with God Forbid and Goatwhore
The Orbit, Boynton Beach, FL • January 23, 2002
“Hey, is this your first GWAR show?” a friend asked me on the way into the Orbit. I excitedly told him yes, and he attempted to warn me of the impending carnage as we waited outside. The crowd was a weird mixture of old metalheads and punk rock kids. Mullet count: a pathetic four people. I went in with high hopes, and GWAR definitely lived up to all my expectations, and more.
First Goatwhore played. I’m not a major connoisseur of metal, but I know what’s interesting and what is recycled. Their set was pretty boring to me. I heard one big long fuzzy metal blur, with no change in speed or volume or structure. Energetic, yes, but I definitely could’ve done without that damage to my hearing.
I really enjoyed God Forbid, the next band. Now this is what the stuff is all about: screeching solos, in-your-face brutality, and aggressive talent. “Man, these guys are fuckin’ BRUTAL!” exclaimed the overexcited greasy-haired girl next to me, and I think she summed God Forbid up very well. Very talented; a killer show. I deem them worthy to set the stage for GWAR.
A long wait then ensued. Roadies set up the elaborate stage and checked and rechecked all the microphones. The crowd started chanting “GWAR! GWAR!” and I could imagine huge space monsters backstage.
Finally, the Scumdogs of the Universe took the stage and I was floored! I mean, I’ve seen plenty of pictures of GWAR, their brief cameo appearance in the movie Empire Records, and their appearance on The Daily Show, but somehow, I didn’t expect them to look that elaborate in real life! I mean, how do they walk around in those huge heavy costumes, complete with spikes, horns, skulls, and other symbols of evil?
My disbelief aside, GWAR started rockin’ and didn’t let up for close to an hour and a half. Lead singer Oderus Urungus screamed and gestured his message of destruction and evil while guitar player BalSac the Jaws of Death (man, I love saying their names!) laid down fast, churning rhythms and complex solos. Men in loincloths and gas masks scurried around the band like drunken ants. The lights were crazy and colorful enough to send epileptics into seizure mode, and the happy, sweaty people in the pit frenzied accordingly.
After a couple of songs, the infamous GWAR stage show began. First “person” to die: Osama bin Laden. The loincloth men chopped the head off of an eerily accurate bin Laden, and blood rained on the audience (the jury is still out on if it’s Kool-Aid or just colored water).
GWAR repeated this sequence of events a few more times during the night, with different figures: George W. Bush (now, is GWAR for or against terrorism, since they treated Dubya the same way as bin Laden? I’d like to hear their views on this), Bloody Mary, and the Pope. Each time, the figure was beheaded or disemboweled, blood gushed forth, the crowd roared.
My favorite part of the evening was the last surprise GWAR had in store for us. A giant T-Rex lumbered on stage and attacked the singer. The band spent most of one song fighting it off and chopping away at it. The last blood shower rained down and luckily the beast was defeated. Thank goodness!
Aside from the theatrics, I was pleasantly surprised by GWAR’s performance. They only took breaks between songs to kill something, and the intensity never let up. The variety made for interesting listening, as some songs were similar in style to Slayer and other death metal, and other songs contained rousing choruses that sounded more like the hardcore world. I guess it comes from lots and lots of practice.
One warning for potential concertgoers though, no where is safe from the shower of blood. The Orbit is a pretty big place (I believe it’s a converted grocery store). I was standing well behind the pit, and I still left that evening covered in blood and green stuff. So be warned and plan accordingly.
I ended the evening with my ears ringing, my legs bruised and aching, and my face and clothes red with blood. But I was happy. And now I can say I survived GWAR.