Factor into the equation that the first time I saw Mudvayne perform, it was July 2000, and the members were sporting painted faces (but not black metal corpse paint) at the height of the Slipknot copycat craze, performing for 20 minutes at Tattoo The Earth, the traveling tattoo tour that lasted one summer. Factor into the equation that the last time I saw Mudvayne, they were opening for Metallica, Limp Bizkit and Deftones on the Summer Sanitarium tour in July 2003. In just three years, Mudvayne managed to go Gold, sell an assload of records, and make and keep fans despite taking off the makeup and commercializing their sound. Granted, Mudvayne are not Kiss, but still. To change a gimmick is a large step for a band to make, and Mudvayne took the leap.
On Thursday, Feb. 18, fans got an evening with Mudvayne at famed punk rock club, CBGB’s. No opener. It was on obvious underplay, as the band could easily sell out larger clubs like Irving Plaza and Bowery Ballroom. They could conceivably pack the Roseland, although the band’s ability to do that is something that remains to be seen once the new album, Lost And Found, impacts at retail in April. The question looms: Will the kids still care about Mudvayne? Will all the radio play translate to fans, young and old, who will come out to see the band play live? Time will tell.
I must admit that I was surprised that upon my arrival at CB’s, having been told that the band was going on at 8 p.m. sharp, that there was no line around the building. Okay, I thought. Everyone is already inside and the place is going to be a sauna of sweat, bodies, odors, and body odor. Upon entering the venue, which holds approximately 300 to 400 people uncomfortably, I was shocked that I could move about the venue with ease. It didn’t feel “sold out” or overly packed. While the pit area was a germaphobe’s worst nightmare— bodies packed like sardines—the back seating area and bar were dotted with industry folks and the like. It was crowded, but not like I have seen CBGB’s when Thursday and Hatebreed have played as underplays.
Now, as for the band’s performance, high energy and high impact defined their set, despite the fact that the band cancelled the previous night’s show due to Gray’s illness. He didn’t play sick, and he pounced the stage as though he were 100 percent healthy. They opened with “Fucking Determined,” a chunky, very metallic, vitriol-laden tune from their upcoming album that’s already receiving airplay throughout the metal radio world. They also played “Happy,” the album’s inescapably catchy, radio-friendly first single, as well as another newbie, the large-nloud “Pushing Through.” While frontman Chad Gray dropped the “eff bomb” every other world during his banter with the crowd, you could tell he wanted every kid there to feed off his energy and passion. He definitely and deliberately connected with his crowd, especially on proficient jams like “Not Falling,” “World So Cold,” “Nothing To Gein,” and “Dig” from the band’s previous albums. There’s no denying Mudvayne can play their instruments well and fill a room with their sound, but I couldn’t help but think Gray’s singing voice reminded me a bit of Burt from Burt and Ernie fame! No, that’s not a stretch. How many times have you heard rock writers compare death metal and metalcore vocals to Cookie Monster? “Sesame Street” has infiltrated the rock world, no doubt.
Nevertheless, CB’s was full of true Mudvayne fans, and it was an intimate gesture from the band for the diehards, to play on a small stage in a dirty, historically profound rock club. It doubled as a “Thank you” and a “We’re coming back” statement, and this was a special way to return to the public consciousness.