I’m not a big drinker. One or two beers and I’m good. I appreciate the buzz, but not being out of my head drunk. With that being said, I got obliteratedly (it’s a word now) wasted at the John 5 show about a month ago at Scout Bar in Houston, TX. In my defense, my cool brother (I have a cool one and a crazy one) was buying my drinks all night and my Queenie was the designated driver so, no harm, no foul. The three of us met with our friend Blackbelt Ryan up there, and the four of us secured a table for the show. I imaging we got to keep the table all night because of the absurd amount of double IPAs and double Stouts we were buying.
With table secure we sit back through a slew of instrumental opening bands. The main opener was The Steve Satchel Band and those boys can play! Russ Driver played before them and he can bring some killer shred to. The first opener I honestly can’t remember (like most of this show you’ll come to find out), but I remember thinking of them as an instrumental Tool sounding band. Very prog-rockish and droning. All three did great, but The Steve Satchel Band is one who could definitely carry a show on their own and Russ Driver brought great support.
With the openers accounted for, it was time for the main event. I was around four doubles in at this point (which is about twice my normal take), so I was feeling goooood. John 5 came out and did the wizardly things on the guitar he’s so well known for. For anyone who doesn’t know his body of work, he’s the guitar player for Rob Zombie and former guitar player for Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, and several others. With such an impressive repertoire, it should be no surprise to learn his solo work is where he shines the brightest. All instrumental, and all amazing. He can go flow Hee-Haw to heavy metal with such ease and little effort on his signature Telecaster you’d swear there were three of him up there.
He started with new song ‘Guitars, Tits, and Monsters’ and then went front to back through years of his material… flawlessly. The full set list can be seen here.
He changed guitars frequently and even showboated on the banjo. In my foggy memory I remember a LED lit guitar (almost as lit as I was), and one with a swirling green liquid inside it (probably resembling the alcohol my brain was floating in). Toward the end of the set he played one of my favorite songs of his called ‘Behind the Nut Love’ or what he referred to as The Butthole Song. It’s freakin’ awesome to see live, and definitely worth a YouTube watch to hold you over until you make it to one of his shows, which you will inevitably want to after this review.
The set ended with a ripping instrumental version of ‘Beat It’ (see below), and then about ten minutes of every alternative and classic rock riff you can think of. He goes from White Zombie, to Led Zeppelin, to AC/DC, to Rage Against The Machine, to Marilyn Manson, and everything in between.
The medley of rock riffs was by far the highlight of the show up to that point. However, as John 5 was exiting the side stage I went over to shake his hand and tell him what a great show it was. At this point the night went from great to magical.
As I go in for a handshake over the waist high rail he comes in and full on, double arm hugs me. At this point I’m feeling awkward at first, but then like the safest, most loved fan in that building. I’ve got to meet lots of performers after shows and side-hugged and bro-hugged the best of em’, but John 5 is the first real hug I ever recall getting, and it was great. Like the kind of hug an older brother would give his little brother on his first trip home from college, or like the kind of hug a girl gives a guy who has been friend-zoned so she can be as loving as she wants without the prospect of a relationship. I really felt like I could have rested my head on his shoulder and he would not have minded. Yes friends, John 5 is a hugger and I was happy to be on the receiving end. There was no homo to the hug, just a couple secure, married, happy guys having a likeminded moment together that will forever be etched into my memory.
Immediately following he whisks offstage and I’m brought back to the harsh reality that I’m drunk, in a bar, an hour from home. I stumble to my table raving about the hug, much to the amusement to my party. Many a laugh was had about how much farther the hug may have gone had we been alone in a room instead of side stage at a bar. All I know is I’d happily go see John 5 again without hesitation. Not only is he a phenomenal guitar player and stellar showman, he is also a gracious, humble, polite, gentleman… who gives great hugs. I’m glad a bought my shirt a little snug so every time I wear it I can feel like he is hugging me again. (TM)