October 31, 2010
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Roy Turner
Photos by Roy Turner
Wrong About Helmet?
The first thing we should establish is that you are most likely wrong about Helmet. At least wrong about their current state of existence. Your tendencies to do so are not inaccurate but the results are and here is what I mean:
Usually the formula of band gets real popular, breaks up, only to reform six years later with one sole original member and three new hired hands. They make a record to seem legitimate and that record always sucks, and which they usually ignore in concert anyway like it doesn't exist, and just play updated versions of the hits and the whole thing has the feel of holding on too tight in a playing at the State Fair sorta way. If this is the conclusion that you have reached about Helmet since their breakup in 1997 and their re-formation in 2004, than yes you are wrong.
It's okay, I had the same ambivalence - I was excited yet, suspicious because of the aforementioned formula, when they dropped 2004's Size Matters - but that went away after I heard it, and saw them on tour that year. They followed that with 2006's Monochrome - which, I know I'll get a lot of flak for, stands up nicely to anything they did in the 1990's. Well hell, even that's been four years, so I was even more surprised by the intensity of this year's Seeing Eye Dog. Released very quietly just a few weeks ago, to further that wrong impression, I get the feeling that even those interested might not even be aware of the album's release.
Granted there was a lot going on that night - The Rangers were in their first World Series, and even within the same building, you had the dude from Staind playing a set, and around the corner, there was a certainly befitting of Halloween show by Danzig. But still about 100 people, who most didn't bother with costumes showed up and they knew ever word, even the new stuff.
Would I prefer the "classic" lineup and have them do 1992's entire Meantime? Of course, but don't count them out man, the new lineup is totally solid and they rolled out over half of the album, like a relevant, current entity and the new stuff sounded fantastic.
In recent shows, I've come to the conclusion that 1997's Aftertaste is founder/main dude Paige Hamilton's favorite record to play live. It was the final record before the breakup and maybe he feels it's didn't get enough attention, as this show also offered over half of that record too. In recent years I've seen Helmet perform the record in its entirety.
Hamilton was so polite that he actually apologized for having the show on a Sunday night, then greeted a couple in the crowd who'd followed the band through its shows in Houston and Austin to Dallas. Later he acknowledged an attendee's costume.
"Are you dressed as Hunter S. Thompson?" he asked, then told the fan he won the prize for costume of the night. Drummer Kyle Stevenson came out in a mask and costume; Hamilton and the rest of the band wore T-shirts and jeans.
Still rocking and still relevant, and I'm proud to say that. I remember worshipping this band in High School and seeing them in much bigger places, but this third act still packs a punch.
Exactly What You Wanted
Welcome to Algiers
See You Dead
Seeing Eye Dog
In The Meantime
It's Easy to get Bored