By Lisa Burke
February 25th 2017, The El Rey, Los Angeles CA: Sometimes falling outside of your comfort zone is good for the soul, and when it comes to attending heavy metal shows on a Saturday night, Richard Cheese is not usually at the top of anyone’s list. It is however worthy of attendance and a discussion because the art of manipulation is quite a fascinating agenda, and this man can make any song of any era worthy of at least a non-stop minuscule chuckle. On Saturday February 25th 2017 at the El Rey, I had my first taste of the cheesiest band around featuring none other than headliner Richard Cheese doing his Lounge Against The Machine act along with support from The Lucky Stars and a very strange “non-couple” duo named The Lampshades.
First of all, I have visited the El Rey on few and far between occasions for varying genres of bands usually of the metal variety, but this evening was the first time I had seen it filled with folding chairs. Standing room was in the back behind the sound board only, and upstairs was VIP. My first thought was how will anyone start a mosh pit, and then I remembered I was at Lounge Against The Machine the rage free rendition. As it felt to me very much like I was walking into a weird dream, the first oddity of the night was the duo of The Lampshades who put on a wacky skit similar to the style of Saturday Night Live with some quality dance and sing breaks. I did immediately find that it really catered to a very specific type of humor that I for one can’t crack much of a smile about. Apparently the female was one of the actresses from the TV show The Office, and they did do a parody on David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ towards the end of the set that was skilled despite the obvious oddness.
Next up was the best non-metal act I have seen in a while, The Lucky Stars who kind of remind me of a more talented and funny version of the Soggy Bottom Boys with their fun brand of Western swing. The band comprised of six dudes wearing quality crafted cowboy hats, dress shirts, and slacks, playing a variety of instruments such as the steel guitar, cello, violin, and trumpet along with the regular guitar and drumming. This was as if you were experiencing a time warp back to the forties or fifties, until you paid attention to the quirky lyrics that were hilariously sung in such an innocent tone that brought in the modern flair. These boys brought a smile to my face the entire set and could probably even gain fans opening for Slayer due to their pure professionally entertaining nature alone. Check out uncharted territories and give these styles a chance as you might learn something new about yourself as well as the music.
All of a sudden after my between band restroom break where that one girl’s boyfriend asked some hot headed ladies waiting in line for the bathroom if his girlfriend could go ahead and puke in there before them. Now if you want to piss people off and lose any chance of presenting yourself with a stable backbone by all means please attempt that fiasco. Back over to the cheese at hand, Richard Cheese, Bobby Ricotta, Frank Feta, and Billy Bleu played a very funny and schizophrenic set that included parodies of NIN’s ‘Fuck You Like An Animal’, AC/DC’s ‘Shook Me All Night Long’, Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ‘Baby Got Back’, Snoop Dog’s ‘Gin And Juice’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Brick In The Wall’, Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’, and System Of A Down’s ‘Chop Suey’ among many others. The classical piano keyboard enhanced intro for Chop Suey among a couple other songs was extremely well done and of course the lyric play with the Sinatra style vocals are hilarious.
Two main sellers to this deal are, any song played whether it ever had a sexual vibe or innuendo to begin with you can guarantee in the Cheese version it does now, and then there is the undeniable fact that even though he really adds much spice to the cheese to make it his own, you can’t un-hear the original in your head as he sings his lounge version. For this reason as he did a Drake song and a Rhianna song I cringed and ran outside for a break because I despise the originals and as much as I opened my mind to the humor of the Richard Cheese versions I still could not escape the originals. This is where that power of manipulation sets itself in because he really is controlling your mind with these tunes and there is no escaping the world of cheese. That one guy dressed head to toe in the orange suit who was spotted wandering the audience paints the picture nicely of the kind of expectations you could have and get back double fold. The whole set is a laugh factory for the audience and rightly so, as this man and his band will always surprise you and with the vast array of subjects to choose from, and there is no lack of creativity or skill. The commentary and audience interaction are a nice comedic touch especially during Chop Suey when he kept asking the audience why the keys were on the table. I mean, basically who does a cover of Lionel Ritchie and Led Zeppelin in the same night and makes it funny and believable to the point where you want to just start yelling Slayer because you know he could find a way to make Angel Of Death sexual swing jazz? The simple answer to that is Richard Cheese.
Comedy is hard, but comedy in heavy metal is harder. Once you throw in rap, hip hop and extra cheese flavor you really cook the goose. Richard Cheese is definitely a worthy experience that should be had at least once, and since he developed this idea in the mid-nineties yet hasn’t performed in LA since 2009 it’s a good idea to catch him whenever you can. The El Rey proved worthy of such an event as well, even with the seating segregation as it was still comfortable to watch from any angle or location. The moral of this story of course is that “Sweet dreams are made of cheese, Who am I to diss a Brie, I cheddar the world and a Feta cheese, Everybody’s looking for Stilton”.
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