Thursday, June 30, 2011

Helmet @ The Hi Fi Bar.

25-06-2011. Hi-Fi Bar, Melbourne.

You Gave Me Exactly What I Wanted.

As I walked down the stairs into the Hi-Fi you could feel that the place was packed and there was an excitement building as to what was about to hit the stage.

They’re a four-piece outfit that can only be described as one of the tightest bands around. Their timing is so sharp and precise that you could split a hair with a single riff. I was about to see Helmet.

I hit the doorway and came to an instant stand still. Punters trying to make their way down the front tangled with those hurrying to get a last minute drink before the band kicked in. I was like a cat squeezing through a gap half as narrow as I and probably sounded like one being sat on as the air was forced out of me. I thought the mosh was meant to be at the other end of the venue?

I grabbed a drink and headed my usual way down the front where there always seems to be room. After battling through the first couple of walls of sardines squashed in a can I walked through to an open sea and claimed my spot on the edge of the stairs right at the barrier. A perfect view of what would be some perfect riffage.

Helmet has graced our shores a few times since I last saw them in 1994 but I just haven’t been able to get along. Tonight was going to make up for that.

The house music mix of honky tonk blues was a strange match for the night but as the founding and only original member, singer / guitarist Page Hamilton was spotted doing a quick stair run side stage and off into another room, the first wave of roars for started. The punters were ready, willing and capable of going completely nuts!

Helmet’s drummer, Kyle Stevenson was wearing a shirt that appropriately said “Bowlers have bigger balls” because if that’s the case he must bowl a hell of a lot! From the outset he was uncompromising and tough. A mean machine is needed to keep the beast that is Helmet going and he drives them with authority.

There was actually some space in the mosh which usually means fans run a bit more wild. They’ve got the room to move and they’ll use it. That’s exactly what a few already drunk did. There were some moments fights nearly broke out and as soon as the bouncers came up the same guy seemed to step back, tap his chest gently with both hands with a look of bewilderment on his face as if to mime ‘who me?’. It didn’t take Page long between songs to let them know there’ll be “none of that fighting shit. Come on seriously man, grow up!”

They charged through some old faithfuls like the opener Milquetoast and Blacktop and every time when Page asked between songs for requests it always seemed to be for Meantime and Unsung. The latter being one of their finest examples of driving bass and that, for them, effortless yet so precise start / stop riffage they are so well known for. There are not many others that pull it off quite the same as Helmet. After most of the shout outs they would play something else so when they finally played one after the other everyone went nuts! The biggest frenzy and roar from the crowd!

The entire set was amazing, although a few seemed a bit annoyed at the sometimes lengthy breaks between songs but when you’ve come all this way and written some of the biggest kick arse songs of a generation, I say do what you want! It rocked! And even more so when Page looked over at me during the set and said “I like your shirt man. That's a fuckin old one! Meantime.” Page, you’re a legend.

For old and new fans of the band, if you haven’t picked up a copy of their Seeing Eye Dog LP released last year, do yourself a favour, you wont be disappointed.


This is the extended review of the version up on The 59th Sound.

Unsung (filmed on my iPhone).

Milquetoast (filmed on my iPhone).

Exactly What You Wanted (filmed on my iPhone).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice write up ya lucky bastid!