I always have been a sucker for a shtick. From Masked Intruder to Angry Snowmans, I fall for it every time. However, within a few months of my musical discovery, I get bored and quickly move on. In fact, I think that the only ‘shtick’ band that I still actively love and regularly listen to is My Dick. Well, at least that was true until I saw Mac Sabbath at Fest last October. The dark lords of Drive-Thru metal stole my heart. When my long time friend Colin – who also happens to be Mac Sabbath’s official Employee of the Month, Roadie and Merch Dude – informed me that they would be at Reggie’s in Chicago on March 11th, I was ready like the first person in line waiting for the breakfast menu to begin.
On the day of the show, I was already in a great mood. My skeeball team, Matt Skeeball & the Skeecretz, had won second place in our league’s finals. I had bounced from brewery to bar to venue and fearlessly (read: drunkenly) pushed my way through the crowd to the exact spot where I wanted to be to cover the show. As the Mockstrocity Tour began, I though I had an idea of what to expect, but I wasn’t ready for what was about to rain down upon me.
Opening the night was famed “Nedal” band, Okilly Dokilly. All five members identically dress as Ned Flanders of The Simpsons and play growling hardcore disguised by the term ‘metal’. The songs, clocking in between two to four minutes, each consist merely of two to ten lines of actual Simpsons quotes. From “White Wine Spritzer” to “Godspeed Little Doodle”, the band covered memorable Flanders moments as inflatable donuts, identical to the ones sold at the Kwik-E-Mart, bobbed on top of the crowd. As a fitting closer to a bizarre and highly entertaining set, the singer – Head Ned – stripped off his green sweater and grey slacks to reveal the famous Flanders red spandex suit. Nothing. At. All.
The meat in the center of this parody filled sandwich was Metalachi, Los Angeles’ own mariachi band specializing in metal covers. If there is one thing that I have learned from my years of being a bar fly, it’s that white people LOVE singing along to 80’s metal bands. The crowd lost it during the band’s rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer”, continued to scream and gesture through “Run to the Hills”, and didn’t stop until the last note of “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. The band’s pure musical talent is so impressive that it’s almost off putting. There were more than a few moments during their set where I had that weird out of body “is this really going on?” experience I get only when I have been drained of every ounce of boredom and am being fully entertained. Between the absolutely stunning violinist to El Cucuy, the trumpet player dressed in almost Gwar-esque clothing, to lead singer Vega de la Rockha, who looked strangely like a Mexican version of Axl, I was enthralled. And I don’t even like metal music.
As Mac Sabbath took the stage, they performed many of the same antics as when I saw them five months ago. But that didn’t matter. I’m fairly sure that I could see their set every day and would never get tired. While any detailed explanation I try to give here will never do justice to the amazing live performance that Mac Sabbath puts on, let me touch on a few things. The band is composed of Ronald Osbourne on vocals, Slayer Mac Cheese on guitar, Grimalace on bass, and the Cat Burgler on drums. Ronald sings all your favorite Black Sabbath hits injected with lyrics about how the current corporations are ruining fast food with GMOs and pink slime and how badly they treat their employees.
While the members of Mac Sabbath are the creators of Drive-Thru Metal, they stated their concern that other bands are tying to steal their thunder. Ronald listed off bands such as “Dairy Queensryche, Twisted Sizzler and Bauhaus of Pancakes” before producing a cackle that was so dead on Ozzy that I had to do a double take. While the musical intricacies of Sabbath solos would render a normal lead singer without anything to do for minutes on end, Ronald filled his time with food and accessories. During “Organic Funeral” (“Electric Funeral”), Ronald pulled an eight foot long straw from his yellow jumpsuit. I don’t know how it fit in there and I won’t ask. That’s just the magic of clowns. During “Chicken for the Slaves”, he melodically clanged together two metal spatulas as the other members chugged through a song that sounds very similar to Children of the Grave. The grill that was positioned next to Ronald’s mic – which, by the way, is in the shape of a giant milkshake with a straw – began to smoke during “Frying Pan” (“Iron Man”) as Ronald flipped burgers, nuggets and other pieces of meat.
I could go on for at least another five paragraphs about how amazing Mac Sabbath is and how their live show is literally unbelievable. But instead, I will leave you with this. I have never liked Black Sabbath; I’m not a metalhead and I never will be. But because of this band, their hilariously clever lyrics, and their drive to do something outlandish and different, I have gone back to the original Sabbath songs to compare to the parodies. All I know is that I prefer Grimalace to Geezer Butler any day.
I’m Grubbin’ It.