The transformation is complete. I now believe. All hail our extra-terrestrial overlords! The Marquee read "GWAR." It was dark when I arrived, when I took my place in the line of crust punks and metal heads stretching over fifty feet out from the box office. We who were not already inside were salivating in anticipation for the ritual blood bath to come.
The history of GWAR is the history of the human race. Eons ago, the monstrous creatures of GWAR were banished to our insignificant planet. Here, they spawned the human population by taking the ancestral beasts of Earth into their foul beds by force. It was only in 1984, when they came out of dormancy to show us what real heavy metal is, that we came to realize their awesome and sublime power. Richmond, Virginia will never be the same. Indeed, the world may never recover.
After a mind-blowing session of metal music provided by the three opening bands, Legacy of Disorder, Ghoul, and Municipal Waste, the lights dimmed and a cloaked figure took the stage. He was Death and he read his decree of damnation. Only when the lights came up to reveal our courageous and all-mighty alien rulers, splendid in their glorious monstrosity, did the dark figure cower, perhaps over taken by Oderus Urungus’s intimidating, green, and exposed phallus. The show then started with nothing short of a bang. The minions of GWAR promptly severed the head of the cloaked zombie-Death, spraying its arterial blood all over the eager listeners. My God, this band is loud. The sound seemed to come from all angles--the walls, the ceiling, the floor, everywhere. Everything was vibrating with brutal force. Oderus’s guttural voice then boomed out across the theatre, telling of death, chaos, and destruction. The crowd roared their applause at the end of the first song so that the noise was ceaseless until the start of the second.
During the chaos that ensued, Oderus Urungus was given two stillborn babies, on whom he feasted, spraying more blood into the mosh-pit. My God, this band is offensive! The Ultra-violence! I had heard of GWAR’s on-stage antics before, but I had not come prepared for the extent of brutality I witnessed. After an ass-kicking rendition of their horn-section driven song, “Saddam A Go-Go,” the band brought to the front of the stage what could have only been the real Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and eviscerated her flesh! Right there in front of the hoards of followers, they did her in and took her unborn child to their dark underworld.
Urungus himself looks like he may have come from this same underworld, what with his face resembling that of an alien burn-victim. His body, though, is protected by towering spiked pauldrons (shoulder-pads shaped like skulls). To his sides stand Balzac The Jaws of Death, on guitar, whose bear-trap facemask supposedly hides a visage made entirely of unmentionable skin, and Beefcake the Mighty, on bass, a towering gladiator who looks like he came from some off-world fighting pit. Backing the tremendous power of the stringed instruments and Urungus’s badass vocals, Jizmak Da Gusha sits behind a Babel-esque drum set, his bloody dog-head giving us a glimpse into his animal brutality. All around them, running about the stage sowing chaos, are their minions, half naked body-builders masked in metal helmets.
From a band with such an intimidating, often times terrifying, stage presence comes awesome and powerful metal music. One might not expect such a gross and offensive group to produce truly rad and genuine music, but one might be pleasantly, if not horrifyingly, pleased. Indeed, if the music were not this f*cking cool, GWAR may not have the dedicated and huge following that they do. The show was sold out, the venue packed with crazed underworlders. Even after losing a member (Flattus Maximus died in November of 2011) the band still provides their fans with the same level of brutal energy. This display of force was evident when the group went into one of their most famous songs, “Sick of You,” and the crowd went insane with praise. It was praise not only for GWAR, but for the Flattus’s (Cory Smoot) memory.
Toward the end of the show GWAR showed a sentimental side I didn’t expect. They dedicated two songs to their “fallen brother,” an act which got the crowd chanting “Flattus, Flattus!” to bring the band out for an encore. After the encore, while the immense crowd shuffled out of the theatre, a recording of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra played over the house speakers, reminding us all that Flattus lived by the beat of his own drum.
It was only when I finally got outside that I noticed that the vast majority of the crowd, despite being drenched in blood, were smiling as big as the Cheshire Cat.
Highlights: “Saddam A Go-Go,” “Immortal Corruptor, “Sick of You.”