Nucleon/Fuzzhead/Helios Creed - Cleveland OH, Euclid Tavern (May 8, 1999)
From Aural Innovations #7 (July 1999)
On an otherwise lazy Saturday in May, Jerry and I made the drive up to Cleveland to catch the master of fuzz Mr. Helios Creed (of Chrome). I had only seen him perform in Nik Turner's Space Ritual band five years ago, and at that point didn't really know who he was. Nowadays, I'm more familiar with his work, but still behind as he's been quite prolific. The Euclid Tavern is a peculiar little dive of a club, which seems to have plenty of space if they'd just knock out a wall here or there. We didn't expect to see the Solar Fire lightshow in house, but as we strolled in, there they were setting up. Good deal.
Cleveland's own Nucleon were up first, a band I was familiar with from last year's Strange Daze. While I caught on to some of their crunchy space tunes then, I really found myself sucked into their set on this night. I was hoping to hear "Green Acid," the tune that I liked most last year (and is archived on Bob Lennon's festival CD-R), but that was only one of a number of great songs Nucleon cranked out. "Flatten the Earth" and "50,000 Feet Tall" were two new songs I think, and if that's the case, I wanna hear a new CD from these guys, as these really rocked. Their sound is a bit doom-metallish, and a bit stoner/desert rock-ish, but not really either. I'm beginning to see that they have a new take on things, demonstrated most definitely on a comical cover of KC & the Sunshine Band's 'That's the Way (I Like It).' They've only got three members (guitar, drums, and keyboard/bass-synth), but Nucleon is a super-galactic mega-blaster band.
Fuzzhead are a quartet of psych-improv artists from nearby Kent, OH that created 40 minutes of strange, dissonant sounds to a mostly confused audience. Bandleader Bill Weita occasionally offered some half-buried vocalizations, but most often it was a noisefest over steady rhythms, sometimes Can-like, other times, kinda funky. Their instruments looked ancient, a beat up old Fender Jazz bass, and Weita's odd-looking 12-string Baldwin guitar being the source of the din. No songs were introduced, but then I got the impression that they were making them all up as they went along anyway. There was the occasional interesting phased-echo guitar solo, but the terribly biting minor tone to it all quickly got on my nerves. Fuzzhead is certainly a 'different' group, but not easily digestible.
It was already well past midnight, so I was already anxious for Helios to come forth, and that he did. I'm not sure exactly what the foursome played, but what's the difference really? It was loud, fast, and so heavily distorted you'd have a hard time distinguishing the tracks even if you knew them by heart. Which means, it was great! Everyone needs a vehicle for letting it all out now and again. And it seems to work for the bandmembers also. Newcomer Rodney Horihata was a madman on the bass, and being confined to his small corner of the stage didn't stop him. Helios himself stayed rooted to the center-front, as he continually shifted amongst three separate microphones, each connected to different f/x modules. At his feet were an array of footpedals for his guitar, though he preferred to work them with his hands instead. His partner Z. Sylver followed suit with the pedals connected to her synthesizer. Drummer Paul Dellapelle dutifully kept pace behind the drum kit. The entire set lasted just 65 minutes, but like any good Motörhead show, that will be enough to fry your brain just nicely.
For visual effects, the band had their own video playing on a standard TV set, showing crazy horror-type videos and such. This was in addition to the liquid lights and flashing strobes from the ever-improving Solar Fire team. As far as the music, no way I can supply a full setlist, but I can tell you they did kick-ass versions of "Abduction," "Lactating Purple," "Kiss to the Brain," and "Blood Mantra." The latter, off the 1998 'Activated Condition,' I remember as having a strong "Master of the Universe" feel. Well, don't they all? Honestly, I believe Helios is still a crucial voice in his own little subgenre of (what I normally call) acid space-punk. Especially since quite a few disciples of his old band Chrome are cranking up and fuzzing out down in Texas. So I'm glad I had the chance to check out this bang-up distortion-fest in Cleveland. Now I learn that Helios will come back to NE Ohio for Strange Daze '99... great news! I wanna another dose.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson