With inflatable witches and pumpkin-headed characters adorning the stage, it’s only a week after what would have been perfect timing for this show. The screens placed along the stage are lit up, showing clips of kaiju and horror films to help set the mood. John 5 and the Creatures take to the stage, immediately launching into Crank It. The crowd is hot, bouncing and moving for the catchy track. Towards the end of the song, a portion of the sound goes out, and John announces that they seem to have blown a fuse. After a very brief break to fix the technical issues, the group retakes the stage, choosing to restart from the very intro of the show and to replay the entirety of Crank It again. The crowd doesn’t mind at all, and no energy has been lost during the slight delay.
The thought of someone going into this show with no previous knowledge of John 5 is an interesting one. Knowing him as the guitarist for Rob Zombie, and formerly Marilyn Manson, it might be assumed that he only plays metal, which is not the case at all. The diversity of styles and genres performed is incredible, from the chugging metal riffs and sweeping solos, to the pop rock, folk and bluegrass influences.
Whether or not you’re familiar with his work, the show is an experience in itself. It’s almost incomprehensible how easily John switches from picking to plucking to slapping his guitar, and even briefly playing it with a plastic Elmo toy. He changes instruments mid-song, just to play a different solo on a smaller guitar, or even a banjo. All of this looks effortless as he does it. It’s as if we’re invited to his daily practice, a jam session, as he barely breaks a sweat on stage playing some of the most complicated guitar tracks I have ever heard. It’s clear and undeniable that he is a multi-talented, musical virtuoso, and likely one of the greatest living guitarists.
After many songs, transitioning from one to the other with minimal talking between tracks, John begins an extensive medley of guitar riffs, including songs by Queen, Nirvana, Slayer, The Police, Metallica, White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, and many more. The medley came to a close with John playing part of the National Anthem with his teeth. After thanking the crowd and leaving the stage, John and the Creatures returned for a final encore performance of I Want It All.
Although it was a smaller than average sized crowd, not unexpected for a Tuesday night at a bar in rural Wisconsin, the front of the pit was packed, and fans cheered for their favorite tracks and solos for the entirety of the one hour plus set. This is not just a man with a guitar, it’s a musical experience.
- Photo Credit: Ian Storck at 3 Count Photography
Crank It – Living With Ghost
This is My Rifle
Six Hundred and Sixty Six Pickers in Hell, CA
Here’s to the Crazy Ones
Season of the Witch
The Black Grass Plague
I Am John 5
I Want It All
Fans can check out John 5 & The Creatures with special guests Jared James Nichols and Reverend Jack at the following tour dates:
Fri. 11/8- Sokol Underground in Omaha, Nebraska
Sat. 11/9- The Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas
Sun. 11/10- Barleycorn’s in Wichita, Kansas
Mon. 11/11- Fubar in St. Louis, Missouri
Tue. 11/12- Growlers in Memphis, Tennessee
Thu. 11/14- Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, Georgia
Fri. 11/15- The Parish Room in New Orleans, Louisiana
Sat. 11/16- The Village Door Music Hall in Miramar Beach, Florida
Sun. 11/17- The Basement East in Nashville, Tennessee
Mon. 11/18- Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, North Carolina
Wed. 11/20- Blind Tiger in Greensboro, North Carolina
Thu. 11/21- Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, Maryland
Fri. 11/22- Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sat. 11/23- Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Sun. 11/24- Montage Music Hall in Rochester, New York
For tickets and further information on any of the “Invasion” tour dates listed above, click here.
Fans can find JOHN 5 at the following locations: