The iconic Danzig skull logo rose from the back of the stage to the ceiling and the crowd erupted in a cheer. “Fucking DANZIIIIG!!!” one fan screamed. Another, “Danzig! Show us your tits!” Only a few minutes ago, show opener Pennywise tore through their set and the Danzig crew is scrambling around setting the stage. The Danzig stage is adorned with large sculptures featuring the Danzig skull on each side of the drum riser. Two smaller skulls with wings sit on the guitar amplifiers on each end of the stage. The accompanying light show will illuminate these set pieces in blues, reds, and greens, setting the visual tone to Danzig’s dark and sinister songs.
Interestingly, there’s about 100 people who haven’t left their spot on the floor since Pennywise finished their set. They worked to get that close to Danzig and they are not going to lose their spot. The rest of us milled about the South Side Ballroom, mingling with fans wearing t-shirts that read “Teach Children to Worship Satan” and party girls with missing shoes. Shortly thereafter, the house lights dimmed and the band, minus its figurehead, came on stage. The crowd is it at full volume as the band kicks in to the opening riffs of the first song.
Dressed in all black, wearing a large silver Danzig skull belt buckle and iron cross necklace, Glenn Danzig exploded onto the stage like a boxer at the sound of the opening bell. The crowd: ape shit. Danzig, who only weeks ago turned 60, brought an energy to the stage that was nothing short of relentless. He never once just casually roamed the stage. Rather, he was all over it; pumping his fists, pounding his chest, and manifesting metal machismo in the best sense of the term. Guitarist Tommy Victor and bassist Steve Zing frequently crisscrossed their respective sides of the stage, tossing guitar picks to audience members, singing back-up, and feeding off the crowds energy, as drummer Johnny Kelly pounded away on 3-4 foot tall drum riser between them.
At one point, Glenn pointed out a young boy, perched atop his father’s shoulders, only a few feet away from the stage. “Hey little man, how old are you? Six? Eight? And you’re wearing a Slayer (ed. – I think he said) t-shirt?” That’s badass.” As it happens, I saw at least three other kids around his age at the show (one rockin a classic Anthrax t-shirt).
A few times throughout the carrier spanning set, Danzig let the fans select the song based on the volume of their cheers to the song titles he suggested. Classic Danzig tracks, like “Twist of Cain,” “Am I Demon,” and “Her Black Wings,” were interspersed with more obscure tracks like “SkinCarver,” or the rarely performed “Black Hell.” Teasing his upcoming covers album, the band also performed Elvis Presley’s “Let Yourself Go,” the theme song to the late-60’s biker flick “Devil’s Angels,” and Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.” The set closed with the hit “Mother,” before the band returned to the stage for a three song encore that ended with the 1992 single, “Dirty Black Summer.”
If you didn’t know, filming at Danzig gigs is strictly verboten. The venue did have a sign at the entrance prohibiting photography, nevertheless, countless fans snapped photos throughout the gig. However, you should be aware that filming (i.e. taking video) is gonna get you in a whole slew a trouble with Glenn. About midway through the set, Glenn walked over to the far right hand side of the stage and gave the most sinister death stare to a fan right near the stage. This went on for a couple of minutes before Glenn jumped down into the crowd. From my vantage point, I couldn’t see what happened, but soon thereafter, Glenn was back on stage. In fact, during the whole incident, Glenn never stopped singing his parts as the song progressed. That’s what professionals do. When the song ended, he said “I get it. You want to take some photos. That’s cool. But, don’t stand there and film the entire show.” The moral of the story is: Respect the artists wishes. And really? Do you want to be forever known as that guy?
Danzig and his band worked their assess off from the first song to last. Glenn seemed focused and determined to give his best performance and his band follows suit. His voice is at full strength, his stage presence is as strong as ever, and unless you’re just a miserable sum’bitch, you’re destined for a great time.
– J. Kevin Lynch