August 26, 2011
Slidebar in Fullerton
Even though Sunset Junction was canceled, they did manage to present a free show with Helmet at the Slidebar in Fullerton. A number of hardcore fans decked out in Helmet shirts milled around the bar a few hours prior to the show as I got their early to assure a spot.
Hitting the stage at close to 11:30, Helmet hit the ground running and never looked back. The start and stop razor sharp riffs of "Pure" immediately loosened up the crowd. Dipping into their latest excellent album Seeing Eye Dog, "So Long" Page Hamilton venomously spewed the lyrics screaming "Take All My Money."
While Page Hamilton is the only original member of Helmet remaining, his assembled band are excellent replacements and were locked in with Hamilton's dissonant riffs. Kyle Stevenson thrashed away at his drum kit for the intense drumming of "Birth Defect" while Dan Beeman kept pace with Hamilton's furious riffing with his Gibson Les Paul.
"Welcome To Algiers" was a rapid fire assault of guitars that challenged the speakers at the Slidebar. A circle pit formed out of nowhere during the opening notes of "Unsung" as I had to grab the monitor in front of me to secure my footing. Hamilton later remarked how he recently volunteered at the School of Rock to teach 13-year-old students how to play the song.
Dave Case hunkered down on his G&L bass for the booming bass line of "Renovation" that had the band immediately follow in behind him. "Give It" sounded just as vicious as I remember it when I first heard it in 1992. Deftly mixing old songs with new ones, "In Person" started out with ringing guitar notes before melting into trademark crushing Helmet territory.
Hamilton spoke about the some of the interviews he was doing with reporters asking him about how Pearl Jam's Ten and Nirvana's Nevermind. Hamilton joked "What about the upcoming 20th anniversary of Meantime?". He glanced down on his setlist and said "let's play "In the Meantime" cause I feel like it" which was received with a roar of approval by the fans.
"Blacktop" and "Wilma's Rainbow" had me pushing in my earplugs in cause the overall volume of the show seemed to increase but I wasn't complaining. For the encore, Hamilton took requests obliging fans with "I Know" and "Tic." The big surprise was they played one of my favorite songs "Rollo" from Betty which I haven't heard in a least a decade. "Milktoast" closed out their main set as Helmet should have charged money for their close to two hour set chock full of hits.
Dirty Black Summer entertained the audience with various Misfits and Danzig covers while Battle Tapes impressed with their blend of hard driving synthesizers, finely distorted guitars and chiseled bass lines.
Personal Bias: I still wear my Helmet shirt that I bought in 1992.
Crowd: Lots of Helmet t-shirt clad fans and a mix of Slidebar regulars.
Random Notebook Dump: Page retired his trusty pink ESP Horizon guitar.
"Welcome To Algiers"
"See You Dead"
"In The Meantime"
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