A few trivia notes first:
We only had one religious protestor - the Hara staff told us they would be kept off the premises - and he was actually a fairly reasonable guy who came back to discuss our flyer after being once chased off. Wow, an open-minded zealot. Neat.
--I confess, I'd never guessed just how much candy a pack of Spookies can consume until I watched bags of it disappear in the outside line: Pixies, Hershey Kisses and Hugs, you name it. X-tra points to ChickenCatcher, who should be called CandyCatcher, as he displayed an amazing facility for catching tossed goodies in his mouth.
--TOO damn cold. Sigh. I've come to totally identify "waiting in line outside Manson venue" with "no feeling in my feet/hands/etc." Just getting to Dayton had its freeze/scare factor, what with our planned straight-thru-the-night drive being wiped out by an unexpected snowstorm that finally forced us off the road and caused us to hole up somewhere in PA about 1 AM. It was scary, like driving in outer space, nothing at all visible but snow flying straight at the windshield. We finally acknowledged that we weren't gonna get much further in this and found a Knights Inn, where we disassembled the bed and made crash space for six. Fortunately, come morning, the snow was over and on we (literally) plowed... Hrmph. angel tired of snow. angel cannot wait for the spring tour. (Yes, you heard me - *spring*! As in no snow and no subfreezing windchills on line! Wheee!)
The Show. Well, there had been much speculation on the mailing list about just what was going to make this show so special. Of course, it was supposed to be the date "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" was recorded via time travel for the ACS LP. You'll also recall that Manson had spent much time telling the magazines that this one would be remembered for a long time to come, that it was the culmination of the ACS project. We'd heard stories as well, some semi-official, suggesting Bible-burnings, a name change for the band, and other possibilities (Manson did in fact apply for and get a pyrotechnics license for the show, which seemed to bolster the former rumor). The more esoteric-minded of the clan were talking mass Satanic ritual, Watchtowers cracked, eschatons immanentized, the End of the World As We Know It quite literally at hand. I myself was quite prepared to believe that Manson had cracked the unwritten Enochian Call and was ready to rip a hole in the walls that sustain Western Christian civilization.
Did we overdo it? I guess so. But it sure seemed possible in those giddy first two weeks of February. And even more so on the night of the 14th.
What a joy it was to sit on the (very cold! just plywood over the ice of the hockey rink) floor of Hara Arena and look over the ranks. So many Spookies I'd known via e-mail for years, but was meeting for the first time. Tried and true fans, many of us wearing the wonderful "Motel 666 Welcomes the Spookykids" t-shirt which DarkeOne had made and marketed just for this occasion. Could not anything happen in this gathering of clued-in and excited true believers, willing to let Reverend Manson use our energy however he chose? The moment was perfectly crowned by Carrie appearing to hand us each an aftershow pass - my very first! - with a quickly whispered "These are from Manson." Joy unconfined. Anything, indeed, could happen.
The Family was certainly wired enough, opening the show with a spontaneous recital of "Prelude (The Family Trip)" - which someone backstage must've dug as the lights went down just as we hit "Stop the boat!" - followed by a golden starfield of raised cigarette lighters in the balcony. Weirdly arena-rock gesture for a Manson show but somehow it was just right and genuinely beautiful.
The band is TREMENDOUSLY improved over the first (November) leg of the tour. Zim must be settled in now, or something, as I'd say they were just about as tight as on the SLC tour, and played with tremendous power and dynamics. A knockout show that completely redeemed my scarred faith in them as a live band. We did get two songs new to the setlist, "Deformography" and "Mr. Superstar", with the arrangement of "Mr. Superstar" being a standout - slow and earnest, chillingly sad. It hurt like crazy to hear. (I would rather have my fingers nailed to a board than watch him sing "I wish that I was dead, I wish that I was dead, I never wanted this..." ...it's hard enough to take when you're only listening to it. EVB keeps telling me I shouldn't've let it hurt me, because it's not aimed at true fans, but I can't help it.) "Deformography" was announced "this is my Valentine's gift to you..." "Tourniquet" featured a guest appearance by Kevin, the little assistant from the video - another deeply moving moment with Manson conveying overwhelming disorientation and sorrow. Hard not to feel that this is getting much too big too fast for him; he seems so relieved to see people he knows in the front ranks...
"You're all part of history tonight..." he says but nothing really follows it... Something was just wrong. Enormous power but ...I couldn't feel anything happening, anything being done with it, it's not going anywhere, just boiling around in rings. Is the crowd too big? Is Manson in trouble? Am I trying too hard, or is nothing there? ...
A huge, storming "1996" was the first encore (and, dude! No one warned me how BIG the Anti-Flag is - we're talking huge here! I mean, the entire back wall of the stage, floor to ceiling, end to end!). Manson posed saluting the crowd in front of that, wrapped sarong-style in an American flag, is a show-stopping visual - it ought to be a poster. But --
He finished it by crowning himself with a bottle and collapsing over the speakers. He didn't get up. Chaos reigned - I was so crammed between bouncers and surfers I couldn't see and struggled frantically - but by the time I got clear Manson was gone and Twiggy trotting off stage right. What had happened?! Can't possibly convey my confusion and dismay. People since have debated whether what they saw was real blood or splattered wine - I didn't see any of it. It was over. They didn't do "Man That You Fear" and there was no more.
I was a wreck. Nothing I expected had happened. I had my first aftershow pass and a chance to talk to Manson - if indeed, he hadn't somehow hurt himself badly, another worry - and it was the worst possible time, bitterly disappointed and unbalanced as I was. --coyote shakes me and tells me to put on the pass. Dizzily I peel off the backing and slap the adhesive onto my shirt somewhere. We're trotting off the floor at a quick clip and I'm trying to clear my head, wishing it was any other time. What on earth am I gonna say? Out in the corridor, trying to keep sight of them as they get ahead of me in the throng - a guard stops me. "What?" I snap at him, frantic not to get separated from EVB and coyote. "Your pass," he says. Right here, I retort, opening my jacket to show him -
It wasn't there.
Let's make this long story short. I searched the floor, I searched the ladies' room, I tried to get back onto the show floor, I gave up. It had fallen off and been grabbed up by someone I supposed. Totally miserable and realizing EVB and coyote had no idea why I wasn't there - and with the venue staff all but herding people outside with prods - I stumbled outside, cried on several of my more understanding friends, tried enlisting help from Zepp (who didn't) and finally curled up in the car to wait, however long it might take, for my roomies. It was very cold. I can't imagine feeling any worse.
As it turned out, Manson never put in an appearance (I've heard he did greet fans at the bus later). EVB and coyote never saw him, though they were assured he wasn't hurt. coyote came out to the car to find me, and somehow we ended up back at the hotel.
It's hard to believe a night that started so radiantly could end this way. I seriously considered skipping the Wheeling show the next night, so utterly let down was I.
Some points EVB caught that I missed: [quoted from her review]
"Joined the line & found a woman we'd seen the night before in Dayton - she had driven all the way from Dallas TX with her two kids (boy and girl) in their early teens - the hadn't been able to get tix to the Dayton show & apparently the girl was so depressed she'd tried to kill herself so mom had packed 'em back in the car & driven straight to Wheeling with assurances that this time they'd get in. I worried about the girl - a very pretty gothic waif with long purple hair and Crow-like face paint - who never said one word those two day - I wondered if she wasn't autistic or borderline so & her mom was desperate for anything that would make contact. Luckily Chicken Catcher was able to get hold of his friends in L7 & get them on L7's guest list and assure that they'd get in that night.
..to main gig review page.
..to the next night.