Alice Cooper and Anvil.
Today, in important life news, was the deadline for The Escapist‘s June 28th issue about the intersection of games and other media. I’d already submitted my pitch last night, and am now waiting on the first email that says they received my pitch. I’ve been waiting now for over 24 hours. Have you ever waited for something that you thought would be immediate for over 24 hours? It really starts grinding your gears after the first hour and it never gets any better. For instance, I was waiting for a shirt I won from Andrew WK to arrive in the mail–PARTY HARD with Charlie Sheen (limited edition!)–and that, too, finally arrived today. And, last but not least, I got my G2, which (for all you non-Ontarians) is the second step up from what in the States would be a Learner’s Permit. Basically, now I’m allowed to drive around on my own, which is great. Or at least, I would be if I were insured, which I’m not yet, cos mom still has to check with the guy. So I couldn’t even drive out to see Alice Cooper backed with Anvil tonight. Though the concert was still entirely sweet.
The show was at Hamilton Place, which is not exactly ideal for a rock show–at least according to my girlfriend. I knew they were just giving Alice and Anvil the smaller venue cos the hockey arena was booked hosting several young men with the same cheap suits and the same patchy beards. Yay, AHL playoffs! In any case, we had dinner in the food court at Burger King. She got a Swiss Mushroom Melt or whatever Burger King wants to call it, and I got their very little bacon Baconator clone. I should’ve asked for a triple stack, cos they put tiny patties on the stack burgers and gigantic ones on the actual burgers. They ain’t call it a whopper for nothin’, you know. Anyway, after that, we headed over to a venue more suited to opera and ballet to see a band known for playing lead guitar with a dildo and the guy who codified the practices and look of shock-rock. Pretty cool.
Speaking of Anvil, I first heard of them back in 2007, before I even had Twitter. Back then, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor was first experimenting with the social media interface and liking what he found. This was before the entire burnout with a couple of trolls and he dived out so he could save his reputation from two people who probably should’ve found better uses of their time than slagging celebs on Twitter. ANYWAY, Trent first tweeted about Anvil! The Story of Anvil around April of that year, and the title alone charmed me. And as with a lot of really depressing, bleak and cynical documentaries, every review quoted on the webpage talked up how amazingly funny it was. “Like Spinal Tap in real life!” People forget that what makes Spinal Tap funny is how very very sad the characters really are. And Lipps and Robbo are really quite sad. It’s tragic to see these two guys who were at the forefront of 80’s metal be left behind by history as younger bands crowd them out.
Which is why it was absolutely fantastic to see them tonight, onstage, rocking harder than any band I’ve seen in an opening slot. And that includes Street Sweeper Social Club. When they first came out, they played for a good four to five to six or maybe seven minutes. No lyrics, no nothing, just Lipps shredding, Robbo pounding and some dude bassing. It was like seeing a dying man reborn before your eyes as the kind of cheesy metal god real men can only wish they could be. Here are two aging Jewish men from Scarborough rocking out like James and Lars in 1985 and giving it their all for some hilariously overblown kaiju metal ode to Mothra. That honestly felt like it lasted an additional 8 minutes on top of their introductory five, but they only played a half hour set, so I must be getting the math wrong. It felt like there were more riffs than songs and fewer songs than I would’ve liked to hear. Anvil are pretty much my new favourite live band as I’ve yet to see The Hives. I should get on that.
After a half hour of prepping the stage, Alice Cooper took over, sending out an opening volley of metal with “Black Widow”. Now, instead of just recapping the show for you blow-by-blow, which would be boring–I thought I’d give you my impressions on a few things. See, Alice Cooper always has the same two types of women in the crowd. They’re either Sherri Moon Zombie–the Metal Chick with sleeve tattoos and piercings and jet black hair and skintight clothes and all. Or they’re the Crazy Metal Girlfriend–so named ironically, for actually being quite sane. The Metal Girlfriend is often as into the music as the Metal Chick, but just chooses to express it by attending the concert and listening politely. And I’m wondering if this is only a Canadian thing or what.
What I do feel qualified to say is why more women flock to Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie shows than flock to, say Nine Inch Nails concerts (at least visibly–cleavagely visibly). And that’s cos Alice and Rob really have more of a sixties sense of style to them in their most horrific moments. It’s not the horror you get from legitimate true terror, like Funny Games–though clips may be shown and it may be sampled. It’s the kind of creepy-crawly, ooey-gooey horror of the Atomic Age that just feels safer somehow. And it’s the classic duality my mom told me about when she first told me I was going to notice girls: girls want a bad man who reliably comes home and provides for the kids. And Alice Cooper, being the godfather of shock rock as well as an avid golfer, fiscal conservative and fundamentalist Christian, is sort of the living embodiment of that duality. Rob Zombie not so much, but I ain’t never heard Sherri Moon complain.
Oh, also, there was a ten foot shambling Monster during “Feed My Frankenstein”. Awesome show.