New York punk-metal heroes Helmet launched into their set with no-frills vigor on Sunday at the Hollywood Palladium, before a sparse but lively crowd at the "Board Aid" kickoff concert organized by LIFEbeat, the music industry organization to fight AIDS.
The players bobbed and twitched stoically as they twisted shards of abrasive guitar and powerful rhythms into pulsing, metallic structures. The music retained the Spartan intensity of the group's recordings, but seemed somehow smoother; the matte finish of the sound glowed with a spontaneous warmth that, miraculously, wasn't neutralized by the Palladium's problematic acoustics.
The last half of the set steadily escalated to an explosive close, with members of House of Pain joining in on the grand finale.
Anthrax turned in a typically virulent, varied set that featured new material from the band's album-in-the-works, a dedication to Charles Bukowski, a guest appearance by Rob Halford and a Husker Du song.
The concert, which also featured Wax and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, was a prelude to Wednesday's "Board Aid" action-sports and music festival fund-raiser at Snow Summit Ski Resort in Big Bear.
* Porno for Pyros, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Biohazard, Face to Face and others play at "Board Aid" on Wednesday at Snow Summit Ski Resort, Big Bear. Lift tickets, $41. (909) 866-5841.