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The Rock-afire Explosion

Before we start, I want you to know that by continuing to read this, you’ll lose about two hours of your day. So if you’re at work, go home sick.

The problem with seeing your favorite bands play live is running the risk of witnessing just how boring and monotonous these songs really are. We complain when the songs sound just like they did on the album. We complain if they sounded too different. We hate it when they just stand there and we hate it when people sing along.

The Rock-afire Explosion is everything you hate about live performances wrapped up in a pneumatic frame.


In the early 1980’s, the formula of “(pizza + arcade)*robots” was a mathematical proof. Showbiz Pizza was exploiting this to its fullest extent and commissioned the manufacturing of their very own animatronic band – The Rock-afire Explosion. They played Michael Jackson songs and Beatles medleys to upper lower-class children in record eight-hour shows, seven days a week. All of this without touching the blow that was in the air at the time. They were wildly popular – Showbiz Pizza ordered 100 full bands.

Then they found a fallacy in the formula and Showbiz Pizza was hemorrhaging money. The first budget cut was the house band. This was traumatic to so many people that it caused them to latch onto these characters’ memories for decades to come. Then, a man-child named Chris Thrash – a part-time roller rink DJ – decided to resurrect them and buy off one of the last unsold full bands from the original manufacturer.

And he did this with them:

Many people shared his nostalgia and felt that owning these mechanical anthropomorphs gave them instances of control in a world that they felt had escaped them.

Hulu just released an entire documentary on Chris Thrash and his story of acquiring and maintaining the Rock-afire Explosion. I can’t really compare it to anything, but can assure you it’s moving. I’m going to ruin the end for you with a very special performance of Super Furry Animals’ “Hello Sunshine” by some super furry robots.

2 thoughts on “The Rock-afire Explosion”

  1. Angela Chene says:

    Seriously disturbing shit, and yet…I can’t look away.

    1. Ian Latchmansingh says:

      Could be a lot more disturbing. They could have stains. Watch the doc and you’ll see a warehouse full of them rotting away.

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