To put it simply, Mr. Bungle was an experimental, alternative metal band. The issue with this statement is that it too easily confines a band that themselves are too hard to pin-point. Fusing a diverse variety of genres, Mr. Bungle creates what is nothing short of a sonic barrage that takes listeners from influence to influence with breakneck speed. They became reputable for their stage shows, performing frantic actions and wearing eery Halloween masks. At first listen, Mr. Bungle might fill a listener with feelings of fear and general anxiety. Needless to say, they are difficult.
Bungle for a New Millennium
When it comes to creating poster art that pairs with a band as bold and uncompromising as Mr. Bungle, the poster should be, at the very least, a confrontation. This one for example, from the Galleria in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve 2000, draws many parallels to the band’s music. For one, there is A LOT going here. The disorienting, deep-fried colors of the
poster reflect the band’s own harsh nature. Having Baby New Year screaming and throwing a fit, however, is perhaps the most demonstrative image in this poster. Given Mr. Bungle’s carnival music influence, their music can sometimes sound like a demonic childhood memory. It goes back and forth from the hard reality to the childlike sing-song sections (such as the chorus of “Squeeze Me Macaroni” referencing the children’s tune “This Old Man”), creating an atmosphere that can only be described as Satanic Circus. All of these themes are perfectly captured by this poster, which is why it strikes my eye most when scrolling through pages of their posters.
Despite receiving some chart success, Mr. Bungle remained a sort of cult phenomenon, the favorite band of your favorite alternative metal band. Often being subject to the member’s musical whims, Mr. Bungle went into “hibernation” in 2000. Mike Patton continued work with his more commercially successful project Faith No More, while the other members retreated into their other musical outlets. That was until the year of our lord 2020 when Mr. Bungle crawled out of their cave and delivered a re-recording of their first demo: The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny.
The Easter Bunny Resurrection
This poster (for their live-streamed show celebrating the album’s release) riffs on the original poster for John Carpenter’s slasher classic Halloween. Mr. Bungle, being a horror-inclined band, perfectly fits with the image that is so quickly associated with fear and shock. Along with that, the cross-section of heavy metal fans and horror movie freaks seems to be an every broadening area. Mr. Bungle choosing to use this iconic image to sell their live stream only made sense if you’ve followed the band and the track of their career.
Mr. Bungle is a complex band that makes no compromises with their artistic vision. A visual artist that steps up to make their posters must be keen on this. That is why there is so much great art surrounding this band. The freeness of their music allows the artists the freedom to do something shocking or silly without fear of the consequences. If they continue on this ride and don’t retreat back into their hibernation, I guarantee there will be plenty of unique Mr. Bungle concert posters from the post-COVID concert renaissance.