The Middle East Downstairs
Cambridge, Mass.
March 22, 2016
White Dynomite, The Humanoids

More Ribs
Chicken for the Slaves
Brand of Doom
Sweet Beef
Zipper Up the Uniform
Lord of the Swirl
Organic Funeral
Frying Pan
Cherries are Fruits


Mac Sabbath's demented metal vision comes to Cambridge


Flashing lights, heavy droning, amps buzzing. The club is dark and heavy. After the first song, in a distorted voice, the singer tells the crowd:

“We are Mac Sabbath, the four fathers of drive-thru metal.”

From there, four twisted creatures from the advertising department of McDonald’s launch into another riff from the Black Sabbath cannon. And my friends and I are in hysterics and howling.

It’s surreal. The sirens are blaring as the red and yellow banner falls in Cambridge’s Middle East club, and there’s a demonic Ronald Osborne in a straight jacket stalking the stage flanked by Slayer McCheeze and GrimAlice (topped off with an undersized Lemmy hat). Then they launch into “More Ribs,” a note-perfect reading of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” but of course twisted into a demented take on the McRib.

No amount of words can truly do justice to how ridiculous the Mac Sabbath experience is. Ronald motions with his frying pan and Chicken McNuggets and squirts ketchup and mustard bottles into the crowd, and all his gestures are so perfectly Ozzy, down to the clapping and a demonic “HA HA HA” that punctuates every other sentence. Towards the end of the night, he pulled a rubber bat out of his frying pan before lurching into “Cherries are Fruits,” an ode to McDonald’s long-deceased cherry pie twisted out of Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots.”

And the way these two sets of tropes intermingled was brilliant. Three or four songs came crashing to a close with drawn-out, metalized versions of the “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle, and it was all delivered at a deafening level, Ronald cackling while the guitars drone amid Ronald McDonald’s plastic, severed head, spiked on each side of the stage, smiles out onto the crowd.

It’s not as if Black Sabbath is the most ridiculous metal band in the world and ripe to be parodied, but because the music is so revered, so heavy, so doom-laden, turning it into this ridiculous spectacle based on the most disposable of all our cemented social institutions makes it hilarious from top to bottom. Where Grimace was Ronald McDonald’s dopey friend bouncing along with the Fry Guys, now he’s the demented GrimAlice with a receding hairline ripping off the solo that kickstarts “N.I.B.B.L.E.”

That introduction was note-perfect and true to the enormous sound of the source material. As a band, they nail the Sabbath sound. It’s tight and heavy and pulsates through the room. Turn your back and block out the lyrics on Happy Meals and rancid beef and they’d be one of the better cover bands around. It’s that devotion to the music that, paired with the unflinching bit on tearing apart beloved fast food commercials, makes the entire show unbelievable.

And they miss nothing. Ronald pretends to vomit into a bucket only to throw its actual contents — confetti — into the crowd. They lampoon every other band that’s apparently their competition, thanking the crowd for not seeing Cinnabon Jovi and Dairy Queensryche. This entire exercised was capped off when two giant inflatable hamburgers came bouncing on top of the crowd, and a legitimate mosh pit formed for the closing “Pair-a-buns” — Ronald declared this more Mac Flag than Mac Sabbath, but still just as ridiculous and just as stupidly fun. When he started crowdsurfing and I saw he was wearing oversized clown shoes, I lost it. They hadn’t left a single aspect of this gag uncovered.

At the end of a long night, after stopping for pizza and stumbling home, we all crashed on the couch and watched dumb cartoons until the buzz started to wear off. We were exhausted by the spectacle and had no idea what to say, but we agreed that seeing Mac Sabbath in 2016 is probably a lot better and a lot more fun than seeing Black Sabbath in 2016.

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