Tossed Salad of a Thousand Delights: The Melvins rawked Olympia’s North Shore Surf Club in 1991

By on March 9, 2018

In May of 1991, Jeffrey Smith (a.k.a. Jo Smitty) and Paul Uusitalo borrowed a few Super VHS camcorders and drove their rental car from Seattle to Olympia, Washington, where they met up with Bob Basanich (who had several more video cameras) and together they all filmed one of their favorite local bands at the North Shore Surf Club, grunge punk forefathers the Melvins.

The dizzying result of their combined efforts was later released on VHS home video by Box Dog Video in 1992 as The Melvins: Live: Salad of a Thousand Delights, which you’ll find now find streaming on Night Flight Plus.


Jo Smitty, Paul and Bob — all members of a band called Dosed Bernie — weren’t professional cameramen, which you can tell by looking at footage that kinda seems like it was shot by a drunk sailor wearing roller skates on the deck of a boat being tossed at sea (maybe “Tossed Salad of a Thousand Delights” is more appropriate?).

Nevertheless, we still think you’ll enjoy this raucous handheld amateur video footage they shot on May 16, 1991, at a much-loved local venue located at 116 E. 5th Avenue, one of Olympia’s only underage rock clubs in the early ’90s.

This mix of faster, manic punk and slower grunged-out sludge rock tunes represent tracks originally found on three of the Melvins’ studio albums: Bullhead (1991) and Ozma (1989), released on Berkeley’s Boner Records, and their 1986 self-titled album, released on Daniel House’s C/Z Records.


This 45-minute main event — “Brought to you in Stereophonic Sensurround Hi-Fi Sound”! — features a dozen tracks by the Melvins: Buzz Osborne (guitar, vocals), Dale Crover (drums, vocals), and newest band member Joe Preston (bass, vocals).

Preston — the band’s fourth bassist in the past eight years or so — had joined the Melvins less than a month earlier, on April 23rd.


In an interview with Flipside Magazine that same year, Preston said that Buzz and Dale had asked him to join the band only about a week after he’d moved to Olympia, WA.

He played his first show with them on May 7th, with Buzz adding:

We needed to find someone who was able to be a full-time member. We knew Joe from a long time ago. We knew he was a fan of the band and probably knew a lot of our material already. We were lazy and didn’t want to teach him.”


The Melvins – Dale, Buzz and Joe — circa 1991, from Flipside

Read more about the Melvins below.


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The Melvins had originally formed in Aberdeen and Montesano, Washington, in 1983.

Guitarist/vocalist Roger “Buzz” Osborne, a.k.a. “King Buzzo” and drummer Dale Crover are considered the two core Melvins members.

Along with original drummer Mike Dillard, the band’s founding members had gone to high school together in Montesano, about forty miles west of Olympia.

Their name came from a hated grocery clerk at the Thriftway store where Buzz worked as a boxboy.


They’ve recorded and performed live with various others in lineups that have included ex-Mudhoney bassist Matt Lukin, Jeff Pinkus and Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers.

One of the bands that looms large in the Melvins history is Nirvana.


October 11, 1990: Nirvana plays their first show with a new drummer, Dave Grohl, at the North Shore Surf Club in Olympia, WA

The back of the DVD even features a little liner note-style endorsement by Nirvana’s Dave Grohl and Kurt Cobain:

“There is no band that changed my perspective of music of music like the Melvins. I’m not joking. I think that they’re the future of music… and the present and the past.”


Cobain first met the band’s original bassist, Matt Lukin, in the summer of ’83, when he was just sixteen years old.

He lived for a time with his dad in Montesano, where he and Buzz, who was a few years older that Kurt, were even in an art class together at Montesano High.


Cobain would see his first Melvins gig in a parking lot that same year, later recalling:

“I showed up with stoner friends in a van. They played faster than I had ever imagined music could be played and with more energy than my Iron Maiden records could provide.This was what I’d been looking for. Ah, punk rock.”


Kurt and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic  would meet each other through the Melvins, hanging out at their band practices and helping them hump their amps and equipment to out-of-town gigs.

In 2009, Novoselic would confirm Nirvana’s debt to the Melvins in the Seattle Weekly blog, writing:

“Every Seattle band of the late ’80s owes a little something to the Melvins — a band that slowed down the tempo and played sludgy riffs.”


Buzz Osborne even made a punk rock mixtape for Cobain, turning him on to some of his favorite underground bands, Flipper, MDC, and Black Flag.

In August of ’84, Osborne even took Cobain to Seattle in order to see Black Flag, Kurt’s first punk rock show.


Years later, Nirvana would surpass their heroes, even bringing the Melvins on tour with them as an opening band.

Their endorsement of the band no doubt lead to the Melvins being signed to Atlantic Records.

Rolling Stone said it best when they opined: “Every last grunge star cited the Melvins as a major influence on their sound, but none of them produced anything as heavy.”


Watch The Melvins: Live: Salad of a Thousand Delights on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.
  • Joseph Gerchy

    I appreciate the history lesson and would like to see more up to the present. I discovered The Melvins quite by accident while watching YouTube videos and awaiting the painfully slow latest release by TOOL.