Last Shot: Helmet Doesn't Let My Dedication Go Unsung
I've had a number of moments since my diagnosis that have inspired me to keep on fighting my battle with cancer. When I was laying in my hospital bed after my diagnosis, I reflected on the multitude of concerts that I attended. One of my immediate flashbacks was from 1992. I attended two nights of Ministry, Helmet and Sepultura at the Universal Amphitheatre. It was incredible. Ministry was at their most destructive in support of their album Psalm 69 and Sepultura was gaining momentum in the thrash world with their album Arise.
While I was excited for all the bands, the one band that blew me away both nights was Helmet. From the initial moments of watching their video "Unsung" on MTV's Headbangers Ball, Helmet became one of my favorite bands. I immediately purchased their album Meantime and it was in constant rotation for months. I could readily identify with their no frills appearance that focused more on crushing their instruments than over the top theatrics.
Lead singer and guitarist Page Hamilton was a drill sergeant barking out the lyrics while pulverizing his magenta ESP guitar. Armed with my cheap Fender Squire guitar, I discovered drop-d tuning and would frequently play along to the album day after day taking out the frustrations of high school on my guitar. I had uncovered the therapeutic benefits of playing a distorted guitar at a loud volume.
I think I've seen every iteration of Helmet throughout the years and haven't wavered in my fandom. I first ran into Page Hamilton back in 2007 at the Glass House and he is one of the nicest musicians I've ever met. Hamilton would frequently talk to fans after the show, graciously sign memorabilia and pose for photos. I would meet Hamilton again at the NAMM convention and we spent some time cruising the aisles looking at various new musical products.
I was a fixture at all the Helmet shows often in the front photographing their set. Seeing Helmet live was my medication to help me feel better before I was sick. After I was diagnosed, Helmet had a show scheduled at the Slidebar in August of 2011 that I couldn't afford to miss. I was still very weak and in the middle of trying to cope with my chemotherapy treatments.