Rob Zombie's Macabre Escapism Made for Over-the-Top Entertainment at Gexa

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Rob Zombie
With Korn and In This Moment
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Thursday, August 4, 2016

Words like "togetherness" and "escapism" might not be the first ones that come to mind when you're looking to describe a concert headlined by Korn and Rob Zombie. There's all that pent up aggression, the piercings and head-to-toe tattoos, and T-shirts and posters with phrases like "Living Dead Girl" plastered on them. But that's exactly what these two titans of '90s alt-metal provided as they converged on Gexa Energy Pavilion for a double-headlining bill Thursday night.

From the moment Korn took the stage, cheers rang out. On the screen positioned behind the stage, a man was trampled by a bull, riots tore through the streets of an unknown town and a young boy fled an invisible but malicious force. It was violent, yes, but with one distinctive undertone: catharsis.  Beneath the surface level chaos, Korn's songs are a source of peace in the midst of tumultuous emotions and existential confusion. As they tore through songs “Coming Undone” and “Falling Away From Me,” you could feel the members of the audience grow closer and closer together. Couples and families, with their arms around each other, jumped up and down, shouting along to the furious lyrics, as their anxieties were being dispelled — if only for the moment. 

Singer Jonathan Davis played to the emotions perfectly, as well. Before launching into "Ya'll Want a Single," he led the audience through three choruses of "Fuck that!" paired with two raised middle fingers. The crowd exploded, and the momentum carried them to the end of their rage-filled set, which culminated with “Freak on a Leash,” the definitive anthem for their signature brand of soul cleansing.

Then it was time for an entirely different beast, one accompanied by demons and extraterrestrials. Rob Zombie and his band arrived in full regalia, with Zombie donning a bright gold cowboy outfit, complete with tassels. They launched into “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown” with fervor, Zombie’s macabre theatrical sensibilities on full display. Shortly after, a 15-feet tall devil joins them on stage, casting a cold, dead gaze onto the crowd. Zombie's ability to engage with his audience is masterful and uncanny. He's lost none of his charisma to age, dancing around the stage with the vigor of someone half his age. At one point, he ventured to the side of the stage, calling to an invisible benevolent god for an inflatable alien. The god complied, providing an alien with a singular purpose: crowdsurf from the front of the stage to the rear of the lawn with no interruptions. Then, while Zombie broke into the strange “Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a UFO,” another behemoth alien appeared, gesticulating crudely at the crowd in imitation of various sex acts.

It was pure, unrelenting sensory assault, as Zombie explored the most absurd elements of the human psyche. In the final act, his guitarist, John 5, launched into a breathtaking guitar solo, standing alone on stage. Meanwhile, Zombie snuck into the crowd, going around through the seated area to high five his fans. Then came an awe-inspiring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," in which John 5 plucked the strings with teeth, and Zombie made his exit while the screen played a trailer for upcoming film 31, a horror movie that may have jarred people back into the world he'd helped them escape.

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