SUPPORT: Sanguine, Hell Puppets
VENUE, TOWN: Concorde2, Brighton
DATE: 31st March 2016
If you can’t be bothered to read the whole of this review, I’m going to tell you right now that if you have the opportunity, you absolutely must go see Mushroomhead.
But first let’s talk about local openers Hell Puppets. For those of you who don’t always get to a show in time to see the first support playing a 7:45pm slot, this band will make you regretful. Yes, they spell their name with consonants in capitals and vowels in lower case. And, yes, their brand of furious punk metal is maybe a touch too chaotic and lacking in melody to reel in any new fans tonight. And is the guitarist’s zombie bride get-up a little clichéd? Sure. On the face of it, there are few redeeming qualities. But watch this band play! The energy! The utter absurdity of it all!
Terrifying characters with gurning, contorted faces are covered in fake blood, dry humping their instruments. Someone wearing a shark’s head randomly bops on stage like Bez from Happy Mondays. Screaming “LET JESUS FUCK YOU!”, the guitarist leaps into the thin crowd (it’s only 8pm) without a care. And like magic – or a miracle – the barely-there audience (mouths agape, repulsed, spellbound) lift him high for a few moments. More band members follow him onto the floor, continuing to writhe and jerk. And then they clap and cheer for themselves – and they’re gone! An undeniably riveting performance.
I wish I could gush so copiously about Sanguine. Their songs are better. The singer is hot. But, sandwiched between two monstrously overt bands, Sanguine feel like filler out of context.
And so Mushroomhead. Before the masked seven-piece step out on stage, the fact that the PA and monitors are covered in black plastic is a warning that things are about to get messy. With water pumped onto the skins of symmetrical drums either side of the stage, every slam of a drumstick propels water 6ft into the air. Opening with Qwerty – their circus-vibed, bass drum-heavy single from 2014’s The Righteous And The Butterfly album, the band’s eighth release – the crowd is immediately plunged into the fabulously fucked-up world of Mushroomhead.
Percussionist Robbie Godsey leaps into the crowd and audience members fondle the horns of his diablo mask. Tommy Church lunges at the edge of the stage during his guitar solo, poking his tongue through the slit of his mask at the front row – drenched and ecstatic – pressed against the barrier. Half way through the set, guest vocalist and UnSaid Fate frontwoman Jackie LaPonza joins Mushroomhead onstage. Later, she changes into a bridal gown, green fluorescent make up glowing under the stage lights.
It’s a frenzied set, and the moshing of diehard fans – remember, this is a band who formed in 1993 – mirrors the intensity of the on-stage onslaught. Yet, a cover of Prince’s When Doves Cry – from 2006 album Saviour Sorrow – reveals that ol’ FingerFace and his crew can do more than scream, rap, and cavort.
Whilst the stark reality could be interpreted as mediocre – seven masked men in their 40s or 50s, playing simplistic songs on a small stage, to a niche crowd – the unequivocal truth is that this is the best live show you will ever see. This is entertainment.