“You have two minutes. You might want to down your wine,” says Michelle Billings, a gorgeous, 16-year-old from Monrovia High School as she pulls her sun-kissed, long locks into a careless bun on top of her head. We are close to stage left at the famous Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip and I had mentioned to her that it was my first real metal show and that I was a little nervous. She tells me she has been coming to these shows since she was eight. She points her mom out at the bar, who waves like we are all old friends. A little man with a porn mustache, Steven, tries to feel our asses while he makes small talk but Michelle shoos him away like a fly. Surrounded by wide necked guys in Slayer t-shirts, a beer in one hand and a phone full of metal show pictures in the other, I can see that the little circle around me is a friendly one and I’m probably going to survive this.
The lights go down and the curtain slowly opens as the first, groovy riffs of “More Human than Human” spill into the room. Rob Zombie is already spinning in circles, dreadlocks flying. We have entered the foyer of hell, and much to my surprise, Satan likes a little disco funk with his debauchery. It only takes seconds to seduce me with the heavy, soulful bass. A sea of camera phones push forward and the cool Sauv Blanc spills down my braless chest, immediately hardening my nipples. John 5 stares over me with a Joker painted smile and shakes his bleach soaked hair in approval. Michelle gives me an “ I told you so” wink.
Zombie hadn’t performed in L.A. for almost nine years and with this show selling out in less than one minute, he wasn’t about to spill seed over a packed room of corpses watching through screens on their phones. Even I was questioning how this beast of a man could possible enjoy doing this for an audience that would rather record than live the moment. He is quick to reprimand. “Can we just have one song without fucking phones? Just give me one song with no phones and then you can go back to your boring hash tagging!” In confused, half-dead fashion, phones started disappearing and just as I began to feel gratitude, the lights and guitar crash together in complete chaos. Zombie screams the first line of “Dead City Radio” and flies into the audience for some crowd surfing. I’m whipped in the face with dreads as this superhuman creature levitates over me. There was no going back for any of us. The crowd became one with the band and bodies begin to slam into one another. I was forever sold.
Mid way through his show, Zombie played my favorite “Well, everybody’s fucking in a UFO,” a new song from the soon to be released album, The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser. Our circle had already fought off some slam dancers and tossed a few bodies back where they came from. Just when I’m feeling like a pro, thinking we are a forge that can’t be penetrated, a shirtless, sweaty white blob runs across from stage right and dives into us. I get kicked in the side of the head with a Doc Martin, but somehow it’s awesome. My crew checks on me and I emerge from the earth bouncing to the beat still wearing my perma-grin. I get another approving headshake from John 5 as he slices through some sick chords and we are back in business.
At one point, late in the show, the lights lower and Zombie gets serious. He has shifted all his locks into a top not that looks like baby snakes tangled in a vine. He is about to bring someone out and we are all beaming with curiosity. While our heart rates begin to recover, I notice that my hour-long, pre-show blow-out is now completely soaking wet, and Michelle has pulled out a small oriental fan to cool herself. Girl is prepared and I’m super jealous of her hair tie. Then he appears and the crowd goes ballistic. It’s Glen Danzig and I couldn’t be more thrilled. “Mother” was the first metal song I ever learned in 2008 when I was auditioning for my friend Heidi’s band, Switchblade Kitty, now known as the Butcher Babies. Obviously I didn’t have the pipes for the job but I learned a few Misfit songs along the way and now here he was standing right in front of me. The crowd screams us into “Vampira,” while Zombie and Danzig slay us with gory, angry love.
After realizing that the large guy behind me isn’t actually slam dancing, put instead driving his pelvis into my ass repeatedly, I wait for his body to come forward once more and meet his ribcage with a sharp elbow. He doubles over laughing and I have to honestly say that I never expected to find comedy in such a harmless attempt of sexual assault by a complete stranger. Piggy D. makes his way to our side to sling some sweat at us and then John 5 baptizes us with a bottle of cold water. We all looked like we are kids who just exited a water park ride, and oddly, sort of feel that way.
In search for another perspective before the show ends, I wrestle my way through thick, smelly bodies towards the bar, which is an elevated area above the crowd, so the view of the whole room can be studied. Bodies still hover over the audience and the stage diving has now taken on a competitive nature, which Zombie doesn’t seem to mind at all. A baby mosh pit has formed as more sophisticated listeners look on with jealousy. Zombie ends his show with “Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga,” obviously a favorite by the reaction. So pleased that I just survived my first metal show, the lights come up and the music abruptly ends. I have no hearing and now begin to panic that it may not come back. I hear nothing as the couple next to me tries to say something, barely making out the word awesome from reading their lips. I watch the silent movie of people celebrating and making their way to the exit. I just had the time of my life, but now wonder if my deal with the devil was a round trip experience at one of the most intimate venues around in exchange for one of my valuable five senses. Well played Devil Man, well played.
Review by Bylle Breaux / Photos by Matt Stasi
Published in MonkeyGoose Magazine