― from the official Rob Zombie Facebook page
Yeah, that was fun. The dreadlocked maestro mixed us his crazy cocktail - a rich, aesthetic blend of monster/horror flicks, tattoo parlors, strip clubs, white trash, heavy metal, and the supernatural - and served up a badass rock party. Much like his hero Alice Cooper, Zombie is an entertainer, and the bottom line is a good time. Mission accomplished? Mission very accomplished.
The word on the proverbial street was that he plays great, epic shows. I was thinking, based on various Youtube clips, that we’d get smacked around with blitzing imagery: lasers, videos, strippers, etc, but for all such anticipation, there was nothing really outrageous at all. Instead, the set was simply adorned with giant headshots of cult creatures like King Kong, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein monster, and Lon Chaney (Sr & Jr) characters. You can’t go wrong with the classics. Beyond the band’s cool makeup, the spectacle was all in the music and performance. That was all we really needed, and for me, that’s all I want from an artist. I wanna see that they’re busting their ass to kick mine. I wanna see them enjoying what they do. And we all saw it, heard it, and felt it. And that’s how Rob Zombie has earned his reputation, as it should be.
It was a professional, high-energy assault that began with Dead Radio And New Gods of Supertown (from the new album Venomous Rat Regenerator Vendor) and it never let up, as the band stomped and swirled through the hits from both his solo career and White Zombie: More Human Than Human, Superbeast, Demonoid Phenomenon, Living Dead Girl, Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy), Lords of Salem, ThunderKiss ’65... The dude’s got the songs and he’s got the moves, too, punctuating beats, riffs, and changes with an array of chops and grooves. And neither famed guitarist John 5 nor bassist Piggy D could keep still, continually weaving around one another as they flirted with the crowd.
Diamond Head’s Am I Evil, popularized by Metallica in their glorious early days, was a pleasant surprise, but Alice Cooper’s School’s Out got cut short, lasting just one verse/chorus. Maybe we weren’t appreciating the master’s master well enough, but that’s just my speculation. And what else did we get? A Ginger Fish drum solo, a John 5 solo, and Mr Zombie running through the crowd. My personal highlight, if I may indulge myself here, was him giving recognition to my baby daughter’s presence as he led us in chants of “rock motherfucker” to begin Sick Bubblegum. One generation’s pride is another’s horror, so maybe the grandparents don’t need to hear this anecdote. For my immediate family unit, though, it was a sweet blessing.
Positive recognition wasn’t strictly limited to the diapered attendees. Rob remarked twice that Taipei was their smallest show ever, which I think made some people bashful, but he followed with deft showmanship and grace, complimenting us all as loud and energetic, and ultimately declaring us the most fun of the tour.
Whatever percentage of that was simply good stage etiquette or sincerity, it of course goes down well either way. Who doesn’t like a like compliment?
But while we’re on the topic, why was the audience so small? With tickets ranging from $2500 to $2800NT, that ongoing dilemma of how to price shows here persists. ATT Showbox appeared to be filled almost adequately enough (perhaps) for an up-and-coming foreign artist, but this was Rob Zombie, a major rock figure ever since White Zombie exploded in 1992. With that in mind, there was way too much elbow room.
I’m not assigning blame so much as I am reiterating concerns for how this will play out down the line. What is the future of international artists playing in Taiwan? Promoters have to cover costs, artists gotta get paid, and the fans should be able to afford to attend. How to balance all of that? I don’t know. I checked 3 upcoming Rob Zombie American (non-festival) tour dates, and those were all about $1000NT less/ticket than what was charged here. Is this the price Taiwan pays for its geography? Well, we can’t move the island and if that’s the cost of doing business, then the question becomes: are we getting enough bang for our buck?
In this instance, I am not aware of anyone complaining about the show itself. Quite the opposite. My Facebook newsfeed exploded afterwards with reactions ranging from 爽 to 太爽. Rob Zombie delivered on his end of the deal and his two encores (highlighted by Dragula and his cover of We’re An American Band) would be hard to pick apart. Maybe a local opening band would’ve helped fill out the night (we’ve got the talent and our bands could use the experience/exposure), but would it drive up the costs even more?
This discussion might be best saved for another forum/occasion, so I’ll return to the task at hand and report on what I do know: Rob Zombie fucking rocks.