Mr. Bungle at Roadrunner Boston – September 11, 2023
Experimental rock band Mr. Bungle took over Roadrunner last week, as part of their Fall 2023 Tour. The limited run of shows marks the first time the band has taken the stage in over two decades, joined on tour by rock duo Battles. Despite the rainy weather, eager fans made their way to the Brighton venue early on, with many expressing their excitement about seeing Mr. Bungle for the very first time.
American experimental rockers Battles were in charge of kicking off the evening, opening up with “The Yabba”. The instrumental duo would focus on their 2019 album Juice B Crypts, with a heavy dose of mind-bending sounds. Battles kept the crowd in a trance, with plenty of space for improvisation. After some jamming and fan favorite “Atlas”, the duo’s intricate set came to a close.
After a quick intermission, the crowd was getting ready for Mr. Bungle to take the stage. The band emerges from the shadows into a colorful fog, diving right into a cover of a familiar song: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” The Mr. Rodgers song would set the tone for the entire show, with twists and turns that kept the audience on their toes. They would mercilessly go straight into “Anarchy Up Your Anus” and “Hypocrites/Habla Español o Muere”, an aggressive thrash onslaught. The band’s energy on stage is explosive and unhinged, with singer Mike Patton easily shifting from guttural growls to elegant serenading. Fans were caught off guard as they went into 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love”, with a faithful cover that allowed Patton to show off his versatility as a frontman.
These sudden changes in genres are not only a staple in Mr. Bungle’s music, but they would also be a constant throughout the show, and the crowd was loving every minute of it. The contrast was even more stark as the band focused almost exclusively on their latest release, 2020’s The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, as well as a wide range of covers. From Spandau Ballet’s “True” to Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”, Mr. Bungle did not skip a beat, seamlessly adapting their high voltage style to a good amount of soft rock classics. Despite the potentially humorous tones, the band’s impressive delivery had the crowd gladly singing along, which made for a genuine crossover experience overall.
The last lap would be furious and heavy, including the classic “My Ass Is On Fire”, making everyone in the room go wild. As the show came to an end, Mr. Bungle’s humor would stick around long after the band left the stage, with the words “I have a bad case of diarrhea” on a loop as fans were leaving the venue. It would be a truly unforgettable evening, and a very special one at that, having had the opportunity to experience the elusive Mr. Bungle.