On my way to the venue for the Rob Zombie show on Wednesday night (September 17), I wondered how the vibe would be in this beautiful venue nestled in Central California Wine Country. In only its second season of shows, the Vina Robles Amphitheatre had never played host to a show this rocking before, with the closest being the Sammy Hagar/Rival Sons show last year. So not only was I looking forward to rocking hard with Rob and the band, I wanted to see how the mosh pits were going to go over with a definitive beer drinking crowd (I assume some wine was consumed -lol).
The open pit in front of the stage was going to provide for ample moshing and the crowd was definitely ready after a opening set by DJ Ginger Fish, who also doubles as Mr. Zombie’s drummer. He mashed up familiar and hard rocking tracks designed to get the party vibe kicking in. When the lights went down and Rob announced we were having an early Halloween party, I knew that would be factual! The backdrop of classic photos of Frankenstien, the Wolfman, Phantom of the Opera and a huge backdrop picture of King Kong terrorizing New York City added to the vibe as Zombie jumped from small platform to small platform singing into a microphone stand modeled after “Nosferatu,” the original film vampire.
The energy was electric from the beginning to end with the set kicking off with ‘Teenage Nosferatu’ and ‘Superbeast’ and continuing into ‘Living Dead Girl.’ That was followed by ‘Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown’ from last years album release ‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor.’
Drummer Piggy D’s kick ass solo flowed into ‘More Human Than Human,’ with Rob really jacking the crowd up a few notches and imploring them with his words: “Are You Ready!…Security, chill the fuck out. If you want to get up, GET UP..Fuck that shit! We’re here to party..fuck it. Get up motherfuckers!’ And get up they did. The energy level in the venue was off the hook at this point.
‘Sick Bubble-Gum’ was up next with Rob getting a couple of Rock cheerleaders onstage from the audience. One was a guy with a Captain Misfit mask near Guitarist John 5 on the right of the stage and a Bettie Page look-alike with bassist Piggy D on the left. The chats of “Rock” and “Motherfucker” kicked in, and then did the track, which prominently features both words. ‘House of 1,000 Corpses’ and “Meet The Creeper’ continued the ass kicking, followed by a cover of ‘Beat The Brat,’ paying tribute to the Ramones.
The build up into track that starting the Zombie phenomenon ‘Thunder Kiss 65’ kicked in with Rob imploring to the crowd in the pit, “Hold onto your beer, hold into your nachos, hold on to your popcorn…things might get a little weird. I see that guy coming in with his refreshments, he may just want to back on out.” Hopefully he did, as the crowd at this point went ballistic. The amazing John 5 channeled his inner Eddie Van Halen during the guitar solo, showing off his amazing musical skills. John 5 is truly one of the guitar greats in Rock today. During the solo, Rob grabbed a spotlight and went out into the audience, slapping fives and bonding even up on the lawn area. Rob Zombie took the bond between the band and his audience to the next level at this point.
John 5 then proceeded to launch into a solo of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ with his teeth and Rob donned an American flag cape as the band launched into Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘We’re An American Band.’ The set was originally to close with ‘Dragula,’ but after a couple of minutes Rob brought the band back to kick everyone’s ass one last time with ‘Scum Of The Earth.’
There was some serious moshing going on, and even a fight or two with some blows thrown during the show. I will say this…the Vina Robles Security staff did a fantastic job squashing anything before it got really out of control and didn’t single anyone out or make big issue of it. They just got it separated and squashed. I am looking forward to more Hard Rock shows at the venue next season.
Rob Zombie and the band truly make a unique and intense connection with their fans and they deliver! Even on the way out of Vina Robles, the band was connecting as each and every person received an awesome comic caricature poster of the band complete with date and venue location on it. A memorable show to say the least, and looking forward to a return visit the California Central Coast soon. For more Zombie photos check out the Marshall of Rock Facebook page.
Special Thanks to Jessica Puchli of Nedelander. Get more info on Vina Robles Amphitheatre here.