Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper offer tale of two merch tables in Vancouver

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      Gruesome Twosome Tour

      At the Pacific Coliseum on Saturday, May 1

      You can learn a lot about rock stars by what they’re willing to offer up for cold hard cash. Scanning a merch table at Saturday’s Gruesome Twosome show I noticed Alice Cooper was flogging T-shirts that read “Love It to Death Tour 1971”. Now, even for a dedicated salesman like Cooper, that’s embarrassing, making something churned out in China last week seem like a sought-after ’70s-rock collectible.

      I was damn near tempted to buy one.

      Love It to Death was the first great Alice Cooper album, and it set the bar for his other stellar ’70s discs, like School’s Out, Killer, and Billion Dollar Babies. It’s the timeless tunes from those records that people want to hear when they go to an Alice Cooper show; they also want to see him get hanged, beheaded, and menaced by sexy nurses while wrapped in a straitjacket. This time around, the Coop offered plenty of the shock-rock theatrics he’s famous for, but his set list was no screaming hell.

      Sure, he started off with the teen anthem “School’s Out”—prowling around in black leather and studs and brandishing a cutlass that wound up embedded in the stage floor—but his set included way too many songs from recent throwaway albums like Dirty Diamonds and Along Came a Spider. Cripes, he didn’t even leave enough time for “Halo of Flies”!

      Most of the crowd seemed thrilled by the show, though, especially when Cooper played up to their hometown pride by donning a Roberto Luongo Canucks jersey. Of course, in true Cooper fashion it was stained red with what he called “Blackhawk blood” in honour of the evening’s playoff slaughtering in Chicago.

      After Cooper’s set—during which he was guillotined, hanged, and lethally injected with neon-green fluid from a four-foot syringe—I headed over to another merch table to kill time while coheadliner Rob Zombie set up. That’s when I discovered a Zombie T-shirt proclaiming him a “100% corpse-fucking, flesh-eating, zombie-loving, god damn son of a bitch”. Turns out it should have also read: “And don’t pull his hair!”

      Zombie was partway through “More Human Than Human”, his porn-sampling, Blade Runner–referencing White Zombie hit of ’95, when he decided to get up close and personal with his rowdy fans. But as he strode alongside the stage-front barricade one of the rowdier ones grabbed his long, grimy hair, causing the singer to lash out with a knuckle sandwich.

      After the song was over and Zombie was safely back on-stage he apologized for punching the guy in the face, claiming it was a “muscle reflex” brought on by the hair-pulling. To prove his theory he invited guitarist John 5 to yank on his hair, but apparently the former Marilyn Manson sideman doesn’t enjoy knuckle sandwiches.

      The senseless violence perpetrated on Zombie’s mop wasn’t all that shocking, considering that he’d spent the previous 20 minutes working the crowd into a frenzy with his grinding, industrial-tinged metal. During this assault, multiple video screens flashed newsreel footage of Charles Manson and his twisted disciples. The steady barrage of flames shooting up at the back of the stage was enough to get anyone a little hot under the collar.

      The only time Zombie showed his soft side was at the end of his set, when he showered the audience with tiny white feathers. They were still floating lazily down from the rafters when he encored with “Werewolf Women of the SS” and his biggest solo hit, “Dragula”, which incorporated some vintage Munsters drag-race footage.

      Ah, Fred Gwynne. Too bad there was no Herman Munster bobblehead on the merch table.




      May 2, 2010 at 3:21pm

      Is this a review of the merch they are selling or a review of the show? If its a review of the show then I would say next send somebody else to do it because this is a piss poor effort

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      May 2, 2010 at 10:31pm

      Yes, Tobey, a piss poor effort is correct. the opening sentence makes no sense at all, this isn't a grammar contest but using a pronoun that references rock stars as if they buy their own merch. I just assume editors here would catch that.

      Rambling about the retro merch simply illustrates his lack of knowledge on merch tables of the 21st century. As if these throwback shorts haven't been on the tables of every act through this way in the last two years; Maiden does it, Priest sells a heap of British Steel shirts, AC/DC still sell Highway to Hell and the old white on black AC/DC logo. You' d think someone selling 'stories' to The Straight would have seen a concert before, then again, he could be that wide eyed kid who was on one of his first mushroom trips and told me it was his first show ever.

      As for the rest, it's not worth the keystrokes; again The Straight proves they have fallen far from the Vancouver classic Georgia Straight that got them to where they are today.

      Vid link:
      <object width="300" height="251"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="300" height="251"></embed></object>
      Can't stop the ringing of my funeral bell.

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      tim crich

      May 3, 2010 at 6:30am

      I agree. I came close to buying the "love it to death" Tshirt. Loved the show, The only shock I got all night was seeing Alice open for Zombie. I guess after almost 40 ,years, you have to step aside for the new guys. The whole night seemed somewhat tame. Maybe I'm just a little jaded. Through it all, fun night was had by everyone. Rob was good, not great.

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      Steve Newton

      May 4, 2010 at 12:17pm

      Nice photo OzMeister! Sure hope you get to stop that ringing of your funeral bell soon. Must be a little hard on the ears.

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      Mob Barley

      May 5, 2010 at 12:05pm

      Well, look at it this way, Tobey and OzMedia, a reveiw of a merch table is a lot better than the usual "three paragraphs of insults leveled at fans of band X, which the self appointed too cool for the rest of you writers (ahem) of the music section of the Georgia Straight" think arent cool enough to deserve an actual review which isnt snide, sarcastic, condescending and totally devoid of any objective commentary on the music or show, good or bad.

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      Steve Newton

      May 5, 2010 at 3:21pm

      Thanks Mob! Glad you liked my review of the merch table. As merch tables go, it was one of the better ones. I doubt the merch table at this Sunday's Eagles concert will compare, but you never know. Stay tuned for an in-depth review of that merch table, with maybe a little bit about the concert on the side.

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      What Thehell

      May 6, 2010 at 11:13am

      Rob was like watching Britney Spears with a beard and the same makeup artist.

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      Steve Newton

      May 6, 2010 at 12:33pm

      I don't know what the hell to make of that comparison What The Hell.

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      Mob Barley

      May 6, 2010 at 1:44pm

      Sure you are going to make it to the Eagles, Steve ?

      I mean, the Eagles seem pretty mainstream, pedestrian, commercially viable, and downright suburban to be paid any attention by the Straight.

      After all, I dont see their discs at Zulu, and as all of us Straight reading Vancouverites know, if you cant get it at Zulu, its obviously crap.

      How will Usinger and Mack ever allow you to breathe their rarified air again when in their company after lowering yourself to the standards of the Eagles ? Or have you already installed oxygen tanks to combat the stench of self righteousness emanating from Usinger ?

      I am hoping that your attention to the merch table will be enough distraction to prevent you from spending the majority of your review insulting the tastes, fashions, and appearances of the audience members.

      A music review about music, performances, the show, energy, vibe, etc in the Straight would be shocking, though.

      Reviews that start with the writer bitching about not wanting to be there ( um, quit ? ) of whining about how out of style artist "X" fans were arent reviews, they are vanity pieces.

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