The GWAR ETERNAL tour, the band’s first without legendary late front man Oderus Urungus, started out a few weeks ago and last night it came to Manhattan, Irving Plaza to be precise. The evening was kicked off right with an all too short set from Austin Texas’ American Sharks, a killer three piece that play fast and tight and who ripped through most of their debut album in what seemed like no time at all. Make a point of seeing these guys if they come to your town either on their own or supporting a bigger act, because they definitely do not disappoint and were one hundred percent worth getting to the show early and having to entertain yourself with $8 PBR’s for a while before they set up. And when they finish? Go say hi and get a hug from the singer, he’s a super friendly guy.
From there, Corrosion Of Conformity came out for a forty-minute set. I’d seen these guys before and not been wowed by the live experience but must have caught them on an off night because here they were full of energy and played really, really well. Now playing as a three piece – Reed Mullin, Woody Weatherman and Mike Dean – this was a slick selection of tracks from their classic albums with a few welcome doses from their latest, IX, thrown in for good measure.
As good as the opening bands were, however, it was GWAR that pretty much everyone in the packed venue was there for. The screen came up and the lights went dim, Black Sabbath’s War Pigs played over the PA system and a myriad of strange creatures sauntered out onto the stage. As the lights came on and the band started to play, they immediately ripped the head off of a ‘security guy’ and the arterial spray shooting out of his neck doused the crowd (and a few photographers as well). Don’t get that stuff in your eyes, it kind of stings a bit and then you can’t see. Also, don’t get that stuff on your camera either. It makes it hard to focus.
At any rate, the ‘story’ behind this tour is that the surviving and current members of the band -Beefcake The Mighty, Balsac The Jaws Of Death, Pustulus Maximus, Jizmac Da Gusha and Bonesnapper - are using a time machine to try and find out what happened to Orderus. As they do, they meet characters from their past like Sawborg Destructo, Mr. Perfect and The Sexecutioner but they also meet some beings from the future, namely a massive, hulking and strangely endowed guy named Blothar (Mike Bishop, who was the original Beefcake The Mighty in the earliest incarnation of the band) and a curvy vixen named Vulvatron (Kim Dylla). They sort of aid GWAR in their quest, finding Oderus’ trademark Cuttlefish Of Cthulu but not Oderus himself. As they play tracks from throughout their lengthy history with a few choice numbers from their latest album, Battle Maximus, they eventually realize that they’re not going to find Oderus and in a fighting tribute to Dave Brockie, they lay his sword in tribute… and then cover The Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls which segues into a GWAR-specific cover of Jim Carroll’s People Who Died.
Obviously the show was a very different GWAR experience without Brockie/Oderus serving as ringleader but if last night was anything to go by, GWAR are doing just fine without him. Not that he isn’t missed, he left such a huge mark on the heavy metal scene and was such a ridiculously entertaining stage presence that he really can’t be replaced and thankfully, with Blothar and Vulvatron, they don’t really try to and instead work his untimely death into the premise behind the tour. As far as the performance goes? It was as wild and over the top as any other GWAR show – there was fake blood and other bodily fluids sprayed out of various wounds and body parts throughout the show, GWAR’s ‘slaves’ running around on stage wreaking havoc and dry humping props and crass humor aplenty throughout the hour and forty minutes that they did their thing. GWAR’s always been a bit of a revolving door as far as the musicians affiliated with it are concerned. Last night was beautiful in its own insane way, a whole lot of sick fun and as long as the band can keep up this level and creativity and intensity, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t keep going as long as they want to.
The tour continues over the next two weeks – remaining dates and venue info can be found here.
Some pictures from the show…
Corrosion Of Conformity
And while you’re at it, have some video too!