Clutch / Quicksand / Helmet / JD Pinkus @ Regent Theater, Los Angeles, 5th October 2022

Well dear readers, I turned 42 on October 4th, so it seemed fitting that I should go catch a bill of a bunch of bands I was listening to when I was 30 years younger. The Regent Theater is tonight’s destination, a fine old venue established in 1914. The club’s acoustics are remarkably good, as evidenced when I saw All Them Witches there earlier this year.

Clutch / Helmet / Quicksand / JD Pinkus

The show is sold out, and truth to be told, it’s a bit of an older audience. I had joked with a friend that it felt like the ‘30 year reunion of the skate park/community center crowd, followed by Wednesday night bingo.’ But the procession of Father Time isn’t going to get in the way of a good time on a Wednesday night.

First up is apocalyptic blues/bluegrass wonder JD Pinkus. Using nothing more than a banjo, a delay pedal, vocoder effects and projections that wouldn’t look out of place at a Windhand or Electric Wizard concert, Mr. Pinkus delivers his brand of one-man hillbilly traveler musings with a surreal sense of captivating.

It definitely draws you into a strange place of moonshine bottles and bright vibrant colors…

I enjoy chicken-pickin’ banjo as casually as the next person, but the hypnotic effect of Pinkus’ playing is something I was not prepared for. It definitely draws you into a strange place of moonshine bottles and bright vibrant colors. Mr. Pinkus was supposed to perform at Heavy Psych Sounds earlier this year but was unable to attend due to complications. I’m glad I caught him this time around.

The mighty Helmet soon takes the stage. It’s difficult to express how obsessed I was with these guys as a kid. In contrast to the dumb arsed posturing and goofy fashion of the late nu metal period, Page Hamilton and his cohorts quite literally created a new form of metal with records such as Strap It On and the immortal Meantime. I’ve always championed them, and it is a treat watching them.

Helmet’s distinctive staccato rhythmic pulse has left an indelible mark on metal, and it’s a real joy to behold…

Admittedly, things got to an awkward start with guitar problems during the opener, It’s Easy To Get Bored off of 1997s Aftertaste. But after some roadie rectifying, the band continues with some of their most famous and furious tracks, from the searing Milquetoast (perhaps best known from the soundtrack of the 1994 film The Crow) to head-bobbing Ironhead to my personal favorite, the punishing distorted swing of Give It. Helmet’s distinctive staccato rhythmic pulse has left an indelible mark on metal, and it’s a real joy to behold.

Fellow New York veterans Quicksand take the stage soon after. Frontman Walter Schreifels is my pick for the most interesting musician to come out of the NYC straight edge hardcore scene. In contrast to the brutish tough guy persona that scene is known for, Schriefels is a great rock frontman and lyrical poet who performs like he’s having a great time. This incarnation of the band has the added bonus of Stephen Brodsky on lead guitar – best known for his work in Cave In and Mutoid Man – who adds some fun rockstar antics.

Truly an inspired set by one of the early ‘90s greatest alternative rock bands…

This is what the term ‘post-hardcore’ was associated with before it became synonymous with sweaters and horn-rimmed glasses. They open with Inversion off of their recent album Distant Populations before tearing into such favorites as Fazer and Dine Alone, then finally concluding with a somewhat improvisational take on Delusional. Truly an inspired set by one of the early ‘90s greatest alternative rock bands.

And then we come to the Maryland madmen themselves, Clutch. When Neil Fallon wants an audience’s attention, he gets it. When Jean Paul Gaster wants to destroy his drum kit with impeccable blues shuffle beats, he does it. I’ve never caught this band being slouches and I doubt they ever will be. Coming off the release of their latest album Sunrise On Slaughter Beach, the boys open with the classic Passive Restraints (‘I’ll give you endless mileage and unlimited speed… total satisfaction absolutely guaranteed!’). Other hard hitters are The House That Peterbilt, the searing X-Ray Vision as well as numerous numbers coming off of the latest album.

When Neil Fallon wants an audience’s attention, he gets it…

Sunrise On Slaughter Beach features something of a departure for the band as it incorporates elements of psychedelia, prog rock and art rock. Never once would I have envisioned Mr. Fallon playing the theremin, but here we are. Spacegrass fools the audience into thinking the night is over, before the band comes back out for a spirited encore, including the foot-tapping favorite The Mob Goes Wild.

Do I feel younger? Good grief no! My knees and feet are as sore as an arthritic pack animal, and it’s way past my bedtime. But I went out to catch a solid night of music by some of my favorite artists from my youthful years, and it delivered everything I could possibly have hoped for. 

Scribed by: Rob Walsh