Mac Sabbath brings its joke metal to San Antonio — and backs it up with musicianship

The pioneers of 'Drive Thru Metal' delivered an entertaining set of humor and nostalgia Sunday at the Paper Tiger.

click to enlarge Mac Sabbath manage to turn a goofy gimmick into an entertaining stage show. - Brianna Espinoza
Brianna Espinoza
Mac Sabbath manage to turn a goofy gimmick into an entertaining stage show.
What do Ronald McDonald, the Transformers and your dad have in common? Other than their ages, we mean. 

Here’s the answer: all their styles became part of an entertaining bill of rock, humor and nostalgia when Mac Sabbath, The Cybertronic Spree and Playboy Manbaby played the Paper Tiger on Sunday.

Playboy Manbaby set the tone for the night with its funky grooves and quirky interludes. Singer Robbie Pfeffer was dressed in his Sunday ’80s-dad best and did some that might get Mom in a frisky mood. The rest of the group packed serious punk punch, however. Trumpets and little guitar solos filled out songs about fascism, mundane life and telling your boss “fuck you.” 

Toward the end of the set, a rock-paper-scissors tournament broke out at the behest of Pfeffer, who jumped down into the audience to teach everyone how U.S democracy works.

Then it was time for the Autobots and Decepticons to unite in a mission to rock the Earth in the form of The Cybertronic Spree. Five foam-covered band members appeared on stage looking like replicas of your favorite Transformers, including Hot Rod, Arcee, Unicron, Shockwave and Quintesson. 

Dedicated to its craft through and through, the band performed both the Transformers and Mortal Kombat theme songs. Singer Arcee delivered high-powered vocals that somehow managed to sound like a mix of Pat Benatar and Judas Priest’s Rob Halford. Guitarist Unicron didn’t flub a note despite how big and cumbersome his costume appeared. While Playboy Manbaby was all about the ’80s visually, The Cybertronic Spree’s original songs delivered a classic ’80s-rock sound.

click to enlarge Check out that McDonald's logo-shaped bass. - Brianna Espinoza
Brianna Espinoza
Check out that McDonald's logo-shaped bass.

Finally, headliners Mac Sabbath — the self-described pioneers of “Drive Thru Metal” —  proved why they became an underground sensation after breaking onto the scene in 2014. 

The McDonald’s-themed cover band not only pays tribute to iconic metal forefathers Black Sabbath but creates parodies by rewriting its lyrics. For example, Mac Sabbath reworks classic tracks such as “Sweet Leaf” and “Iron Man” into “Sweet Beef” and “Frying Pan, “respectively.” The latter even includes lyrics describing meat patties and other food items sizzling in a pan. Each musician in Mac Sabbath also is recognizable as a character from the old-school McDonaldland mythology — although their costumes and instruments are embellished with Black Sabbath-reminiscent elements. 

If the supersized serving of chunky riffs and fast food puns weren’t enough to keep the audience's attention Sunday night, vocalist Ronald Osbourne sprayed condiment bottles full of water on the crowd and chugged a full beer out of an extra-large fast food straw. 

For the end of Mac Sabbath’s set, the opening acts’ vocalists, Arcee and Hot Rod, came back onstage to join the headliner in a version of The Misfits’ “Halloween” with “schnitzel” added to the end of the holiday’s name. Go figure. 

Mac Sabbath are a band that draws audiences in with a joke, but ultimately has musicianship to make them stay. Costume and gimmicks aside, Grimalice has amazing skills at channeling Geezer Butler on his yellow, McDonald's logo-shaped bass.

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