Thoughts on 2 Shows: ZZ Top and Danzig

The warm weather of spring/early summer has begun an onslaught of awesome shows to the area. I caught 2 shows this week, that I was truly ecstatic to see. Both shows had their good…and their bad.

ZZ Top/3 Doors Down/Gretchen Wilson @ Celebrate Virginia Live, Fredericksburg, VA (photo courtesy of Becka Moore)

I was most excited for this show, primarily because I had never seen ZZ Top before. Amazing that I never had, considering I have been listening to them since I was 5 years old. The weather threatened a little, driving through some rain on the way down there, but the whole time at the show was beautiful. Gretchen Wilson was up first, and her music was more heavy southern rock than country. Pretty entertaining, and her classic rock medley that included artists like Led Zeppelin and Heart (this woman has the PERFECT voice for Heart!) got the crowd going. 3 Doors Down was up next, and all I can really say (do remember that this is my blog and thus an opinion piece), is that they are one of the most vanilla, heartless, soulless, contrived, posing acts I have ever witnessed in my life. ‘Nuff said about that.

Finally, ZZ Top took the stage. Let’s start with the good:

They sounded every bit as good as i hoped they would. Playing such classics as I Thank You, La Grange, Tush, Sharp Dressed Man, Waitin On The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago, and Gimme All Your Lovin, Billy, Dusty and Frank played their asses off. Frank plays it cool behind the drums, pounding out the beat like a metronome. Billy and Dusty just oozed coolness, with witty banter and slick moves that played off of each other, and reflected the 30+ years the Top has been playing together. They even played an unexpected song that I dig, Vincent Price Blues off of the From Dusk Til Dawn soundtrack.

The bad: the setlist. My only real complaint from their set was the setlist. While they did play some great songs and some cool classics, Their 15 song set had some surprising additions and some glaring omissions. Some songs in the set that surprised me (not in a good way) were Pincushion (from 1994’s Antenna), Heaven, Hell or Houston, and Stages, from 1985’s Afterburner. Stages is probably on of my least favorite songs by the band, at the height of the 80’s synth-rock craze. the picture below is the single of Stages, and pretty sums up why I hate that song.

Ugh. Miami Vice house band? Maybe. What was most disappointing were some of the songs that they didn’t play. Songs like I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide, Cheap Sunglasses, Tube Snake Boogie, and Pearl Necklace. My biggest disappointment was the fact that they played NOTHING off of their first 2 albums, especially Just Got Paid.

Overall, I had a great time, and honestly haven’t smiled that much at a show in a long time. I just wish the setlist had been chosen a little more carefully, or at least with my wants and needs in mind. Selfish, I know, but hey….

Danzig/Kyng/Monstro @ The Fillmore Silver Spring  (Photo credit: Scott Gries/Getty Images)  

On Monday, I joined a big group of friends (I’m pretty sure it was an unofficial DC Nightclub Workers Night Out) at the Fillmore for a show I (and many others) had been waiting years to see. Not only was Danzig playing, but half of his set was Misfits songs with original Misfits guitarist Doyle Von Frankenstein. A good friend saw this show in NYC last year, and said it was incredible, and hadn’t let me live it down that I missed it (thanks, Rick). We arrived a couple of songs into Monstro’s  set, and they sounded great. Very Sabbathy/stoner heavy, with lots of energy. The singer for Kyng even joined them for a song. I missed these guys when they opened for Kyuss Lives (at both 930 and Rams Head), and I am glad I caught them this time. Kyng was up next, and they did not disappoint. This trio is high-energy, a more rock-oriented stoner rock, and singer-guitarist Eddie Velíz brought to mind a young Chris Cornell (think Ultramega OK/Louder Than Love era).

Up next was Danzig, and this time we will start with the bad. Keep in mind, I have loved Danzig since the 9th grade. I actually discovered his solo stuff before the Misfits, then once I discovered them, I loved Danzig even more. I was stoked to hear some of the Danzig songs I have been listening to for years, knowing he would mix in the newer stuff with it. Not even halfway through the first song, Danzig was yelling at the guy running monitors to turn them up, that he couldn’t hear himself. This continued into the second song, after which he told us how sick he was with the flu (they actually cancelled the next night’s show), “but they were still gonna put on the best damn show for you guys, even if fuckin assholes like that guy (points to monitor guy) wanna fuck it up.” My friends and I were all looking at each other with the knowing look of “uh-oh, a Danzig-tantrum is imminent”. By the 4th song, he had had enough, and screamed at the monitor guy then slammed down the mic and stormed off the stage (aaaand there it was). We all looked at each other and said in unison “he had BETTER get his ass back out here!” After more monitor woes, the poor guy cranked them up some more, which produced the obvious and expected result…FEEDBACK. A 6th grader knows that is what happens when you crank the monitors up too loud. In addition, after all these years (I hadn’t seen Danzig live since 1996), he still forgets the fundamental rule, that you have to keep the microphone near your mouth when you sing, not wave it around and pump your fist and pose.

The good came when Glenn said those magic words… “You guys want Doyle to come out?” The whole place erupted. The monstrous Doyle joined the stage, and they blasted into the classic Death Comes Ripping. As Glenn, his band and Doyle tore through such Misfits songs as I Turned Into A Martian, Bullet, Halloween and Last Caress, one thing became apparent: Glenn forgot to be a dick. It was like he went back in time 25 years, and sang with more energy, even cracked a smile. All drama with the monitor guy was forgotten, and he just sang. After 8 Misfits songs, the whole band exited. First, there was a Danzig encore of 3 songs (of course, one of them being Mother), and then Doyle made his way back to the stage for the finale of Skulls.

It was a truly memorable night, for both the good and the bad. The bad just left a sour taste in your mouth,  while the good hit it with a healthy dose of punk rock mouthwash, and left you smiling.

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