House of Blues

March 31, 2004

When does a song end and begin? This was the question Wednesday night when Fantomas played disjunctive rock at The House of Blues. There were breaks for applause, but songs disguised as diverse pieces of music strewn together made things difficult to figure out. Thus, exhilarating.

Fantomas was the schizophrenic brainchild of former Faith No More and current Tomahawk and Mr. Bungle vocalist Mike Patton. The band was Melvins guitarist Buzz Osbourne, Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo.

These guys were weird. In a good way. They played sinister metal versions of popular movie soundtracks. They also have a new 74 minute long one song album, during which the listener is told to imagine a surgical operation.

The band went from metal pounding to a love ballad quickly. This quick change was possible because Patton had a great vocal range, and he was a forceful bandleader. Patton stood behind his synthesizer and directed the musical changes with slicing arm motions. He went from a hugely unsettling wail to operatic bravado. Lomardo's big set and Patton's large set-up took up the left and right sides of the stage, while Osbourne and Dunn stood in the middle like metal soldiers.

With their dark, stalkerish musical tone, Fantomas sent a chill down my spine and also amazed me with their musical ability. Lombardo used a gong, mallets, bells, and a sand filled wheel to flesh out the ever-changing music.

Fantomas played for an hour, if you count the ten minutes I stood in anger waiting for them to come back out. Leave them wanting more, right?

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