Yup... so I went and saw Helmet again. If you've been following along at all, you'll know I missed most of the show I went to see in Philadelphia... a trip loosely planned before the Toronto date opened up.
When I heard it was at Lee's Palace (1/4 the size of the place in Philly).... $25 to see a band you grew up on playing a small club... yes please!
I'll try to keep this short... I saw Trail Of Dead last year doing a similar tour... playing one of their "classic" (fan favorite) albums front to back. I meant to write about it... so good... for fans and the bands.
People can say albums are dead... which I agree in some respects... but I feel like the problem is not enough thought went into full albums as full albums for a while.
My generation was probably one of the last to actually listen to an album start to finish. Why? Partly because we were lazy... but I think a big factor was how much crap you needed to carry if you wanted to listen to music on the go... we just listened to what was our walkman or discman.
... think about that for a second. How many tapes or CD's did you want to carry? You just listened to the same album(s), (maybe 2-3) on repeat until you got sick of it... then swapped it out.
Eventually we started making mix tapes/CD's but for the majority, you happily listened to what was in the player... but then that changed in my teens (late 90's)... we could not only skip to the songs we wanted to hear... we could download them... randomly... then the legendary iPod came about...
I'm a little off topic I know... but it ties into these types of tours.
Even though everyone knew what song was coming up next, everyone was into it. These are tours for core fans. We don't always need hits... we wanted to share the experience of hearing a "classic" (to us) album performed live.
I'm sure the band is a little sick of playing it now but they find ways to have fun with it. They find ways to recreate the tones and production on the album, and present it to the audience.
... and financially, every ticket sold is probably the equivalent of an album sold.
Helmet still played a bunch of "other hits" in a second set but the applause after they played Sam Hell (final song on Betty) was probably a big part of what keeps bands like them going.
Appreciation from the fans... true appreciation... everyone on the same side... celebrating an album that's now 20 years old.
I care a lot about the tunes going on an album or EP (and their order) for this reason. The band should want to play them all live... and they should all work live, as the band, in it's purest/rawest form.
Albums aren't dead... they just got screwed up for a while... too much filler around what people were trying to sell. If you want people to listen to more of your music, you have to give them more music worth listening to. Simple.
I encourage bands to go out and try playing their EP's and albums start to finish before recording... if anything it'll help them realize how much quality material it takes to fill up 45 minutes... and how the audience feels about the song selection.
... you'll spend less time recording too... I guarantee it!
So this post hasn't really been much about Helmet now that I think about it... they were entertaining though... hard to find a band with 20+ years experience playing all over the world who isn't.
Just in case any bands out there still haven't got the message... the show starts the minute you arrive and doesn't end until you pull away from the venue. How you treat the venue staff before the show, and how you treat the fans after the show.
A fair amount had left before the very end... 2 hrs of Helmet is a lot of Helmet... that and maybe the crowd was a little older... lots of glasses, grey hair, bald spots, and mid-life guts in attendance... but just like in Philly, the show ended with Page Hamilton, 54 years old, leaning over the edge of the stage to shake hands with those still upfront... before crouching down for pictures and to chat.
Who knows how long he stays after the show talking to fans... I doubt it's simply an ego boost... he's a smart dude... and you can tell by the way he carries himself on stage he's a humble dude... probably knows there'll be a day when he's forced to stop...
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!