When I told my friends I was going to a Helmet gig, I reckon a heads up or a simple “get ready” should’ve been warranted as I found myself in a swarm of crazed, adrenaline-fueled punters banging their heads, splashing beer and shoving anyone who dared to enter the mosh pit all while Paige Hamilton and his entourage stood on the stage like instigators of a prison-riot. I’d like to make it clear, however, that it is no way a critique. This was hands down one of the best experiences of my life.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves! Before we delve deep into this high energy gig experience, let’s backtrack a second and give you a quick little rundown of who we’re listening to.
By pairing a brutally raw and unique soundscape with frontman Paige Hamilton’s guitar mastery and primal to clear-cut vocal range. The New York based alternative metal act that is Helmet has been paving a new road for the heavy metal and alt-rock landscape since 1989.
Now with a legacy of eight studio albums and more than 900 gigs equipped on their belt, Helmet has come down-under to our side of the hemisphere prepared to knock us off our feet with their best of 1989-2023 tour.
Alright, let's get back on track.
“Role Model“ was the perfect track to set the night into motion. Within seconds of arriving on stage, Paige and his crew instantly sprung as an immediate cluster of layered guitar riffs, gritty basslines and sputtering drums yanked the audience into their raucous and untamed world.
Throughout the gig, the momentum refused to slack. The raw and explosive energy of Paige and his crew continued to escalate to unimaginable heights as each track effortlessly slid into another.
After thirty odd years of singing his lungs out, Paige’s earworm-like melodies and vocals refuse to lose their edge. The frontman would effortlessly transition from the clear-cut melodies on “Wilma’s Rainbow” to the viscous barks that leave you staggered yet shouting for more on “Ironhead”.
One of the secret weapons to this night’s performance was bassist Dave Case, who shined out significantly on the track “He Feels Bad” as he dominated the centre stage with wave after wave of addictive, earth-shaking basslines.
It was about halfway through the setlist when both the performers and punters allowed themselves to have a breather as Paige, Introduced his teammates and indulged his “first beer of the night” while courteously waving off the crowd's tribal chants of “Shoey! Shoey! Shoey!”
After the quick intermission, the tempo was effortlessly cranked to eleven as the infamous intro of Helmet’s anthemic hit, “Unsung”, sent another fiery surge into the frenzied crowd.
After a ritualistic five minute chant for “one more song”, Paige and his entourage of metal-heads returned to the stage one last time, dealing their final bone-shattering blow in the form of “In The Meantime” as waves of searing riffs and primordial screeches left the jam-packed room of sweat-soaked punters wide-eyed and shellshocked.
Words by Fred Carlyle
Photography by Shannon J Shaw Photography