It may not have been a cold, dreary October with branches contorting to the mysteries of the night as the hounds of hell howl like a strong wind sending Vincent Price chills down your spine. It felt more like a Herschell Gordon Lewis summer evening, and you are standing in line to see the Wizard.
But the potential of threatening weather wrapping around a canopy of a hot and muggy Midwestern pre-summer day was like a Neal Adams design as to what Rob Zombie was cooking up at The Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park. The lightning flashed off in the distance, growing menacingly closer; the wind picking up. It felt like Zombie was at the epicentre brewing up turmoil like a mad scientist screaming, “It’s alive. ALIVE!” For that Sunday night, his music was indeed ALIVE!
Instead of the house on haunted hill (the Lawn is kind of encased in a hill-like structure if you use your imagination) surrounded by the beasts incarnate ready for savage instincts, or the neon glow of ‘70s exploitation warped into a kaleidoscope of Killer Klown-like strange, Zombie instead took the stage under the backdrop of influential Universal movie monsters that served more as a homage than an enticement: Lon Chaney, Sr., Lon Chaney, Jr., King Kong, you get the picture. That enticement came in the form of John 5, Piggy D., and Ginger Fish. As for Rob, he quickly claimed the stage for himself and acted one part conductor to the madness and one part male go-go dancer, shooting off his skills at the hip as much as possible.
When you witness Rob Zombie in concert, it is always an experience. And even though the stage was stripped of his usual props, the performance was still there as John, Piggy, and Rob all worked the entire stage. This stems from the days of when Rob grew up with elaborate rock and roll showmanship and the ‘70s methodology of rock concerts being the biggest party atmosphere you can imagine. He even stopped to remind fans of that. “Are you wanting to rock balls or are you going to tweet about it all night. For one song, just put your phones away, and we are going to rock balls!” This ended with a bunch of oversized beach balls hitting the audience, showing that this band is not shy of being good sports and the audience is not shy of going nuts over a bunch of bouncing balls. It’s all for the good of entertainment, right? Later in the show as John 5 began ripping out one of the more blistering guitar solos you can possibly imagine, roadies jumped on stage to play a round of cornhole. That did not dissuade John 5 from cranking out master guitar work and the silliness behind him was just that.
The rotation of songs were abbreviated but similar in setlist to his recent live album, Spookshow International (read our review of the album here). It started with “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy,” guarded by chrome-shaped, Nosferatu-infused mic stands. Three constants will always remain in Zombie’s vocabulary: fuck, pussy, and yeah! As the band loomed around the stage and sneered at the Indianapolis skyline like a monster out for blood, the scenario enticed us to rise from the ground and join the army of the undead. A quick transition and “Super-Charger Heaven” revved the night up to full capacity. They, of course, added a few more White Zombie songs to the fold, one being a robust version of “More Human Than Human” with Piggy mouthing the chorus to the audience and nodding with the expressive acknowledgement of “You know this motherfuckers.” The pre-encore show finale was an abbreviated “Thunderkiss ‘65.” By that time, lightning surrounded the area and gusts of wind blew in all directions, and prompted by a fragile outdoor venue history of one major local mishap at the Indiana State Fair two years ago, I am sure it was communicated that things keep a steady pace.
Zombie have always longed for the good ol’ days, which is why “American Band,” has ended up on many of their setlists (it started off the encore). And the beauty of a live Zombie experience is that you can tell he makes and performs the things he would have been a fan of growing up. You can see it in his eyes, the passion and mindset that if Zombie was a part of the audience, he would be rocking balls.
What this show proved is that the classic Zombie songs like “Dragula” or “Living Dead Girl” overpowered classic White Zombie songs in presence. And as songs like “Meet The Creeper” and “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown” now becoming staples, there is equal excitement for the entire package.