Review by John Jeffrey, photos by Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
Buffalo, NY - Gwar is the type of band that you either get them, or you don't. There's no middle ground with Gwar, and one may argue that has either helped or hindered the group. While Gwar had no problem selling out Buffalo's Town Ballroom (capacity being around 1,000), one would think that after 27 years, the band would be much bigger than they are at this point in their career. It's clear that the band (led by vocalist Dave Brockie) doesn't worry about the people that don't 'get them,' as they give 100% in satisfying all of the Bohabs (Gwar fans) that do.
Originally, I was one of those who didn't get it, as I never got into the heavy punk influence of their early material. I recognized Gwar as being the real deal at the beginning of their metal years, which I refer to as the Cory Smoot era. In 2004, guitarist Cory Smoot took over the role of the group's character, Flattus Maximus, and played a pivotal role in redefining Gwar's sound, as Cory became a main songwriter and also the producer of the band. Unfortunately, the Cory Smoot era came to an end in 2011, when he suddenly passed away, due to a pre-existing heart condition.
Wednesday night, Gwar brought the "Return of the World Maggot Tour" to Buffalo, which the tour is being done in tribute to their fallen brethren Scumdog, Flattus (Cory). According to the legend, Flattus stole their Scum (space) ship to return to his home planet, "Planet Home." On this tour, the band is performing as a four piece, as they've retired the Flattus character, and are contemplating on looking for a new lead guitarist. Handling all of the guitar duties was Balsac (Mike Derks), who did a fine job playing both rhythm and lead. While Balsac has always been a great backup player to Flattus, it was nice to see him shine on his own and he did a great job on replicating all of Cory's parts as well.
Top Scumdog, Oderus Urungus (Brockie) was in fine form, and in between giving Snooki (from Jersey Shore) an abortion on stage and killing other various creatures, Oderus took shots at groups like ICP, Slipknot (referring to them as "Walmart Metal"), Marilyn Manson and HELLYEAH. Oderus couldn't get over the genius intellect it must have taken to come up with the band name "HELLYEAH," sarcastically remarking that he couldn't believe "those fat, dumbass, tattooed, ignorant, inbred fucks" came up with "such an amazing idea as HELLYEAH." It was all in good fun, and the band sounded great as they tore through their 18 song set, playing a good mix of older and newer material. While the stage production was somewhat smaller and simpler this time around (the stage set was basically a small castle, with the "World Maggot" nestled underneath), there was no shortage of blood. From the third song on, through various props and devices, the band and their 'slaves' sprayed the insane, crowd surfing audience with gallons of fake blood. No one within 50 feet was safe from the spewage coming from the stage.
As the show came to end, Gwar performed the fan favorite, "The Road Behind" as the final encore, dedicating the song to Cory Smoot, and stated they will no longer play the song after this tour. After the band left the stage, one of Cory's signature guitars was brought out onstage, as the Frank Sinatra song, "My Way," was pumped through the PA. Fans sung along and raised their lighters and cell phones,honoring the very much missed guitarist.
As the tired and sweaty, blood drenched crowd all left the venue with their ears ringing and smiles on their faces, one could only hear the chant of "Gwar Rules!" They do indeed!!!!
A Gathering of Ghouls
Storm Is Coming
Saddam a Go-Go
Crack in the Egg
Bring Back the Bomb
Metal Metal Land
Ham on the Bone
Sick of You
The Road Behind