Hi Fi Bar
Helmet are a paradoxical band. At their core, they are an aggressively restrained band. Their riffs incredibly tight and heavy, the aggression biting yet methodical. Helmet fans tend to be just as enigmatic. They tend to be tall, white, short haired middle class men. Like the music, there is a certain level of emotional restraint within their character.
To see Helmet live is really a declaration of war upon your ears. Each riff is a sonic boom that could tear a small child apart. It takes two days to recover from such an ordeal. Helmet were signed for a trillion dollar deal with complete artistic control in the early 90s as majors searched for the next Nirvana. This proved to be a disastrous move for Interscope, as Helmet’s no-image, no bullshit, white noise only won them success with people who would have loved and heard the band without major label attention anyway.
Ten years ago when Helmet graced the Metro, the band was noticeably miserable. Bass player Henry Bogdan hid in the background, his bass guitar slumping his shoulders. Page Hamilton barely mumbled a coherent word between songs. A few months later, the band had broken up and all former permanent band members disbanded to different parts of America. They have rarely all been seen in the same room again.
Over the last ten years, Page Hamilton has taken on many different personas. After moving from New York to LA he has filled in for Limp Bizkit, provided back up for David Bowie, written film scores and flirted with a celebrity shop lifting girlfriend. Throughout it all, Page never really appeared to be satisfied. It was if he was searching for an identity that was not only true but fulfilling. After seven years, Page finally returned to Helmet.
Judging by Thursday night’s blistering performance he finally appears to be happy and accepting of his own creation. The band performed encore after encore and Page could not shut up between songs. He was cheeky, energetic and grateful to be on stage. All four band members played with exuberance, belief and enjoyment. Drummer Kyle Stevenson looked like a toy monkey on speed. Even the security guards were nodding their heads.
Forty five minutes into Helmet’s sonic boom set something wonderful happened. The tall, white, short haired middle class men slowly came out of their shells, unfroze and, like Page, were true to their own being. The mosh pit fizzed like a busy cauldron as the crowd relaxed and then exploded. Through the happy slam dance of Wilma’s Rainbow, there was hugging, high fiving and a general excitement and boisterous happiness within the crowd. This colourful mood remained with the band and the crowd throughout the umpteenth encore. Music can not be expected to do any more than this.