Madness at the Core of Time Tour 2013
GWAR violates the House of Blues in Hollywood!
Friday 18 October 2013
Review and pics by Metalette
I should have worn a white t-shirt to the GWAR show last Friday. It would have been such a nice tie-dye job.
I knew I was in for something special when I saw how crowded the House of Blues already was before the first band even started. The first two or three rows of fans – and many others scattered throughout the venue – were wearing white t-shirts. Of course it didn’t look very metal at first with all these people wearing crisp white tees, but these fans knew what they were doing. It was going to get messy.
A Band of Orcs
The first band to play, endearingly titled A Band of Orcs, was totally up my alley. I wanted to shout “Lok’tar!” at the end of every song they played. Each orc was fascinatingly detailed and unique; with bone piercings in various places, top-knots and coarse-haired mohawks, full sets of tusks or a few teeth missing…they were wonderful to look at, and few things could possibly be much more brutal than orcs. Seriously, though. The vocals of front-orc Gogog Bloodthroat fit the band perfectly – they were raw and abrasive, a growling style that is honestly exactly what I would expect an orc’s vocals to sound like. And their music was catchy, heavy, and full of brutish energy. They also gave the crowd a small taste of the messiness that was to come later in the evening, with lots of orc-drool and back-washed water from a leather flask spraying everyone within range. Like me.
Punky thrash band Iron Reagan were next to play a set, and boy did they elicit one hell of a scary pit throughout their show! I think a band’s success onstage can often be measured by the duration of pit-activity throughout their set (perhaps I can make that into a scientific formula) and Iron Reagan had a pit the whole time. A huge pit. Singer Tony Foresta pointed out one guy in a Tap-Out t-shirt as “the scariest guy in the pit”; he was one of those hulking bald guys who doesn’t run in a circle pit – he menacingly walks around on pit-patrol, waiting for someone to touch him so he can send them flying. You know the type. Anyway, Iron Reagan’s songs were short and sweet, with fun, thrashy melodies, and rather tasty bass riffs. Close to the end, Tony joked, “We only have 2 songs left, so give us 45 more seconds of your time,” though honestly it was a fairly accurate statement. There wasn’t a dull moment in their set, and they packed in quite a few songs. They even played a short instrumental which I thought was spectacular – my only complaint with their set would be that I’d like to have heard more!
Well-known deathcorers Whitechapel were the second-to-last act. I don’t think I’d ever actually heard a Whitechapel song before their set, though I have always heard quite a bit about them. Their more core-oriented sound added variety to an already interestingly mixed bill (with the heavier death of A Band of Orcs, the thrashiness of Iron Reagan, and of course the shock rock-ish metal of GWAR). Whitechapel warranted a wild reaction from the crowded venue, with a brutal pit and seriously epic lighting. Lots of eerie blue. Their pit was huge, though different from Iron Reagan’s, as I distinctly noticed many individuals “throwing down”. Singer Phil Bozeman orchestrated a Wall of Death before Whitechapel’s last song, which, from where I was standing, looked seriously like a scene from Braveheart or something. Except everyone was wearing white shirts. Whitechapel performed with energy and a powerful sound, and Phil’s live vocals are great; I was really impressed by an especially deep, lengthy growl he did. While I don’t have much expertise in the “core” genre, I must say I thought Whitechapel played an excellent set. And damn did they drop some ground-shaking breakdowns.
And then there was GWAR. Their much-anticipated set began with a “Gwartoon” which included some amusingly sick antics from an animated version of the band. Then the monsters themselves came onstage looking larger-than-life and evil as hell. They ripped into their set, and next thing you know, everyone in the front row is getting face, mouth, and ear-fulls of blood that’s being blasted out of gargoyles on the edge of the stage. I was laughing so hard the whole time, and gave up immediately on trying to avoid getting showered in the blood. I accepted it whole-heartedly within a few moments because it was so frickin’ METAL. The band of aliens themselves were just fantastic. It was so unlike seeing average humans playing onstage. And their show was outrageous. They constantly found opportunities to shower the audience with blood and blue matter from front-thing Oderus Urungus’…well, just look at the pictures. If you’ve ever been in a House of Blues venue, just imagine how many people can fit from bar to bar on either side of the venue, and from front to back of the floor. Imagine the entire thing filled with people; GWAR brought enough blood to cover everyone and everything in that vicinity. Besides the semi-continuous blood-bath, GWAR had several celebrity “guests” onstage, including the Queen of England and the Royal baby (both were dismembered), Justin Bieber (also dismembered), and the “cool” Pope (beheaded and dismembered). Then there was GWAR’s enemy, Mr. Perfect, who kept interrupting the show and finally evolved into an enormous monster that the band battled and eventually dismembered. See a pattern here? And lest we forget about all the humans brought from backstage to be thrown into a meat-grinder during the end of the show. As for GWAR’s music, half the time I thought Oderus was singing nonsense into the microphone (which I genuinely hope is true, because I thought it was hilarious), but what I really enjoyed about their songs was the rock’n’roll vibe. There were some seriously catchy choruses and fun harmonies going on in their music, which in an unexpected way fit perfectly with their entire act. Oh, and they covered Billy Ocean, which really just wrapped everything up into a nice, weird package. I can only imagine what cleaning the House of Blues was like after GWAR wreaked so much havoc on it, but I can say that everyone on the Sunset Strip who hadn’t been to the show was pretty curious about all the blood-soaked concert attendees filing out and heading out to haunt various bars, burger joints, and parking lots.