Only Flesh, The Serpenteens, Order of the Black Hand and Dead End Drive In
The Ugly Monkey
Tuesday, Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m., $6
Inked and pierced from head to toe, the boys of Columbus, Ohio-based hardcore punk-metal band Only Flesh proudly display nearly 50 tattoos, piercings and Teflon implants between them. Bent on exploring the boundaries of pain and aural stimulation, their live show and lyrics would make almost anyone blush. Body suspension, flesh pulls and scantily-clad female go-go dancers are just some of the vivid visuals you’ll experience at an Only Flesh show.
Performing their only Indianapolis date this week, the gig will bring three other Midwest bands, including The Serpenteens, Order of the Black Hand and Dead End Drive In, to town for a sinister evening of debauchery.
Only Flesh formed in 1997 under the guise of frontman and vocalist Rev. Lower, a piercer at Evolved Body Art who specializes in scarification, branding and dermal punches at his shows. A creative outlet for exhibitionist art, the quartet has undergone various band member changes, now opting for its best lineup yet: Lower in front, ex-Jackalopes punk guitarist Ron T. on razor riffs, Dreggs on drums, Damien on bass and Shrapnel on samples and visual effects, including suspension work.
“At a typical show, we do our own light show and throw sparks of fire with grinders,” Ron says. He and Dreggs, the newest members, joined in March 2006. Though they come from less extreme music backgrounds, their support of Lower’s vision makes the music tight and worthy of any traditional punk-rock fan.
“First, we make a lot of noise,” Lower jokes. “Then the audience usually boos. Afterwards, I cry a little.”
Performing a theatrical human puppet show overlaid with early Marilyn Manson-esque vocals, Only Flesh erupts into the aggressive bowels of rock with its scarred songs, which focus on themes of drug addiction, religion, sadism and self-implosion. Loss over ex-girlfriends and tales of inner expression through exterior infliction of pain bring chilled reminders of why some teens cut themselves — for attention. However, Only Flesh doesn’t practice its music rituals for attention alone; the acts are a part of Lower’s life and reflect his personal beliefs on the human condition.
During mostly instrumental songs, fans can watch in awe as Lower suspends his body from hooks above the stage. Sometimes he even pulls his flesh while singing. And the devilish go-go dancers seem delighted when they see their main man in pain.
The band’s R-rated Web site features images fans can view similar to those popularized by the Suicide Girls of what Lower refers to as his “crucivixens,” like Brandie Doll or Krista Codeine — ballsy gals who have danced with the band in the past and have enough guts to literally bleed for the camera.
“I think female fans are attracted by a certain amount of erotica and weirdness throughout our shows,” Ron says. “A lot of girls into fetish stuff like the flesh pulls, too.”
Wicked, sexy and violent music videos and videos of live shows adorn the band’s Myspace site and official Web site, triggering images along the lines of horror music guru Rob Zombie and the visuals he inflicted upon the world during House of 1,000 Corpses.
Not for the faint of heart, Only Flesh uses the human canvas as a playground for voluntary sado-masochistic rites on anywhere from one to 15 people during energy-charged music performances. While not every act involves bloodletting or sticking hooks through flesh, belly dancers and fire breathers express the softer sides of the music.
“Everything we use at the shows is sterilized at the shop,” says Lower, who grew up singing in the mirror along to songs by Wasp and Alice Cooper. “Usually, I do all the piercings, and if I’m not, I oversee them.”
Only Flesh also represents Lower’s electro-industrial project of the same name, as well as his suspension team. The name is an umbrella term for the outlets Lower creates for himself. “Usually club owners know what they’re getting into when they book us,” Ron says.
On the band’s to-do list, Lower says Only Flesh just finished a new album, Audiolovesludge, and will soon shop it around to record labels. Music from previous albums from his industrial Only Flesh band, during which time he performed with Bile, Rasputina and Hanzel und Gretyl, can be heard on horror and sci-fi movie soundtracks. This version of Only Flesh, signed to Mizukis Box, recently released its third album, Strap On Crucifix. However, Indianapolis will experience the punk-metal glam outfit, rather than the industrial project. Find out more at www.onlyflesh.info.