Helmet redeems itself on 20th anniversary of Betty

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THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND

Helmet at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Helmet at the Social

I’m definitely a Helmet fan. But several reasons conspired to make me walk into their latest show (Sep. 26, The Social) with less than fanatical attitude. First, the focus was the 20th anniversary of their third record Betty. While that album’s in what is widely considered their prime early era, not everything old is necessarily classic. And Betty is no Meantime. More than that though, some anemic performances over the past decade or so had me half-resigned to the prospect that they’re on their denouement. In fact, during this show, bandleader Page Hamilton himself alluded to a dismal appearance 10 years ago at this very club where he was completely fubar.



Helmet at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Helmet at the Social

But this time, at a show completely their own (no openers even), in an up-close venue, Helmet sounded absolutely virile, their controlled fury a respectable, concentrated brute once again. For the first 45 minutes, they powered straight through Betty without pause or audience address. Played live by a powerfully focused band, the album is much more convincing. Seeing Hamilton play the technical jazz guitar intro of “Beautiful Love” took on an impressiveness I’d never felt hearing it on record. After concluding the album, they opened up the set list into a more typical concert, complete with Hamilton’s famously surly humor.

Helmet at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Helmet at the Social

I would’ve if I had to, but I’m glad I’ve no reason this time to pan a band as good or important as this. Now I need to go dig up my old Helmet T-shirt. Since pride is no longer past tense when it comes to that name, I think it’s time to dust off that bad boy again.



Helmet at the Social - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Helmet at the Social

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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

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