Finally, a reason to go out

Remember going to a concert and having a true musical experience? Your ears rattled, your bones quivered, and while you weren’t quite sure exactly what happened, you knew that you heard—or perhaps felt—a show that can’t be easily replicated by listening to a CD or watching a music video. You’ve had one of those rare experiences that help redefine what live music—and for that matter, live entertainment—can be.

The art of dissolving on stage: The Melted Men have turned experimental music and chaotic antics into a memorable hybrid of rock concert and performance art.

If you’re like most concertgoers, chances are that this breed of show is an increasingly rare find. But, if Melted Men have anything to say about it, you might just have one in your future.

With their chaotic, unpredictable, surreal and noise-meets-music-filled live performances, the Melted Men are, at a minimum, masters of creating a memorable evening. And yet, while the group has a significant reputation for its antics—particularly on the East Coast—precious little is known about the band itself. And that’s exactly how they like it.

“The Melted Men are controlling about their real names and people seeing videos of their performances,” says a spokesman for the Athens, Ga.,-based band, who—in keeping with that statement—asked not to be identified. “What they do is performance art. They try to be controlling about what’s out there.”

Controlling is right. What little information that can be found via the internet simply repeats the same facts: The band uses analog synthesizers, electronic drums and “found sound”—which all blend together into a rather caustic sonic stew that is as impenetrable at first as it is warm and whimsical upon further listening.

But the question remains: Who are these Melted Men?

“The band ranges between three or four members for each performance, but only three will be in Asheville. Their names are Lobster Lung, Werti-Werti and Panteen,” offers the spokesman.

Yet what little information the band has leaked out—by choice or by chance—shows all the makings of an epic night that listeners won’t soon forget. Photos of naked (yet masked) members of the band doing break-dancing moves, the band in Residents-style costumes and a few nonsensical European interviews show a group that eagerly blurs the lines between performance art and experimental music.

On this point, the band’s spokesman is clear: “Seventy-five percent of what they do is performance.”

Which is why Melted Men dictate what people can see and hear apart from their live shows. Sure, they’ll gladly let audiences buy the blips, squeals and crashes on their albums, but those recordings offer a fragment of the context they were originally designed for. Even the occasional video of a live performance (which are surprisingly few, even on sites like YouTube) can’t quite convey the memorable weirdness of being there.

“A lot of people sit around and look at the small [computer] screens, and think ‘I’ve seen it now,’” says the spokesman. “But they are missing out on those big performance experiences.”

If anything, Melted Men is a less kid-friendly version of the ‘70s theatric-rock craze. Stripped of the stage show, their music is challenging—almost cacophonic at times—and presents the listener with a choice to either hate it outright or abandon expectations and follow it down an erratic, zigzag path without the promise of a destination.

Combined with an equally unpredictable live show, the effect is striking. It’s a philosophy that band members—and their maybe/maybe-not member serving as spokesman—feel strongly about.

“There used to be a mystery about performing, but now, because of the Internet, it’s gone.”

Melted Men is here to bring a bit of that mystery back to its audiences. And if that means they have to get up close and personal, ignore the boundaries of the stage and the conventions of performance, so be it. That’s how memories are made.

[Jason Bugg is a freelance writer based in Asheville.]

who:  Melted Men
what:  Noisy, chaotic “music” meets performance art
where:  Rocket Club
when:  Wednesday, June 4. 10 p.m. (www.therocketclub.net or 505-2494)

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