn was impressive, of course after the show I learned he was an accomplished jazz bassist. And the stage setup was impressive. Fitzgerald's is a small club, but they filled the stage with everything. Even a full percussion section. The mix of songs was amazing. They weaved from downright apocalyptic moments to relaxed moments in a heartbeat, and never allowed you to experience discomfort.

For me, the highlight of the evening was "Travolta". Not because it's my favorite song(it's not) but because Mike Patton was absolutely insane during the song, Trey Sprunance's guitar playing sounded like a buzzsaw, and they never missed a single change or beat. The most mindblowing thing about Mr. Bungle is their ability to recreate the sounds they get on album, right there in front of your face. At the end of the night, I was totally left speechless, and felt like I had just witnessed one of the most amazing things that I will ever see. This is a band I will never miss again. Come hell or high water, I will be there to see the experience that is Mr. Bungle.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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