NEW YORK From the beginning of Mr. Bungle's set Tuesday
night at Irving Plaza, you could sense the eclectic rock experimentalists
were itching to deafen their audience with a long blast of white noise.
During the final song of the evening, "Merry Go Bye Bye," they delivered
it: nearly two minutes of unadulterated, galvanizing cacophony. The crowd
"The noise jams were a revelation," Dan Nipsher, 25, of Freeport, N.Y.,
said. "I feel reborn!"
That was just one of the highlights of the band's second show in a sold-out,
two-night stand. A furious reading of the John Travolta tribute "Quote
Unquote," off the band's self-titled debut, drove everyone on the floor
into a slam-dancing frenzy. The set also included the breezy surf-pop of
"Sweet Charity" (RealAudio
excerpt), the explosive "None of Them Knew They Were Robots"
excerpt), the festive sounds of "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare"
excerpt) and the tender ballad "Pink Cigarette."
What began as a lark has become a cutting-edge band. Mr. Bungle formed
in the mid-1980s in Eureka, Calif., when a group of high-school students
singer Mike Patton, guitarist Trey Spruance, bassist Trevor Dunn,
drummer Danny Heifetz and saxophone player Clinton Bär McKinnon
discovered a mutual love for heavy metal. Eventually, their musical
tastes expanded, until their compositions resembled unpredictable, abstract
blobs rather than conventional songs.
Their most recent album was California (1999).
In performance, each Mr. Bungle member except Heifetz doubles on keyboards
or percussion. On their current tour their first nationwide trek
without an opening act they've supplemented their lineup with
percussionist William Winant and keyboardist James Rotondi.
Patton took a leave of absence from the group in the late-'80s, when he
joined Faith No More. He kept both groups going simultaneously, until
Faith No More broke up last year.
Before Tuesday's show, a screen in front of the stage showed trashy '60s
surf movies, reflecting the California theme, but with Middle
Eastern music playing instead of the movie's dialogue.
The bandmembers' garb also played on a surf motif Patton wore a
gaudy Hawaiian shirt, loose white pants and a lei.
The singer remained behind a wall of samplers and small effects boxes,
a contrast to his Faith No More days when he would work the entire stage.
It took a few songs for Patton to address the crowd, but before long he
was chatting them up. At one point he thanked God, at other times he spoke
During the nearly two-hour set, which paused for a half-hour break, Mr.
Bungle dusted off several rarities, including "Desert Search for Techno
Allah" from Disco Volante (1995) and "Golem II: The Bionic Vapour
Boy," off California. Several covers the Dead Kennedys'
"Drug Me," Burt Bacharach's "Tower of Strength," Cole Porter's "Begin the
Beguine" and Billy Squier's "The Stroke" showcased Mr. Bungle's