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The arena became a punk and metal-head mecca as crowds of the misunderstood prepared to storm the doors and grab a good spot in which to mosh, crowd  surf or expose themselves.  This was a night of sensory overload as the crowd greeted the “Undead One,” Rob Zombie and his monster show, which included punk rockers “The Damned” and “Sinisstar.”  The Demon Speeding tour is a full-blown, evil, raging beast – a total Zombie Extravaganza that incorporates Zombie’s flair for lights, sound, video and pyrotechnics to support the former White Zombie front man’s warped, macabre mind musings.

Fighting our way through the mass of concert goers adorned in primarily black we missed the opening set from Sinisstar, which actually started right on time (a first from my long list of concert experiences). I was intrigued to see Sinisster since they got so much attention a couple years ago when Geffen won a bidding war for them, with a seven figure deal and they fell off the radar ever since. So we’ll have to wait a bit longer for their album to come out to see if Geffen got it’s monies worth! 

On many levels the teaming up of the Damned and Rob Zombie makes total sense, then again on other levels it makes no sense. They both possess a gothic horror  show quality about them as purveyors of A Clockwork Orange musical society. Both present dark and somber overtones musically that sparks vivid nightmare like pictures in the mind of their victims (a.k.a. fans). Despite all they have in common, they seem to attract different audiences. Rob Zombie fans worship at the alter of metal and The Damned are about as punk rock as you can get. In fact, they were the very first punk band to release a record. It’s true, their first single came out weeks before The Sex Pistols hit the world between the eyes and started the punk revolution. 

This schizophrenic combination on stage produced a mixed reaction from the crowd, some fans were truly into The Damned’s gothic punk rock, while others stood there dazed, not knowing what to make of it. It was this mixed reaction that caused The Damned to drop off the tour a few nights after this show. So we were lucky to catch them when we did. For the ones who could appreciate The Damned’s straight ahead punk performance it was an inspired experience, seeing them on a big stage and taking full command. antiGUY who came along for the show turned to me halfway through their set and joked, “I hope one of those (derogatory term) from Blink-182 is here tonight to see what a real punk band is all about!” (Blink-182 hails from Poway, just a short drive up the freeway from Cox Arena). 

A demonic mass was about to overtake the Cox Arena. The characteristic skulls and robotic monsters were at home on the dark smoky stage as leggy blonde  dancers accentuated each ghoulish rhythm and bizarre silent videos alternately gave glimpses of ED Wood stylized torture scenes and bizarre seduction.  The ringmaster of this multi media thrill ride is Zombie’s vivid and horrific sub conscious.  As the metal roll rumbles from Riggs (guitars) and Blasko (bass) and crashes against Tempesta’s drum beats, you don’t know which way to look as you are drinking it in.  The sights, the sounds, the atmosphere envelopes you in this dark world where such songs as “Bring Her Down (to Crippletown)” and “House of a Thousand Corpses” lurk and live in your fantasies.  Besides cuts from his latest album, “The Sinister Urge,” the scream team also favored the crowd with favorites from his debut solo album “Hellbilly Deluxe” like “Dragula” and “Meet the Creeper.” 

Rob held sway over the crowd from the first note, but certain performances took the already wound up fans to new dizzying heights, especially when Rob and the band launched into the old White Zombie classic, "Thunder Kiss '65", the arena filled with a righteous roar and only the full voltage spectacle on stage could drown out the deafening screams of the crowd. Rob let the fans further into his demented mind and imagination as he showed clips from his forthcoming film, “House of a Thousand Corpses”, which he explained the MPAA originally gave an X-rating to because it contained too much “sadistic violence”! 

Just when you thought that the crowd couldn’t be whipped up into a more intense “sadistic” frenzy, Rob  jumped from the side of the stage and joined the crowd on the floor, who stood their transfixed for a moment not believing that Rob Zombie was walking among them as Rob asked into his wireless mic, “What the hell is going on down here?” That seemed to break the trance and a few fans approached Rob with high fives before he jumped back up on the stage to finish performing “Sinister Urge” and leave the crowd screaming for more as the band left the stage only to return minutes later with a pyrotechnic laced rendition of “Dragula”. 

As is always the case with Zombie, an artistic showman, a night of fantasy and a heavy metal poultice for your pop star headache.  It will be interesting to see what he pulls out for this year’s Ozzfest to bend your mind and warp your senses.  Definitely worth the price of a ticket!

Visit the Official Rob Zombie website for sadistic fun

Purchase Rob Zombie's music online!

Visit the Official Damned website for latest on this legendary punk band

Purchase The Damned music online!


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