After such a good time two years ago at this event we could not help ourselves and holy crap what a lineup! Same crew as 2013 (me, Marvin, Ken and Bob) and the addition of Joe in from Portland, but unlike last time we actually knew that Marvin was coming. This time the venue was at a place called Gibson Ranch instead of Discovery Park and we were able to “camp.” The plan was for Marvin to drive out from Salt Lake City and meet up with Bob who would already be in the Bay Area due to attending the 49ers/Seahawks game for Thursday Night Football and then meet up with me, Ken and Joe who were flying in on Saturday morning. Since all of us were flying Marvin was in charge of bringing tents, sleeping bags, etc. After we all met at a Walmart on the way to load up on supplies (mostly alcohol) we were on our way. The first band any of us cared about was Suicidal Tendencies, scheduled to be on at 2 pm, since we had missed them earlier in the year at Epicenter. Since our flight landed at 10 we figured we had plenty of time to get settled but all the little things add up and we now found ourselves waiting in a long line of cars to get into the place and more specifically the campground. Very poor organization caused us to wait in our car (a rented super small shitbox of a Mazda) for what seemed like forever before we could get “escorted” to our campsite. By the time we got to the campsite and set up tents, etc. it was about 2. We quickly decided that we did not care all that much about Suicidal Tendencies after all. In our defense we could hear them perfectly from where we were. We were trying to save money by drinking at the camp spot but Helmet was up at 2:30 and attendance was non-negotiable. After some quick work of beers we went in and Helmet greeted us with all the songs you would want them to play (mostly from Meantime, Betty and Aftertaste). Next up was P.O.D. who continue to surprise me with each passing time I see them. Then we had to find our way to the “fourth” stage which Clutch was playing at for some damn reason. Clutch was touring for the excellent new album Psychic Warfare. I made a bet with Joe that they would not play anything from their first three albums and I was right. It did not matter because they have so many good songs to choose from otherwise. More beers and back to one of the main stages for Seether. I believe by this time most of us had gotten separated from each other and when there is a concentration of that many people in one place cell signals do not work. I believe at this point I was just with Bob and some gal came out of nowhere and would not leave us alone. We finally shook her and watched Breaking Benjamin which was pretty alright.
Our original plan was to get an eight of pot to bring but when that did not work out we settled for two decent sized joints. This meant we had to ration one for this day and one for the next day which meant we had to strategically time ignition. For me this was the moment: Marilyn Manson was coming on. I have seen him many times but he is always splendid and now he had another excellent album out – The Pale Emperor. This set is one I have only seen him play a few times and can only be described as fierce. Not a lot of talking, every song just ripped you a new one and then he was gone. This version of his band is the tightest I think I have seen since the departure of John 5. I was tripping out because I could not tell if Twiggy was on the stage or not. If not it sure as hell looked like him.
Next up was Slipknot. I REALLY like their new album .5 The Gray Chapter so I was really excited to see them as well. By this point I was a little drunk and stoned but holy fuck did these guys rock. After finding our way back to the campground me and Bob were greeted by our missing buddies for a nightcap. Marvin informed me the previous day that he forgot one of the sleeping bags so I shoved a pillow and blanket in my carry on (talent) and planned on just sleeping in the reclined seat of our rental car. This is easy when you are drunk. Joe ended up sleeping in the passenger seat because we were up forever talking and laughing our heads off since I do not get to see him very often anymore. Today was a good day.
Helmet released the album Betty on June 21st, 1994. Marvin, Jack and I made a special trip to the mall that day to pick up a copy. Here I was at the Belly Up almost 21 years later to hear the whole album performed from to back to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Betty. I was not at all surprised to see this because during one of the other four times I saw Hemet they played about half of both Meantime and Aftertaste in sequence.
I never had the pleasure of seeing them tour Betty back when it was new, let alone hear most of these songs live at all. It had been almost exactly seven years since the last time I saw Helmet at Cane’s when I started chatting Page up after the show and told him that he should make his new band learn “Clean” and “Speechless” (for selfish reasons). Well he not only made them learn those two songs but the entire damn album and it was incredible. The band did a fine job of reproducing the album pretty much note for note. Seeing any band you love play such a small venue is awesome because the energy translates so well. I would have been satisfied had they left the stage after “Sam Hell” but instead we all got a bonus encore set of songs spanning the rest of Helmet’s career after that.
SETLIST: Wilma’s Rainbow, I Know, Biscuits for Smut, Milquetoast, Tic, Rollo, Street Crab, Clean, Vaccination, Beautiful Love, Speechless, The Silver Hawaiian, Overrated, Sam Hell +
Wow! Helmet is in town again and I consciously decided that I didn’t care to see them because I didn’t think they would be able to top their last performance @ the Casbah. Boy was I wrong…Marvin let me know the day of the show that he scored 2 free tickets and asked me if I wanted to go. Without hesitation I was in. When Marvin got home from work I was pleasantly informed that Nick Oliveri’s band was opening. The moment we flipped the corner to enter Cane’s who was there going in at the same time? Nick Oliveri. Funny huh? Especially since I had randomly seen him at the recent Foo Fighters show in the midst of that fiasco. So me and Marvin go to the bar to talk to his bartender friend Sabrina and who comes rolling up next to us to order a drink? Nick Oliveri. We just couldn’t shake this guy. I gave him a fist bump and life was good. He was on next and his little 3 piece band busted out some punk rock fury and 3 Queens of the Stone Age songs, “I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Hidden EP,” and “Rated R.” Next up, Helmet. The same incarnation as the last Casbah show with the exception of a different guitarist. They started out with the first song on Aftertaste, “Pure,” and got about 5 into it before he stopped and started bantering with the crowd. I didn’t catch anything he said but, “No. First we’re going to play the rest of Aftertaste and then we’ll take requests.” I thought he was kidding but he wasn’t. I’ll be damned if they did not play the whole fucking album in sequence from front to back! That’s when they left the stage before the inevitable encore. They came back and played “In the Meantime,” “Wilma’s Rainbow,” “Milquetoast,” and “Give It.” Amazing. Then after the show Page decided to hang out by the T-Shirt stand. I went and started chatting him up. I told him he should make his new band learn “Clean” and “Speechless.” He told me they knew “Speechless” and then he picked up a copy of Strap It On and pointed out the songs they knew from that album. I praised him for the show they had just done and went on my way. I was content and obviously elated. Thank you Marvin.
Just a typical spontaneous moment. I’m thumbing through the San Diego weekly Reader and see that Helmet is playing tomorrow night at the Casbah. This is funny because I have only visited the Casbah once in my life and the other time was when I watched Helmet for the first time. I called Marvin and asked if he would like to go with me via voicemail. He texts me back at 3 in the morning (he works in a restaurant) with an enthusiastic “Helmet deep.” It’s 7 p.m. the night of the show now and I’m on my way to pick up Marvin and fucking hungry. We decide to eat at Gordon Bierch but find that there is a wait for a table when we arrive. “Fuck this.” We strolled over to Bev Mo across the parking lot and each picked up a 22 of Stone. Then we continued to IN N OUT to eat delicious hamburgers and wash them down with our Bev Mo purchases (we sat in my topless Jeep in the parking lot). We arrive at the venue about 9 pm only to find out Helmet will not be coming on until 11:30. Nothing left to do but start drinking (more). I wanted to have “a drink” at the nearby Airport Lounge because my ex-coworker Kristin was going to be there supporting her friend’s event. The doors were locked so we continued on to The Waterfront (a bar). We proceeded to drink two pitchers of beer before Donna arrived. Then we drank one more. It was now 11 and I was paranoid that the door guy at the Casbah didn’t know what he was talking about so we parted ways with Donna and walked back over to the Casbah. Turns out the door guy was right. This gave us enough time to try to hit up Airport Lounge again. This time we were in and I saw Kristin. She had just been laid off that day and was in good spirits (severance package). One beer and back to the Casbah, but not before stopping by the Jeep to take a hit from my sneak-a-toke. We walked in and Helmet was on stage but were still setting up. They didn’t start playing for about 10 minutes but when they did it was amazing. They started off with “Pure” from Aftertaste and did not let up from that album until they had played the first 6 songs consecutively in sequence. This blew my mind because I had never seen any band play in that fashion. Page Hamilton’s supporting lineup this time was completely different than the last time I had seen Helmet. The next two songs were “Street Crab” from Betty and “Repetition” from Strap It On. I was pretty sauced by this point since Marvin had bought me two more tall beers upon our arrival and I was still tripping out about them playing the first 6 songs from Aftertaste in sequence when all of a sudden they bust out “In the Meantime” from Meantime. They did it again only this time with Meantime. They played the first 7 on that album IN SEQUENCE! They followed with “Bad Mood” and then a song from the newest album Monochrome. It turned out being the only song played from their two most recent albums. Cool with me because I had only heard Monochrome once and Size Matters was definitely not one of my favorite Helmet albums. They closed their set with two more from Betty: “Wilma’s Rainbow” and “Milquetoast.” We shook Page’s hand and went home. I probably should have not been driving but everything turned out fine. I thought my night was over but when I got home I found that Donna had started something without me but was happy to have me finish what she started…
So this was my second time seeing Helmet, my second time seeing Chevelle and my second time sneaking into Soma. It was Marvin and I again and we literally did the same thing we did previously at Static-X: had several beers at Chili’s and walked right through the back door like we owned the place. There were other bands on this tour besides Helmet and Chevelle but we did not care about them. Helmet had the same lineup and pretty much the same set list as when we saw them back in October but it was still awesome to see them again. Chevelle on the other hand had released the new album This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In) back on September 21st and I had not seen them since they rocked Ozzfest in the summer of 2003. I did not know they had a new album out until I stumbled upon it at Tower Records but was not disappointed. I remember being happy that they played a ton of the new songs and also remember thinking that their songs translated much better to this smaller venue instead of the giant amphitheater.
Helmet came onto my radar via the song “Unsung” from the album Meantime. Me and my friends loved Helmet from that point on and picked up copies of both Betty and Aftertaste the day they came out. Needless to say this was a very exciting show for me. My first time seeing Helmet and my first time at the Casbah. It is a quintessential small rock palace that I would estimate holds about 200 people tops. I think it was me, Marvin and Dee. I cannot remember exactly what Helmet played but they had just released the album Size Matters about a month and a half before this show. I want to say they divided up the setlist pretty evenly amongst the 5 albums out up to this point but I was drinking and smoking and I am pretty far removed from this day at the time of this entry so who knows. I do know they rocked.