October 10, 2017 Rob Zombie Wakes The Dead In Greenville, SC 10-2-17
While much of the modern world may know Rob Zombie as a filmmaker and screenwriter, there is no denying his legacy as a Rock iconoclast. Breaking down barriers and defying critics, Zombie’s career has been a tumultuous journey of gritty, ghoulish Heavy Metal and disturbing imagery.
In the present day, this has not changed, and his presence has only gotten more refined with age. Currently, on tour, Rob Zombie brought his party of the undead to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina on Monday, October 2nd, and the upstate was happy to jam along with him and his cohorts. The Zombie Party includes the main zombie himself, Rob, on vocals, Piggy D on bass, Ginger Fish on drums, and guitar icon John 5 murdering the strings. If there is one thing these guys know how to do, its own a room, and Greenville was happy to be under their voodoo on this otherwise lethargic Monday night.
With only Ginger Fish djing a short set to precede them, the Zombie crew got things underway quickly. Kicking things off with “Superbeast,” the show took an instant shot of adrenaline directly in the veins. The entire floor began to bounce and thrash as fans jolted to life before the stage. From there, it was a ripping journey through “Get High” and “Living Dead Girl” to “Scum of the Earth” and “More Human Than Human.”
Throughout the early part of the set, Guitarist John 5 could be seen lighting up the stage with his illuminated guitar while Piggy D hammered home the heart of each song with his wooden stake/crucifix bass. In the background danced nude anime girls, clips from Rob Zombie films, and an amalgamation of blasphemous and outrageous imagery sure to kick up some dust with the more righteous absentees from the show. This cataclysm of sounds and images was what made a Zombie show for many fans, the gregarious and ostentatious stage presence of the hosts and the dirty Rock-n-Roll that permeated the air.
After “Never Gonna Stop,” the Rob Zombie crew played up to the crowd by asking for all the ladies in attendance to be hoisted onto the shoulders of men in the crowd. As women began to pop up across the arena, the band dove into “The Hideous Exhibitions Of A Dedicated Gore Whore.” It was at this time that the more ambitious women aloft chose to lift not just their horns in the air, but their shirts as well, with some going fully topless for the band and entire crowd. Their efforts were appreciated by several fans in attendance and did not go unnoticed by the band. Just goes to show that timing and soundtrack are everything.
After the ruckus following the appearance of breasts had calmed a bit and “House of 1000 Corpses” had changed things up a bit, John 5 was given the stage while his cohorts departed for his guitar solo. The room was alight with phones attempting to capture the nearly ten minutes of pure string symphonies. Once 5 was done, the rest of the band returned to throw down on some “Thunder Kiss ‘65” before pausing the set so Rob Zombie himself could address the crowd. Zombie took this time to acknowledge that while there are messed up events going on in the world, a concert, and music in general, was meant to be an escape from your troubles.
From here, Zombie talked about how live music was not dying just because people were not coming to concerts anymore, but because of technology. Zombie quoted cell phones as one of the killers of not only live music but Rock-n-Roll specifically. He stated that it was not that bands were not as “hard” as they had been in the ’80s and ’90s, but rather that people were not enjoying the live experience as much because they were so busy messing with their phone trying to capture a moment instead of living in it.
“You’re never gonna learn how to play guitar or bass, or anything on Instagram,” Zombie declared, “How can you rock out with your most prized possession in your hand? You can’t!” With his position stated, Zombie made a plea to the crowd. He asked that for three minutes, one song, all cell phones be put down. “I’m not asking you to turn it off forever. I’m not even saying for the rest of the show…Three fucking minutes,” Zombie said.
Once all but a handful of defiers had put their phones down, the Zombie crew kicked into a cover of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” The song had Zombie bouncing from one end of the stage to the other with a new kind of energy that can only come from performing a Punk Rock classic, and because of this, the song is often a set staple. This in mind, a break from technology certainly made the memory last a lot longer.
With Piggy now rocking his Frankenbass, the guys swung straight from “Blitzkrieg Bop” to a cover of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.” Even though, like with “Blitzkrieg Bop,” they only performed the first verse and chorus, it was enough to have the entire audience singing along with them and channel the soul of the Rock classic into the arena. Rounding out the initial set was “Get Your Boots On! That’s the End of Rock and Roll” and “Meet the Creeper,” which they temporarily went out on. Thankfully for all those in attendance, this was a short-lived absence before they returned in an encore of “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga.”
After the song, the guys thanked everyone for coming out and the stage went dark. There was a brief hiss and then quiet before the chanting began. Fans across the arena began chanting a combination of “One more!” and “Zombie! Zombie!” After another moment of stillness, the lights onstage flickered and the band returned to jump straight into “Dragula,” the hit premiere single from Zombie’s 1998 debut album, Hellbilly Deluxe. It would have been hard to find a voice not joined in song as the familiar lyrics filled the room, and for just a moment, it was as if the party had never paused.
Once again making their exit temporarily, the guys returned one last time for “Wurdalak,” and chose to go out on the final notes of the song, taking their final bow to the heaving throng at their feet and the rousing cries of admiration from the seats all around them.
Rob Zombie is nothing if not a showman, and his merry band of weirdos hold up their end of the bargain when it comes to maintaining the quality of this production. Like a traveling circus of the strange and obscene, Zombie and company are more talented than grotesque, and more alive than they are dead (a well guarded secret..shhh!). It is their commitment to their craft, love of their fans, and obsession with Rock-n-Roll that seems to drive this party bus, and everyone is welcomed along for the ride.