GWAR (with Three Inches of
Calgary, Alberta | Date: October 30th, 2002. | Venue: MacEwan Hall
Capacity: 2800 | Attendance: 2000
Where to begin…I don't review a lot of shows. In fact the last one I
did was the THOR show last October 30th,
2001. Oddly enough Thor was supposed to open for GWAR in Calgary but it
did not happen. So, a year later I took in the spectacle that was GWAR.
In the brand new, gorgeous venue Vancouver's Three Inches of blood took
the stage, knowing full well that they were lucky to be there and that
very few knew (or cared) who they were. Fortunately there were a few
hundred die-hards who got up front to greet the young six piece band and a
few dozen who knew the words and sung along enthusiastically.
There stage presence was poor to say the least…street clothes, just
kinda hanging out looking lost on the giant stage loaded with GWAR props.
However they put on a spirited performance that was both inspired and
inspiring. With only an EP and a debut full-length under their belt I was
fortunate enough to know the tunes and enjoyed ripping renditions of
"Destroy The Orcs", "Curse of the Lighthouse Keeper"
and "Ride Darkhorse Ride". The band finished off with what
seemed to be a fan favorite, the anthemic, "Balls of Ice". The
two vocalists and the ripping Maiden-thrash hybrid with galloping leads
ensure these guys have a bright future. Hopefully playing in front of 2000
faces will win them some new fans.
Next came a long delay made even longer by the drunken idiots who kept
throwing beer cans at the stage. Many, many beer cans were floating
through the air at the poor road crew who were doing their best to dodge
debris, keep the stage clear and get GWAR's massive stage prepped. Once
again the antics of a foolish few set the entire proceeding back and a few
fights broke out as the temperature rose, tempers flared and alcohol and
other substances kicked in.
it was time… I had decided early on that I was going…"into the
pit" and well was positioned (pinned) in the heaving bulk of people.
GWAR has been around for 20 years and the last time they came to town was
over 10 years ago. I assumed would never see them again and I decided one
of my life goals was to get crushed, sprayed, up close and personal at a
concert by arguably the most theatrical metal band of all time. I have
seen so many shows in my day that the thrill of the pit has been a long
forgotten memory of my younger days, but not this night.
The lights dimmed and Oderus, giant, menacing, lurched onto stage with
a single light looking more fierce some than ever, the crowd started
surging and for the first time in along time, I felt fear… I weighed
less then 150 lbs and some of the monsters around me were probably twice
my weight and a foot taller. I'm glad I wore my steel-toed boots!
The lights came up the pit started and didn't stop with two brief
exceptions for the next hour and a half. I lost track of time as I was
pushed and pulled back and forth as far back as 20 rows and as close as
the second row…just following the riptide of violence.
GWAR was sick, dirty and mean and really stripped down. Gone were the
giant elaborate stage plots and numerous extra characters. Sleazy P.
Martini, Techno-Destructo and The Morality Squad were no where to be seen.
This was dubbed the "The Bitch is Back Tour" and featured
heavily the antics and costumes of Slymen Hymenstra. She alone brought the
pit to a standstill with her fire dance, whipping balls of fire around on
chains and breathing fire. She has a lot of stage time with Oderus, the
Cuttlefish of Cthulu and more.
The songs were rapid fire and they played mostly fast heavy tunes and
left out the long joke songs like "Slaughterama" and the
"Insidious Soliloquy of Skulhedface." This was a METAL show!!
Other visual highlights included the torture and dismemberment of George
Bush, Osma bin Laden, Sadam Hussein and Mike Tyson with appropriately huge
amounts of blood being shot into the crowd. Gor-gor (the giant dinosaur)
made an appearance, as did the fluid canon! The special effects are among
the best I have ever seen.
GWAR has suffered a number of line-up changes lately and it showed in
the sense that the other musical members of GWAR (Beefcake, Flattus,
Jizmak and Balsac) were fairly sedate, seeming, perhaps timid and
concentrating on playing the songs. They did not move about much or
interact with each other, preferring to keep their heads down and play
hard and fast. The rest of the time it was the Oderus show, complete with
stage rap, some minimal banter, jokes, sound effects and a laugh track!
The other point I was painfully aware was that people didn't really
know the songs. I would guess that 75% of the people were there for the
spectacle and were not familiar with the actual music or songs. In this
case it was obvious that image ruled over substance for many, which is a
shame because GWAR has some very decent songs. Of course the bulk of the
crowd got going for the "hits" (or songs that were videos) such
as "Sick of You" and "Sadam-a-go-go" but for the most
part many, many people seemed lost. Shame. GWAR has eight albums (11 if
you count the fan-club only rarities collection, the EP and the new Live
album) but didn't draw much from the new studio CD. So oddly enough it was
type of "stand and stare with your mouth hanging open" for much
of the audience instead of sing along and headbanging. But…I knew that
was going to be the case so that is why I decided to go right up front to
experience the spectacle.
By the end of it I felt thoroughly exhausted and abused; physically,
mentally, visually and sonically, and I was drenched in a nice of brew of
mutant blood, diseased urine and demon-semen. A buddy who works on the
local road crew helping set up, said the band spray about 95 gallons of
blood into the crowd per show! It was not for the faint of heart and there
was a disclaimer on the ads warning about offensive content and damages
due to stage effects. I guess "stage effects" is the polite way
of saying "getting hit in the chest at point blank range with both
barrels of the machinegun blood-cannon or getting sprayed in the face with
the dismembered Cuttlefish of Cthulu!
GWAR was an experience I will never forget, a show so over the top, so
outrageous, controversial, offensive and fun it will remain as one of the
best shows I have ever seen.
Official site: www.gwar.net