Written by Jet Tessman
It has been the longest hot streak in the DFW area in a decade. The evening temperature on Thursday, August 24th was 108 for the Freaks on Parade tour featuring Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper. This would be the first stop on the tour. With 4 bands on the bill the show kicked off at 6:10pm, the hottest part of the day. This didn’t seem to affect attendance however as the venue the locals call Starplex, aka Dos Equis Pavillion, was at about 2/3 capacity, including on the sprawling lawn. I never understood why the architects of these concert facilities in Texas designed them with westward facing stages. It seems to me that if the stage faced eastward, the evening concerts would be much more comfortable for the artists, and the pavilion would shade the stands and the lawn. They probably drew the plans up in New York City.
Filter would take the stage first in support of their new album Algorithm which was set to be released the very next day. They did not however include any of their new songs in the short 5 song set. Richard Patrick donned a long sleeve black jacket, black shirt and black pants. Facing directly into the sun for the entirety of the set he commented on the overwhelming heat. Patrick’s music career started when he played guitar with Nine Inch Nails. He departed that band in 1993, thus to date marking a 30 year run. They closed their set with their biggest hit ‘Hey Man Nice Shot’.
One thing that all four bands on this bill have in common is that the frontman is the only original and founding member. Chicago native Al Jourgensen and his band Ministry took the stage at 7pm, and little had changed about the conditions as the sun was slowly setting and blazing right at the stage. Their 40 minute set of their trademark industrial sound was like a hypnotic trance. With a long list of past members, the band, formed in 1981, has had a constantly changing lineup. While Al handled all the lead vocal parts, he was accompanied by the guitar player rather frequently throughout, trading shoutback and overlap parts. They introduced their new single Goddam White Trash, and followed that with the closer Revenge from the 1983 album With Sympathy.
The sun had set, but the heat had only relented to 99 degrees as Heavy Metal veteran Alice Cooper took the stage at 8:10 for a 65 minute set. At 75 years old, and 59 years of spooking stages, he has an uncanny knack for consistently looking the same. I suppose the character he created with the dark eye makeup and black streaks on his face helps to keep him rather timeless. Opening with No More Mr Nice Guy the stage was set with large gothic looking staircases on either side connecting to a railed balcony across the back. It sort of looked like they were performing in the front lobby at the Adams Family house. Alice was wearing fairly high waisted pants and a white puffy shirt most of the set but would put on a long heavy jacket for the song Poison. Guitarists Nita Strauss and Ryan Roxie were on fire with their stage presence and performed a shredding duet in harmony. Alice had a very large yellow boa constrictor around his neck for the song Snake Bite. He wore a straight jacket and was stabbed in his side for the Ballad of Dwight Fry. An enormous tall Frankenstein like character walked around the stage a while. Alice brought his wife Sheryl out in a big hoop dress and introduced her to the audience. He closed the set with Elected, and at the end of the song said ‘I am not a criminal, I did not sleep with that girl’. The crowd demanded an encore. He came back wearing a white jacket and white top hat for the final closer Schools Out. Showing off his baton spinning skills, as he marched in step to the song that opened with a clip of Pink Floyds Another Brick in the Wall.
Rob Zombie is a multi dynamic individual. I was told personally by John 5 that he is the nicest guy he’s ever worked with. After having dissolved his former band White Zombie in the late 90’s and stepping out under his own moniker, Rob also began writing, directing, producing, and acting in his own horror film franchise. House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel The Devils Rejects put him on the map as a successful filmmaker A brief clip from these films was shown in the middle of his set this evening, featuring the scary clown character Captain Spaulding. The high energy, heavy thumping rhythmic set came out in full force and never relented. Rob’s stage presence was wild and acrobatic, wearing dark colored tattered clothes and fringes on the lower legs of his pants, a look akin to David Lee Roth crawling out of a dumpster. His signature look with long dread locks and dark eye paint make him appear to be much older than 58. He has a collection of changing mic stands including a weird lit up star and a skeleton of some creature with 6 arms. Once again large, creepy oversized creatures would come out and walk around giving the whole set a larger than life appearance. Video screens of various shapes and sizes were placed randomly around the set, yet seemed to be playing a portion of one larger video, creating an unusual effect. The bass player wore a mask that looked sort of like a Yoda character. Blasting through a 65 minute set of his greatest hits including More Human than Human, and Living Dead Girl, there was also a thundering drum solo. For the last song Dragula, Rob rose up from a gigantic zombie head in a cloud of smoke.
Rob Zombie’s first solo album Hellbilly Deluxe was a collaboration of writing and performances with Alice Cooper. The pairing of a tour with Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie works well. The dark creepy horror theme of their characters and performances make for an exciting evening that will be even more fun for the audiences that get to see it as they continue the tour closer to Halloween.