Toadies + Helmet Still Rocking Strong at New York City’s Webster Hall
On Aug. 2, 2012, rock fans in New York City found out that time travel really is possible. Taking a trip back to the mid-1990s, Webster Hall welcomed two heavy-hitters, the Toadies and Helmet. At first, it might seem that these two bands don’t really fit together; Helmet is a crushing, heavy, alt-metal band while the Toadies made a name for themselves with their signature alternative rock sound. Somehow, though, these two bands – both of which had their biggest successes around the same time in the 90s – make one hell of a rock duo.
After the opening act, Austin, Texas’ Ume, wrapped things up, Helmet took the stage. As lead singer and guitarist Page Hamilton walked out, the crowd went nuts. Rightfully so as Hamilton is the only original member of the band. Opening with 1990’s ‘Sinatra,’ Helmet set the stage for what would be a memorable rock show. Newer songs like ‘Welcome to Algiers’ and ‘White City’ were mixed in with older cuts like ‘Exactly What You Wanted’ and ‘Iron Head.’ There were mosh pits aplenty as the set progressed, leading up to the two songs everyone wanted to hear, ‘Milquetoast’ and the encore of ‘In the Meantime.’
Hamilton cracked a joke that he was 52 and needed to take a nap, but there were no signs of old age during the 65-minute performance. Only taking breaks to talk to individual fans in the crowd, it was an absolutely solid set of alternative metal. Whether you’re a fan who’s been with Helmet since their inception in 1989 or you’re a newcomer who just can’t stop listening to 2010’s ‘Seeing Eye Dog,’ one thing is for certain: Hamilton still rocks and he’s surrounded himself with a group of musicians who make even the most hardcore Helmet fans proud.
Once Helmet left the stage, it didn’t take long for the Toadies to get things started. Kicking things off with 2001’s ‘Heel,’ the Toadies – led by singer/guitarist Vaden Todd Lewis – tore into ‘Backslider’ and ‘I Come From The Water,’ both from the band’s pinnacle album, ‘Rubberneck.’ But the night wasn’t completely dedicated to that 1994 album as they were celebrating the release of their latest achievement, ‘Play.Rock.Music.’ With live renditions of tracks like ‘Rattler’s Revival’ and ‘Summer of the Strange,’ it was no secret that the Toadies were incredibly proud to showcase their new music to New York City.
As the guys were getting ready to play the last song of the night, their drum tech came out on stage to set up three different sets of drums, each comprised of a snare and tom drum. While the drums were being set up, Lewis led the band in jamming on Helmet’s ‘Unsung.’ Unfortunately, to the disappointment of nearly ever single person in Webster Hall, it was just a tease. Still, it was great to hear the Toadies pay homage to their tour mates. The night ended with ‘I Burn,’ and the Toadies welcomed some friends to the stage to jam on those three drum sets. Helmet drummer Kyle Stevenson, Ume drummer Rachel Fuhrer and the Toadies’ drum tech all picked up sticks to help close things out. At one point, it was hard to ignore the ringing in your ears as ‘I Burn’ tore through your eardrums.
The Toadies and Helmet rocked, it’s as simple as that. With a mix of metal and alternative rock, the two 90s giants proved to New York City that they’re not going anywhere soon. They can still hold their own when it comes to the classic tunes that put them on the map, but they’re also making a big splash in the world of rock ‘n’ roll with what they’re doing in this millennium.