Heading back in time to 1994 when I was a mere pup in the 6th grade, Nirvana was everything and all I listened to UNTIL I stumbled on this record Meantime by a band called Helmet. This was unlike anything I had heard during my few years on the planet, it wasn’t grunge, it wasn’t punk or plain old rock n’ roll, it was all of these things at once. Needless to say I was hooked. I didn’t get to see them until 1997, and they were playing with some band called Korn, whom I had never heard of and I remember thinking at the time, how does this no name band open for Helmet!?
Flash forward to August 13 2014 on route to see the beloved Helmet for the 5th time in my life.
I bought 2 tickets and hoped one of my friends would join me but nope, so I talked my 24 year old sister into going, hoping to convert her into a fan. I don’t know if I did, but I know my love and child like excitement to see these heroes still runs strong in my heart.
We head to the famous Thompson House (formerly Southgate), the mansion turned venue whose claim to fame is that John Thompson, the inventor of the Tommy gun lived there and invented said weapon in this mansion.
The line up for this event were Ohio locals Bearer Of Bad News, Local H , Helmet & Filter. I will start by saying I didn’t stay through Filter so I won’t be touching on them much. My loyalty was to the rest if the line up so let’s get into it.
First up we have Dayton, OH based Bearer of Bad News, who’s blistering set was a perfect match to the line up. With the song they called ‘Got the Least’ being the strong arm of their 30 minute noise fueled set. Think Helmet meets Quicksand & you have the idea.
Next up was the surprisingly excellent Local H. This two piece rock duo frankly owned the room for 45 minutes. I was only a fan in passing in my youth, but after this show I feel like I missed one hell of a time not seeing them live more. The band played through a variety of notable songs throughout their career such as ‘Bound for the Floor’, ‘Alright, Oh Yeah’ & an aggressive noise drenched cover of Lorde’s ‘Team’. Overall a great solid set from these 90’s rockers.
And now we will move on, likely the only reason you are reading this review and the main reason I went to this show to begin with, Helmet. Who’s 45 minutes set moved through various stages of their career aside from the AmRep material. While we didn’t hear anything from ‘Strap It On’ we did get to hear a selection from Monochrome like ‘Brand New’ & ‘Swallowing Everything’, both were priceless performances but I would be a liar if I said they were anywhere near as goose bump providing as the opening few seconds of ‘Wilma’s Rainbow’, the opening track to 1994’s ‘Betty’ which the band is presently touring in support of.
As a huge fan of this record and having read that on some of the dates they are performing ‘Betty’ from beginning to end, I was ready to hear that but alas that wasn’t the case. Instead, what we got was a selection, classics like ‘Milquetoast’ ‘Unsung’ & ‘Give It’. For the most part a good portion of ‘Seeing Eye Dog’ filled any gaps in the set. There were a few funny moments with Page asking the lighting crew to cut the strobe lights out “That looks cool man but I can’t see anything I’m 50 years old!” 50 isn’t so bad if you are still able to throw down a performance like Helmet did in this riverfront venue.
As someone who has been a fan for years and seen the band a handful of times, I cannot say this was their best show & I am certain any old school fans might have been a tad let down by the lack of Am-Rep era material. Still it was without question a fantastic performance that did hit most of the high points of their career.
Helmet held the crowd at bay until the last note and I even saw a fairly Eminem looking fella booty dancing with some hussy throughout some tunes, so it was an entertaining night!
Oh yeah and as mentioned previously Filter headlined this date & all the U.S dates on this tour.
While Filter was never my cup of tea per se, they did have a few songs in their career I enjoyed but they unbeknownst to them opened with what I feel is the benchmark of shitty songs in their career ‘Trip Like I do’. The crowd had the distinct privilege of hearing the opening loop to said song for nearly 30 minutes while smoke machines and lighting were adjusted properly, this is after a 35 minute set up time between Helmet’s set to Filters. I could go on but only 2 songs in and Richard had tossed 2 wireless mics on the crowd, visibly complaining to the sound crew and frankly doing everything in his power to mimic Chino Moreno, which in my world is blasphemy.
Waffle House and beer started to sound really good at this point so I grabbed my clearly unimpressed sister and we headed out.
Moral of the story Helmet, Local H & Bearer of Bad News = Awesome night
Filter = Waffle House.
Words by: Stephen T. Barton