June 24, 2015 Rob Zombie Unstoppable Starland Ballroom Sayreville, NJ 6-6-15
With the release of his latest partially crowd-funded Horror film, 31, looming over fans’ heads, Saturday June 6th at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ was a treat from the Horror Punk pioneer himself, Rob Zombie. Only a few dates into his current tour, with the first date held on June 2nd, the Starland Ballroom gig was sold out in no time, clearly showing Zombie is still the powerhouse he has always been. After leaving the band that he rose to fame on, White Zombie, to start a solo endeavor, going by his own name, in the early ’90s, Zombie has since released five studio albums, two live albums, a video album, as well as directing six feature films, the majority of which he co-wrote. Last releasing a studio album in 2013, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, Zombie even started his own spooktacular Haunted House/concert themed event in 2013, proving to fans he is one of the hardest working creators in entertainment. With a new album set to be released in the near future, Zombie has stated, “I can easily say this is my favorite album yet… no joke. It is seriously our heaviest, most fucked up musical monster to date. Not since Hellbilly Deluxe have I spent this long putting an album together. It was worth it.” Quite a bold statement, but followers would expect nothing less from the inventive Zombie.
With such a respected reputation, Zombie has been labeled one of the last great American heavy Rock acts touring. Always bringing high energy with a thought-out and choreographed stage presence consisting of pyrotechnics, animatronics, make-up, and costumes to create not only an audio experience but transcend to a visual one as well. Zombie and his band have been extensively touring for years, this is a band who clearly loves being on the road and being in front of the fans that put them there. Sustaining the same lineup now for a decade, guitarist John 5, bassist Piggy D, and latest addition as of 2011, drummer Ginger Fish, solidify this Rock band of superstars. Without the benefit of an opening band, only a DJ set by Fish, the stage was set for the grand show of Zombie and his mates, as Starland Ballroom anxiously awaited.
With the excitement of all Zombie is serving up, it was more than certain Starland Ballroom was in for a night of sheer Rock amazement. The night started off with Fish performing a short DJ set to get the vibes of the night moving. Well-received by the fans, it was not like other DJ sets that predominantly consist of heavy bass and EDM-esque music. This one consisted of Classic and heavy Rock mixes sure to please the audience in attendance. Adorned by a child’s skeleton mask and dancing around the stage, it kept everyone more than entertained and ready for the big event.
After the conclusion of Fish’s showcase, the covers hiding the gigantic classic Horror movie characters were dropped and the room darkened as the crowd patiently waited for Zombie to appear. Projecting a deep underlying passion of all things terrifying and unusual, exemplified by the stage set up, the band started things off with “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy” off of the aforementioned Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor as the crowd cheered and sang along with each word. Coming out swinging throughout the first piece, Zombie was clad in a cowboy hat and frilled jacket that mesmerized as he moved about the stage. His bandmates, further showcasing their love for Horror, were clothed by a wardrobe that would fit into any Horror movie plot easily, with the face paint to match.
Not being one to shy away from the past and where his success came from, he dove into the classic White Zombie song “Super-Charger Heaven” off the 1995 Astro Creep 2000 album, which every die-hard Zombie fan from the beginning was very pleased with. All throughout these most epic of songs and performances, the band kept in character with dark, uneasy movements on stage while their animated ringleader jumped about and crouched down to be eye to eye with the fans. Zombie himself encouraged the crowd to participate, engaged them with conversation between songs, and made everyone feel like one big family. Keeping things going and catering to the fans every wish, he continued on with the energizing set including “Living Dead Girl” as well as “Superbeast” from epic 1998 solo debut Hellbilly Deluxe, and newer “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown.” Breaking up the set, but not dampening the mojo flowing, Fish was unleashed on a killer drum solo right before they sprinkled in more White Zombie cuts like “More Human Than Human,” and the classic “Thunder Kiss ’65” from 1992’s La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Vol. 1. Not forgetting to pump out other memorable tunes through the years, “Sick Bubble-Gum,” “House of 1000 Corpses,” “Meet the Creeper,” along with “Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)” were shuffled in midst of the chaos, with everyone dancing and singing along.
Keeping the show moving at a rapid pace with plenty of eye and ear-candy, Zombie payed tribute to his vast musical influence, going into the Ramones signature tune “Blitzkrieg Bop” and Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band.” Surprising many with an offering of seldom heard “What Lurks on Channel X?,” Zombie showed his fanbase he is not afraid to change things up and keep his shows fresh. Following with 2006 Educated Horses’ song “The Lords of Salem,” the set came to a close with arguably his most successful single to date, “Dragula.” Having become a modern fixture in Pop culture, the track was a fitting end to the night.
From music to movies, Rob Zombie has done it all, and done it all with great artistic nature. Zombie concludes the current run of dates when he graces the stage at Loudwire Music Festival in Colorado on June 28th. Supporters should not fear any lack of Zombie medicine though with 31 set for release in 2016 as well as a new album coming some point in the very near future.Photography & reporting: Jesse Murch