Gwar: 13 December 2009 – New York


I’ve never paid much attention to GWAR aside from the occasional Beavis and Butthead placement in the ’90s, but the band playing when we walked in late sounded exactly like what I always imagined they might have when bringing them up as a hyperbolic extreme (a sort of Godwin’s Law for metal, perhaps) with way too many loud guitars,indecipherable vocals, etc. Unfortunately, they were sensibly attired. “What, no costumes tonight?” I immediately remarked. “Screw that.” Upon turning to leave, though, we spied the merch booth and realized that it was the opening band (unfortunately I can’t tell you who it was because there was too much blood dripping from their logo to actually read it).

GWAR, on the other hand, turned out to have a surprisingly listenable dose of perfectly competent high-powered id-metal. Listening was not the point, however. Outlandish costumes aside, you also have the accompanying rock-opera storylines and the Gallagher-esque constant spray of hopefully-washable liquids into the crowd from a variety of severed limbs and other distressing sources (penises, giant cannons — the latter had some serious range, as did the former, I guess, all things considered). It’s almost hard to consider it “shock rock”, since gasping instead of laughing would mean you’ve somehow managed to discount the campiness.

Let’s see just how strong your grasp of the absurdity is. Only one item in each of the following sets is fabricated.

1) Which costume does not appear in the band?

a) Roman centurion (12 spikes)

b) Dragon (0 spikes)

c) Metal bear trap teeth with devil horns (15 spikes, including horns)

2) Which prop weapon was not used on stage?

a) Laser gun

b) Battle axe

c) Enormous arm-mounted buzzsaw blade

3) Which of the following was not included in the ten-minute video introduction?

a) A VH-1 style “Behind the Murder” mockumentary

b) A commercial for the “sperm and slide”, a perverse twist on the popular backyard toy

c) Bobcat Goldthwait

d) A porno scene between a GWAR member in full costume and a profoundly unhappy young lady

4) Security guards did not have to do which of the following?

a) Tackle a guy in a Speedo and giant GWAR foam fingers who somehow made his way on stage

b) Team up four to a man to eject the occasional unruly tank of a crowd surfer

c) Wear bibs to guard against the spray of blood and other bodily fluids (may have included synthetic substitutes)

5) Which of the following did not appear as a guest character?

a) Evil clown

b) Space turtle

c) Nine foot robot which inexplicably bleeds when impaled

6) Which of the following did I not see on a T-shirt?

a) “GWAR” (homemade, with puff paint)

b) GWAR goo (soaked, after the show)

c) “GWAR LIVES GWAR RULES” (also puff paint, also soaked)

d) “Abercrombie and Fitch”

7) Which of the following was not used as an excuse to spew fake blood into the crowd?

a) Cow being skinned alive

b) Michael Jackson in a spacesuit getting his face ripped off, naturally starting with the nose first

c) Deformed “sin baby” fetus being aborted

d) Obama being decapitated after presenting them with the “presidential medal of ass-kicking cool shit”

8) Drugs did not directly affect the performance in which of the following ways?

a) Giant white bale labeled “CRACK” presented to frontman Oderus Urungus during power ballad

b) Backstage webcam reveals that the encore only happened because they forgot their stash on stage

c) Occasional inability of band members to remember their lines

9) The finale did not include which of the following awkward elements?

a) A bouncy jazz number

b) An appeal for donations to a favorite charity

c) Raffling off the costumes one by one, with frontman Oderus Urungus awkwardly reading off long numbers corresponding to each of five winning raffle tickets and responding to crowd complaints by saying, “Look, we have to do this, because we took a dollar apiece for these things.”

Answers: 1 – B, 2 – A, 3 – C, 4 – A, 5 – A, 6 – D, 7 – A, 8 – C, 9 – B.