CMJ: Meat Puppets @ Piano’s


photo by Rebecca Smeyne

Meat Puppets
Piano’s @ 4:30 (set times ran late)
Day 2: October 17

From our next-door neighbor Status Ain’t Hood:

The band’s original core, brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood, recently reunited after Cris went through some serious drug problems and also went to prison after a fight with a post-office security guard, a fight that also resulted in Cris getting shot in the stomach. After something like that, it only makes sense that this band might be a bit of a mess. They certainly looked like they’d seen better days. Cris, gray hair frizzed out in every direction, stood with his back to the audience for most of the set. Curt’s gray t-shirt, which had a picture of a PlayStation controller on it, was soaked through with sweat a couple of songs in. And about half their songs, especially the newer ones, sounded like absolute ass: half-jokey bluegrass with grooveless drums and godawful bleated vocals. But this band has been playing zoned-out space-country for so long that they can pull off transcendent improv solos, solos that are usually better than the songs to which they are attached, seemingly at will. At times, the brothers seemed to launch off into those solos when they couldn’t remember how the next part of the song went, and so a few of those songs stretched out to epic length, which worked wonders for them. And “Plateau” and “Oh, Me,” gorgeous songs that come loaded down with extra piles of pathos for me and a whole lot of others in the room because of (let’s be honest) Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York, just transcended. “Lake of Fire” not so much. The band closed out with a rendition of “Lake of Fire” that would’ve shamed a fifth-rate high-school cover band, intentionally dropping lyrics and falling all over the beat, finishing up with a genial Curt monologue about how this show was like when they would drink cough syrup at lunch in high school and how we should “have fun with your festival or whatever the fuck it is you’re doing.”

–Tom Breihan

Breihan tells you about the rest of his CMJ afternoon here.