I like to think anyone can appreciate a joke band with a solid gimmick. Just as long as it doesn’t go over people’s heads, anyone should get it under the right circumstances.
That’s what drew me to Buffalo’s Tralf Music Hall on the March 23 to see the Mockstrosity tour, a collection of three such joke bands with substantial cult followings taking their gimmicks nationwide. Hell, the show posters show an evil Ronald McDonald, a black-clad mariachi member, and stupid sexy Ned Flanders tearing up buildings Godzilla-style. They are well aware of their jokes and embrace it wholeheartedly.
Oh I had questions as to how these bands decided to tour together in the first place. But I left my sense of reality at the door, choosing to believe the story Mac Sabbath singer Ronald Osborne told the audience during their set. Evidently, Mac Sabbath was tired of playing with other “Drive-Thru Metal” bands, like Twisted Sizzler and Bauhaus of Pancakes, writer of the hit song “Taco Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” and organized an “international” tour with bands of different metal genres.
The first act, Okilly Dokilly, the world’s only “Nedal” band, came on stage rather unceremoniously. Amidst the covered props for the other acts, the five members, with their green sweaters, khakis, and Ned Flanders mustaches, gave the audience their first sense of leaving reasonable music taste outside. The singer, “Head Ned,” greeted the audience with a “Howdilly Doodilly neighboreenos!” in his best Ned Flanders voice before starting off with “They Warned Me (that the devil would be attractive).”
Their entire setlist was like a rundown of the most quotable Ned Flander’s phrases. Songs like “Godspeed Little Doodle,” “You’re a Jerk,” and the time Ned Flanders was the devil and tricked Homer into eating a donut to steal his soul. Since the whole joke is centered on how a metalcore band writes songs about such an innocent character, it’s all the more amusing how Head Ned alternates between screaming the lyrics and resuming his impression in between songs. This goes to the extreme as he goes on a monologue about how left-handed people are at war with society in general (like spiral notebooks and pants). He would also occasionally wrestle with the keyboardist on stage, when the keyboard wasn’t being thrown around of course.
Okilly Dokilly ended their show with arguably the most iconic Flander’s quote of them all, “Nothing at All.” Head Ned even revealed himself to be wearing a ski suit underneath his other outfit, to which he just had to say, “Feels like I’m wearing nothing at all.” With one last “Nedal” hoorah, including a bit of the Offspring’s “Gone Away,” Okilly Dokilly left the stage as unceremoniously as they came on.
The second crazy act on, Metalachi, was lead on stage with a hype man, claiming they’d convert all the Metalachi virgins in the crowd tonight. With a setup that included bra-covered microphones and outfits like any 80’s metal band would wear, the five-piece band, from Juarez, Mexico by way of Los Angeles, launched right away with “Symphony of Destruction” and “Ace of Spades.” Between songs, there would be plenty of banter between the singer, Veca de la Rockha, and the trumpeter, El Cucuy, joking about being so close to the Canadian border and finding a girl to get a green card.
The range of their covers was all over the place. The beginning had them singing the likes of Dio, Def Leppard, and Guns N Roses, before moving onto Sublime and Journey, where the big guitar player, Nacho Picante, sang “Open Arms,” to an audience member decked out in skull facepaint. Then the violinist, “Queen” Kyla Vera,” performed an instrumental medley containing the likes of Metallica, Zeppelin, and Iron Maiden before moving onto more Metallica, AC/DC, and ending with “Raining Blood.”
So, yes: a mariachi band playing metal covers. They sound as if a Mexican restaurant house band decided to have a more twisted version of Day of the Dead. But oh man, did I have a smile on my face for every bit of metal I did recognize.
The final act, the one most people in the audience wore shirts of, the one that had roadies dressed as fast food employees, and had props of evil looking Ronald McDonalds and a burger drum kit, Mac Sabbath took the stage to audio that sounded like it was talking about the evil clown sightings in North Carolina. As their curtain fell, playing their “War Pigs” parody “More Ribs,” Ronald Osborne came out wearing a straightjacket, eventually freeing himself of it as the song went on. As the song ended, as Ronald proclaimed Mac Sabbath are the forefathers of “Drive-Thru Metal,” the audience chanted out “Drive-Thru Metal” (because Buffalonians can’t pass up a chance to chant ‘Let’s Go Buffalo’).
After performing “Sweet Beef,” Ronald explained the already mentioned reasons for the tour. He joked about partying with Metalachi down in Mexico and how they retired their t-shirt cannon out of respect for Maude Flanders. They later made a reference to “White Wine Spritzer” and Okilly Dokilly’s crazy keyboard player later on, wondering if he could come back on. For some reason, after performing “Lord of the Swirl,” which featured Ronald pulling a giant straw out of his pants and drinking beer, he made a Blue Velvet reference (Pabst Blue Ribbon?) before a lip synced interlude of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” where even Ronald acknowledged, “That was weird.”
In the spaces between the songs, Ronald essentially did stand-up comedy all revolving around bad food and restaurant puns, though he pretty much had to carry the show since Slayer McCheese and Grimalice couldn’t talk due to their costumes, and The Catburgler just doesn’t talk, he just made rimshots at the bad punchlines. I’m pretty sure at one point, he was just reciting the “The Duck Song,” (the one that goes “Got any grapes?”)
In all fairness, Mac Sabbath themselves do pretty solid Sabbath covers, capturing the various kinds of metal genres they spawned back in the 70’s. But when “Children of the Grave” becomes “Chicken of the Slaves,” complete with Ronald downing some chicken nuggets and slapping together metal spatulas, it very much becomes it’s own unique thing. The same goes for closers “Frying Pan” and “Pair-of-buns,” complete with Ronald eating the head off a fake bat.
I’m probably not looking hard enough as to when bands like these go out on nationwide tours, since I’m a fan of similarly comedic acts like Weird Al and Ninja Sex Party. I can legitimately see how someone came up with these bizarre ideas, both with and without the use of illicit substances. And I can see why each of them has legitimate cult followings. The three bands do well enough on their own, but playing all together in one night play off each other well. Okilly Dokilly brings the modern reference weirdness, Metalachi brings out the ethnic party atmosphere, and Mac Sabbath brings the bizarre politics/classic rock vibes. Certainly something to enjoy and laugh with for an evening.