Melvins and Boris played the Paradise – 9/19

Tokyo’s Boris and Pacific Northwesterners Melvins teamed up at a sold-out Paradise last week, with support from noise rock duo Mr. Phlyzzz.


In retrospect, it’s kind of shocking that something like this year’s “Twins of Evil” tour – pairing the Melvins and Boris as co-headliners – didn’t happen sooner. The prolific Japanese threesome famously named themselves for a beloved Melvins song, and the two heavy power trios possess complementary experimental spirits and an obvious mutual respect. It’s a match made in heaven (or hell, I guess).

At any rate, the joining of forces finally did take place in Boston last week, packing the Paradise for an evening that promised the Melvins performing 1991’s Bullhead and Boris taking on 2002’s Heavy Rocks (not to be confused with their other couple of Heavy Rocks releases from 2011 and just last year). Neither record is marking an anniversary, exactly, but Boris were marking the long-awaited reissue (and streaming debut) of their orange-hued LP, and the Melvins presumably paying tribute to their cohosts by breaking out the record prominently featuring “Boris” each night.

Melvins leader Buzz Osborne and company took the first of the co-headlining slots, scrambling up the Bullhead tracklist and tossing in a few other fan favorites in an hour of chugging, headbanging thrills. Longtime drummer Dale Crover is sitting out the tour as he recovers from an emergency spinal surgery, but last-minute fill-in Coady Willis (also of Big Business, High on Fire) was a more than adequate replacement. Willis joined Crover as the Melvins’ second drummer for a stint in the 2000s, and had no trouble holding down those punishing rhythms on his own, playing with a ferocity matched by the gleeful enthusiasm of Redd Kross’ Stephen McDonald – the band’s bassist since 2015 – and amusingly contrasting the near-stoic fretboard focus of Buzzo at stage right. He’s working on a bit of a grunge-metal J Mascis thing over there.

The Melvins half of the evening ended, appropriately, with an extended rendition of “Boris” that left Osborne on stage alone to finish the song, teasing out the riff and final lyrics to their breaking point.

Up next, Boris wasted no time barreling into a more straight-ahead rendition of Heavy Rocks. The band are no strangers to the full album gig – I’ve seen them take on Flood and Pink in that format – and they never fail to make their older material feel fresh and alive on stage. It doesn’t hurt that the OG Heavy Rocks is one of their most immediate and accessible bodies of work, overflowing with revved-up stoner metal grooves and even a catchy chorus or two. Aided by banks of fog and some of the best lighting direction the oft-dim Paradise sees in a given year, the set was every bit as heavy and satisfying as a spin through that record ought to feel. Drummer Atsuo, guitarist Wata and double-neck-wielder Takeshi are old pros at what they do after 30 years, and it’s a joy to watch them work.

The show concluded in the only logical way it could, with Boris returning after closer “1970” and also playing “Boris,” to the unbridled delight of a crowd that didn’t want the night to end.

Check out photos from the whole gig, including openers Mr. Phlyzzz, below.