The best way to describe a GWAR show is that it’s like a well-orchestrated riot. Before and during the band’s performance at The Westcott Theater on Feb. 21, everyone from the sound crew to the venue staff took special precautions to ensure the show ran as smoothly as possible.
The sound technicians took the stage in a normal fashion, tuning the instruments that looked as if they were etched by jagged knives. The stage appeared fairly clean of props except for the drum set raised on stilts. Everyone from the sound guys to the photographers prepared for the bloody massacre as flashlights flickered, thereby starting the show. The lights dimmed and the sound crew secured their poncho-like plastic bags to cover their bodies as they rushed off the stage.
Lights turned on abruptly as the audience panicked. Five men dressed in the most freakishly bizarre costumes crept onto the stage as they wandered about, staring deeply into the crowd. The energy in response was twisted, but passionate and loyal. The show started with a belligerent disregard for anything rational or humane in nature.
Lead singer Oderus Urungus commanded the crowd in his full-body gore suit as he started the show with a loud snarl. His dark, raspy growl complemented the tough, metal guitar and soaring backup harmonies. For a band that splits their focus between playing songs and theatrically gutting characters like Fox News diva Sarah Palin, their music is still quite intricate and melodic. Their guitar work aspires to bands like AC/DC and Metallica while adding sharp melodic breakdowns a la Pantera. GWAR seems to draw from punk influences as well. Songs like “Metal Metal Land” begin with metal guitar licks and travel to a charging punk rock chorus.
Their songs like “Gor Gor” and “Womb With a View” matched their over-the-top theatrics with a bloody dance party accompanied by wailing lead guitar and heavy percussion. Their loud beats kept the crowd moving as they danced, flailing their arms with no regard for the people besides them. There’s an unspoken understanding at these shows that the best way not to be hit is to get out of the way.
In between songs, a storyline unraveled as GWAR fought evil monster-aliens and decapitated creatures of all kinds. Their raunchy attitude portrayed in their songs carries onto the stage, where they occasionally flipped, cursed and grunted. During the set, Urungus exposed his fake rotting phallus and demanded that the audience touch it. They obliged.
The blood and gore thrown at the crowd seemed real enough for a rock show that’s on the road every night. The prosthetic limbs and costumes may not look as high budget, but in the dim lights they still riled up the crowd. Fake blood was probably the most used prop at the show. Not only was the audience sprayed down, but security also took large streams of blood to the back of their heads while they snatched crowd-surfers.
No one leaves a GWAR show the way they came. With all sorts of ways to feel violated, this show was another that left the crowd sweaty, covered in all kinds of fluids and satisfied with the entertainment that took place. Just save the dress clothes for another night—GWAR is bound to get dirty.