Desert Uprising: Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and More, Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion, 9/28/12

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Desert Uprising, featuring Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Buckcherry, Corey Taylor, The Art of Dying @ Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion| 9/28/12

There have been a lot of ups and downs during the planning of 98 KUPD's first annual Desert Uprising last night, which found Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie's Twins of Evil tour teaming with the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar tour.

See the full Desert Uprising Day 1 slideshow. It seemed like the line-up was constantly shifting: First, Stone Sour had to drop off the bill due to guitarist Jim Root's health problems, but frontman Corey Taylor decided to perform solo. Jonathan "JDevil" Davis, the dubstepping Korn side project, was initially supposed to open with a DJ set, then moved to the VIP DJ, then just completely dropped out per doctor's orders-- but Sid Wilson from Slipknot, a.k.a DJ Starscream, took his place.

But, Marilyn Manson! Rob Zombie? Having those two kick off their tour in Phoenix seemed too good to be true -- just as long as Manson didn't run low on his absinthe supply and all of Zombie's pyrotechnics for his new show setup didn't blow off a stage hand's arm.

See also: Is Vinnie Paul of Hellyeah and Pantera Going to Open a Strip Club in Phoenix? See also: Digital Summer's Kyle Winterstein on Playing Desert Uprising See also: Rob Zombie on His New Record, New Movie, and Why Metal Shows Need Girls See also: Rob Zombie's Guitarist John 5 Has a Motto: "More is More"

The Art of Dying was the first band to open the main stage, close to 5 p.m. Don't let the fact that they're from Canada fool you--they're on a label founded by Disturbed frontman David Draiman, and put on a pretty entertaining performance, though the crowd, many who'd been hanging out in the 100-degree heat all day, began to falter a bit.

Which means, time for a break. Taking a break at this festival meant wandering through the "carnival," perfect for those looking for a creepy, or surprisingly awesome, souvenir. The booths that peppered the festival grounds offered all sorts of goodies, from girl's shirts constructed out of fishnet and dental floss to marijuana leaf-and-profanity-sprinkled tees, to glass pipes and satanic sculptures.

Wanna learn witchcraft, anyone?

The anticipation for Corey Taylor's performance was mixed: as a musician, he never fails to attract fans from all his different ventures. These fans always show up, even though the Slipknot fans sometimes scoff at Stone Sour, and Stone Sour fans tend to not like his "hillbilly" solo style he's exhibited in the past with the Junk Beer Kidnap Band. He hit the stage about 25 minutes ahead of schedule, and played a mix of songs from Stone Sour and Slipknot, acoustic style, finishing up with "Through The Glass," always a mainstream crowd favorite.

I've never been a fan of Buckcherry. Maybe it's because they are, oh, I don't know, obnoxious? But I will give them this--they know how to entertain their fan base. Gangly lead singer Josh Todd loped around stage, shirtless and with his every-square-inch-tattooed torso on display. "All Night Long," a cow-belly celebration of sleazy impulses, had people in the pit rocking out, and I couldn't help but compare their swagger to bandsl like Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses.

It was at this point the energy changed in the crowd. People started buzzing, literally and figuratively, because between Manson and Zombie everyone knew we were in for one hell of a show. As it started to grow darker and Manson's set approached, close to 8 p.m., the creepier portion of the crowd began to flock towards the front of the lawn. Drag queens in brightly colored wigs posed for snap shots with equally done-up ladies, wearing metal-studded bras and tight leather skirts.

A creepy pulsating beat overcame the crowd, and a couple minutes later the curtain dropped to reveal Manson with his back to the crowd, holding the microphone high above his head. The set was simple, but more than it was at the last time he opened for Rob Zombie at Rock on the Range. Silhouetted crosses dotted the background while fog and eerie purple lights washed over the rest of the stage.

He started with "Hey, Cruel World" and "Disposable Teens," leaning over the stage to leer into the crowd alongside his guitarist and bassist, who respectively were rocking a kilt-like metallic outfit and a skin mask.

At one point, Manson took his butcher knife/microphone and punctured a beer can, holding it up high to allow the beer to stream into his mouth before spitting it back all over the pit. After the new radio hit "No Reflection," he referred to Phoenix as the hottest town outside of Hades, and the crowd went crazy. Throughout the set, he kept kicking and tossing his microphone, and a certain minion constantly had to run out of stage to set it back up for him. I'm talking like, 15 times. A couple times throughout his set, confetti fell from the sky, and girls in platform combat boots scurried about, scooping it up to keep in scrapbooks, to sell it, to...I'm not even sure I want to know.

I gotta say, Manson is starting to look a little weary. It was the first time I had ever seen a bit of a gut on him, but it didn't deter the crowd from going nuts every time he grabbed his balls and flicked his tongue out and about. The one thing that did bother me was that none of the other band members were ever real shown once on the big screen -- it was truly just Manson's close-up shots about 90% of the time.

Manson may not shock the PTA the way he used to, but the set was still an awesome freak show. But the most controversial thing on stage was probably the graphics reading "vagina" and "AIDS" that occasionally flashed during "Dope Show."

Before Rob Zombie's set, music like the old-school jam "Love Hurts" softly played to the crowd, and you could practically picture Rob Zombie's movie Halloween II playing in your head.

It seemed Rob Zombie's fans made up a good percentage of the crowd, and while it has much to do with their loyalty and the fact that he puts on a HELL of a show, there was another thing floating in the air last night. In a recent interview, Zombie explained to me that this show was the start of a new production; new props, graphics, set-list. Guitarist John 5, in an interview not to long after, enthusiastically gushed about "something that was going to happen on stage" and he couldn't wait to see and hear the reaction.

His set actually turned out to be not too different from the band's Rock on the Range set earlier this year. The only member who really seemed to have a different outfit was bassist Piggy D, who's usually clad in a spiky skeleton-like mask, but seemed to just be rockin' some creepy face paint on stage. His set, always illuminated beautifully with red, purple, green, and blue lights, was accented with huge marquee lights, large platforms for the members to jump around on, and two or three gigantic robots, the latter of which was a new addition --a mechanical, medieval-looking wagon with a dragon head on it --steamrolling out on stage while Zombie stood on the top of it.

The crowd went nuts throughout the entire performance, especially when Zombie hopped off stage and made his rounds all the way through the venue, shaking hands and allowing screaming, scantily clad chicks a brush-by of his dreads. This one of the best moments of the show, as John 5 takes the stage and rocks out guitar solo after guitar solo, even playing a little ditty from the "Star Spangled Banner" with his tongue.

I kept looking for the earth-shattering described by Zombie and John 5 in their interviews, and it occurred towards the end of the show. A preview of Zombie's new film Lords of Salem hit the screens, and it was the first time the preview has been shown to fans. All I can say, is I can't wait to see that freaking movie. That moment was what sealed the deal of being one of their top performances to date.

Critics Notebook:

What: Desert Uprising at Ashley Homestore Pavilion, Friday, September 28.

Who: Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Buckcherry, Corey Taylor, Art of Dying, and more.

Random Notebook Dump: This crowd was such an awesome mix of fans, and by far one of the best festivals to hit Phoenix this year.

Overheard in the crowd: "I wonder if Marilyn Manson has had a vagina implant yet...is that why he keeps grabbing himself?"

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