Mac Sabbath, Lotus Gait, and Wake the Bat at The Marquis Theater in Denver, CO on 8/27/16

Some might describe Ozzy Osborne, the lead singer of Black Sabbath as a clown.  He wears make-up and makes us laugh.  So a Black Sabbath tribute band dressed as 1970’s McDonald’s characters that alter the lyrics to fast food related themes seems like a logical evolution (maybe not).  But the self-described drive thru metal tribute band would be a decent covers band without the famous golden arches references.  Mac Sabbath performs the songs well despite having large weird costumes to maneuver.  But with the fast food association they are far more interesting.

Mac Sabbath

When a yellow and red striped curtain was about to drop, Frank Sinatra’s Send in the Clowns started to play with haunting fun house laughter slowing building behind it.  The curtain dropped to reveal Ronald Osbourne on lead vocals, Slayer Mac Cheeze on guitar, Grimalice on bass, and the Cat Burglar on the drums (seems like the names were slightly altered due to copyright infringement laws).  Mac Sabbath started strong with More Ribs (War Pigs).  It’s about the harsh reality of the McRib only being available for a limited time (first world problem blues).

Ronald Osbourne and Grimalice

Ronald Osbourne is like an old vaudeville comedian. The clown told jokes with an English accent (sounding more like Dudley Moore than Ozzy Osbourne) between epic songs about burgers, fries, and shakes.  He told jokes about Cinnabon Jovi, Black King Diamond, and Bauhaus of Pancakes. If the joke didn’t go well, the sound of crickets would be played.  Just like the Black Sabbath’s front man, Ronald Osbourne threatened to throw a bucket of water into the crowd.  It ended up being confetti (I saw this done in the 1970’s by the Harlem Globetrotters).  The childish antics make sense because there were young kids in the crowd up way past their bedtime.  I was confused why youngsters would want to see fast food characters from the 1970’s perform heavy metal songs from decades ago.  But the kids seemed delighted.  Maybe they were terrified.  It’s hard to tell.

Mac Sabbath

After running though the classics Frying Pan (Iron Man) and Zipping Up the Uniform (Symptom of the Universe), a few members of the crowd started to mosh.  It made me wonder why the guys who have questionable hygiene like to slam their bodies into others with similar personal grooming habits.  To cheer on the smelly bunch, Mac Sabbath ended their set with Pair-Of-Buns (Paranoid) by having the clown crowd surf.  The mythical characters left the stage while house music played Rock and Roll McDonald’s making the crowd wondering what the hell just happened.

Lotus Gait – photo by Brett DeLockroy

Lotus Gait a local Denver band that describes their music as dark black metal punk rock was one of the opening bands.  Their music is fast paced with a large Slayer influence. The all age show didn’t stop them from playing their song Down to F*ck.  This had to make the parents who took their children to the show question some of their life choices. Bass player Tim Hankison played impressively while keeping his long dreadlocks away from his fret board. Lead guitar player Oliver Fox Renard seemed to have more fun than Ronald Osborne with a permanent smile playing his Flying V.  After taking several shots of some kind of clear alcohol, birthday boy drummer David Schmidtline declared that he was sleeping in the parking lot.  Lotus Gait played an impressive version of Twisted Sister ‘s Stay Hungry.  During the introduction, singer David Bartz announced that he might not remember all the words because of all the good drugs.  Making it a cautionary tale for the youngsters in attendance.

Wake the Bat

Wake the Bat started the night festivities.  They are a local Denver trio of fifteen-year-old musicians fronted by twins Alec and Quinn Hudson.  Sam Stearman plays the drums.  Forget the fact that they are young.  Wake the Bat is an impressive band.  Bass player and singer Alec Hudson is a cross between Chuck D and Zack de la Rocha.  Quinn Hudson’s Afro is almost as remarkable as his guitar playing.  They closed their set with a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name.  They would be a perfect opening band for next month’s The Prophets of Rage concert at Red Rocks.  Even the clown stated that Wake the Bat gives him hope for the future of music.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one stealing your fries.

Eric Church with Cam at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on 8/10/16

Entering into the historic venue of Red Rocks Amphitheatre on a beautiful summer night, I noticed the unofficial uniform of the modern country music fan.  The majority of guys wore short sleeve plaid shirts and a great number of girls dressed in shorts with cowboy boots.  Not just cowboy boots, but a vast array of brands, designs, and colors (my thesis: Women’s Cowboy Boots and their Place in Society will be published soon).   The crowd had a laid back calm about them that you don’t normal find attending other genres of music.  With that easy-going attitude in the air, it was nice not having to fight over seats in the general admission section.

Eric Church

From Granite Falls, North Carolina, Eric Church moved to Nashville, Tennessee after getting a Marketing degree at Appalachian State.  Church started writing hits for other musicians and eventually got to perform his own songs.  He built a loyal following with his extensive touring and heartfelt lyrics.  Eric Church sold out his two shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in just minutes.  This was the second night of a mostly stripped down set list.

Eric Church came out wearing sunglasses and a black leather jacket.  Not only did it make him look cool, it blocks the bright lights that dry out his eyes and give him painful headaches.  That explains the sunglasses at night, but I don’t have any answers about the leather jacket in August.  Church started out strong with just an acoustic guitar performing Springsteen.  It’s about how memories of a teenage romance come back to him when he hears a Bruce Springsteen song with clever references to The Boss’ lyrics.  “It’s funny how a melody sounds like a memory.”  It was not played the prior night.   If you only attended the first night, you should be jealous.

Cam and Eric Church wearing their sunglasses at night

Opening act Cam, wearing matching Eric Church like sunglasses, came out to sing back up on Like Jesus Does.  She was awe struck by performing with Church at the legendary venue. Their voices harmonized nicely and bounced off the rocks to the ecstatic crowd.

Church’s band only performed with him for a few songs.  When they did perform, the musicians snuck in from the sides of the stage.  A large group of fans were sitting on the sides almost hiding the band.  Peyton Manning was sitting in those prime seats during the first night.

These Boots

Eric Church and his band had the crowd singing and using props to the alcohol fueled songs Drink in My Hand (the crowd held up their drinks during the chorus) and These Boots (the crowd held up their boots… that’s right, their boots during the chorus).

Being close to Cripple Creek, Colorado inspired Church to cover The Band’s Up On Cripple Creek. The young crowd impressively sang along to every word of the 1969 classic.  If you only attended the first night, you should be jealous because it was the only night he performed it. Another amazing cover was one of my all time favorite songs Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.  With just his guitar, Church sang with such strong emotion you could tell the song was one of his favorites as well.  He didn’t perform Talladega which he did the first night.  If you were there that night, I am jealous.

Cam – All photos by people in better seats than me

Cam was the opening act.  She replaced Maren Morris who opened the show on the first night.   Cam was born Camaron Ochs from the San Francisco Bay Area in California.  The curly blonde haired singer’s grandparents ran a nearby ranch giving her a love of country music.  Like Eric Church she started out as a successful songwriter. Her charisma and talent eventually lead her to record and perform her own songs.

Cam came out wearing a colorful yellow and white ensemble.  She expressed how honored she was to play Red Rocks.  Cam introduced her song Fireball Whiskey by describing a morning after drinking and finding puke on her boots.  She some how made the bodily fluid story charming.

Cam’s song Village described her attempt to help her friend through the pain of her brother’s death.   “Cause your whole heart is a village/Everyone you love has built it/And I’ve been working there myself/And that’s where I’ll be/With a front-row seat/To watch you live your life well.”  This almost made all the plaid shirt and cowboy boot wearing audience tear up.  Giving her instant fans.

Cam ended her set with her Grammy Award nominated Burning House.  It’s just a matter of time before she headlines the venue.

See you at the next show.  I will be the one wearing a plaid shirt with a drink in one hand and a boot in the other.

Weird Al Yankovic at Hudson Gardens in Littleton, CO on 8-6-16

You might think the audience at a Weird Al Yankovic concert would be made up of little kids, people with mental challenges, and fat middle age men who still live in their parents’ basement… and you would be right.  If you were not white and nerdy enough to go, you missed an amazing night of parody music that spans decades.

I remember hearing Weird Al’s version of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust transformed into Another One Rides the Bus when I was in elementary school.  I was amused by his ridiculous lyrics back then as I am now.

Weird Al Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun Tour is a multi-media concert with video clips shown between songs exhibiting how he has snuck into to the pop culture landscape. The videos feature Weird Al Jeopardy questions, sit-com references, and movie cameos.  The funniest was a clip from The Big Bang Theory asking how old are you if you still listen to Weird Al?

Weird Al Yankovic

The show started out with a live video shot of Weird Al dancing and singing to his version of Pharrell’s Happy altered to Tacky through Hudson Garden’s picturesque scenery.  He worked his way up to the stage to a sold out smiling audience wearing Hawaiian shirts, Star Wars garb, and aluminum foil hats.  It’s kind of a nerd cult.

Between almost every song Weird Al changed into costumes from an Octopus to a Jedi.  If he wasn’t running around playing his accordion, he was backstage frantically getting into an elaborate ensemble.

His skillful band played every type of genre of music including rap, grunge, and polka while never cracking a smile.  That’s a difficult task when your band leader is dancing like a spaz and singing about food.

Just Eat It – Photos taken by the rock and roll nerd

After playing the video introduction to his famous Michael Jackson send up Eat It, Weird Al came out wearing the infamous fat suit.  The crowd sang along to the lyrics “Have a banana/Have a whole bunch/It doesn’t matter what you had for lunch” in joyous nerd harmony.  The suit got in the way during Weird Al’s dance moves making him drop the mic.  It’s difficult to pick up with a costume with man boobs.

When Weird Al’s take of Lordes’ Royals entitled Foil startedmembers of the audience wearing tin foil hats cheered like they just won the Bill Gates Nerd Lottery.  “Never settle for less/That kind of wrap is just the best/To keep your sandwich nice and fresh.”

Another highlight was his take on Nirvana Smells like Nirvana.  The brand all dressed in flannel complete with goth cheerleaders rocked out like it was 1991.  After his gargling solo, Weird Al threw his water at the crowd landing on this old guy at the show.  Don’t worry.  I am Weird Al germ free.  I got tested.

Word Crimes

After a fake interview with Eminem illustrating the rapper’s poor grammar, Weird Al came out with his send up of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines entitled Word Crimes.  Not too many people can have a crowd cheer to a song about the proper use of a contraction.

After leaving the stage in a James Brown fashion complete with a cape, the band returned for the highly anticipated Star Wars themed The Saga Begins.  It was an elaborate performance complete with dancing Storm Troopers and Darth Vader.  It amazed me how half the crowd sang along to every word of the complicated lengthy song.  That led into Yoda.  Weird Al’s take on The Kinks’ Lola.  The kid with the Yoda back-back near me was in Star Wars Geek heaven.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one wearing a tin foil hat not covered in Weird Al’s spit.   I showered.