Rob Zombie and Powerman 5000 Start the Halloween Season Off Right
Both Bands Perform on the Opening Night of Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare, Scottsdale, AZ
If you like heavy music…wait…scratch that, if you LOVE heavy music the way I do, you get yourself to as many shows as possible. You follow your favorite artists’ newsfeed, waiting for the announcement of ticket sales for shows in your area…Hell, they don’t even have to be in your area. You look forward to experiencing each one, no matter how many times you have seen the band(s) on the line-up because each performance is a unique, living entity…formed by what the performers bring to the stage to the audience vibe to the venue’s energy to the band members’ interaction with each other and the crowd. You can see the same artist on back-to-back nights and be treated to a completely different show. Even if the bands are having an “off” night, you liken the concert to sex: even though it was kind of, well, bad, you’re still pretty damn happy you had the experience. Ultimately, there’s a reason these bands became your favorite artists ~ they’re damn good.
And then there are those nights that leave “damn good” in the dust (or in the case of this particular show, buried six feet under): they are rock perfection, when the artists, the crowd, the production value, the venue, the intensity, the very air around you all unite in perfect synchronicity and the result is … a mind-blowing event that makes such an impact that you’ll be able to recall (and share) every detail of it for years to come.
I was fortunate enough, as FlashWounds’ “Rob Zombie delegate,” to experience exactly such an event on September 19th in Scottsdale, AZ.
It was the kick off to Rob Zombie’s “Great American Nightmare,” an immersive haunted attraction that promised and delivered as many scares as its namesake packs into his films.
In conjunction with and in celebration of the event, Rob Zombie was treating opening night patrons to a show featuring him and his brother Spider One’s band Powerman 5K.
A short walk from the “Bloody Boulevard” of the Great American Nightmare brought me to an immense open field with incredibly impressive staging. In this picturesque setting under the Arizona sky on a night clearer than any I’d seen in a long time, surrounded by thousands of people who LOVE heavy music and were at the Nightmare for the same reason I was, to soak in as many forms of the brilliant madness of Rob Zombie’s mind as we could, the real horror show was about to begin.
Powerman 5K (check out FW’s interview with Spider One, our advance article on Builders ~ complete with Spider One’s take on the album, and live photos of the band from Summer Meltdown) ~ Spider One, Richard Jazmin, Nick Quijano, Gustavo Aued, Dj Rattan ~ took the stage and began to do exactly what they were there to do…turn the crowd, which was swelling to capacity by the minute, from mere viewers to completely fuckin’ insane participants.
Sticking to most of their better-known songs like “Bombshell,” “When Worlds Collide,” and “Supernova,”PM5K delivered their signature unbelievably energetic performance even despite some technical difficulties. The guys showcased their latest release, Builders of the Future (read our review here), easily one of their best albums, as well, making sure to include the hit single/crowd favorite “How to Be a Human.”
As the spacemen of Powerman 5000 said goodnight, leaving the stage dark and the night a bit darker still, the crowd continued to gather and spread to what seemed like the ends of the earth. Just as the field appeared as though it could contain not one single person more and as the night looked as though it had become the blackest it possibly could, somehow, the sky got even darker…before exploding in a wash of light that could signal only one thing: the monsters had taken over the stage, the entire night, and possibly the entire universe.
A superhuman wrapped in masks, luminescence, and just plain horrific splendor, Rob Zombie opened with “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy” (quite possibly the greatest song title ever) from the band’s latest album, Venomous Rat Regenerator Vendor (which we of course got to review before it was even available to the public!). The slow dirge of “Pussy” shook the very ground we stood on and was immediately followed by the relentless speed of the Zombie classic, “Superbeast.”
The more hits the legend and his band ~ John 5, Piggy D, Ginger Fish ~ played, the more the unforgettable the night became.
There was a spectacular dynamic and scorching energy level on stage that rivaled that of frenzy barely contained in the field before them. These four musicians ~ superbeasts, you might say ~ who have played each of the songs literally thousands of times to hundreds of thousands of people, played them on this night as if for the first time.
The chants of “Rock!” and “Motherfucker!” split the field down the middle for “Sick Bubblegum,” which was enhanced by the appearance of Mrs. Sherry Moon-Zombie who ensured guitarist John-5’s “Rock” side their victory over bassist Piggy D’s “Motherfuckers’ contingent.
Not only was the unbridled enthusiasm coming from the stage rarely displayed by and band/performer, but to witness it coming from a veteran like RZ was…Amazing? Inspiring? Fucking beyond words?
The passion, zeal, enthusiasm, never-less-than astounding musicianship and stage presence, and yes, even sense of fun, may the horror gods forgive me, continued full-tilt through the band’s raucous cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “American Band” and the extended which ended with the horror anthem “Dragula.”
And then the show was done, the monsters returned to their lairs, the “house” lights were turned back on…yet somehow the night remained what I swear was darker than any night has ever been before, as if RZ could add to his list of accomplishments having actually altered the laws of the universe…
I stood in that very night, in that very dark, and smiled, knowing that what I had experienced in Scottsdale, AZ on Friday, September 19th, 2014, would forever remain my perfect night.
Read much about the history and producers of Rob Zombie’s Greatest American Nightmare, along with quotes from RZ himself and a list of remaining Scottsdale dates, here, and check out the Chicago dates here.
Special thanks to Kristine Ashton-Magnuson; edited by L. Dean