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Ace of Spades is a new venue, located at 1417 R St., set to host its first concert on Saturday.
The venue has managed to secure quite a variety of artists to perform its opening month, including Badfish, a Sublime tribute band, and Papa Roach.
However, the most surprising group to be featured on the February lineup has got to be Rob Zombie, a band which, in its most recent years, has consisted of a bunch of horror-movie buffs who know how to rock out.
Rob Zombieʼs stage shows usually feature pyrotechnics that can singe fansʼ eyebrows off even if theyʼre at the back of the auditorium, giant walking robot animatronics, and monster (oftentimes literally) kabuki-screen graphics. Unsure what that entails? Just Google footage of Zombieʼs Halloween Hootenanny tour with Alice Cooper and it will all become much clearer.
So when Ace of Spades secured Rob Zombie to perform on February 10 at their 1,000-person-maximum venue, it was somewhat surprising. Where would all the fireworks go?
Guitarist John 5 explained that the handful of scheduled dates in the United States are meant as a return to the basics of rock ’n’ roll, reminiscent of gig rehearsals and practice.
“Weʼre doing really big shows overseas (and) the best way to warm up is to do a show,” John 5 said. “So instead of just going into a rehearsal room and trying to jump around and things like that, itʼs a lot easier if you do it that way. Itʼs just like a fighter going into the ring instead of just sparring with somebody. Itʼs a lot better to just go into the ring and warm up that way, I think.”
So there will be no glittery fireworks and there will be no flashy stage show, but that certainly does not mean that the concert wonʼt be entertaining.
Usually when massively popular bands that normally visit packed arenas decide to play somewhat “secret” and less publicized shows, itʼs because they love getting the opportunity to really connect with fans. It would seem that in Rob Zombieʼs case, things are no different.
“Weʼve been doing so many big shows, so many really, really big shows,” John 5 elaborated. “Iʼm looking forward to just playing on a small stage, interacting with the people and having a good time because we havenʼt done that in so long.”
Another advantage to seeing Rob Zombie at such a small venue is that the performance should be less scripted and choreographed. Since the shows are meant to resemble rehearsals, it only seems reasonable to expect some playfulness on the part of the musicians. Lucky for fans of John 5, that might mean the opportunity to see him demonstrate some of the more difficult techniques he is known for having mastered. For example, John 5ʼs solo instrumental albums are filled with everything from bluegrass songs to tunes completely played behind the nut of the guitar a la “Behind the Nut Love” from one of his earlier albums, “Songs for Sanity.”
“I always try to challenge myself, just to keep it fresh and fun for myself. I keep on pushing it and pushing it and pushing it,” John 5 said regarding some of the difficult techniques he uses. “It really is my love to do that, to keep my mind working and fresh and trying to accomplish greatness, which I donʼt know if I ever will, but Iʼm trying.”
John 5 joined Rob Zombie back in 2005 for the Ozzfest tour and continued to work with Zombie on 2006ʼs “Educated Horses.”
John 5 worked on Rob Zombieʼs latest release, 2010ʼs “Hellbilly Deluxe II,” a record that at times departs from its metal roots and strays into 1960s-era Beach Boys surf rock to create a heavy rockabilly sound accompanied by Zombieʼs signature horror flick-inspired lyrics.
Although local fans of Rob Zombie are no doubt thrilled the group is coming to town, it would seem that the band members are just as happy to be touring near home before embarking on a tour of the U.K. and Australia.
“Honestly, I really, really enjoy Sacramento a lot,” said John 5, who lives in Los Angeles. “I think itʼs beautiful and I love California so much. I really enjoy going to Sacramento and San Francisco and all over like that. But Sacramento is very peaceful, itʼs very nice. Iʼm not just saying that. If I didnʼt think that, Iʼd be like, ʻOh yeah, itʼs great,ʼ but you know, I really do enjoy it.”