Hanging out


Only Flesh hooks the audience at Therapy Cafe

By Gary Spencer

Photo: (l-r) Revina Lower and Damien Thompson of Only Flesh bring the freak show to Therapy Cafe Saturday, Feb. 11; photos: David Heasley

Props and theatrics in rock music are hardly a new thing. In the early 1960s, Screaming Jay Hawkins emerged from a coffin on stage, dressed in vampire regalia and setting off smoke bombs. The birth of shock rock brought us Arthur Brown in shaman costume, with masks and a flaming headpiece, along with Alice Cooper, who developed an elaborate stage show featuring beheadings and special effects.

We also got the Plasmatics’ Wendy O. Williams, who destroyed TVs and automobiles while fondling her womanly parts, and Gwar, who dressed as monstrous interspecies aliens that would “kill” celebrities onstage, spraying their audience with blood.

Later, we were treated to the sight of Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann setting himself ablaze in a flame retardant suit. Perhaps most infamously, punk rocker G.G. Allin sang songs about all things scatological, beat up audience members, and ate his own feces before bewildered crowds.

Pittsburgh-by-way-of-Columbus outfit Only Flesh is a group that follows in the tradition of visceral, in-your-face rock with a stage show designed to shock and irk those with more conservative tastes.

“Only Flesh was born out of the idea of creating an experience, something that aroused, repulsed, angered, and amused,” says Only Flesh vocalist Revina Lower. “We started as an abrasive noisy, industrial act, and over the course of time have mutated into the punk metal glam band / suspension team/ freak show act it is today.”

Indeed, Only Flesh’s live show is what many would deem quite freaky. In addition to its sleaze-tastic music, the band has developed a stage show that includes flesh pulls and suspensions. Band members hang from hooks, breath fire, and are pierced and branded on stage, all in the name of shock and thrill. Goth-y go-go girls and strippers also appear in the act.

“There are many layers to Only Flesh—we are a band, we are a suspension team, we do grinder shows and freak show performances,” Lower adds. “Sometimes we get booked to just do one aspect of our act, but we prefer much more to combine them and give a full show. I like to keep the audience guessing as to what to expect.”

With Only Flesh’s propensity for bodily fluids and mutilated skin, the show is a flat-out assault on all five senses; it’s no surprise that the band and its wild stage antics have been met with opposition, outcries, and condemnation.

“We have had many places tell us we couldn’t do certain things in their bar—some places have rules that prevent us from certain activities, like fire-breathing, piercings, hooks, and blood,” Lower explains. “Our last big tour had three cancellations in a row because the bars got scared and canceled our show the day of, because they didn’t do the proper research and actually check out the band they booked.”

While flesh pulling, suspensions, and fire breathing have become mainstays of the band’s live show, Only Flesh has recently rolled out a few new tricks for its freak show extravaganza that, according to Lower, must be seen to be believed.

“We’ve added some sideshow tricks to the show, like the bed of nails, a bed of machetes, machete staircase, the human blockhead, smashing cinder blocks on my nuts with a sledge hammer, bear traps, staple guns, fire dancing, flesh skewers, throat hooks, spark wheels, and a lot more!”

But even with all the extraordinary window dressing, at its core, Only Flesh is a rock band that has the formula for narcotic-like music down to a science.

“Take a hint of Alice Cooper and mix with a splash of Skinny Puppy, add some Sex Pistols for flavoring… then drizzle over some frozen Faster Pussycat,” Lower suggests. “Strain the mixture and put the concentrate on a spoon. Apply flame to the bottom of the spoon till it bubbles. Use a clean syringe to extract the fluid and inject into your favorite vein. After you start to hallucinate, snort four big lines of Murderdolls and take a shot of Rob Zombie. That feeling that’s turning your brain to mush and giving you a raging erection is known as Only Flesh.”

With its alluring combination of music, theatrics, and self-torture, Only Flesh ominously promises attendees an evening they won’t soon forget…if they dare.

“We want to be the soundtrack to your bad decisions,” Lower states. “The blood is real, the guitars are loud, and not all of us will make it out unscathed.”

Only Flesh will perform Saturday, Feb. 11 at Therapy Cafe, 452 E Third St. in downtown Dayton, as part of the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Gee Gee’s Punk Rock All Stars, Flesh Warfare, and Putrid Liquid are also on the bill. Admission is $5 at the door for attendees 21 and over. Show starts at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit Therapy-Cafe.com.


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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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