I Rocked with a Zombie: Rob Zombie Iroquois Amphitheater Concert Review (5/02/14)

Ghoul rocker icon, Rob Zombie, brought the Ville to its knees with a Derby Eve Halloween hootenanny for the history books at the Iroquois Amphitheater!

Was it Derby Eve or All Hallows’ Eve last night at the sold out Rob Zombie concert at the Iroquois Amphitheater? Did it matter? Apparently not to the throngs of Zombie fans of multiple generations who descended upon the South End park venue in black rock t-shirts, ghoulish makeup and mascara. I haven’t seen so many purple mohawks in one place since 1984. It was glorious.

Zombie’s stage was decked out in Classic Monster tapestries: images of Frankenstein, the Phantom of the Opera, the Wolf Man, Mr. Hyde and the Man Who Laughed stared out at the audience, all lorded over by a gigantic King Kong banner. Combined with atmospheric lighting and Glow-in-the-Dark guitars, Zombie’s band came prepared to assault Louisville with one of the best rock shows it has seen in years.

When we arrived at the venue, we ran into Grim Trails’ (www.grimtrails.com) co-owner, Michael Coombs, and a couple of crew members from The Devil’s Attic (www.thedevilsattic.com) who were also preparing to worship at the altar of Zombie. A couple of plastic cup brews, some nachos & cheese and a pretzel later and we were ready to settle in for the show. The smell of cheap beer and cannabis wafted through the air as a mix master in a skeleton mask known as DJ Disco Death Watch opened the show with a strange string of beats that mixed everything from AC/DC and Paul McCartney to Van Halen and the Ramones.

The dark of night had just descended upon Iroquois Park when the stage lights went down and Zombie and his band took the stage to a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’sWe’re an American Band,” followed immediately by the crowd favorite, “Superbeast.” Apparently not happy with the sound quality he was getting from his microphone, Zombie went into full on rock star rage mode, throwing his handheld microphone to the ground and launching the mic stand into the oversized Frankenstein banner before angrily marching off stage.

Thankfully, he was back just moments later with a confession.  “Where are we? Kentucky?” he asked the crowd. “You guys have got to help me out tonight. I’m so stressed that if I don’t let off some steam tonight, I’m going to f**king kill somebody.”

The band launched into a supercharged version of “Meet the Creeper,” and followed it up with one of his biggest radio hits, “Living Dead Girl.” At this point, Zombie was fully warmed up and the crowd was in a head banging frenzy as the band proceeded with some material from his new album, “Dead City Radio the New Gods of Supertown.” Then the White Zombie classic, “More Human than Human” rose the bar even higher as Zombie left the stage and mingled with fans in the front row, even walking along the seat backs at one point. Concert security seemed unprepared for Zombie’s foray into the unwashed as they scrambled to the side of the Rock n Roll Spook Master.

While walking among us, something caught Zombie’s eye and when he returned to the stage he announced, “Wait a minute. You guys have got to see this.” His stage crew helped an approximately five year old little girl onto the stage wearing a dress with homemade sparkly letters on it that spelled out, “Rock, Motherf**ker.” This mini Zombie fan seemed to be in her glory up on stage with the shock rocker and horror filmmaker who asked her what she thought they should do next. Of course, she replied in her girly five year old voice, “Rock, Motherf**er.”

Zombie gave her a hug and helped her back off stage to her (obviously fanatical) parents. “I’m not going to dare disappoint her,” Zombie exclaimed as the band kicked into “Sick Bubblegum” followed by the always family friendly, “Pussy Liquor.” Then it was “Trade Your Guns for a Coffin” and “Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)” that led to what was probably the highlight of the show: an eardrums bursting version of the White Zombie classic, “Thunder Kiss 65.”

Midway through the song, lead guitarist and modern guitar God, John 5, who has played for rock icons like David Lee Roth and Marilyn Manson, played a blistering solo on his glowing, strobing six string. While John 5 shredded to the audience’s delight, Rob Zombie decided to go on another Iroquois Amphitheater walkabout. This time he didn’t stop at the front row, but instead seemed determined to visit with every single fan in the stands. He crept right past the Louisville Halloween crew on his way to the very back row and the far extremities of the theater, touching hands with as many fans as humanly possible.

At this point, Zombie could do no wrong and he finished “Thunder Kiss 65” back on stage to thunderous applause. Zombie then paused for a moment to beg for some old school, cell phone relief.

Can you guys give me five minutes?” he pleaded. “Can you just give me five minutes without your stupid f**king cell phones filming s**t you will never go back and watch?

I want to look out and see a crowd of Rock n Roll motherf**kers like in the old days, and not a bunch of people watching through their f**king phones!” Surprisingly, this call for sanity got a much deserved applause from the masses. Then it was non-stop chills and thrills through “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy” and “American Witch” before he ended the set and thanked everyone for coming.

The Iroquois Amphitheater erupted with chants of, “Zombie! Zombie! Zombie!” and the band returned for an encore starting with the “Hellbilly Deluxe” favorite, “Demonoid Phenomenon,” followed by my personal favorite Rob Zombie rocker, “Demon Speeding.” I’ve enjoyed Zombie’s music before, but at this point I had become a drooling, ravenous Zombie fan, throwing devil horns gestures to the wind. The band closed the first encore with “Scum of the Earth.”

Finally, a second encore delivered Zombie’s biggest hit song, “Dragula,” to the waiting fans who devoured it like starving wolves tearing at a fresh elk corpse. Zombie then introduced his touring band members, giving special attention to John 5, and took one last bow before the amphitheater lights came up and throngs of happy, exhausted fans started to make their way back to their cars.

Congratulations are in order to the promoters at Production Simple, Inc. (http://productionsimple.com/) and the folks at the Iroquois Amphitheater  for booking and hosting an incredible rock show. Thanks to Zombie, John 5 and crew for giving us a Derby Eve Jam to remember!

The Phantom of The Ville

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