photo: Helmet at Bowery Ballroom, night 1 (more by Mathieau Bredeau)

Helmet

New York City alt-metal behemoths Helmet wrapped up their run of three NYC shows on their ongoing tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their seminal third album "Betty". We already posted pictures of night 1, and here's our review of night 2 -- Saturday (2/21) at Bowery Ballroom -- an unbelievable two and a half hours of bowel-loosening heviosity that had the packed, sold-out crowd in a pushy-shovey, high-fivey, singin' along frenzy.

Singer-guitarist Page Hamilton is the only original member of this band who has had a number of personnel changes since their inception in NYC in 1989. There are legions of insufferable Helmet line-up purists who will no doubt take to the comments section any second now to remind the world that, without drummer John Stanier, the current iteration of Helmet is impure. As much as I agree that Stanier is a solid drummer, to poo-poo this band and this tour because there is no Stanier is a little unfair. Current Helmet drummer Kyle Stevenson absolutely crushed it Saturday night. Not only is he a fantastic drummer, but he completely understands the music of Helmet and knows how to do it right. He was simply incredible. Guitarist Dan Beeman and bassist Dave Case completed a rhythm section that was tighter and more crushing than Helmet has sounded in years; you could shake a house off of its foundation with Case's bass tone.

Mercifully, there were no openers for this show and the band got right to it at 9:15pm on the nose with a spotless performance of the album "Betty" in full. In my opinion, Saturday night's performance of "Betty" sounded better than the album ever did. It was so much heavier, more violent and more scorching. I always liked "Betty," but ever since I first heard it in 1994 I always thought it was a little anemic. The skeleton for heaviness was always there, but I always felt that the potential for heaviness never fully gestated. Saturday night, though, tracks like "Wilma's Rainbow," "Biscuits for Smut," "Rollo," and "Speechless" simply ground my eardrums to a watery pulp. There was a physical component to the loudness and heaviness that you could feel in the pit of your stomach, and it never relented.

After "Betty", Helmet performed a 10-song second set of greatest hits that included "(High) Visibility," "Role Model," "FBLA II," "Unsung" and more. It was a really solid selection of tunes that spanned their entire career and it really kept the apeshit momentum of the show going strong. This second set was followed by a three song encore featuring "Sinatra," "Repetition," which was an audience request, and finally "In The Meantime." I don't get out to shows as much as I used to, but this Helmet show was hands down one of the most satisfying show-going experiences in recent memory. Helmet's level of performance is better than ever and NYC was so lucky to have three opportunities to see these masters of heaviness. If you missed this show because you're hung-up on the current line-up, I pity you. Aside from the hot fart smells that seemed almost inescapable no matter where I was standing, this was Helmet in peak form.

Night 1 pics here. Night 2 setlist and a video below...


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Helmet at Bowery Ballroom - 2/21/2015 Setlist (via)
Betty
Wilma's Rainbow
I Know
Biscuits for Smut
Milquetoast
Tic
Rollo
Street Crab
Clean
Vaccination
Beautiful Love
Speechless
The Silver Hawaiian
Overrated
Sam Hell

Second Set
(High) Visibility
Role Model
FBLA II
Welcome to Algiers
Birth Defect
Broadcast Emotion
Unsung
White City
Impressionable
Give It

Encore:
Sinatra
Repetition
In the Meantime