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The recent Freaks on Parade Tour featuring Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, and Ministry stopped in San Francisco on September 22nd, 2023, delivering a thrilling spectacle at the Toyota Pavilion. This electrifying tour brought together shock rock icon Rob Zombie and horror legend Alice Cooper, adding the industrial metal power of Ministry to create an unforgettable night of mayhem that won’t soon be forgotten.  Let’s dig in.

Kicking off the evening for me was Ministry.  This band, led by enigma Al Jourgensen, never fails to produce the evilest of industrial stompings. I last saw Ministry in 2019 on Slayer’s final tour, and they were even better this time around.  The dueling lead guitars, held down by Monte Pittman and Cesar Soto, were gloriously loud and satisfying. Crystal clear yet sinister keyboards from John Bechdel and rhythm section compromised of Ray Mayorga on drums and Paul D ’Amour on bass held down the low end masterfully. Ministry never seems to disappoint (although I am glad I missed the chain link fence stage prop from the past tour).  Favorites from the set included "Thieves", Stigmata", and one of their latest, "Goddam White Trash".  Overall, Uncle Al and Ministry fully delivered the goods and then some. I am so looking forward to their new album, Hopiumforthemasses, to be released early 2024.

Next up was legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper and his amazing theatrical ensemble.  Alice has been entertaining not only Gen X’rs but Baby Boomers as well for decades. I have to tip my top hat to the entity that is Alice Cooper, a fictional name, yet a real person who always speaks of himself in third person. I recall looking at my parents album, Billion Dollar Babies, knowing this was a freak parade I wanted to belong to.  Alice’s band is legitimately one of the best in the business featuring the golden kissed Nita Strauss on guitar, engineer and producer Tommy Henrickson on Guitar, Chuck Garric on Bass, Glen Sobel on drums, along with a third killer guitar player named Ryan Roxie.  It would be a shame not to mention all of the wonderful theatrics by Alice’s stunning bride, Sheryl Cooper. She is phenomenal.  The amazing 16-song setlist was filled with classic songs from all of our childhood and were rolled out with perfection and exciting stage antics.  Some of these included "I'm Eighteen", "Poison", and of course "School's Out".  It’s always a party with Alice and the gang, and at 75 years young, his set (In my opinion) the performance of the night.  This band leaves you wanting more with a stage show and showmanship second to none.

Now on to the main attraction, Grammy winner and Horror rock Icon Rob Zombie.  Headlining the Freaks on Parade Tour, Rob keeps it real and simple with his band of 4 including himself, Piggy D on bass, Ginger Fish on drums and new (well not really new) Riggs on Guitar.  Zombie gave us an amazing 14-song set list for the evening, spanning his illustrious career nearing 40 years. Some of my favorites from the night included “Superbeast", "House of 1000 Corpses", and the encore "Dragula".  Saving some of the best for last, Zombie tossed in some White Zombie for us die-hard fans. Led screens and crazy pyro rounded out the stage production where giant sized aliens and evil monsters graced the stage. Rob Zombie makes all of us freaks that sat at the weirdo table together in school unite. It has never meant so much to be called a freak, thanks to bands like Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, and Ministry. 

The collaboration of Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, and Ministry offered fans of all ages a unique experience. Each artist brought their distinct style to the stage, creating a blend of shock rock, heavy metal, and industrial music. It was a celebration of the darker side of rock and roll, filled with theatrical performances and powerful music. This concert stood out from other shows due to the unique combination of artists and their shared love for horror aesthetics.  This one is sure to be remembered as a highlight of the 2023 concert season, and I will be patiently awaiting the next Freaks on Parade Tour to fly my freak flag high and proud.

Lisa Holt

Photojournalist - Reno / Lake Tahoe

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