Mushroomhead continues 20 year anniversary trek in Pittsburgh

The heavy metal horrorshow that is Mushroomhead made a triumphant return to Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar on October 24th to a capacity crowd. Devouring city after city, the band’s current tour is making its way across the Untied States with support from One-Eyed Doll, XFactor1 and The X Members in tow.

Even Beetlejuice showed up and spent the entire night in the pit, moshing his undead ass off, at one point, getting so caught up in the moment that he climbed onto the bar and rushed the stage during Mushroomhead’s set, only to be tackled by security.

Now that’s heavy metal.

Kicking off the evening’s festivities was Pittsburgh’s own Solarburn. Their sound is a mix of old school thrash and precision progressive dexterity. The trio ripped through a smoking five-song instrumental set, with titles like “Horn Of The Minotaur,” “Sleeping With You” and “Boogie Picking,” with epic enthusiasm. Even though not a word was spoken, their message was received loud and clear and the crowd ate it up.

Up next was another of Pittsburgh’s best, Burnicide. The band laid down a six-song set of killer melodic hardcore with titles like “The River Styxx,” “Punisher,” “Oblivion” and “New Disappear” to a great audience response and brought to mind a more eclectic Wyld Stallyns, from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, with much better technical abilities and death metal growls & breakdowns.

It was then time for Cleveland’s answer to Reverend Horton Heat, The X Members. They are a genre smashing crossover, that is a blend of punk, metal and 60’s surfer music. Kinda like Dick Dale on steroids. The band tore through a high octane set of standards like “Show Me Your F Hole,” “Dirty Little Secret,” “Swinging Neckbreaker” and “Up The River.” Before leaving the stage, they thanked everyone for coming, cause they needed the gas money and asked everyone to come have a drink with them at the bar.

Columus, Ohio’s hard rock heroes XFactor1 took the stage next and proceeded to deliver a powerhouse set of empowering melodic hard rock, with tracks like “Bring It On,” “It’s My Life,” “Parasite” and “You Suck.” The last of which, had the crowd thrusting their middle fingers in the air chanting “You Suck.” The band had massive stage presence and worked the crowd like pros, telling them, they were the real VIP’s.

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The band continued on like a runaway train, playing as if their lives depended on it. The message of empowerment continued, as vocalist Ricky Wolf informed the gathering crowd that if anyone tries to keep you down, you will refuse, you will resist. He then had them pumping their fists in the air in defiance, screaming aloud, before closing their set with the heaviest version of The Rolling Stone’s “Paint It Black,” that anyone has ever heard. Job well done gentlemen.

One-Eyed Doll stormed the stage next and it is obvious from the overwhelming crowd response by the end of their set that they were the biggest surprise of the night and would be the band leaving with the most new fans. Their music is so unique, that it is almost impossible to put into just one genre, because it touches on so many syles all at once and borders on the avant-garde. The songs are akin to heavy metal nursery rhymes, that will be the soundtrack to your nightmares.

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The other surprise was how massive a sound they create for just having a guitar and drums. JR does an impeccable job behind the drums, pounding out a dizzying array of blastbeats, breakdowns and time signiture changes, to complement the out of this world riffs that vocalist/guitarist Kimberly Freeman is doling out. Freeman is an adorable little pixie, with a tiny little voice, who’s charm and command of the crowd is undeniable.

That tiny voice is obliterated the moment she starts dishing out monoilithic guitar riffs and opens her mouth to belt out song after song like a screaming banshee. The duo tore through songs like “Plumes of Death,” “Be My Friend,” “Fight” and “Monster,” with quirky intensity, much to the crowds delight. To further demonstrate her utter command of the audience, as she exited the stage through the crowd, walking backwards, waving her arms in a come hither fashion saying follow me. Like lambs to slaughter, a huge portion of the crowd did exactly that.

Finally, it was time for the madmen everyone came to see to destroy the stage. The lights dimmed, the intro music started and the smoke flowed.

The Mushroomhead Juggernaut has begun.

The set starts with a cover of Eminem’s “Without Me” that is unrecognizable from the original. All the while the spinners on Skinny’s kick drums rotated as the two percussionists pounded relentlessly on the under-lit floor toms that lined the front of the stage, making it rain colored water on the front row.

The pit spiraled in a rhythmic fury as the chaos on stage raged. They plowed ferociously through Mushroomhead classics like “Bwomp,” “Simple Survival,” “Sun Doesn’t Rise” and fan favorite “Solitare Unraveling.” They stopped long enough to address the crowd and to welcome voclist J Mann back into the fold,  who went on to add that his purpose in life is music and if you are able to do it for 20 years, you are fucking blessed.

The insanity continued, as the show spilled out off the stage onto the amps, the barricades, the bar, the balcony and into the very pit itself.

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Band members were now everywhere playing instuments, singing and moshing with spotlights. The circus had become an interactive show and the audience couldn’t get enough. The now spent crowd barely had enough left for the chants of “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey,” before closer “Born of Desire,” which sent the night into oblivion.

Every band did a top notch job of upping the ante from the band before it, building momentum until the evening reached its epic crescendo. Everyone who came knew what the almighty Mushroomhead were capable of and left extremely satisfied, but even more were blown away by the openers.

-Eric Hunker