Mac Sabbath: Pittsburgh’s Lovin’ It

I must admit, I was skeptical.  I mean, “Drive Thru Metal?”  What about this would work.  A Black Sabbath parody band, appropriately titled Mac Sabbath, almost seemed like an insult to the original band.  I realized, though, that I had nothing to base my opinion on.  Maybe they would be the greatest group to ever enter the Rex Theater.  Parodies are incredible, and this parody group was fully themed down to the paper cup and straw that was their mic stand.  That being said, I loaded my camera, and I enter the Rex Thursday night with an open mind.

I entered the room.  It was poorly lit.  I saw a few dozen balloons scattered across the floor, the small amount of light coming from the stage glistening off of the shiny, inflated rubber balls.  I waited around and readied myself for the first band, Super Fun Time Awesome Party Band, was a bit disappointing.  While they had a stage presence that could captivate an audience, and their light show was great for an opening act.  The quality of the sound they produced was sub-par. Their show was lively, but I was hoping the next band would raise my expectations for the night.

Opener number 2, Only Flesh, was very attention-grabbing.  Classifying themselves, according to their Facebook page, as Glam, Rock, metal, Punk, and Industrial music.  Their set included some theatrics such as sparking bracelets and hooks through necks (yes, you read that right).  Overall, I was satisfied with the performance.  They had a sound that fit them, and the set left me feeling excited for what was next.  Although what was next had me a little nervous.

The following act went by the name Clownvis.  He was in the spotlight a few years back for some inappropriate insults thrown at the judges of America’s Got Talent.  I was concerned, after watching that video on YouTube, that a not-so-nice personality was about to shine through on stage.  Clownvis was actually one of the funniest clowns I have seen to date.  He sang along to classics, such as the Cheers theme song and America the Beautiful, as well as some originals like Barrack-O’s Taco’s.  He even did magic!  He left the stage with a large round of applause, and all that was left was the headliner, Mac Sabbath.

I stood there, waiting patiently as a tarp went up in front of the stage.  The only hints of life behind it were the sound check echoing from the speakers and an ominous shadow with crazy hair occasionally sliding back and forth.  Half an hour went by, and fans were getting restless – and drunk, very, very drunk.  Finally, the music began.  The tarp fell, revealing a cat man, a burger with horns, and drunk, high, and slightly demented form of McDonald’s former icon, Grimace.   As the music played, a clown appeared in a yellow straight jacket.  He wrestled around, breaking free and cackling as if Ozzy Osbourne himself had entered his body.  They began playing songs such as More Ribs, Chicken for the Slaves, Organic Funeral, and Frying Pan.  Throughout the show, theatrics were present.  Confetti flew out of a vomit bucket, water hit the crowd from a ketchup bottle, and lead singer Ronal Osbourne danced around the stage with a straw.  The show ended with the Iron Man parody, Frying Pan followed by a “Mac Flag” song, Pair-a-buns.

Overall, the show, full of great music, gore, theatrics, and maniacal laughter, left me satisfied and glad I came.  I will definitely be looking into more parody bands like Mac Sabbath.

Review and pix: Stephanie Connell © 2016

 

MAC SABBATH @REXTHEATER SEPT 1

*Mixing raucous comedy with borderline-horrific theatrics, the only thing more petrifying than impending health problems resulting from years of overeating is a MAC SABBATH show. Set wise, this ain’t no value meal – innocent bystanders can enjoy 10 fantastically alarming Black Sabbath-turned-junk food themed tunes on this tour: More Ribs; Chicken For The Slaves; Sweet Beef; Brand of Doom; N.I.B.B.L.E.; Lord of the Swirled; Zippin Up the Uniform; Frying Pan; Cherries Are Fruits; Pair-A-Buns.
*Show attendees should be prepared to partake in the fun – MAC SABBATH puts on a theatrical, multimedia stage show – complete with a smoking grill, laser-eyed clowns, bouncing burgers and many more magical surprises… basically anything and everything an unwary show-goer could ever want in their wildest dreams.

MAC SABBATH BIOGRAPHY

 

It was the Year of Our Lord 2013, and I was devouring a cheeseburger in a Chatsworth, California, franchise of a certain multinational fast food conglomerate, which shall remain nameless. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a crazed looking clown walking in my direction. Wearing a costume of bright yellow and red, and giant shiny shoes, he seemingly fit into the surroundings, but it didn’t take long to see that something wasn’t quite right. His costume was trailed by long, tattered, hippie fringe that was dirty from scraping the floor (and most likely the alley behind the restaurant), and more alarmingly his face was caked in ghostly make up that looked like it had been smeared on with a putty knife. My first thought was that he looked like Skeletor as a member of Uriah Heap. Taking a seat in my booth, he informed me that his name was Ronald Osborne, and he that he was familiar with my oddity rock band Rosemary’s Billygoat. He was a fan of the band, and said he had a concept I might appreciate, something he termed “drive-thru metal.” Some of the delinquent kids who worked for the franchise had been allowing him and a cast of characters named Slayer Mac Cheeze, Grimalice, and the Cat Burglar, to perform secret rock shows in the bunker-like basements of the local restaurants. But the time had come, he said, to bring drive-thru metal up from the “underground,” and he asked if I would consider becoming the manager of his band. I asked him what the act was called, and proclaimed with pride, “MAC SABBATH!” I barely had time to gather up what was left of my faux food before the restaurant’s manager, apparently annoyed both by the disheveled clown and the content of our conversation, came over and forcefully assisted us out onto the street. As we hit the sidewalk, I looked over at Ronald, watched him brush the dust of cold fries, sodium chloride and GMO remnants of my UN happy meal from his grease-smeared clown suit, and couldn’t help but think there was something special, perhaps even great, about the man.

 

He invited me to one of these secret shows, and two nights later I was sitting in the basement of a fast food restaurant in the San Fernando Valley, my eyes and taste buds tingling to a new sensation. Drive-thru metal was real, and talk about a feast for the senses! Black Sabbath’s music, hilarious fast food lyrics, smoldering clown heads with laser eyes, a giant purple gumdrop bass player, and Tony Iommi with a giant cheeseburger head. I was confused, amazed, and dare I say it, can’t ever remember feeling so………happy! I told Ronald that yes; I would love to manage his band. It wasn’t going to be easy—nothing ever is with a disturbed clown and a band of Monsanto mutants who refuse to reveal their identities because they think they came here from a wormhole in time direct from 1970. But whoever they are and however they got here, they’re here now and they’re ready, so pull up to the window and check your order, because I am proud to present the world’s newest concept in entertainment, the culinary disgrace that is MAC SABBATH!

August 6 – Caustic Casanova @TheSmilingMoose

DC heavy rock trio Caustic Casanova are about to head out on a massive US tour in support of the vinyl release of their 2015 album Breaks (originally out via Retro Futurist on CD/digital). 
They’ll be in Pittsburgh next week, playing Smiling Moose on August 6

Caustic Casanova is a loud, heavy rock trio from Washington, DC. The CC, as they are affectionately known by their fans, have been tearing up stages and studios alike with their unique brand of eclectic, “absurdly muscled uber-psyche” (Indy Week Raleigh) since their inception on the campus of The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2005. In 2008 CC released their first ever full-length studio album, a fourteen song, seventy-two minute tour-de-force entitledImminent Eminence. Four years later, Caustic Casanova unleashed 2012’s critically acclaimed Someday You Will Be Proven Correct, produced by J. Robbins.

After the release of Someday You Will Be Proven Correct and a 2012 SXSW tour came the departure the group’s original guitarist, and a most critical juncture for the rhythm section of the band – whether to continue as Caustic Casanova, start another project, or part ways altogether. After much deliberation, drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker and bassist/lead vocalist Francis Beringer decided to honor the work they’d done over the years together by continuing Caustic Casanova. Months of experimenting as a bass and drums two piece were followed by rounds of guitar player auditions, finally yielding the missing element to the new Caustic Casanova, longtime fan, friend and all-around six string wizard Andrew Yonki. In Andrew’s three and a half years with the band, the rejuvenated Caustic Casanova has gigged wherever and whenever possible, embarked on several North American tours, and has earned a much bigger following in DC. In 2014 Caustic Casanova signed to Retro Futurist Records after opening for psych metal veterans and label owners Kylesa, and later teamed up with J. Robbins to record lots of new music and release the first in a series of 7″ singles called Pantheon: Volume 1. Despite losing Stefanie for nearly half the year to severe wrist injuries from a life threatening accident (once again putting the very existence of the band in jeopardy) Caustic Casanova returned stronger, tighter and more motivated than ever to build sonic temples in which to worship feedback, massive riffs, delay pedals, bass fuzz, thunderous drum fills and soaring vocal melody.

The end product of these years of writing and recording through trial and tribulation is Caustic Casanova’s new album and Retro Futurist debut Breaks, once again produced by J. Robbins. Breaks features seven unconventional and melodic heavy rock songs, none quite like the other, and covers a vast sonic territory from dark, driving post-punk to psychedelic post-metal, from heavy doom blues to epic space rock and everything in between. Breaks was released on September 25, 2015, and the vinyl edition, with different artwork, will be released on July 21st, 2016. Look for Caustic Casanova on tour in the US and Canada during July, August, September and October 2016.

RIYL:  Boris, Tool, Fugazi, Kylesa, Rush, Melvins, Torche, Primus, Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Pelican, Russian Circles, Explosions in the Sky, Hawkwind

Zakk Wylde’s Book of Shadows II Tour packs a powerful punch in Pittsburgh

July 18, 2016 Millvale, PA-  In the sleepy quaint town of Millvale  just five minutes from downtown Pittsburgh there is a sacred rock n’ roll institution known as Mr. Smalls Funhouse.  A former church and now one of Pittsburgh’s finest establishments to see a great show, as well as grab excellent beers and grub, Mr. Smalls this night hosted rock royalty in the name of Zakk Wylde.  Former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, leader of Black Label Society, and all around badass, Wylde brought a slew of guitar gunslingers to blow our minds and brighten our hearts last Monday.

Opening acts Jared James Nichols and Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown were frighteningly good.  Nichols brand of guitar playing is very much in line with Wylde’s solo work, bluesy Allman Brothers type rock n’ roll.  He absolutely blazes and has great emotion behind every string played.  His band’s work is really blood pumping, fist pounding classic style rock that made them a surprise favorite for many.  Even the cover of Nugent’s “Stranglehold” brought chills and made your hair on your arms stand on end for it’s beautiful and true interpretation.  This three piece (Erik Sandin, Dennis Holm) out of Wisconsin must be on your radar if you love a great bluesman who truly has the touch.  Check them out…www.youtube.com/jjnicholsmusic
www.reverbnation.com/jaredjamesnichols.

Tyler Bryant and his bandmates The Shakedown have been tearing up the road and this is by no means their first stop in Pittsburgh.  Bryant has been recognized as a child prodigy guitar player by many, including God himself, Eric Clapton.  Bryant has the soul of an old blues master and his style shows it.  Staking his rep by moving to Nashville at 17, Bryant has put together a tight and impressive band to match.  Shakedown  members Caleb Crosby, Graham Whitford (Brad Whitford of Aerosmith’s son), and Noah Denney complement Bryant’s guitar like icing on cake.  If you have not discovered these guys yet, you owe it to yourself to witness one of the best blues players around…www.tylerbryantandtheshakedown.com.

You know you are confident in your playing when you let two young guitar blazers open for you.  Zakk Wylde is no stranger to the spotlight but prefers to do his talking through pickups, strings, and wood.  Touring his Book of Shadows II effort, Wylde is accompanied for the most part by his regular band, Black Label Society.  But don’t expect to hear Ozzy or Sabbath covers (although a bit of “The Wizard” on mouth harp was pretty awesome) or a bunch of BLS tunes.  This is the other side of Zakk, the side that has been influenced by blues and southern rock.

The ten-minute opener of “Sold My Soul” was enough to make anyone’s jaw drop as he soared up and down his fretboard with wild abandon.  The crowd was absolutely wowed and entertained from the first note.  Wylde does not spend a bunch of time on stage banter, instead, he keeps the rock rolling as he went into, “Autumn Changes”, “Tears of December”, and “Lay Me Down”.  Wylde and his band just kept pouring out their souls tune after tune, playing like they were in front of 50,000 instead of hundreds.  The well packed Mr. Smalls ate up each moment, sang along and played air guitar.  “Road Back Home”, “Yesteday’s Tears”, “Heaven and Hell” (with the aforementioned “The Wizard” as an intro.), and “Darkest Hour” rounded out the first half of the show (see the entire guest list in pictures below).

To have a fairly intimate setting with Wylde playing his solo material was an amazing treat that does not come around often.  It was fun to see him play piano as well as his trusted axe and sing a bit differently than the more metal oriented BLS.  Zakk will return in October with his new fun project Zakk Sabbath when they open for Clutch at Stage AE Oct. 1.  And the hits just keep on coming…

All photos 2016 AWELDINGPHOTO