Review and photos by John Jeffrey & Diana MacDonald
Buffalo, NY - When interviewing Dave Brockie (original lead singer of Gwar who died earlier this year of a heroin overdose) for the first time in 2011, it had come to fruition to find out that we shared the same vision on what the future of the entertainment industry will become. We similarly believed that in the future, they will bring deceased actors and musicians back to life, in movies and in concert, through various forms of technology (holograms, CGI, etc.). So it came as no surprise that just three years after our conversation that fans would be seeing Gwar perform live onstage, to a tape of the now deceased Brockie's vocals, while video was being shown of Brockie (as his character Oderus Urungus), on a film screen, center stage.
Going to go see Gwar last Sunday night at the Town Ballroom, it was with mixed feelings of both excitement and worry, considering such a major part of Gwar (Brockie/Oderus) has passed away. While the new characters are very cool, and there was a lot of fun to be had, the energy from the crowd just didn't seem what it used to be. Sorry Gwar, Buffalo let you down.
The surviving members of the Gwar troupe were smart, in that while the majority of the main vocal duties were passed on to the new male/female duo of the group (Blothar and Vulvatron), they even went a step further, by spreading the lead vocals around to other members/characters in the band, as Sawborg Destructo, Bonesnapper and Beefcake, all got moments in the spotlight. While filling the huge void left by Brockie's absence seemed near impossible, spreading the weight around of that type of responsibility was definitely the best way to do it.
While Blothar's (Mike Bishop - the original "Beefcake") MC skills were lacking in so many ways by comparison to Oderus, Vulvatron's sexual stage presence seemed to make up for Blothar's inadequacies on the microphone. And as entertaining as Vulvatron (portrayed by Kim Dylia) is, she still has a long way to go before reaching the same status as Slymenstra Hymen (the previous female Gwar cast member who left in 2000). It's still early on for them (Buffalo was only the fifth city in on their "Gwar Eternal" tour), as it seems certain that they will find their groove.
Musically, the band was tight and spot on, and not only did they extend their setlist (performing close to 90 minutes as opposed to their usual hour set), but they pulled out songs I haven't seen them play in years, like "The Years Without Light," "Black and Huge," "Hate Love Songs" and "Horror of Yig." There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd when they played the bag pipes and brought out Oderus's sword. Who would have thought of tears at a Gwar show with out it being caused by bodily injury?
It will only be a matter of time to see if the Bohabs truly accept this new version of Gwar, and at first glance they definitely have their Scumdog ship going in the right direction.