Cited to me as “The band that inspired Slipknot” I had been aching to see Mushroomhead for many years and at the time I found out about the gig, American Head Charge were billed as the main support. This gave me another reason to be very excited.
Putting a slight dampener on my mood I found out the day before the gig that AHC unfortunately had to withdraw from the tour for unknown reasons.
I arrived at the Classic Grand in good time and I was pleased to see a fair sized crowd had amassed early doors. First up were Bargeddie Rap Metallers, Psyko Dalek. Their choice of intro music, Sinead O’ Connors “Nothing Compares To You” hands down produced one of the most bewildered, border line scared crowd responses I’ve ever seen. Frontman David “Div” Grimason confidently marched on stage and proclaimed “This is a tune!” I didn’t hear any booing or jeering and not one single drink was thrown in the bands direction so I’m guessing they succeeded in tickling the funny bones of a now eager looking audience. It was my first time seeing Psyko Dalek and sadly the first three or four songs were marred by poor quality sound meaning Divs vocals were barely audible.
Despite this, the guys seemed to be doing a good job of getting the crowd excited. Their was an attempt to start a mosh pit (Not by me!) second song in but this was met with a circle of disapproving and angry looks as some of the crowd clearly didn’t think that their beer getting spilled by a lively crowd was a calculated risk of coming to a metal gig. Div did later try to encourage more participation when he dropped the not so subtle hint “There’s almost enough people for a wall of death” but even that couldn’t give beer drinkers a much needed kick up the ass.
Mid set and we found out that Psyko Dalek had been on the brink of extermination (pun intended) themselves due to Div suffering a skull fracture, resulting in him losing the power of speech. Commendably, through hard work and determination he found his voice again. Making light of his troubles he issued an almost disclaimer-esque pre song statement, asking the crowd to forgive him if he forgot how to sing mid song before the band launched into the biggest crowd pleaser of their set “Crank” The official theme song to Glasgow’s very own Insane Championship Wrestling. With bands such as Hacktivist and The One Hundred we’re seeing the rise of a noteworthy UK Rap Metal scene. I’d really like to see Psyko Dalek go from strength to strength and become an established part of this scene.
Next up were Sanguine. Hailing from Exeter, they were the last minute replacement to AHC and were clearly going to be up against it as it was obvious a lot of the people there that night where not in the know about the line up being changed and were quite clearly pissed off about it. To be fair if I hadn’t found out the day before, I would have been too. Fronted by the very gracious, Tarin Kerrey, Sanguine worked very hard to try get the crowd fired up but their set was annoyingly hampered by the mixing desk demons of the Classic Grand causing guitarist Nick Magee’s heavy vocals to be drowned out. This undoubtedly stalled their efforts to connect with the audience musically. Giving credit were credit is due, the bands enthusiasm never wavered and they never stopped trying to get the crowd to forget about Head Charge and to rock out with them instead. I may not be a fan of them musically speaking but I admire their guts for sure. I had the chance to speak to them after the gig and they’re all nice, genuine people. I wish them well where ever their career takes them.
After what seemed like a lengthy wait, the lights went out, the smoke machine went into over drive and one by one the quite frankly terrifying looking members of Mushroomhead emerged from the thick smog. Sound demons now well and truly decimated they kick into “Qwerty” the band’s first single since the return of original vocalist Jason “J-Man” Popson. What’s captivating me at this point, besides the bustling mosh pit are the bands stunning costumes and the custom drum sets, which in total synchronicity are being destroyed by Rick Thomas and Robbie Godsey. Rick and Robbie’s drums have been designed to produce volcanic like eruptions of water every time they’re beaten and for a moment I feel as if I’m watching a heavy metal take on the spectacular paint drumming made famous by the Blue Man Group, which on an almost unrelated side note is one of the most thrilling live shows you will ever see.
3 songs in and “Sun Doesn’t Rise” has the crowd going absolutely bananas. There’s a steady flow of bodies being surfed over the barrier. Frustratingly, the Classic Grand don’t seem to have learned many lessons from the Sepultura gig there back in November 2015. The single security guard tasked with dealing with surfers actually looked a wee bit scared and his body catching left a lot to be desired. He managed to drop me straight to floor and get my foot trapped behind the step, which if I’d landed more awkwardly could have resulted in a trip to A+E. As a consolation I got a high five from vocalist Jeffrey Hatrix and Percussionist Rick Thomas.
I apologise if this comes across as preachy but I really wish certain venues that host metal gigs would start taking the safety of crowd surfers more seriously. If they don’t I fear one day they might face litigation, possibly even closure as a result of some poor bugger ending up paralysed or worse. My fears at the Mushroomhead gig were alleviated when Dumbo from local stage crew M.A.D stepped in to take charge of dealing with the surfers. Cheers, Dumbo! You’re a life saver!
Highlights of the set for me, personally were Robbie standing atop the crowd before being hoisted back on stage by a burly member of the Mushroomhead crew and J-Man delivering a powerful sermon and life lesson on the definition of success not being workplace promotion or financial gain but of having the love of your friends and family. For anyone who has ever endured struggles and had the people closest to you pick you up when you’re down, this will ring true.
If you were to put me on the spot and ask me about the low points of Mushroomheads performance I would honestly answer that given this was the first time I’d ever seen them live I found a fair bit of the music to be quite deceptive in the sense that it would sound as if it was building to something. The guys in the pit, me included would be poised, ready to go but just when you think you’re going to a crushing breakdown, you hear something completely unexpected and the pit just simmers out. This wouldn’t deter me from going to a Mushroomhead gig ever again but next time I’d already be resigned to the fact that it wasn’t going to go off as hard as Hatebreed or Parkway Drive.
Finishing their set with a cover of Pink Flyod’s “Empty Spaces” and “Born Of Desire” The band left the stage with a rather unique goodbye; engaging in a water fight with crowd. Top class gig and Top class guys too – I know this to be true as I hung out with bassist Ryan Farrell, guitarist Tommy Church and vocalist J-Man at an unofficial after party after the show. I have to special shout out to the tour manager, James too for his fantastic wit and his tolerance of my drunken friends!