Music is in our DNA here at Mad Viking. It’s always a part of everything we do. So as soon as we got asked to shoot the Clutch show in Pittsburgh in support of their newest album "Sunrise on Slaughter Beach", it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass by. I’ve been to easily 30+ shows since the band started touring and I've talked to hundreds if not thousands of our bearded brethren at these Clutch shows, so I know a lot of our Mad Viking brothers would be into an article like this. So, without further ado, here is how my night went in the photo pit with Clutch and supporting acts JD Pinkus, Helmet and Quicksand.
My evening in the pit started off with JD Pinkus who may still be best known for his bass work in Butthole Surfers, but in recent years he has become a force unto himself releasing a few banjo albums "Keep on the Grass" (18') and "Fungus Shui"(21'). The set was very spacy and eclectic. My favorite jam of his set was "I don't care" off his 2018 release.
Next up was Helmet, which I have not seen live in the last 10 years or more. So, I was stoked when I seen them on the tour bill. It was good to see that Page Hamilton still has chops and it was awesome to hear a few of their older tunes from the 90's. They even played "Just Another Victim" from the Judgement Night Soundtrack. I was able to grab a good photo of Page during their second song of the night "Ironhead" off their album "Meantime" (92'). Photo below:
I was confused at first at the order of support bands this night. I thought Helmet would play last, right before Clutch, but those honors went to the band Quicksand, and they did not disappoint. I have always been a fan of this band ever since they released their album "SLIP" back in 93' and I caught their video for "Fazer". However, I never seen them live as they always seem to have toured around where I lived at the time. They also have new release that came out in 2021 called "Distant Populations". The first 3 songs on their set were from the new album and I really am digging the new stuff which reminds me of Janes Addiction but a bit harder and with more of a driving energy. I'm pumped I finally seen these guys live and they are now on my current listening rotation. Photo below of their guitarist Stephen Brodsky:
I first caught Clutch at The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland in 1995. Up to this point the band had their first album "Transnational Speedway League" in the bag and had just release their self-titled "Clutch" album a month or so earlier. The only thing I remember from that show was how different sounding Clutch was to anything I have ever heard and still is to this day. It's amazing to me how this band has grown and how they continue to put out, not what the record companies want to hear, but what their fans want to hear. This is why their shows have become almost legendary, with what seems like a quasi-religious fervor as the band lays down the groove and Neil delivers the vocals from his rock and roll pulpit. The bands newest offering and 13th studio album, "Sunrise on Slaughter Beach plays to this aesthetic from the band to always come up with songs that are always different, but somehow always the same. Clutch is and should be a genre of music unto themselves.
Clutch started out their 20-song set with "The Mobb Goes Wild", an instant barn burner and crowd favorite from their 2004 release of "Blast Tyrant". They followed that up with one of my personal favorites "Earth Rocker", which set the tone and energy for the rest of the night. At one point Neil even had a Theremin rolled out onto the stage and asked the crowd if they wanted to see him try something a little different on the song "Skeletons on Mars" from their new album Sunrise on Slaughter Beach. The great part about going to a Clutch show is that there is a different setlist every night that is sure to get the crowd going and signing along and this night was no different. Clutch ended the evening with an all killer and no filler encore of "Slaughter Beach", "Electric Worry", and "Fortunate Son". Clutch is without a doubt, good old fashioned blue-collar rock. Four guys on stage playing their music for their audience. They hit the stage, start playing and leave it all out there for the audience and let the music do the talking.
I want to personally thank the band for letting us into their world to shoot the show. If you haven’t checked out their newest album Sunrise on Slaughter Beach, you can take a listen here: Clutch Spotify or pick it up on vinyl here: Sunrise on Slaughter Beach