Mr. Bungle’s Experimental Rock Blew the Roof Off in Detroit, Michigan

Mr. Bungle @ The Fillmore Detroit on Friday, September 15, 2023. (Photo credit: Mike Shaler)

MIKE SHALER | Go Venue Magazine

September 15, 2023, The Fillmore in Detroit, Michigan was the site of a special event with Mr. Bungle making a stop to the historic Fillmore Detroit, a venue I encourage all attendees to take the time to walk through and look around at the structures and the posters of previous shows, some of which are autographed by the bands.

Why was this a special show, because Mr. Bungle hasn’t toured the East Coast for 23 years.  There were only seven dates on this tour, and Detroit was the last show of this run.  To say getting to see Mr. Bungle perform in your neck of the woods was exciting, it’s almost an understatement, as the venue was packed with diehard fans. 

Opening the show for the tour was Battles, a two-piece band that brings the “holy shit, what did I just witness factor”.  The duo consists of Ian Williams on keyboard and guitar and John Stanier on drums, who many people will know from playing in the band Helmet.  I’ll be honest, I knew nothing about this band, but quickly became a fan once they started playing.  Math rock is a genre that best describes who Battles is.  The assorted sounds Ian drains out of the guitar and keyboards paired with the infectious, calculated pummeling on drums from John was a sight to behold.  There were no vocals, just all music, like watching a soundtrack getting made right before your eyes.

Mr. Bungle hit the stage a short while after Battles performed, and my oh my was the crowd jazzed up.  Fronted by the ever-oozing talent on vocals Mike Patton who many know from Faith No More, along with two other original members Trey Spruance on lead guitar and Trevor Dunn on bass guitar along with newish members both joined the band in 2019, Scott Ian on rhythm guitar who most know from Anthrax and Dave Lombardo on drums who many know from Slayer.

Mr. Bungle’s line-up is like an all-star team, and they perform like one.  They’ve been labeled as experimental rock but as the years have gone on, they’ve become more of a thrash centric band.  Which isn’t surprising with having the additions of Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo.

Most of the setlist consisted of newer material, with cover songs sprinkled throughout.  With songs like “Sudden Death”, “Bungle Grind”, and “Hypocrites/Habla Espanol O Muere, with the lyric, “Speak Spanish or die!” definitely will get your blood pumping as fans were quick to jumping and head rocking and crowd surfers riding the human waves.

Other songs like the cover of “True” by Spandau Ballet or “Satan Never Sleeps” displayed Patton’s vocal range talent to go from an aggressive vocal to a soft serenading pitch is uncanny.  The final song of the night was a cover of Sepultura’s “Territory” and man was it a banger!  It was like the flood gates were opened all the way, when you thought they were hammering away to their fullest they shifted into another gear and took the house down.   I’m sure the rumbling of the building from the fans stomping their feet during the encore break might have helped fuel the band to dig deep and close the show strong.

Hopefully it won’t be another 20 plus years till we see Mr. Bungle perform on tour again, because we’d love to see more silly moments like Mike running over to Dave on drums to catch his hitting the cymbals on microphone, but I can guarantee us fans will be rocking out to their songs in the meantime.

Mr. Bungle


All images © Mike Shaler

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