Live Review :Mushroomhead + Waltari + Familiar Spirit @ Gorilla, Manchester on July 17th 2019

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So.

I feel like I need to apologise for this review before I have got started. It's probably going to be a bit vague in places...  

Things have been a little bit hideous of late, and I needed to let my pink hair down. And let it down I did! My life was ruined for a full 24 hours after the gig finished, but I needed it and the spectacular Mushroomhead delivered me an escape from the stresses of my life at present. Also, they had water drums which has to count for something.

I like Gorilla for gigs, there's something cosy about it, so I'm intrigued as to how all 8 of Mushroomhead will fit on that small stage later on.

Kicking off tonight's heaviness are London boys Familiar Spirit. I love watching the openers at a gig because they have to work just a little bit harder usually, but Familiar Spirits energy comes across almost effortless. Clearly loving what they do, they have brought a powerful numetal meets metalcore sound  (is that a thing? Did I invent a genre? Nu-metalcore...? It's probably already a thing. Answers on a postcard please!). Also frontman Cameron was great fun to interview later on in the evening after we all had too much to drink. Stand out moment came about 4 songs in with some double kick drum work that nearly blew my head off. I'd be very interested to hear what comes next from these four.

Next came Waltari and oh my word... here is the cross over band I never knew I needed. All the way from Finland, the first song is some kind of happy hardcore heavy metal. I am fist pumping within about 30 seconds. On my own. I have no friends.

On a personal note Waltari have “Sarah” written all over them. It's batshit crazy, layering synthy EDM/trance into heavy chugging riffs with frontman Kartsy delivering a wide eyed and enthusiastic performance. The set bounces along in a similar vein until there's a change of pace with an injection of classical meets metal. Absolutely delightful stuff.

Ok... It's all getting a bit hazy around this point and I start chugging water along in a desperate attempt to sober up a little. I'm sober enough to buy our very own Matti a cider when he turns up with about 3 minutes to spare before Mushroomhead take the stage.

It's a little cramped up there. There's little space for 7 of them (female singer Jackie isn't always on stage to make 8) and the water drums take up a good portion of the stage. In case anyone isn't familiar with Mushroomheads water drums, they are large (find the right word) with water on the top skin. Roberto and ST1TCH (and later Skinny who likes to swap with Roberto) strike them to create huge splashes with every beat. Like being in the splash zone at killer whale show, although it's about a billion times more ethical than trapping a huge beautiful creature in a bathtub.

With 25 plus years of Mushroomhead back catalogue they are spoilt for choice when building their set. Myself and Matti have since debated about what we can remember them playing, but I'm fairly certain they opened with “43”, “Bwomp" soon followed and “QWERTY" went into “Sun doesn't rise”.

The Mushroomhead sound encompasses a wide array of elements from genres like nu, industrial, and hard. That thick assault on the senses is achieved by perfectly crafting an experience that offers theatre with a metal sound track. The band are known for their sinister aesthetic, all of them kitted out in devilish masks on this particular evening.

I had more fun watching Mushroomhead in Manchester than I did watching a certain other masked band last month. Their energy and spirit makes for one hell of a show. With new music coming soon, with any luck they will be back in the UK and back with new masks as well.

Just one final note. Their merch guy is so cool. He played a game where he tried to cut the line going in. I watched him walk to the back and ask the person at the back of the queue “hey can I cut in here?” and he just carried on up the queue. He was nearly at me when a bloke in a Behemoth shirt (pretty sure it was a Behemoth shirt) went “What? No, you're not cutting in!”

Merch guy handed over some lovely Mushroomhead vinyl to the last person who had let him cut