White Zombie Takes Louisville to The Limit

By Kevin Gibson

Call it a symbolic passing of the torch.

It seemed two crowds showed up at the November 20 White Zombie show at Louisville Gardens — the Zombie fans and a smaller group which came for a glimpse at the Ramones.

Following a 50-minute set by the Pappaws of Punk, Ramones fans stood back in their leather jackets and boots and watched, mouths agape, as White Zombie, the new pioneers in punk, opened a doorway to hell right there in downtown Louisville.

White Zombie. Photo By Chris Cuffaro

While the Satan- and death-oriented music of Rob Zombie and company became just another character in a huge script of props and special effects, the sacrifice (no pun intended) was probably worth it. Certainly, it pleased the 3,000 or so who paid the 20 bucks to see the spectacle.

Like the slums of the damned, the stage was outfitted with what looked like post-Armageddon ruins decorated with skulls and jack-o- lanterns and lit in red. Behind the band, a 10-foot-tall head of a horned demon smiled cruelly into the Gardens.

As if that wasn't distraction enough from the sounds of metal/thrash/industrial rock screeching from the amps, about three songs into the show a video screen dropped in behind the stage and reeled off close to an hour's worth of footage from old science fiction shows and B-movies (Ultraman even made an appearance), dancing girls featuring full frontal nudity, a special tribute to Charles Manson and a presentation from The Crazy Mixed-Up Dr. Evil and His Terrors of the Unknown.

Throw in a blinding light show and frequent explosions and one often found oneself forgetting about the band completely. Whatever the intention, the bizarre mixture worked to perfection.

In fact, the breathtaking scene made it difficult to believe this group spent nearly ten years in indie anonymity, playing small clubs before their two million-selling albums, La Sexorcisto and Astra-Creep. The fact is, Rob Zombie and his ghoulish crew are quite the showmen (and woman).

Zombie, who spent most of the evening running manically from one end of the stage to the other, unleashed upon the appreciative crowd several impromptu, obscenity-filled addresses and at one point admitted (bragged?) that Hit Parader recently voted him one of the five ugliest people in rock.

The triumphant moment came just before the encore when, over a dark stage, the video screen played a newscast from some local TV station which covered the band on one of its stops. The segment, anchored by a stiff, neatly coiffed and perfectly adorned woman, revealed that White Zombie's music and act promotes satanism and evil.

The news anchor related that psychology experts agree the band's image "can have a negative effect on children who fail to see the difference between the group's marketing ploys and satanic worship." At that point, four crucified clowns dropped from the ceiling. Oh, those nutty satanists.

Amongst the fun, the music paled slightly. Highlights include a cover of Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave" (from a 1994 tribute album) and the climactic "Grease Paint and Monkey Brains," but portions of the show sounded too computer-enhanced and sometimes artificial. Nevertheless, the crowd received it all well, based on the non-stop moshing, the fistfights (featuring actual blood) and pools of vomit near the exit tunnels.

The Ramones, who have announced their impending spring breakup, made what will probably be their final stop in Louisville to warm things up.

While it was magical to see Johnny, Joey and Marky on stage, it was also obvious their clocks are winding down. With their recently acquired bassist C. J., a 20-something who seemed charged just to be counted as a Ramone, the band resembled a toy whose batteries are running down. C.J. is the one brand new Energizer in the bunch, but we all know a toy won't run long on one battery.

The Ramones weaved through selections from their quintessential Ramones Mania double-album, throwing in "Pet Sematary," "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World," and a couple of cuts from their new and final album, Adios Amigos. Among those were the initial single, "l Don't Want to Grow Up" (irony?) and two featuring C.J.'s vocals, as the exhausted Joey took a break.

While the Ramones obviously aren't the young men they were in the 1970s when they were leading punk rock into the public eye, it didn't seem to matter to their fans. The band could have played Barry Manilow covers and the slam-dancing would have continued on.

Their segment ended with "Pinhead," featuring a surprise visit from the cone- crowned Pinhead character himself, carrying a banner which read, "Gabba Gabba Hey." It was spiritual.

The Supersuckers kicked things off with a high-powered, 30-minute set of hardcore / country tunes. The cowboy-hat wearing quartet from Tucson blitzed the audience with selections from their album, Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers, including "The 19th Most Powerful Woman in Rock."

Perhaps tipping off their true intent, the band's leader, Spaghetti Eddie (how cool is that?), bragged that by joining the tour he got to see the Ramones play five nights in a row.

"We'd like to thank White Zombie for this big, fat coattail ride," he said. Even if the money isn't great, he'll have something to tell his grandchildren,