On Tuesday night, heavy music juggernauts Helmet took the stage at Bogart’s to play more than an hour and a half worth of material. The band wove their way through a set that highlighted tracks from more than two decades of existence. This particular iteration of Helmet managed to play what was, without a doubt, the loudest set I’ve witnessed this year.
Openers Soul Blind started things out with a thoroughly raucous 30-minute set, combining some interesting aspects of post-hardcore and not quite emo a la Balance & Composure with the driving, bass-heavy semi-sludgery of bands like Helmet and others in that sonic realm. The end of their set happened rather abruptly though - I’m unsure what the situation was, whether or not it was planned or if the vibe was just off. Either way, I was into it, so it was a bit of a bummer for it to just… stop.
I’ve struggled with how to approach this show as a whole, though, as an objective reviewer. On the one hand, both bands that played were great. They sounded good, seemed like they were into it for the most part, and genuinely felt like they were putting on a good show and giving fans what they wanted. On the flipside, the crowd was pretty quiet and somewhat disengaged. I don’t know if that’s a symptom of having seen Helmet so many times it felt, I don’t know, perfunctory to a certain degree?
Regardless, Helmet’s set was tight, loud, heavy, and fairly non-stop once they took the stage. No introduction, straight to business, the band launched into their not-insignificant catalog. There were a few short breaks, but for the most part, the band was there to do one thing and one thing only - rip a gig.
Helmet’s semi-sludge, down-tuned, and consistently heavy take on 90’s alt has been a staple for fans of the genre for years, and it’s obvious to see where bands like Soul Blind found inspiration. But the crowd overall leaned older, with a few young ‘uns in the mix. The night wasn’t quite nostalgic, but that was certainly at least a small portion of what brought folks out on a Tuesday night.
Overall, it was a good night of loud, heavy music - and Helmet’s very specific brand of loud and heavy, at that. Solid opener, a long set that made the ticket price more than worth it, all at a legendary venue. Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday night in Cincinnati.
Thanks as always to the venue for their hospitality and professionalism. I hope you were wearing good earplugs. I was, but I’ll be damned if my ears aren’t ringing anyway.