The last notes of feedback from “Christian Woman” were still leaking from the amps Tuesday night as Type O Negative frontman and bassist Peter Steele was standing on the edge of the stage, daring the sold out Trocadero crowd to hit him…with rolls of toilet paper?
These are the masters of doom and gloom metal? Purveyors of lyrical sadness and musical depression? They’re having a toilet paper fight with their audience?
It was simply the continuance of a tradition now into its fourth year: the annual Type O Negative Halloween show in Philadelphia.
“It kind of started out as a default thing,” remembered drummer Johnny Kelly earlier in the day. “We couldn’t get a show in New York City, so we came to the closest place, and then it just happened the next year, and now here we are four years later – now it’s become more of a tradition.”
Whether they have an album to promote or not, the Brooklyn natives make the yearly trek to Philly to celebrate a holiday that almost seems to be made for the band. This year Type O is supporting their new best of disc, The Least Worst Of, a stunning collection of the group’s most popular songs, new tracks and rare edits that was released appropriately enough, on Halloween.
The expected mixed crowd comprised of Goths, costumed freaks and some semi-normal looking folks turned out for the show. With pumpkins and cardboard skeletons adorning the stage, the band came out and wasted no time getting into the holiday spirit, playing a cover of Black Sabbath’s “N.I.B.”
“It like a disease every Halloween we play Philadelphia,” Peter Steele commented to the crowd. “And I have no fucking problem with that.”
With his bass held in place over his shoulders with a chain instead of a strap, Steele led Type O though an hour and a half set that had the crowd screaming along to every ounce of his heartache. The gargantuan Steele, at 6 foot 6 and all muscle, slugged down a bottle of Sutter Home wine through the night, looking deep and brooding as the band plowed through the songs “Everyone I Love is Dead,” “Love You to Death,” “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” and Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.”
“Peter is a normal guy just trying to break out of his shell – I’ve always said that about him,” declared Kelly of his emotionally distressed lead singer. “He just wants to be a regular guy. Everywhere he goes, no matter what he does, he’s the freak on display. He’s got a unique look to him, people look at him like, “What planet did this guy come from?'”
Whatever loss and despondency Steele has experienced in his life, its made for some of the most open wound exposing and lyrical depth that most bands never achieve. The sound is Black Sabbath meeting Pink Floyd meeting Led Zeppelin on a dark and rainy night. Kelly acknowledges that it’s the common ground musically that keeps the band together, despite ongoing rumors of their break up.
“It always feels like it’s the last record,” he conceded. “There’s always been a dark cloud moving over our heads, you never know what can happen – all this could be over in a blink of an eye.”
Whatever the future holds for Type O Negative, chances are that they will not stray far from the sound that they have perfected over the past few records.
“There isn’t any electronic kind of stuff happening,” Kelly said of the new material that the group plans on working on after this brief tour ends. “We’re not anywhere near the rap trend, I can’t see Peter going “My name is Pete!'”
Kelly fell into a fit of laughter at Steele posturing like Kid Rock announcing his name to the world, “I just don’t see it!”
On-stage at the Trocadero though, Steele made himself the center of attention, as fans aimed for his head with roll after roll of toilet paper that the singer had supplied to them by the box. Some he would catch and return to the crowd in waiting, and a few others caught him on the head. He finally took refuge behind his bass amp as openers Spineshank came out to join the fray.
In one last moment of mischeviousness, Steele held up the pumpkin that had been carved “Type O” and threatened to send it into the audience, the cheers became too much and he finally relented and launched it into the crowd. Many others soon followed – full pumpkins that weren’t carved
In the aftermath, two massive boxes of toilet paper had been emptied and streams of it were hanging from every inch of the Trocadero. Numerous pumpkins laid smashed on and off the stage that had been lobbed into the audience. And as the crowd began to disperse, it looked as if the man who wears his broken heart almost proudly on his sleeve was quite possibly…happy.