Event Review: Danzig – Blackest of the Black Festival 2017


It’s tough not to get operatic about Danzig. I missed Misfits and Samhain. I was born in 1973 – just in time for Danzig. I heard Mother on Headbanger’s Ball in late ’89 and it was a year later by the time Danzig rolled into south Florida for a concert just after Lucifuge’s release. However, Glenn Danzig having a nearly 5 decade career in music in which he created (arguably) 3 genres within 2 decades with 3 bands, film directing, and a mature audience comic line, it’s also tough not to appreciate this man’s genius mindscape.

Glenn Danzig is on the verge of something and a host of us fans wanted to be on the crest of it with Blackest of the Black festival weekend 2017. Everyone was chill. There were a couple of idiots but those were removed quickly. We ventured to Oak Canyon in Silverado, California to get into Glenn Danzig’s mindscape because we know something brilliant is percolating. Now, we’re waiting for the brew.

It was gorgeous and clear both nights and cold. I was with my tribe.

Punching the bull’s balls: Blackest of the Black Festival weekend was advertised to inflict 20+ bands into your eardrums but only 17 performed, amusement rides but only 1 ride appeared his childhood favorite, and an interactive walk through experience for Castle Danzig.

Sucking the bull’s cock: Blackest of the Black Festival weekend had incredible elements such as its gorgeous shaded landscape with beautiful trees and flowers and a lake, and no cell reception – discombobulating for some and welcome for others to finally unplug and immerse in the weekend experience; the disembodied body parts hanging from tree limbs, impaled bodies littered throughout the space, the meandering freak show did not disappoint with sword swallowers and nasal cavity drillers, a well sized sun shielded eating space with tables and benches to rest and refuel, camping for tents and/or RVs which fit 4-6 people who for the price was phenomenal with reentry privileges and more, and a red-lit VIP area with an elaborate candle lit entrance and macabre props like guillotines and baby heads strung in trees as lights. Oh, and two days of constant, sick music on two stages.

Friday, May 26th:

5:00 pm – alongside the setlist for the night, the Castle tortured sinful desires, and a roaming freak show captivated pockets of people.

7:30 pm – Glenn Danzig and Simon Bisley emerged at Verotik’s booth to sign copies of the newly released CD, Black Laden Crown and new Verotik hard cover, Drukija. I waited in line, did not tell him I was reviewing the show, and talked about how much we loved rocks. In fact, I had a rock tucked in my bra. It’s a witch thing.

10:30 pm – Suicidal Tendencies finished their set in a violent, voracious crescendo of ragers.

It was announced after Suicidal that a CD listening party would cap off the night at the KLOS booth, and on the opposite end of the festival grounds, a cool 1930 black and white movie, lasting 97 minutes, would be projected onto a screen, Long Hair of Death. It was brilliant to space the listening party far from the movie so as to not interfere with each other. Sweet ending to a killer night.

Saturday, May 27th:

1:30 pm – alongside the setlist for the day and night, the Castle indulged desires, and a roaming freak show terrorized people, new friends were made.

Glenn Danzig headlining Blackest of the Black Festival at Oak Canyon Ranch in Silverado on Saturday. (Photo by Philip Cosores, Contributing Photographer)

8:55 pm – Danzig capped off the whole doom and horror filled weekend as everyone sang songs so loud, it almost eclipsed Glenn’s voice at certain points. The band sounded fantastic, each member looked fit and brilliant, and mutilated the stage. I remember it was a crescent moon, a New Moon of new beginnings. At the end of She Rides, Glenn pointed both devil horns at me. I almost threw the rock from my bra onto the stage, but maybe I’ll do it at Blackest of the Black festival weekend 2018.

LAYOUT

Intimate. It does not appear Danzig was aware of how many people would actually show, so a smaller setting seemed suitable to test the waters. I like that the space was not too big so you could see the stage, but big enough so you didn’t trip all over your neighbor. At the entrance were bathrooms, and vendors lined the entire space on either side of the stage. There should have been more bathrooms, but because most likely attendance was an unknown factor. Everyone loved the lush scenery with all the horror and shock going on within a natural setting, so refreshing.

VENDORS

Plenty. There was an abundance of official band merch from everyone, along with niche vendors in well lit and spacious areas that were organized and easy to access. Everyone had an easy time getting what they wanted.

The food was minimal: booths of sponsors like Rock Star energy drinks and Weinerschnitzel, and two of everything else like pizzas, tacos, poke, and salads. Yo! Coulda used more yummy good stuff to sop up the alcohol. Next time, more food!

The drinks were only of beer and wine: these could have been expanded upon and maybe the idea was that because it was an all ages event, no one wanted shit faced assholes around kids; then again, if some dick twist wants to get loaded, it’ll happen. Next time, more drink variance!

Verotik had a small booth with a small stash of merch. This could easily have been expanded to twice its size and included prior Danzig-Bisley projects or character figurines or his short film, She Only Likes Men. It was cool to cater to anticipated audience tastes with a select group of titles, but don’t forget the more hardcore fans looking for specialty items and its older catalog. Next time, more Verotik!

ENTERTAINMENT & ATTRACTIONS

Roaming freak show – there were performers who did things to their bodies that made me cringe and I’m a trained special effects make up artist. At approximately the top of the hour until dusk, the show would enter Castle Danzig and gut itself – literally. This was brilliant because if you’re not into whichever band was playing, there was an alternative area of things to do. Perfect impaling with Castle Danzig. Trippy stuff!

Castle Danzig – because of the advert, it’s obvious Glenn Danzig wanted this to be a walk through interactive space. However, I was picturing a fun house / haunted house type environment with a  room for each of the element like the Drukija blood bath, a room for BDSM, etc. but only an enclosed area with a backdrop housing a blood tub, a 3-4 foot diameter round table where various BDSM performances occurred, a suspension apparatus, a cage, an electrocution chair, 2 hands and head stocks, a sacrifice table, a padded cell, and about 4 sculptures of gargoyles and angels covered in blood surrounding the enclosure – some items within attributed to his Verotik comic characters, some not.  All the advertised elements were in fact present. Clearly, the advert and the final physical result differed, but I saw fans sitting in the blood bath and getting whipped – we, the courageous damned, walked into that enclosure and participated – without judgement! Can’t let the performers have all the fun themselves. Next time, more Castle Danzig!

Amusement rides – Silly me assumed there would be several rides. May 26th of the festival, there was a Rolling Stone interview was released in which Glenn Danzig revealed a favorite childhood ride would be at Blackest called the Spider. Again, the fest space was intimate, so I can understand why only one ride could fit. I was touched his childhood favorite, the Spider, was present and it appeared so were other fans because kids and grown ass adults were in that “vomit machine” all day and night. Better them than me. Next time, more rides!

MUSIC

Tight and sick. Although 20+ bands were promised, only 17 performed and those 17 murdered both stages over the course of the weekend. There were a couple of questionable bands on the roster. Notable ones included Suicidal Tendencies took a selfie with the crowd and allowed guests on stage and ended a soulless sinful Friday, Corrosion of Conformity have a new album coming out this year, Butcher Babies I wasn’t expecting to like and did with their voluptuous stage presence and insightful lyrics, Ritual with drummer, London May, who has played in almost every band under the sun including Samhain – I was disappointed they did not have a longer set because they violated every soil grain on the Canyon with yummy gorey good stuff, Ghoul was a band I’d never seen before and had fun watching its theatrical set, and of course Ministry brought the rage and were the perfect energetic set up for Danzig. There were very few technical issues, thankfully, so the sound was clear and clean on every band and every band put on a fantastic show. If you missed this event, you’re an idiot.

RECOMMENDATIONS

More. Danzig needed more space for additional amusement rides and the true walk through Castle Danzig experience, more bathrooms, more Verotik, and expand the drink and food menus – just give us more, more, more!

Think of this as Glenn Danzig’s nascent idea of combining horror and punk rock in his Misfits era, and 2017 is year one of Blackest of the Black weekend festival. Misfits were rough. The first year of Blackest is rough. But we love it. Given a few more years, with the right funding, Blackest weekend with Castle Danzig will grow into its Samhain era and be that authentic walk through experience I envisioned with stone walls, black and white tiled floors, a room for all his goodies, maybe a black ritual to go along with that sacrifice altar, the freak show chases you throughout the castle threatening to drill and stab and hook and suspend you, a silicone padded cell so everyone can see what the trapped is up to, more Verotik comic characters added to the madness. Maybe after 10 years, Blackest weekend will grow into its Danzig era, and be a space where fans can create their own horror short films with all the trappings of a Blackest ensemble cast, with a castle spanning a few acres and maybe a haunted wilderness you have to get through to enter and exit. Who knows? All I know is this first year was cool, fun, brilliant, but not enough, it left us wanting. Attendance at both shows was massive, so if you got a bigger space, all the pieces would fit. If this concept had been realized in 2003, Blackest’s first year, it would be HUGE by now. Brilliant and impressive first year for the Blackest of the Black festival weekend at Oak Canyon making memories with my tribe – a bloody good time – wrought by a fertile, genius mindscape.

Witchy woman