Helmet | 10.10.15

helmet2015 sqAlternative metal pioneers Helmet delivered—and then some.

 



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Firebird, St. Louis

New York’s Helmet brought the noise, humor, and magic Saturday night. A sold-out crowd of rockers, punks, head bangers, and geeks perfectly mirrors the diversity and genre-bending power of the musical brand known as Helmet. They and their fans escape trite categorization and draw outside the lines. Helmet has always been too intelligent and quirky for the meathead metal purist, and a tad too metallic for the alternative rock or pop crowd.

In addition to a two-hour set in which the quartet played the entirety of their classic 1994 release Betty, the band played cuts from their groundbreaking major-label debut, Meantime. They even sprinkled in some tracks from Aftertaste and 1990’s Strap It On. For the 300-plus fans packed in the comfy confines of the Firebird, there was not a dull moment. Front man, guitarist, founder, vocalist, and only remaining original member Page Hamilton was alternately a guitar god shredder, drill sergeant barking vocals, and even comedian. In between songs, he engaged in hilarious banter with the audience and joked about his love of Budweiser, his costly divorce, baseball, and how his beloved Rocks-era Aerosmith had disintegrated from a gritty rock band, to soulless, fluffy, clean pop icons. Helmet’s music may be heavy, but Hamilton’s banter was hilarious and was almost as entertaining as the music. Perhaps a spoken-word career is in the front man’s future.helmet2015 300

Speaking of music, the mosh pit exploded during their hit and blistering delivery of “Unsung” from Meantime. The most unusual and unexpected moment of the show was Helmet’s unique rendition of the Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing.” This cover showcased Helmet’s ability to take a classic pop song, rearrange it, and infuse it with the Helmet heavy flavoring and DNA mutations.

Helmet’s current bassist Dave Case, guitarist Dan Beeman, and drummer Kyle Stevenson faithfully reproduced, note-for-note, every classic number and provided a rock-solid base for Hamilton to stalk the stage, deliver extra crunchy riffs, focus on vocals, and do his thing. Another unexpected moment was when the band slowed their classic “In the Meantime” to a half-tempo, mind-bending Quaalude crawl.

It was obvious these guys love playing to a loyal audience and feeding off the energy of their dedicated, hardcore audience. Toward the end of the show, Hamilton even asked for requests from the audience. Screams for their classic number, “Sinatra,” were accommodated. After playing better than 27 songs, Hamilton signed autographs, enjoyed an impromptu Q&A with fans, and talked music, sports, concerts, and more. Hamilton is truly a man of the people and loves his fans.

Hemet will continue to do their own thing and the world will be better for it. In the meantime, don’t go changing.

St. Louis was the last show of their Betty tour. They will be playing several dates in California this month. If you’re lucky enough, and smart enough, you’ll be there. | Doug Tull

All Photos: Doug Tull. Check out complete gallery on our Facebook site

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