Growing up as theater geeks and D&D nerds, stage shows and melodrama really spoke to many of us in high school. It wasn’t so much about getting attention, as much as it was about the creating emotional reactions; tears, laughter, joy, disgust, and eventually anger and rage. Theater showed taught us that self-expression could elicit emotion from the people around us. It is exactly for this reason that shock rock (or shock metal depending on who you ask) has such an effect on people. Artists like Arthur Brown, The Sex Pistols, Genitorturers and truth be told even Cher, Madonna and Lady Gaga, each possess a different style or idea, but they all have one thing in common. These original executers of “Shock and Awe” all had the ability to make people walk away from a show really feeling something.
If Ozzy Osbourne is the “Godfather of Metal” than Alice Cooper is by far the “Godfather of Shock Rock”. Vincent Furnier of Detroit, Michigan created this alter ego sometime in the late 60’s, early 70’s. The man’s love of horror and vaudeville really made him a pioneer of the macabre in the shock rock scene, and so Alice Cooper was born.
Welcome 2 My Nightmare
Shock rock brings an element of theatre to the already dramatic heavy metal music style. Fake blood, cross dressing, skulls, monsters and aliens there really is no limit to the imagination of a really good shock rocker. Cooper spent a lifetime creating and sharing his nightmares. Nothing was too crazy, or going too far, if Ozzy could bite the head off of a bat then Cooper could take it one step further buy building and operating a guillotine on stage during a concert.
Famous Shock Rockers
- Alice Cooper
- Marilyn Manson
The Wilder The Better
It often seems that when one artist goes over the edge, another has to top them. It is as if, once the shock and awe of watching a musician bite the head off a bat has worn off, we have to find a way to be MORE shocking. Constantly reinventing the boundaries of what is normal or what has gone too far. The costumes and characters of KISS were terrifying and extreme, they pushed the boundaries of social acceptability, they also pushed the boundaries of shock rockers, what could be done that KISS or Alice Cooper hadn’t already done?
And then there was GWAR.
Barbaric interplanetary warriors in elaborately grotesque costumes lavishly spewing liters upon liters of fake blood, urine and semen on their fans. Songs about insanely over the top violent concepts about sex, political satire and scatological humor. These guys are INSANE. Some people call it garbage, and others call it art. However you label it, GWAR pushes the envelope of shock rock and earthly limitation on a mission to show the worthless people of this planet just who’s boss.
The Stuff of Myths and Legends
Shock rock really isn’t made to be taken seriously. Though it is a serious music style, the more offended you are by it, the wilder it becomes. Alice Cooper with his skulls and top hats, or GWAR and their alien costumes, it’s all about the show, the fantasy, the creation of myths and legends.