Rock is undead

Rob Zombie at the Ventura Theater 

By Chris O'Neal 06/02/2011

Whether or not you’re familiar with classic horror films, Frankenstein’s monster, werewolves and mummies are part of our horror vernacular. Children tremble in fear; grown men ruin pants while fleeing hordes of demons. There is one man who runs toward the danger, though. His name is Rob Zombie, and his live shows are a celebration of all that is evil and spooky.  

Last Wednesday, Zombie and his dark minions stormed the Ventura Theater and gave an energetic performance to a varied crowd of his equally dark fans. Zombie’s catalog dates back to the late ’80s, when he formed White Zombie and amassed a following that sort of made it to the Ventura Theater show. A varied crowd of 40-somethings mingled with the barely out-of-junior-high crowd. Zombie’s appeal spans several decades, to say the least.

Something interesting has been occurring at local shows lately, when a big name comes through town to grace us with its presence. For whatever reason, the singer seems to disparage the city by making note of how small it is compared to other venues the band has played. Yes, I believe most Venturans are aware that we’re not Los Angeles, but does that need to be pointed out? Zombie was no exception, explicitly mentioning his sold-out shows around the world. But rather than let it be a detriment, he and his band dipped into songs rarely played, perhaps out of nostalgia for his raging heyday in local bars, or perhaps to rile up the crowd, who ate it up like the flesh his namesake craves.

Most of what brings a person out to a Rob Zombie show is the spectacle. Behind him on stage, Zombie’s crew had erected massive images of horror icons. The Wolfman, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster were all represented. There could be no better contrast of classic and modern horror than by comparing these images to Zombie’s crew of musicians: Piggy D, the bassist, appeared in a large headdress one would find natural in an H.P. Lovecraft visual; Zombie himself wore his trademark unkempt dreaded hair, his eyes darkened and sunken, his costume an accessory to his tattoos. Sure, there are those who claim to be horror enthusiasts, but Zombie lives it, making no apologies for the crying kiddies left in his wake.

Zombie’s performance spanned his career, from White Zombie classics (“More Human Than Human”) to his recent solo releases (“Mars Needs Women”), and he even made mention of his movie career, announcing that he would soon take a break to direct another horror film (the Halloween reboot being just one of his many undertakings).

Ask any number of his fans, who swarmed his tour bus immediately after he left the stage to raise their tops or proclaim their undying love, if Zombie is still relevant. He may not be as energetic as he was in the era of Hellbilly Deluxe, but his army of groupies is still undead and well.

Note: Apparently Zombie’s visage cannot be captured, which is why we were unable to procure a photo of his performance.


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