On March 4, 2011, the Soundwave festival came to Melbourne. For an Australian festival, the line up was stellar -- better than some festivals I've attended in the US. So, we flew in the night before to make sure we got there early. At the last minute, I realised there was a Rob Zombie show that night. With nothing else planned, we headed on down. We missed Monster Magnet I enjoyed them very much the next day though), and Dommin. The first band we saw was Murderdolls. They were good, I bought their CD the next day and they put on a high energy show. I was aware of them, and their lineage, but had not really heard them before. I played the CD once or twice and it went in the racks, a good band, but not a great one.
I've seen Rob Zombie once before, at Rock on the Range. We were in the stalls, freezing to death. From a distance, the songs all sounded very similar, it looked like there was lots of pyro, but we left early. This time I was in a hall that holds maybe 2000 people, and it's oddly shaped, the sides are further out than the back is. Of course, I went right down the middle and got as close as I could.
The first song of the night was "Jesus Frankenstein." It's a perfect opener, with it's slow build up. Zombie's stage setup is amazing. They didn't have a lot of their U.S. pyro, like the robot, but there were huge video screens everywhere, and Rob came on with his claw arm for the first song.
From there, he moved through "Superbeast," "Scum of the Earth," "Living Dead Girl," "Demon Speeding," "Pussy Liquor," "Sick Bubble Gum," "American Witch," "More Human Than Human," "Supercharger Heaven," "Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)," "Demonoid Phenomenon," Thunderkiss '65," "Werewolf Women of the SS" and "Dragula." This show really made me realize again that seeing a show from close and from the back, are two different things. The songs still sounded similar, but with everyone on stage dressed up and putting on a show, with the video screens bigger than the people on stage, it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. The crowd was very energetic as you'd expect and there was a lot of moshing near me. I was separate from my friend who got closer to the stage than me. I'd not put contacts in that day, and when I got too close, the moshing would hit me and I'd lose my glasses. I had no spares for the next day, so I stayed about eight rows back.
John 5 gets a lot of press in the guitar magazines nowadays, and has a line of solo albums. His guitar solo was outstanding, because he would alternate between standard sweep/tap/shred picking, and super fast country licks. I'm not a huge country fan, but after seeing him, I've been learning to play that way, because it just sounded so good, and so fresh. I am a guitar player and I rarely enjoy the free-form lead guitar solo in a concert, but John 5 made his very musical and a lot of fun. Of course, there was also a drum solo.
I often find that seeing a band live makes me appreciate their music more, but never before as much as Rob Zombie. I had some CDs I never listened to, and since the show, I've listened to Hellbilly Deluxe 2constantly. An off the cuff decision to fill an evening turned out to be, in some ways, better than the show itself the following day (for one, we got closer, and a show always has a better feel than a festival, for me). It was apparently 14 years since Rob had been to Australia, and I hope the reception he got made him realize he needs to come here more often.