Opening day for Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors ended in a bang when “Shock-N-Roll” took to Wyndham Hotel’s Grand Ballroom in Rosemont just a parking lot away from the mellow tunes of Fleetwood Mac who were performing at Allstate Arena. As most hotel guests were quietly tucked away in their rooms, hundreds of fans lined up, filling the lobby and corridors, awaiting the event’s “Shock-N-Roll” concert featuring the heavy sounding, gore-loving band, Mushroomhead.
Fans dressed in gothic attire and many disguised as bloody nightmares entered the ballroom where a giant six-foot-high chainsaw was sitting atop a stage. Resembling something between The Night of the Living Dead and a Nine Inch Nails concert, the crowd was a big part of the show itself creating it’s own brand of entertainment (for people watchers like myself) before the first act even took the stage.
Not long after the crowd surrounded the stage, both male and female dancers donned in top hats appeared as “Chainsaws are a Girl’s Best Friend” took over the speakers. During their tongue-in-cheek routine to the song, that included suggestive gestures and chainsaws, Fangoria spokesmodel Shannon Lark joined the dancers, appearing in a white dress you might find in a classic vampire movie. Globs of red glitter, representing blood, were scattered everywhere from the oversized chainsaw as the number came to an end and Lark exited the stage in dramatic fashion.
Despite what seemed to be an unfortunate series of technical problems, Fashion Bomb, a Chicago-originated band in the vein of KMFDM, finally began their set. Loud but uneven, the drums overpowered the guitar sound to the extent of making it difficult to hear the actual melody of the songs. Still, the band dressed in all black, pale-faced with dark hair and a couple gas masks, seemed to exude a decent stage presence even with singer/frontman Val’s (Adrian Valerie) somewhat overly obvious attempt to be Marilyn Manson. I’m sure the band has seen better days sound-wise though their energy and dark appearance was still entertaining enough in it’s own right.
Maybe a ballroom wasn’t the best stage setting for Mushroomhead to do its worst, but that didn’t stop the band from putting on an amazingly blood-filled show of disturbing industrialized metal. Still loud, and no longer with a cacophony of sound levels, the eight-membered Mushroomhead, covered in frightening masks or makeup and matching flight suits, came on to the delight of the hardcores with an assault of tunes that were as theatrically scary as they were heavy.
Waylon (the band’s screamer) and Jeffrey Nothing shared the vocal duties as a band member almost continuously manned a tom drum planted on each side of the stage where water splashed each time the skin was struck. Songs like “Save Us”, “Solitaire” and “Damage Done” filled the room, each, like the rest of their tracks, with Mushroomhead’s own original flavor of undefined production. Also performed was a creepily sinister version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry”, in which a bloody butcher apron clad Nothing sang the song as scarily as his corpse-like face looked.
What I liked best about Mushroomhead’s show is that ALL members seemed to make a lasting impression. Members Skinny, Gravy, Pig Benis, Schmotz and St1tch (all nicknames before the band) were all as original, energetic and actively present as the other. From a pig-faced bassist to an alien-like percussionist their show was as much a spectacle as it was good musically. I can only imagine Mushroomhead playing in an environment more suited to their distinctive style. But don’t get me wrong – the band pulled off an implausible performance and was entertaining to the last drop of blood.
When all is said and done, Fangoria could not have picked a better band in Mushroomhead to represent their Weekend of Horrors festival.