GWAR at Warehouse Live, 10/24/2013
Photos by Francisco Montes
GWAR Warehouse Live October 24, 2013
When the history of this insignificant planet is written -- haphazardly and on a discarded sanitary napkin, probably -- it will likely note the key role played by our alien overlords GWAR, the Scumdogs of the Universe who were banished to Earth eons ago. Now awakened, they dedicate themselves to the eradication of the human race that they themselves (inadvertantly) created.
Earth's only "openly extraterrestrial rock band" (I guess Man...or Astro-Man? isn't technically "rock") have kept at it for going on 30 years, leaving a trail of blood, semen, and bodies in their wake. The 13th chronicle of their terrifying exploits (we call it an "album"), Battle Maximus, was released earlier this year, and naturally the rulers of Earth had to make a stop in Houston to further strengthen their crushing grip on mankind.
That's the official version, anyway. A GWAR concert is something that everyone should experience at least once. And from the look of the audience at Thursday night's Warehouse Live show, more than a few were there to see the copious bodily fluids (from a safe distance) and clumsily staged combat sequences up close for the first time.
And this is why the band tours as much as they do. Even in Germany, where Hell-O and Carnival of Chaos were certified double platinum, a new GWAR album doesn't move than 100,000 copies or so these days. The band's unique blend of black comedy and sci-fi doom-rock isn't something most of us put in the disc changer for repeat listens. Thus the live show, in essence, is everything.
And so, for newbies anyway, Thursday's show delivered. Opening with "Madness at the Core of Time," one of several from Battle Maximus, the blood was spraying early. In spite of the plastic coating the ceiling lamps at WL, however, the gore never reached further than 15-20 feet back.
In the relatively cavernous confines of Warehouse Live's Ballroom, it was easy to avoid the arterial spume from the likes of a gutted Justin Bieber (I didn't even know he was still in town) and "Mr. Perfect," a sort of future flesh golem sent to combat the Scumdogs before being turned into a gore pinata during "Jack the World."
One of the things that keeps GWAR's antics from getting too stale is the relative topicality of their violence. In addition to the lengthy (and convoluted) mythology and the many enemies it provides, you get the aforementioned Bieber, or (I think) Queen Elizabeth, or the Pope, dispatched with in a manner both stunningly violent and historically accurate.
Review continues on the next page.
Awash in blood and purple semen (from lead singer Oderus Urungus' alien phallus, the "Cuttlefish of Cthulhu"), it would be easy to overlook the band's musicianship. Then again, we're not talking Megadeth levels of technical aptitude here. Urungus has a capable bark, though can stretch when needed, as in the night's surprising encore of Billy Ocean's "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car"/"Baba O'Riley" (Urungus remarked that Ocean now performs the song their way). More impressive was Brent "Pustulus Maximus" Purgason, stepping into lead guitar duties following the death of Cory "Flattus Maximus" Smoot in 2011.
And should those less metal-oriented fans get bored with solos, there's always another disembowelment or simulated alien sex act to keep them distracted.
Watching the faithful moshing with joyful, drenched, abandon to "Sick of You" (possibly the closest thing the band has to a mainstream hit), but nonetheless noting the maybe two-thirds filled venue, I wondered how long GWAR could keep it up. Will diminishing returns dictate that venues will no longer go through the pain in the ass of putting tarps over everything?
In an era where anyone can see *real* beheadings on YouTube, can GWAR's once outrageous shtick keep pulling in new fans? I saw one kid at the show last night who looked to be about 10, which would've been unheard of in the America Must Be Destroyed days. Nonetheless, he sat on the floor most of the night.
But such speculation is, ultimately, meaningless. GWAR is eternal, and destined to pillage throughout eternity, long after our inconsequential lives have been snuffed out. All hail the Scumdogs.
Personal Bias: Saw them in 1992, but remember very little. The early 90s were a hazy time.
The Crowd: There is perhaps no sight sadder than that of a balding guy trying to rock a mohawk.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Why is your phone in a baggie?"
Random Notebook Dump: "That guy in the Mumford & Sons shirt is in for a treat."
Madness at the Core of Time The Salaminizer Hate Love Songs Hail, Genocide! Metal Metal Land They Swallowed The Sun Bring Back the Bomb Pre-Skool Prostitute Ham On The Bone Jack the World Bloodbath Let Us Slay Torture Play Battle Maximus Happy Death-Day
Sick Of You Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car (Billy Ocean cover) Baba O'Riley (Who cover)
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.