Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 10:30PM
Review by John Jeffrey, photos by Diana MacDonald
Buffalo, NY - This past Saturday, Gwar made their triumphant return to Western New York, once again, performing at their staple B-lo venue, the Town Ballroom. This is the second time the band has come to town (and their second tour overall) since founder/frontman Dave Brockie - who performed as the omnipresent Scumdog leader, Oderus Urungus - passed away on March 23, 2014.
While it would be hard pressed for anyone who enjoys over-the-top theatrics, mixed with a dark sense of humor and thrash metal, to NOT enjoy a Gwar show, looking back at the show I went to last October, I was left with mixed emotions on whether or not Gwar continuing WITHOUT Dave Brockie was a good thing. I also wasn't completely sold on the whole male/female co-lead singer thing with Blothar (Mike Bishop) and Vulvatron (Kim Dylia) either.
So it came as no surprise when it was announced in May that Dylia was fired from the group (leaving the future of her character 'Vulvatron' unknown), as Dylia's sexual presence was a nice addition to the show, she seemed to simply get in the way onstage most of the time, and her contributing vocals were a minor contribution at best.
So needless to say, I didn't really know what to expect this time around, and in order to not come away disappointed, I kept my expectations low. As a Gwar fan, it was great to see the few hundred fans that filled the Ballroom, in order to see the band celebrating their "30th Anniversary" tour. Most of them, were probably as curious as myself, wanting to see the current incarnation of the group and what it's all about.
As the show began, 2 "characters" took the stage to perform a dubstep mix of the Gwar classic 'Sick of you.' Later referred to as "internet trolls," one of them looked like an 'American Idol' - female version of Oderus Urungus and the other looked like an early 80's techno rocker, playing a keyboard guitar. Needless to say, their "performance" didn't last long, as the current lineup of Gwar took to the stage, chasing the duo offstage, this time, led by the lone front man, Blothar. As they tore into the opening song, 'Crush, Kill Destroy,' one thing was clear, this was THE BEST I've ever heard the band sound live. Yes, Dave Brockie's vocals and stage presence as Oderus were sorely missed, but again, like last year, the vocal duties were shared amongst various members of the band (with the songs being sung by Blothar, Beefcake, Pustulus Maximus and Bonesnapper), as it's just not fair to expect one person to fill the irreplaceable space boots worn by Brockie. While everyone did an admirable job with their vocal duties, it was the musical mix that was most remarkable. It was crystal clear, and their guitar tones were just off the charts. Even when Corey Smoot (Flattus Maximus, R.I.P.) was alive - who was arguably Gwar's best lead guitar player - the guitars never sounded this good live, and the balance between Pustulus and Balsac was perfect.
The only downside of the show, was the whole "internet" theme of the show got old very fast, as they used every cliche you could imagine, mentioning Youtube (aka Spew Tube), Instagram and there was even a "Catfish" reference during the skits. Although the band did play much longer than their standard 70 minute set they used to do with Brockie, there was A LOT of talking/stage banter amongst the band members in between the songs. Too much for my tastes.
But, in the end, the band proved that a "Gwar show" is still a "Gwar show," with copious amounts of bodily fluids sprayed upon their bohabs, the mutilation of guest celebrities (this year's show featured Hilary Clinton and 'Kanya' West), killer old-school metal, and oh yeah, crack cocaine. They are clearly a group still inspired to provide musical mayhem for planet Earth and the rest of the galaxy. Hopefully, their next giant, frozen Antarctican step, will be an album of new material.
Crush, Kill, Destroy
Madness at the Core of Time
Black and Huge
Saddam a Go-Go
Vlad the Impaler
Jack The World
I'm in Love (With a Dead Dog)
Let Us Slay
You Can't Kill Terror
A Gathering of Ghouls/Hail, Genocide!
JCSS/A Short History of the End of the World
Metal Metal Land
Sick Of You