Tuesday night concerts can be a mixed bag, especially in Texas in mid-January. You never know whether you’ll have a warm summery night, a torrential downpour or a night where the bridges and overpasses are closed due to a sheet of ice on the roads.
You can also never predict what kind of crowd you’ll get. I’ve seen Monday and Tuesday shows with hugely popular acts draw just a couple dozen people. I’ve also seen shows with a pretty packed house.
This week’s Mushroomhead show at Houston’s Scout Bar was far and away the biggest crowd I’ve seen at an early-week show. In an era where music is so readily available on any device and can be listened to just about anywhere, many well-known bands struggle to bring people out to shows. Not so for Mushroomhead.
And, as for going to a Mushroomhead show, there are only two types of people who show up: the initiated, and the uninitiated.
You see, a Mushroomhead show is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. For the uninitiated, I’ll break it down for you: Chaos. Madness. Metal. Masks. And, oh yeah… water… and lots of it.
These are the guys who forged new paths for metal. Keyboards, multiple vocalists and heavy guitar riffs combine with a frequently-changing visual presence that includes masks, costumes and a lighting experience that would make most EDM ravers jealous. Add in this tour’s neon colors and heavy blacklighting, along with a near seizure-inducing number of strobes, and Mushroomhead have yet again found a way to ratchet their live performance to the next level. That’s without even getting to the two sets of water drums that the band is so well known for, which create a visual spectacle throughout the show while drenching band members and fans alike.
As the group’s touring partners from The Family Ruin (who rocked the place nicely) cleared the stage, crew members began methodically covering as much electronic equipment as possible with plastic bags. That and the Spongebob Squarepants F.U.N. song playing over the speakers were enough to tip fans off that the time had come. To chants of “Mush-room-head, Mush-room-head,” the string intro to “QWERTY” began, and the band took the stage to a roar.
Rolling into “Bwomp” and then quickly getting to my favorite track off the group’s latest release (“The Righteous and the Butterfly“) and best-selling album in its two-decade history, “Our Apologies” Mushroomhead aggressively staked their claim to that little corner of Houston for the night.
Taking a moment to reach across the barricade and into the crowd, vocalist J Mann spotted a sign brought in by a fan reading “RIP STEVE CASH” and sporting a Mushroomhead logo. Bringing the sign onto the stage, he and the band stopped to thank the fan and the entire crowd for recognizing the recent death — just three days prior — of the 24-year-old California man who passed away on Jan. 17, 2015 after a two-year battle with cancer. Cash was a well-known fan of the band, active on social media, and whose favorite hobby was collecting Mushroomhead masks.
“This just happened, and already… look at the love. This is what makes Mushroomhead fans special,” he said, expressing appreciation to what he called the “Mushroomhead family.”
After the sign was placed stage, in front of Skinny’s drum kit — whether it was an impromptu response to the show of fan support or simply time to kick the show into second gear (who knows) — drummer Roberto Diablo leaped across the barricade and onto the outstretched hands of dozens of fans in the front. Crowd surfing his way across the front of the stage, he stood up — held by fans — and the next thing anyone knows, he’s swinging from the rafters.
The show continued much in the same fashion — abundant mischief and mayhem mixed with Mushroomhead’s own blend of rock, metal, and industrial/electronic tunes.
By the time the band left the stage and the lights came up, it was apparent that the eight band members weren’t the only ones exhausted from the performance. And no doubt, employers across Houston were quite a bit short-handed the next morning.
Chalk up yet another round of converts to the Mushroomhead family.
See the full gallery of photos from the show: Mushroomhead @ Scout Bar