Bracken’s text read, “Have you heard of Mac Sabbath? Freakin’ ridiculous, they dress up as McDonald’s characters and do Black Sabbath covers.”
“Do you mind if I use that?” was the only response necessary to such a promising inquiry.
And put some stank on “promising.”
Mac Sabbath is a two-year-old Los Angeles-based quartet of traveling Black Sabbath channelers/interpreters who dress up as loose interpretations of the characters from a McDonald’s McDonaldland cartoon promotional campaign that began in the 1970s. This conceptual “Drive Thru Rock” act geared up in the Nashvillian staple venue Exit/In Monday, March 14, during the last leg of its hilariously copyright-law-fragile Rock Sham Shake Tour, appearing to have been piled up in the back corner of their tour bus for a couple of months coated in a film of used peanut oil while maintaining the level of edibleness as their chosen fast-food chain’s chicken nuggets would have if said chicken nuggets were fried under the same circumstances.
The extra cheese seemed effortlessly added by Mac Sabbath, and the attentive Exit/In crowd ate it up.
Before the ridiculousness, a steadily growing crowd of intrigued Middle Tennesseans were freshly primed for the evening’s fitting rock-heavy mentality by local horror-rock quintet The Creeping Cruds, which landed the opening gig with a little bit of luck mixed with some Cruddy gusto at an opportune moment, according to the Cruds’ drummer, Murfreesboro sweetheart and assault-bassist Horror Blood Hand Sammy Baker. The Creeping Cruds’ vocalist, Wolfie, whose personalized Lemmy-inspired stage presence and loose comedic band direction acted as that fine primer for the audience’s Mac Sabbath expectations.
Mac Sabbath’s set was constructed behind a yellow-and-red-striped circus tent-style stage skirt hiding the view from the still steadily growing audience and teasing the imminent weirdness-to-come. Besides the stage skirt, only a few laser-eyed, smoke-vomiting Ronald McDonald heads-on-sticks effigies peered over the crowd.
They pulled their circus skirt down around 10 p.m. and, well . . . Mac Sabbath. Keep in mind these L.A. Black Sabbath enthusiasts are navigating a heap of copyright laws to avoid getting sued by McDonald’s, but they are not afraid to rock your dipping sauces.
Upon the reveal, Mac Sabbath’s immediate knee-slap appearance showed a satirical parody of three McDonaldland’s characters already onstage. Sitting behind a drum kit of hamburgers was Catburglar, or the Hamburglar, made up as original KISS drummer Peter Criss. On electric guitar stage right stood Slayer MacCheeze, a character combining Joe Perry and Jimmy Page in their prime (with some Tony Iommi on top, of course), sporting a half-unbuttoned purple velvet shirt, tight black pants and wearing an oversized Mayor McCheese head tweaked with long silver Motorhead logo tusks.
Grimalice, the purple, seemingly restrictively bulky and heavily inebriated Grimace character, stood waiting stage left.
The fourth member of Mac Sabbath, frontman Ronald Osbourne—a demented Ronald McDonald crossed with a straitjacketed Ozzy Osbourne—slowly crept to the mic to shed his restraint and belt out the first tweaked Black Sabbath cover, and, yes, Mac Sabbath rewrote Black Sabbath’s lyrics to include McDonald’s fast-food lingo and menu item puns for a more McDonaldland-friendly environment.
Aside from Mac Sabbath’s novel and increasingly popular traveling parody show, witnessing such a conceptual stage show is still somewhat fresh and, honestly, needed for our surrounding Middle Tennessee area (the closest local comparison would be nationally recognized Murfreesboro concept band Protomen, which started performing its Megaman-themed rock-opera act 16 years ago).
Starting out as just a joke, Mac Sabbath’s popularity grew rapidly from a simple notice and a repost of their closed-captioned “Frying Pan,”(“Iron Man”) video by Black Sabbath itself, on the band’s own website.
That tip-of-the-hat Facebook share was the serendipitous spark igniting Mac Sabbath’s motivational pilot light as, in response, the four guys subsequently geared up in a timely manner for immediate West Coast and transatlantic touring as the new minimum-wage rags-to-self-worth-riches act, standing collectively as a figurehead for downtrodden young American fast-food employees.
Musically, Mac Sabbath sounds like what would be expected of a cover band fresh out of the garage. But the comedic glory of the grimy Mac Sabbath concept is what has carried it to widespread niche fame. The band takes every chance for a Black-Sabbath-combined-with-McDonald’s pun, as exemplified by popular videos such as “Never Say Diet” (“Never Say Die”), “Para-Buns” (“Paranoid”), and “Sweet Beef (“Sweet Leaf”). All of that, plus crowd-pleasing shenanigans such as dumping buckets of confetti (and eventually buckets of McDonald’s dollar-menu items) into the crowd, tossing about giant hamburger beach balls, and Ronald Osbourne pulling a 10-foot-long fountain-drink straw from his pants and having an audience member pour beer into it from the fourth row.
Osbourne displayed a genuinely enthusiastic mood, fueled in part by being in Music City. And, of course, the crescendo of their hard night’s work, Slayer McCheez licking out that very well known, heavily fuzzed five-note McDonald’s commercial riff as Osbourne nods his head, looking the crowd right in the eyes while singing “I’m Lovin’ It” for the night’s mic-drop finale moment. The crowd went crazy with hilarity as Mac Sabbath walked off the stage, leaving the room looking like a bar fight broke out at the Mickey D’s next to your friendly neighborhood interstate exit.
To get a taste of what Mac Sabbath is all about, their reworked Black Sabbath videos (captions and all), merch and tour information can be found on Facebook, YouTube and officialmacsabbath.com.