An unusual crowd gathered on Friday night at Trees for Mac Sabbath, Okilly Dokilly and Playboy Manbaby. Of course, one could never be certain what kind of people a lineup topped with gimmick bands will draw. The answer is a mix of young and old, gamers, metalheads, Adult Swim watchers, comedy fans, one guy sitting in the upper level in his very best Ned Flanders cosplay (sadly without the iconic mustache) and a fair amount of people chasing the spectacle of it all.
The night kicked off with Playboy Manbaby, the only band without an obvious gimmick. Next came Okilly Dokilly, a self-described “Nedal” band inspired by the words and fashion belonging to The Simpsons’ adamant churchgoer Ned Flanders; followed by Mac Sabbath, known for bringing a wicked aesthetic approach to classic McDonald’s characters and replacing lyrics belonging to Black Sabbath.
Bassist Chris Hudson was overheard before the show saying that his group Playboy Manbaby's fans say the band sounds like Dead Kennedys meets Talking Heads meets B-52’s — a disjointed mix of '70s punk bands who were punk before the genre became so narrowly defined.
The fans were onto a fitting description. Embracing the kind of sardonic humor that each of those bands is in some part known for, Playboy Manbaby is a band that is serious about not taking itself too seriously. Musically, it works too, with a sound ranging from Bay Area punk to art-punk.
“From the entertainment capital of the world, Phoenix, Arizona, we are Playboy Manbaby,” singer Robbie Pfeffer said while greeting the crowd, before going into a bouncy lounge music mockery.
The set continued as a blowup doll named Steve was sent into the crowd for some crowd surfing, along with banter about how Dallasites just don’t seem to like Houstonians, a singalong about telling your boss “fuck you,” an improv bit on the futility of democracy in a future decided by a game of rock paper scissors, all accompanied by the sound effect of Pfeffer’s infectious laughter after each of his own jokes.
Glow sticks in hand, singer Head Ned directed the opening of Okilly Dokilly‘s set, promising the crowd a bit of re-Neducation.
Standing onstage with very little space between them, the members of Okilly Dokilly created a kind of claustrophobic anxiety befitting the character whose bottled anger only exploded once across The Simpsons 30-year run.
Switching manically between soft melodies and guttural screams, Okilly Dokilly got fans who weren’t already enthralled by their stage presence to laugh at a series of endless Simpsons references.
Refusing to break character in his stage banter, Head Ned reminded the audience to pick their neighborinos up should the music become too brutalino and they fell to the ground — unlike those people in Shelbyville, whom the audience promptly booed. But the crowd appeared too entranced by five men dressed as Ned Flanders to do too much moshing.
The show was briefly interrupted by the need for a bass promptly supplied by Playboy Manbaby’s Chad Dennis, and the heavy nedal went on fine and dandy like sour candy.
With their penultimate song, the one that got them featured in the closing credits of The Simpsons, “White Wine Spritzer,” the band sent the audience into a hysteria that could only be tamed by the cool rhythms of “Smooth” during Head Ned’s costume change into a ski suit, which lead into their close “Nothing at All.”
And with that, it was “Godspeed you little doodle, and good night.”
The crowd thinned shortly thereafter; clearly Okilly Dokilly was the main draw of the night for many, but those who stuck around were in for a real McTreat.
What can really be said about Mac Sabbath, the Los Angeles band comprised of vocalist Ronald Osbourne, guitarist Slayer McCheeze, bassist Grimalice and drummer Catburglar?
Their stage presence is captivating, donning the evil versions of costumes worn by their namesakes. Their lyrics are hilarious (not to mention Ozzy approved) with “Frying Pan” taking the place of “Iron Man” with a full-song, fast food parody.
But their live show? Unprecedented.
Building up the anticipation with a long instrumental opening and a story intro like something you might have heard at a Gwar show with its sci-fi focus on genetic mutations; the curtain opened with laser lights and B-movie horror clown figures.
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What came next was an all-out, pitch-perfect display of Black Sabbath’s talent with the black humor only Mac Sabbath could supply.
Theatrical, magical and hilarious, the show was worth the wait.