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Mushroomhead at Altar Bar, Pittsburgh

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Posted May 24, 2016 by JJ Ulizio in Live

Mushroomhead at Altar Bar, Pittsburgh.

By J.J. Ulizio
Photos by Elena D’Agostino

On 05/17/16 Cleveland legends Mushroomhead came through Pittsburgh still supporting their 2014 release, The Righteous and the Butterfly. A packed house showed that the masked men from Ohio still have a second home in the Steel City.

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Only Flesh

First to take the stage were local support Only Flesh and Shrouded in Neglect. They seemed to have been a decent warm up for the evening judging by the fans outside who couldn’t stop talking about how awesome they were. Most notable was the fire breathing and stage spectacle provided by Only Flesh.

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Product Of Hate

The first band I was able to catch was Product of Hate from Kenosha, Wisconsin. With riffs ripped straight from the handbook of bands like Slayer and Lamb of God, and vocals similar to the early days of the latter. These guys wasted no time once they took the stage to relentlessly assault the crowd. Song after song they slammed through with their wall of music, but the crowd still seemed asleep for the majority of their set, until they performed their cover of Mötley Crüe’s 1983 classic Shout at the Devil. Admittedly having a soft spot for the Crüe boys, this got me excited as well.  These guys had a solid live show and were a great dose of metal to have early on in the night.

Next up was Manhattan born singer song writer known as Madame Mayhem. Looking like a Hot Topic exploded in the late 90s was not a deterrent as she belted out heavy rock tunes, and tried to dominate the crowd with her stage presence as her band skillfully rocked through their set. Tight and talented band.  In my opinion, Madame Mayhem could be someone to keep an eye on. Over all Madam Mayhem and her band had an enjoyable live set, not to be missed if you have the opportunity to catch this tour.

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Sumo Cyco

Sumo Cyco from Hamilton/Toronto, Canada took the stage after a brief break. These guys were a quite surprise. I honestly was blown away, and being blown away by a band you are unfamiliar with is one of the best joys a music fan can have. Sumo Cyco did just that, with their rock, funk, punk sound reminiscent of No Doubt blended seamlessly with metal guitars, a solid rhythm section, and an intense stage presence. I witnessed a performance that I won’t soon forget. Vocalist Skye Sweetnam (aka Sever) knows how to work the crowd. Leaving the stage several times and performing various parts of the set from on the bar, down in the crowd, and even up in the balcony. Pictures and cameras were going crazy as she jumped on the back of their guitarist and performed on his shoulders as he ran through the crowd, not missing a note or vocal part that I could see. With a unique sound, and an unmatched ability to work a crowd Sumo Cyco didn’t cease to entertain. At the very least they made a new fan out of me and I hope these Canadians make their way through Pittsburgh again.

Mushroomhead-001Finally came the moment everyone was waiting for. Mushroomhead. Mushroomhead fans are almost like a secret club. Having been touring fairly consistently since their inception in 1993. Year after year and album after album they continually win fans over primarily from constant touring with little attention from mainstream media. So when one Mushroomhead fan encounters another it’s almost like they’ve found a long lost friend. Gather a whole bunch of those people under one roof and put the band themselves there as well, and you have the recipe for a wild night. Opening their set with the lead single from 2014’s The Righteous and the Butterfly, QWERTY, the crowd erupted right off the bat. Jumping, dancing, and screaming along to the lyrics and performing a set list that read like a “greatest hits” package. Mushroomhead played songs spanning their entire career, plowing through the likes of “Sun Doesn’t Rise”, “Out of My Mind”, and my personal favorite “Solitaire/Unraveling” among plenty of others. Vocalists Jason “J Mann” Popson and Jeffrey Nothing seemed to flow seamlessly through their set as their percussionists beat on drums filled with water, which erupted in brilliant displays of light.

Mushroomhead-2315 Percussionist Rick “Stitch” Thomas at one point dove into the crowd from his drum, nothing new, but what you don’t see every day that I found to be cool was when he steadied himself and stood straight up on the hands of the crowd, those who weren’t trying to grab him quickly reached for phones to take photos as he lowered himself down and was carried back to the stage. What happened towards the end of their set was a pleasant surprise as well. They covered the intro and first verse of the 1984 Prince classic “When Doves Cry.” I had seen them do this once before somewhere around ’04 or ’05 at the House of Blues in Orlando, Fl and have talked about it numerous times since. A great rendition in a true Mushroomhead style. I wish they would do the whole song, but instead used it as an intro to their song “Among the Crowes”.  After which they took a short break to come back with an encore performance which included the Pink Floyd cover “Empty Spaces” before closing out the night with “Born of Desire”

Mushroomhead-2332I had read various fans online were upset with the recent departure of vocalist Waylon Reavis. This has not affected the live show at all. They were an great live band prior to his joining the band, they were great with him in the band, and now that he’s gone and they have the, dare I say, “classic” vocal lineup back they are still a great live band. It will be interesting to see in the future how many, if any, of the songs that mainly focused on Waylon will make their way into the set. Regardless of what happens with set lists or members in the future one thing won’t change, Mushroomhead is an amazing live act deserving of the rabid following they have. If you’ve never been, make sure to attend. You won’t regret it.

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About the Author

JJ Ulizio
JJ Ulizio

JJ has been a contributing writer and huge asset to Empire and Empire Extreme since the very begining. He is always digging for new bands and has a true heart and desire to see the bands grow and succeed.


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