Mr. Bungle Surf Eclectic California Wave Onstage

Rock experimentalists' set ranges from Cole Porter cover to blast of white noise.

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

loved it.

"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