Clutch and friends rock the roof off of Emo’s in Austin, TX

When I first read that Clutch was taking Helmet and Quicksand out on tour, I almost fell out of the chair I was sitting in. It was if the rock gods conspired to combine some of my all-time favorite bands into one amazing tour. A Clutch solo tour would have been enough for me to drive multiple hours and pay a steep price for a ticket, but to add two additional legendary bands into the mix?!

I would have flown to Europe for this one.

Whichever promoter decided to combine these bands together for this tour needs to be given a raise. The night of music kicked off with JD Pinkus, bassist for 90s punk greats The Butthole Surfers. His current musical tastes encompass a bluegrass/country vibe and, although it wasn’t even remotely as chaotic as his past endeavors, it certainly warmed up enough to garner heavy applause.

Up next was Helmet and my inner teenager could hardly keep himself contained. When I was younger, I wasn’t able to see this band during any of their tours and it almost brought a tear to my eye when they stepped onto the stage. They absolutely crushed their set, playing nothing past 1997’s Aftertaste album — it was all Betty and before. 

It was as if I had stepped into a time machine!

They even played “Bad Mood”, which is, in my opinion, one of their all time greatest songs.

Quicksand, on the other hand, started things off with three new songs in a row, each coming off of their 2021 Distant Populations album. After that, it was all vintage Quicksand until they closed with the bass-heavy, beautiful and thundering “Delusional”. The audience was absolutely raucous for them and, for a few brief moments of the set, I worried about being kicked in the back of the head from crowd-surfers. It was amazing to see these bands still ripping up the stage after such long and storied careers. I am not sure how much longer Quicksand or Helmet will continue to tour, but if you happen to be reading this article, make sure you check them out before it’s too late! 

Clutch is, and has been, one of my favorite bands for a really long time. They were first introduced to me about 10 years ago by a friend who dragged me to one of their shows; I say ‘dragged’ because at the time, I didn’t know who they were, he had an extra ticket and I found myself trying to come up with an excuse to get out of the show. I am sure glad he was persistent, because they blew my mind that night and have never failed to let me down since. Their pure, balls-to-the-wall style of rock music is my favorite thing to put on in my car when I have a long stretch of highway with no cops in sight… if you catch my drift. It’s the type of music that almost pushes the gas pedal down for you. This would be my third time seeing them and it was by far my favorite setlist. Songs such as “A Quick Death in Texas”, “X-Ray Vision” and even an unbelievable cover of “Fortunate Son” (by Creedance Clearwater Revival) showed why this Maryland band is one of the best in the game.

10 out of 10!

Photography by Derek Jones

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