“Tell me if you think it’ all right
I’ll give in to what you know
I don’t see the habits that
I’ve saved up my useless thoughts.
Well means, it works I’m on your side
I said that? Well so, I lied
Remember I tried not to be wary
This failed me once too much.
Don’t forget what you heard.”
- Helmet “Milquetoast”
This is going to tell my age if nothing else… so here goes nothing. As most bands/artists are now celebrating some sort of anniversary for a certain release, it was announced last year that Helmet would tour Europe (without an opening act) playing their album “Betty” in its entirety followed by a second set of hits- I instantly went into freak mode. When would this tour finally hit stateside? Will they play Atlanta or somewhere close that I would have a chance to attend? So the moment of truth came last November, as Helmet announced they were taking the Betty: 25th Anniversary Show to the East coast and surrounding areas. I saw that Atlanta was on the tour and knew nothing would stop me now. Before I bought my ticket, I remembered a buddy of mine (the legendary Stephen Bannister of the band Battle Tapes) based out of Los Angeles, knows Page Hamilton (lead guitar/singer) personally. So I did what any concert hopper would do in this situation, I contacted my connection in hopes of getting to meet Page. Stephen informed me that Page would have me on the guest list for this show, but to remind him closer to show time. This would not be a problem at all.
So the day of reckoning came finally and my concert pal Tina Nosari and I headed to the Masquerade for show time. Goosebumps ensued as we walked into the Masquerade only to find out tonight’s show would be in Hell and not in the upstairs area known as Heaven. The plus to this tidbit of information is that Hell is a smaller and more intimate part of the Masquerade which I have had the chance to see such great acts as The Sword, Red Fang, and Shooter Jennings. Kudos to the Woggles playing upstairs the same night causing the venue assignment. Those who attended this epic night were quite happy. Hell was packed to the brim… that tends to happen when you sell out a smaller venue. This brings a more personal feeling to the event by far thanks to the legion of fans packed like sardines in a tin can.
When Page hit the first note to “Wilma’s Rainbow”, thus, commencing the evening, the entire place went ballistic. For some, this was the first time seeing Helmet. For others (like myself), this was not the first time but would be considered one of the most memorable times watching them perform. Page and the band went seamlessly through their magnum opus, Betty, as they have done so many times before on this current tour. Helmet completed each monumental performance from Betty only to transition into the next track with each person hanging on every note being played. When Helmet finished the last track off of Betty entitled “Sam Hell”, we all knew it was time for the second set of classic tracks. From someone who grew up listening to Helmet (Yes I am that old); this was truly a treat to witness live. Helmet began the second set as strong as they started off the evening with Betty. Helmet barreled through their catalog of tracks dating all the way back to 1990, taking the crowd on a journey throughout their career.
Helmet proved that no matter the age, music is still the language everyone understands as the diverse age range of concert goers thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Time in between tracks, Page would engage with the crowd and discuss the previous times they played the legendary Masquerade. One of those memorable times (back in 1994) they did a co-headline tour with Rollins Band while Sausage (Les Claypool’s other other band) was billed as the opener. But that is a whole different story. If you are able to catch Helmet as they finish the Betty tour, do it! The passion for performing was still very strong with Page and the rest of the band, keep in mind that presently Page is the only original member still in the band. Considered his brainchild, Page has solidified himself in both recording and performing over the years. Many consider him a master of the ‘riff’ as he has created many dominating riffs over his career, each one more thundering and complex than its predecessor.