The Agora Theater; Cleveland, OH
Demons Within, Solipsist, Battlecross, GWAR
There were two reasons I felt this show was a must-see: 1) I needed to see how the band had weathered the passing of longtime vocalist/front man, Oderus Urungus and 2) GWAR fucking rocks and I was sure it would take more of an effort for them to put on a shitty show than it would for them to give a great performance. I wasn’t sure what to expect without Oderus, he seemed to be the glue that held everyone together. All I really wanted was some blood, gore, celebrity dismemberment and fun. I did not leave disappointed.
The opening acts had several things working against them. For one, I’m not a huge fan of death/black/speed metal. I realize now that there may be a speed limit to my musical tastes. Anything faster than 120 BPM sounds like mush to my ears. As always there are exceptions to this rule, but speed isn’t really something that impresses me much. The other thing working against all of these talented, hardworking musicians is that they were opening for GWAR! I don’t want to see you wankers! Get off the stage so GWAR can come on!
Demons Within were a last minute addition to replace the cancelled Born of Osiris. I think they may have been the fastest band of the night. It wasn’t really music you could bang your head to, but more like music to have a seizure to. The did have the best lead guitar acrobatics of any local band I’ve ever seen.
Solipsist is another local band that is brutally metal as fuck. Listening to them was like getting hit in the head with a sack of rocks. Something strange about heavy-speed metal is that the more I listen to it, the more I understand and appreciate it; and their set closer was by far their best song.
Battlecross are another group that break my BPM speed limit, but they manage to put some pretty awesome grooves into their music. It’s fast as hell, but it has a nice beat and you can dance to it. They get bonus points for having Riff Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show playing bass for them. I wondered what happened to that guy.
Then is was time to put away the appetizers and move on to the main course. A brief intro introduced us to ‘The new and improved GWAR,’ two guys in costumes doing a dance version of ‘Sick of You.’ They only made it to the breakdown before the real GWAR entered and slaughtered them to “Crush, Kill, Destroy.”
Now, I had planned on staying toward the back of the theater and watching from a comfortable, dry spot. I’ve “seen” GWAR twice before on the Sounds of the Underground tours, but I was always so close to the stage that I was constantly getting sprayed in the face with spew and could barely hear any of the songs. This time I wanted to actually watch the performance. I even wore a new shirt and my leather jacket to dissuade me from traveling up front. This all went out the door when they started “Saddam A Go-Go.” I rushed up front and hopped in the pit. By the end of the show it looked like I had egg yolk all over my face and I was very, very pleased.
The best part was that the performance was like a play. They played a lot tunes from their catalog and also performed as actors. The set-up came when their manager tells them that the internet is saying bad things about them. He tells them that they need to kill the internet it they want more crack. So they visit several sites (SpewTube, Kinder (like tinder but for child molesters), and Instagram (where they buy several grams of crack instantly)) and then kill the people associated with these sites. After proclaiming their mastery and defeating their foe, Balsac gave a warm, moving speech about how we could now enjoy life and no longer had to serve our digital overlord that had been enslaving us. Or something like that, I was thinking about what I was going to write in this blog.
They very rarely broke the fourth wall. The only time I can remember them doing that was to lead us in a chant for “the best rock and roll singer to walk this or any other planet” O-DER-US. You know, for a bunch of intergalactic warriors who make their living slaughtering humans for entertainment, GWAR are some sentimental fucks.
There were quite a few song that I didn’t recognize. I’m sure some may have been new and others might have come from albums I’m not that familiar with, but the set was great. “Babyraper,” “Meat Sandwich” and “I, Bonesnapper” all made the cut. Hillary Clinton and Kanye West emerged only to be slaughtered during “Salamanizer” and they closed the set with “Sick of You.” My only complaint was the omission of anything from America Must Be Destroyed. I can understand they were focusing on songs that Blothar could sing well, (seeing as how he is very different from Oderus) and can understand excluding something like “Have You Seen Me?”, but I’ve really been digging on “The Road Behind” lately and loved the parts Blothar sang (as Beefcake) back in the day.
I’m still digesting everything I saw on Sunday, but I know I didn’t see the death throes of GWAR. Maybe I just say this because I’m such a huge fan and think they’re the best band in the world at what they do, but I’m pretty sure those who are writing them off are going to end up eating their words. Just like critics of AC/DC and Alice in Chains. The good news is that if you haven’t seen GWAR yet in your lifetime it’s still not too late.