Mushroomhead – Electric Ballroom, London (30th March 2016) – LIVE REVIEW

Mushroomhead are part of the generation of bands that embraced the new metal trends in the 90’s. With 23 years of experience and 8 studio albums behind them, it’s still challenging to pin down their unique sound with a single style. Blending industrial with experimental alternative rock and nu metal, the guys have been highly influential to generations of modern bands. Coming from Cleveland, USA, Mushroomhead are among the rare acts to see in the UK and their 2016 tour was met with eager anticipation. As expected their London show turned out to be a flashing audio-visual display supported by characteristic horror atmosphere and solid performance.

The original UK tour featured American Head Charge as co-headliner but the heavy metallers had to cancel all performances due to “unfortunate, but personal circumstances” as announced on their Facebook page earlier in March. It came down to Mushroomhead and the main support act Sanguine to live up to the hype. The 7-peace band is known for playing more intimate and personal shows at smaller venues and Camden’s Electic Ballroom seamed to be the perfect choice with its iconic reputation and 1000-people capacity. 

The crowd was still gathering and queuing for drinks when Sanguine started their set. The 4-piece alternative metal band from Exeter lead by Tarrin Kerrey and her restless screams, played with significant professionalism and raised a few eyebrows among those that were not familiar with their work. The band played their best-known hits ‘Social Decay’ and ‘Black Sheep’ provoking a few moshpits and heating up the halls of Electric Balroom. In all fairness Mushroomhead are not an easy band to support stylistically and Sanguine did their best to warm up the audience and make everyone even more eager to see the Cleveland masquerade ball unravel.

After a few final sound checks and without much delay Mushroomhead came up on stage with all seven current members dressed up in their emblematic costumes and masks. The show started with the atmospheric instrumental intro of their recent hit ‘QWERTY’ and the pure raw energy of Jason ‘J Mann’ Popson’s blistering tirade. Rick ‘ST1TCH’ Thomas (turntables, samples) and Robbie ‘Roberto Diablo’ Godsey (percussions) stole the show with their perfectly syncrhonised performance on giant drums, splashing water in a fascinating choreography. The very first moments of the show were a clear indication that Mushroomhead are much more then a typical live band, mesmerising the crowd with a sheer spectacle of bright light and loud industrial sound.

The band focused primarily on their last album The Righteous And The Butterfly (released in 2014 via Megaforce), and went back to the much loved XX (2001) and its commercially successful follower XIII (2003). With Waylon Reavies (vocals 2004-2015) recently quitting the band and Jason Popson’s return in 2013, it was expected that the band won’t cover much of the two albums recorded in Popson’s absence and played only ‘Damage Done’ from Saviour Sorrow (2006). Jackie LaPonza from UnSaid Fate also appeared along the guys with her characteristic Harley Quinn-style frenzy for ‘We Are The Truth’, ‘One More Day’ and Game Of Thrones themed ‘Among The Crows’.

Mushroomhead played many of their most loved hits with ‘Our Apologies’ and ‘Sun Doesn’t Rise’ heating up the show at the very beginning. ‘Out Of My Mind’, ‘Solitaire/Unraveling’ and ‘Becoming Cold’ turned into one of the brightest moments of the night with the band’s infectious energy getting the crowd moving. Jeffrey “Nothing”Hatrix and J Mann (vocals) delivered another exemplary vocal partnarship, with Tommy Church (guitar), Ryan “Dr. F” Farrell (bass) and Steve “Skinny” Felton (drums)’s unstoppable movement and sheer madness completing the show. The band performed two covers – Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Empty Spaces’ before concluding the spectacle with the low-tuned crazyness of ‘Born Of Desire’.

With all expectations Mushroomhead did not fail to deliver what the fans wanted – a pure display of raw energy and emblematic industrial atmosphere. The sound quality could have been a little bit better for the heavily distorted music and the crowd was stiff at some moments but the whole audio-visual spectacle contributed to a quality evening. The lack of new songs or any indication of recording fresh material was quickly compensated with the brilliant setlist that covered recent hits and old classics. The band played with the experience of touring for many years delivering a fantastic performance and a entertaining show to be remembered for long.

This Mushroomhead article was written by Viktor Balchikliev, a GIGsoup contributor. Lead photo by unveiling_the_abomination666