At what point does it become okay for an artist to wear a shirt with their own name emblazoned on it? Do they need to be an international metal star? A renowned director? Or is it more the mentality of not caring, like one big middle finger saying “Yeah, my shirt says ‘Rob Motherf****n Zombie,’ and I don’t care” (it literally did).
It seems likely to be the last, but let’s face it. Rob Zombie, like his ‘Twin Of Evil’ Marilyn Manson, have carefully crafted stage personas. Horror metal theatrics were at their finest at Mohegan Sun for their co-headlining tour. Rotating for the top bill, Saturday night had Manson opening and Zombie on the top slot.
The tour hasn’t been without its problems. In a different display of middle finger style animosity, Manson and Zombie had a very public spat over who’s set ate into the others’ time. Manson felt gypped, and didn’t hesitate to say so on stage or on Twitter. Zombie responded with a Facebook rant… and well, you know how these things can go.
There was little to no hint of that at Saturday night’s concert, save for one little instance. When getting the crowd hyped up during his set, Zombie said “Shhhh… be very very quiet, there’s sleeping babies backstage…” after the crowd began to howl a little, Zombie quickly added “Oh, I’m just kidding! There’s no babies backstage!” Was that a subtle jab at the controversy? Is this just reading too deep? For disclosure, this reviewer had a gap between photographing Zombie, checking photo gear, and returning to the arena right around the fourth song (If anything happened then, share it in the comments).
At this point in their careers, both Manson and Zombie have established their performance criteria quite well- Manson using sacrilege and fascist imagery and Zombie with a masquerade of robots, fire, and grindhouse film.
That being said, neither performance disappointed in the realm of ridiculous theatrics and over the top stagework. Manson’s stage and wardrobe shifted nearly every song, from ecclesiastical garb while screeching through ‘Disposable Teens’ to a fur coat for ‘The Dope Show,’ during which a huge marquee emblazoned the word ‘DRUGS’ across the stage.
Of course neither shock set would be complete in an election year without some kind of political reference. It was obvious during Manson’s performance of ‘Personal Jesus,’ where he wore a politician’s suit set before massive amalgamations of the American flag. It all ended with the confetti bursts of a political convention. A little more subtle was during ‘mOBSCENE,’ when scrolling marquees simply displayed the names of various societal ills, but included the phrase ‘Rapey Ryan.’
Rob Zombie’s stagecraft played out much like the grindhouse films the Woodbridge resident pays homage to, from campy giant robots to bursting torches on stage. The show was similar, almost identical to 2010’s ‘Halloween Hootenanny’ performance (click here to see photos of that concert). That is to say, there was little that could have been done to improve on the atmosphere Zombie creates for a set full of skeletons, huge monster puppets, and a nonstop sensory overload.
In the end though, it’s not hard to feel like perhaps we’re all just used to this sort of insanity. Much like looking at the performances of Alice Cooper in his heyday, things were once so shocking that crowds would line up for blocks, mothers would swoon, and church groups would picket. And like Alice Cooper concerts (he also played 2010’s ‘Hootenanny’ tour), the performances are still incredible to see. Neither one of these ‘evil’ performers have lost their flair, but the crowd has desensitized from shock to plain old fun.
**Something to add: It was brought to this writer’s attention that at one point during his set, Marilyn Manson threw up on stage. This instance, first discovered from the site Lez Get Real, was later confirmed by a Mohegan Sun representative. I’m not sure when during the set this happened, I didn’t see it from my seat. However at one point it appeared that Manson stabbed a beer can with a dagger attached to the microphone and poured it out. Maybe it was at that point? Again, feel free to comment below!