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Moonlit Manson and Macabre
Photography by Kevin Nguyen
On Friday the 19th of October, entombed within the concrete of the Susquehanna Bank Center, Marilyn Manson brought forth his offering to the Twins of Evil Tour altar. Preparing the stage for his sesquizygotic sibling, Rob Zombie, the cold womb inside SBC’s inner pavilion coursed with violent energy. And as the lights dimmed, chants for one of Metal’s archetypical villains erupted…
From behind a billowing black curtain, smoke and muted lights of purple and green glowed as eerie harpsichord and bell music filled the room, kicked about by aboriginal drum blasts. Then came droning moans and pained screams, almost as intolerable and invasive as the stage lights that tore about the room. This is the Marilyn Manson experience.
Manson came out brandishing a new song, “Hey, Cruel World” off his current record, Born Villain, even using a polished dagger, refracting spotlight beams, blinding the crowd. And with that light he searched throughout the crowd, threatening to take all the adoration his fans could offer, even if it could not deliver the fix he needed. Manson sang: “Hey, cruel world. You don’t have what it takes. We don’t need your faith. We’ve got fuckin’ fate!”
It was hard to identify playful disgust from genuine disappointment, or if these or other emotions were even present in Manson’s drug-addled mind. The gaze he cast from his pinpoint eyes was both blank and powerful. The mannequin smile with curled lip could gnash and tear through sound, then plaster into motionlessness. Marilyn’s only connection to his crowd was exemplified in his disdain for that very same crowd, sardonically brushing off adoration, middle-finger waving, blowing a nihilistic kiss. Here’s the rockstar. He’ll hate you if you love him.
The set production for this show was spot on. It was terrifying. Considering the inflated costs for many Halloween attractions, this was more than a worthy substitute for some silly, haunted house. The stage and costumes changed for every one of Manson’s songs. Sometimes, a tyrannical podium at center, Marilyn dictating, crackling through a megaphone. Then there was a scene that looked like a busted up bar outside Reno with divey signage lit up with the word “DRUGS”. And another time, Manson dressed in the garb of a Catholic Cardinal moving about the stage with lanky, marionette movements–no shortage of sleaze or sacrilege here.
Manson even stopped once to pray to his own symbol–two overlapping crosses, one righted and the other upside-down–and then verbally assaulted everyone who cheered for his self-worship, as if his blaspheme was less genuine if shared with others while being performed on a stage in front of thousands.
Here’s the rockstar. He’ll hate you if you don’t.