Robin threw me a curve ball yesterday morning, in the form of a text inviting me to a Rob Zombie/Disturbed concert that night in Cedar Rapids. Doors at 6, show at 7. It just happened to work out that I was working that morning, and had a babysitter who was willing to stay late, so I accepted, pending being able to get out of work soon enough to make the doors.

Apparently, she had gotten the tickets as an incentive to get her son to improve his grades (Jude is a teenager! How time flies…) and given him several months to do so, but it hadn’t helped. So, she was going without him. The extra ticket should have been his, I guess.

I spent most of the morning texting frantically back and forth, trying to arrange childcare etc, and negotiating driving. Around noon, I sort of hesitantly asked if there was any chance I could take off early, if things were slow. They asked why, and I was just honest, “My friend invited me to a Rob Zombie and Disturbed concert.” I got a round of blank looks, but I did end up being able to leave a little after 3PM.

I went home and took a shower, and took entirely too mong trying to figure out what to wear that wouldn’t make me look like a stay-at-home mom in her 30’s. All my really interesting goth stuff is long gone, and I probably couldn’t pull it off anymore, anyway. Evangeline was fascinated by the process, and had all kinds of opinions. I didn’t follow her advice, though, because she was convinced that all I needed to wear was my bra and underwear, because, “They are so beautiful, Mama!” I ended up with jeans and a fancy-ish red lace shirt.

Lance was going, too, so I met up with him and let him drive. We made it to Cedar Rapids by the time the show was supposed to start, but it hadn’t started. I was glad, because it took us another half an hour to find the right entrance to meet Robin (who had my ticket) and get through the metal detectors.


Pop Evil

Pop Evil was just starting their set when we got into the venue. I love Pop Evil! I had no idea they were the opener – although I was hoping they would be. They’re headliners in their own right, the show must have been a pretty big deal for them to be the opening act. Anyway, they played a few songs that were unfamiliar to me while we wandered around the venue, asking various security people where we belonged. Finally, we decided we’d go out on the floor and try to get close. What’s a concert if you don’t get a little smashed, right? By the time we made it out there, they were just starting their last song, which happens to be my favorite of theirs, “Higher.”



Well, we certainly got smashed. The Rob Zombie set was a little out of hand, really – and it turned out not to matter in the slightest what I was wearing, coz I was smothered by a writhing mass of sweaty bodies in tour T-shirts, struggling to remain upright. Almost literally. There were a few times I had to make some room for myself so I could take a full breath.


It’s Rob Zombie, for srs.

It was fun, though, sort of. Actually I think the whole thing was a little bit like childbirth – at the time it’s maybe not what you expected and not necessarily pleasant, but when you come out the other side, you remember the good parts and it was amazing!
We worked our way pretty far forward during the course of the show, and were almost within arms-reach of Rob Zombie while he was doing his crowd-walking thing. The set was a mix of old and new songs, 2/3s of which I knew because they were from the Superbeast album. He also did “More Human than Human,” which is my favorite Zombie song, even though it’s technically White Zombie. This is Robin’s favorite band, so she knew everything and was taking pictures of the empty stage and everything else in between. (All the pictures in this entry are hers – I didn’t bring a camera. I wouldn’t even have brought my phone, except I didn’t want to get lost in the venue.) They did, as far as I could tell, all original stuff except one cover – of “American Band,” of all things.

One of the songs they did was a new one that is called, “Well, Everybody’s F*ing in a UFO”. I had no idea what the lyrics were when I heard it on the radio, and didn’t like it then. Once I saw it live and could actually read his lips, while I acknowledge that the lyrical lilt of his recitation of the verses is fun, I do not like that song. Not at all. Which means, of course, that it will be stuck in my head for days.


John 5

This guy stole the show, as far as I’m concerned. Not only did he have some pretty impressive solos and tricks (plucking strings with your tongue, anyone?), but an array of weird guitars and effects, including one that was full of fluorescent goo that swirled around when he moved. When he first came out, he had some weird glowy device in his mouth and the long white hair, and I thought, “Immortan Joe is their lead guitar? Figures.”

The pause between bands was interminable, just kind of standing there smashed up against a sea of strangers. A few familiar faces started to appear like islands in the mist: that’s the guy who keeps threatening to ‘blow past us’, that’s the gal who helped throw that last crazy dude over the barrier, stay away from that guy because has drank at least half of the bottle of vodka he smuggled in, and he might puke at any moment…
The bouncers came out and started giving people closest to the rail sips of water, then spraying cold water out over the crowd. Despite being smashed in and really hot, that’s not as pleasant as you think it should be. One guy, for reasons unknown to me, decided to throw a whole glass of ice-cold water in my face. I was soaking wet. Ungh. I suggested maybe we should get out of the moshing area before Disturbed took over, but Robin wanted to stay and see the first few songs from up close. Later, Lance told us most of the moshing was happening a few rows behind, anyway.


Fire alarm kills the flow

Eventually, the stage was set and Disturbed took over. They did a couple of songs, and then were clearly setting up for “Sound of Silence” (What other Disturbed song makes use of a baby grand piano?) When an alarm went off, and a canned voice told us to exit the building. I thought, at first, that it was a song introduction, but it didn’t seem like a fitting segue for the song I knew was coming up. It turns out that either someone had pulled a fire alarm, or Disturb’s pyrotechnics had upset the building’s warning system. They turned on all the house lights, which pissed off David Draiman, who stalked back and forth across the stage, complaining and getting the crowd to yell, “Bullshit!” every once in awhile. He wanted to do the song in the dark.

Eventually, the glitch was ironed out, and they resumed the show. The fire alarm had taken some of the energy out of the crowd, and it wasn’t anywhere near as boisterous or cramped on the floor after that point.


David Draiman of Disturbed

“Sound of Silence” live was… Very good. Not my favorite Disturbed song, but probably top 5 after seeing it live. After that quiet interlude, they ramped the show back up by doing an interesting medley of covers. Nine Inch Nails to U2 (What? Whatever, it worked.) and then The Who to Rage Against the Machine. The RATM song really got the crowd pumped back up… Although I do think it’s a little amusing for the whole crowd to be screaming, “F* you, I won’t do what you tell me!” after someone onstage instructs them to yell louder…



The lead guitar (Dan Donigan) was right in front of us, so I had an opportunity to watch what he was doing during the performance. People would hold up their camera phones, and he would pose and smile while he was playing – quite the showman. He didn’t have as many tricks and random light-up gadgets as the other guy, but he did play very well and seemed to be enjoying what he was doing, and he didn’t need the costume and weird extras because he’s rather nice-looking without having to try too hard. Kind of looked like James Hetfield (Metallica) from my angle.

The bands were quite the contrast in several ways. First was the stage itself. Rob Zombie had two huge set pieces: a cartoonish double-zombie-head thing on stage right, and a giant boom box on stage left, as well as shiny goblin and six-armed-skeleton microphone stands, elaborate costuming for band members, several shirt changes, and… An enormous silver baby appeared at one point and wandered around the stage for awhile. There was a round projector screen in the backdrop that played various terrible videos, some of which were either the original music video, or the video with the band cuts removed and just the character/theme elements remaining, and the rest were just kind of supercuts of the most gross or weird random things he could locate, interspersed with maladroit sexual imagery.

13245506_10157042122930389_8373423593774269619_nThe Disturbed stage was austere in comparison. It was empty but for a few risers and the band’s sound equipment. The background was a textured wall, and they relied on lights, a couple of backdrops to lower, and of course… Pyrotechnics. That was a hot show, and I don’t just mean the guitarist. The heat coming off the flame cannons was like standing in front of a furnace. I can’t imagine the band wasn’t sweating – I certainly was. And that’s probably why the rest of the stage was so clear… Less to catch on fire.

The actual band’s stage presence was decidedly different, as well. Rob Zombie was back and forth, all over the stage, changing his shirts every once in awhile (it might have been with song changes, but I couldn’t see that well), dancing a lot, and acting out his lyrics as he sang them. At one point, he stepped off the stage, onto the crowd, and let them hold him up while he ‘walked’ six or eight paces across the front rows. Robin probably could have reached out and touched him. I’ve never seen that particular maneuver before. His guitarist, as I mentioned before, was a show unto himself.

In comparison, Disturbed’s David Draiman did a lot of moody pacing, and a bit of arm-waving, but not much else. His guitarists were most of the movement and interest in the show, jumping on and off different parts of the set and adding drama to solo parts. They kind of let the fire do the work for them.

The other big difference was how the two bands addressed the smartphone plague that was running rampant. At least half of the people I saw on the floor were recording video or taking pictures on their phones, watching the live show on the screen while they were recording. There was lots of selfie-ing. I participated in one that I know of, and am probably in the background of 52 others.


During his set, Rob seemed to get a little annoyed about it and scolded us for living through the phones, then asked everyone to put them away and just live in the moment. I don’t remember the exact words, but the message was, “Don’t worry about posting to your whatever, just rock and roll! Let’s do it old school!” And then, of course, proceeded to launch into “Thunder Kiss ’65”.

Disturbed, on the other hand, made the phones part of the show. When they did “The Light,” they instructed the crowd to hold up their phones (or lighters) when they sang those particular words. I turned around a few times during that song to take in the venue, and it was really beautiful. In addition, at the very end, they invited everyone to “take a picture with them”, which resulted in (I’m sure) 700 selfies of ‘someone’ with the Disturbed stage in the background. Hooray for free advertising!

The show was a lot of fun, as a whole, and will be a fun memory. We went out for dinner afterwards, and sat around at Applebee’s for entirely too long, re-hashing the concert and catching up with Robin. Eventually, Lance and I headed home. I was very, very, very, very glad we went together. After being up since 6:30AM, 1AM hit hard. I passed out.

And then, he got lost. A couple of times. But, we got back on the right track and I managed to get back to my front door around the time dawn was breaking.

Not a bad Tuesday night, I think! I’m not sure I could (or would) willingly go on the floor again in a crowd that rowdy, but it was certainly memorable! Thank you, Robin.



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