John 5 and the Creatures dug deep into their bag of tricks and pulled out all the stops for Brick by Brick’s sold out show.
Opener Nita Strauss and her band were an energetic hurricane of guitar playing, bass thumping, drum bashing, and keyboard blasting. As her set ended the floor was fast filling up with an anxiously awaiting crowd. The stage began to transform into a cheeky horror fun house complete with black lights, blow up goblins, witches, and ghosts. Stacked televisions played random movie scenes, including the “Here’s Johnny” scene from The Shining and clips from the older versions of Godzilla and King Kong. The stage was literally set for us to enter John 5’s world.
John 5 and the Creatures played the show every audience member expected to see. Brick by Brick’s packed house was treated to a guitar genius and performance enthusiast. John 5 had his beginnings with David Lee Roth, was dubbed John 5 when he joined Marilyn Manson, and is now Rob Zombie’s lead man. The San Diego show was the last of the Invasion 2019 solo tour, then he has about a dozen shows before he embarks on the Twins of Evil Hell Never Dies Tour 2019.
The Creatures’ bassist Ian Ross and drummer Logan Nix crept onstage, ready to bang out rapid fire beats. We hear John 5 before we see him, and suddenly he appears, gliding across the stage, with an ever-commanding stance, towering over the audience. He effortlessly dances his fingers across the telecaster’s fret board, and as the notes ring throughout the venue, I found myself shaking my head in awe. He beckoned us to give him more, to cheer him on, and between songs, costume changes rivaled instrument change ups. Whether shrouded in stained gauze cloth, or hoisting a clear guitar filled with neon green colored liquid, John 5 created fantastical scenes, and we devoured it all, eager for more. He brought out two different miniature electric guitars that produced sounds hundreds of times larger than their unassuming size. John’s demeanor stayed stoic yet flickered with an undercurrent of joy. He was creating these sounds and he enjoyed every second of it.
“Zoinks” was a favorite of the night, with the melodic arpeggios of John 5’s guitar, Nix’s bouncy drum beats and Ross’ deep-set bass grooves. Just when the riffs couldn’t be faster and the rhythms couldn’t drive harder, the trio blasted us with “This is my Rifle.” They dished out “Crank It,” a hard banger that left your neck aching of whiplash the next morning.
With talk of having a new medley put together, it wasn’t surprising when he started it off with Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” then launched on a musical journey from Jackson to Nirvana, The Police to Soundgarden; Rage Against the Machine to AC/DC. He even threw in a rad rendition of “Sweet Leaf!” He was beyond impressive, taking vocal melodies and translating them to guitar while still maintaining the song’s feel, closing the cover medley out with Pantera’s “Walk” with the entire audience shouting along. But John 5 wasn’t finished. In support of his new album Invasion, he closed his set with one of his singles, “I am John 5” a strange fusion of Lords of Acid industrial meets funk-rooted beats all rolled up into one, topped with fun dubbed in screams and random noises that punctuate John 5’s sounds so perfectly. It seemed unreal that the show was over, but my sweat drenched shirt, sensory overloaded system, and ear to ear, face-splitting grin told me I had just survived one hell of a show! Be prepared for Invasion, due out this summer. John 5 will have the masses head banging all year long!