The 15th Anniversary of Mr. Bungle’s “California”

Holy Filament! It’s been 15 years to the day — June 13th, 1999 — since Mr. Bungle’s final masterpiece California came out, and while the group never officially disbanded, lead singer Mike Patton has more than once confirmed the band is done. They have all gone off to use their talents in myriad other projects, yet diehard fans of the group have been left wanting more. Patton can come out with as many pet projects, bands, and special guest vocal stints as he likes, but it’s never quite as special as what he created with Mr. Bungle. To see them live was probably some of the best moments of my life, and I tried to see them as many times as I could when they toured for California. I saw them in sold-out shows in Boston, Providence, and Hartford. twice, I sold my extra tickets at face value. In retrospect it may have been kind of dumb, but for some reason I felt it would have been kind of dickish to gouge any fellow fan just because they weren’t able to get tickets when they first went on sale. Every performance was a jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring act of musical mayhem, lurching and careening between genres and styles while never letting the audience get too comfortable with what they were listening to. Above is a very good video of them performing at Germany’s Bizarre Festival in front of a polite yet completely bored or befuddled audience, which is actually a pretty normal reaction for an audience unfamiliar with Mr. Bungle. Happy birthday, California!