Those of you who read this blog with any regularity know that one of my favorite artists to listen to while I run is Rob Zombie. His work is a bit hard to categorize, not quite heavy metal – not quite techno, he came into prominence with his band White Zombie back in the mid ‘80s along with the likes of Sonic Youth and the B.H. Surfers. White Zombie is the title of a 1932 Bela Lugosi movie which most experts cite as the first ever zombie movie. Yes there are zombie “experts” and I would number myself amongst them on a rising scale of one to ten at about 8.2 or so. Robert Bartleh Cummings, aka Rob Zombie, scores an eleven. Since embarking on a successful solo career – Zombie has also directed and produced a series of horror movies including the last two installments of the Halloween series.
So, when I saw that Mr. Cummings was going to making an appearance at the Akron Civic Theater I coughed up the cash for a fistful of tickets and invited my oldest son and his girlfriend to join me at the gig.
I was somewhat surprised that I was not the oldest person attending the concert in fact I would put maybe a quarter of the audience in my age range. The opening acts were a couple bands whose genre would best be described as Hellbilly music. A driving four four rockabilly beat whirred up to cyclotron speed and doused with B-movie imagery. A complimentary prelude to the main event without stealing any of the thunder (and smoke and strobe lights and giant video projections) of the main event.
The overriding impression I walked away from this show with was an admiration for the work put into it. Zombie must have covered close to a 10K running around the stage and into the audience. I’ve been to shows before where the big star momentarily jumps into the mosh-pit to be safely returned almost immediately. Zombie waded into the audience disappearing into the throng like a victim in a black and white George Ramero film being overcome by a swarm of the undead. Like the hapless babysitter who opens the dead bolted attic door to see what that noise was instead of calling the cops Zombie seemingly eschewed good sense and immersed himself in the black clad crowd. The only clue that the singer had not been consumed by the horde was his growling bark of lyrics still rising over the surging power chords emanating from the stage. No lip syncing here daddio, just some breakneck and more than occasional f-bomb dropping rock and roll.
Perched in our third row balcony seats we sat back and enjoyed the spectacle.
Colossal video screens showed snips of classic horror movies, clips from the Munsters and Tales from the Crypt type animated cartoons intermixed with punctuations of song lyrics in giant graphics. A fourteen foot tall robot/golem type monster danced menacingly on stage during “More Human than a Human” – smoke, mirrors and the copious use of strobe lights as forewarned by innumerous postings in the lobby before the show all played into what became the funnest freak show eveh.
In the immortal words of Zombie’s song, How to Make a Monster, “Go go Zombie, go go yeah, yeah, yeah “