Mushroomhead brings 20th anniversary tour to The Lost Horizon

Review: Mushroomhead played at The Lost Horizon on Friday with five opening bands for a long, loud night of metal.

Eight masked men squeezed onto The Lost Horizon’s cramped stage on Friday to deliver the climax to a night of metal.

Mushroomhead’s 20th anniversary celebration tour made its stop in Syracuse last weekend with local openers Wagner 3000 and Dear Mr Dead, as well as touring support from ionia, XFactor1 and One-Eyed Doll.

Photo: Angela Zonunpari
Mushroomhead plays up The Lost Horizon's small stage at their Sept. 27 show by climbing on speakers and their kettle drums.

While five opening bands is undoubtedly excessive under normal circumstances, it’s worth it to see Syracuse locals on the same stage as a seasoned, well-known act like Mushroomhead. While the headliners did not take the stage until just after 11 p.m. (four hours after the first band began), the energy remained high throughout the night. All five supporting acts put on commendable performances (especially One-Eyed Doll, whose fantastically maniacal set was cut short by one song in response to rude and restless audience members chanting “Mushroomhead”).

When Mushroomhead did finally take the stage, madness ensued. They opened with “43” from their self-titled debut album. While singers Jason “J Mann” Popson’s and Waylon Reavis’ wireless microphones cut out frequently throughout the first couple songs, they took the technical issues in stride and made the best of it by sharing microphones, usually with arms around each others’ shoulders in a half-hug.

The brotherly love on stage seemed sincere, but the singers were also sending a clear message to fans: They get along just fine, thank you very much.

In 2004, J Mann left the group for personal reasons and was replaced by Reavis. J Mann announced in August of this year he was ready to return to Mushroomhead, but he joined Reavis rather than replacing him. Rumors spread among fans of a rift between the two singers, but those rumors were dispelled on Friday by their chummy behavior on stage. 

While cramming eight musicians on The Lost Horizon’s stage is a brave feat, the cramped quarters actually added to the energy of the performance. The band members couldn’t move without nearly bumping into one another, and that tension and closeness only increased the intensity of the industrial metal music blasting from the stage.

And it truly was blasting. Whether it was due to the four hours of metal leading up to their taking the stage or the fact that there were three men screaming simultaneously instead of just one, Mushroomhead’s set kept buzzing in my head hours after the show ended. But that was not a bad thing.

Aside from the music itself, which was truly electrifying and just fun to listen to, the visual aspects of Mushroomhead’s performance set them apart from the norm.

Costumes are generally a little cheesy, but it completely works for Mushroomhead because it doesn’t stop with the visuals. Each band member emulates a character. By their movements alone, as well as their masks, onlookers can get a sense of what each character is like.

J Mann looks the most normal with his face painted white and raccoon rings around his eyes. His movements on stage are the most traditional and human-like.

Tom “Shmotz” Schmitz, the keyboardist, wears what appears to be a World War II-era helmet with a flashlight attached. He provides the electronic side to Mushroomhead’s music, and his mechanical, calculated movements at the keyboard reflect an almost robotic character. While he was pushed in the background at The Lost Horizon for purely logistical reasons, he’s still a compelling character on stage and adds to the Mushroomhead experience.

There’s a story behind every character in Mushroomhead that can be discovered by simply watching each member perform. It goes beyond a gimmick; it’s just who they are.

The band’s performance was not only accented by clever acting and scary masks. One of their signature special effects comes by pouring water on two sets of kettle drums. With the light show, which is sometimes solid colors and sometimes a flickering strobe light, this water adds a stunning visual element to the performance, as it splashes in the air with every drum hit.

At the root of it, Mushroomhead knows how to please a crowd. Beyond the musicianship fine-tuned over 20 years, beyond the masks, beyond the pretty water splashes, there lies a group of guys who love music and clearly love one another. And that’s just plain fun to watch.

View more photos here.


We've uploaded the rest of her photos to our Flickr account, which you can view here:

Mushroom Head pics

Great Review! Is there going to be any place where Angela is posting more pics? I was the one that she gave business card after the show. I was close enough behind you guys that I could see the great shots she was taking. Thanks SG

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.