House of Blues, Sunset
Nov. 12, 2011
A piece of sad news threatened to cast a pall over last night's GWAR concert. The band's guitarist died on November 3 during their current tour; the cause of death is not yet known, but by all accounts Cory Smoot -- aka "Flattus Maximus" -- was a healthy guy.
What we do know is it's been an emotional 10 days for his bandmates continuing on with tour. If their House of Blues performance last night was any indication, they are channeling the pain by being louder, lewder, and more liquid-drenched than ever.
Even if you're not familiar with their ferocious music, you know GWAR. The group's elaborate science fiction costumes, insane props and penchant for splattering their audiences with fake alien blood, pee and ejaculate have put them on par with theatrical metalers like Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson.
Though we'd always found their videos a ton of fun, we'd never seen them live, and came to House of Blues a bit unprepared. For one, all the photographers we joined in the photo pit had plastic covering their cameras. Some of the security guards wore plastic rain ponchos. Then we noticed all the eager-looking fans in white t-shirts. Dread started to overcome us... just how wet might we get?
Luckily we were wearing a hoodie; a lot of sweating in the packed house of fist-pumping, devil-horny dudes seemed a better option than leaving the show looking like Carrie White after prom night.
We did a good job protecting our lens, but our clothes did get damp. Thankfully, GWAR don't use movie blood or anything that's too dark or thick when moistening their minions via chopped off heads, mammoth water guns and freaky phallus.
What they did use was in fact very cherry Kool-Aid like. By the show's mid-point the crowd was a mass of (menacing) orangey-pink.
The sounds themselves were grandiose and grinding. The music is potent hardcore metal, and incited several crowd surfers and mosh pits. We saw many a wasted youth get kicked out, too.
Their lyrics were largely of the political and pop culture variety, but they get lost for the most part, that is when they weren't acted out on stage in some sordid way.
Singer Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus ("Lord and Master of Earth") still takes shots at celebs. He mentioned being in Hollywood earlier and killing everyone related to the movie Twilight. He's a funny guy, but not surprisingly Smoot's passing -- addressed at the start of the show with a video montage -- hung in the air the entire set, leaving little room for laughs. Many chants of "Cory, Cory," broke out throughout. It was a night of blood, sweat and tears, brutal and bittersweet.
Critical Bias: After reading singer Brockie's heartfelt recount of his guitarist's death on the band's website, we kept wondering what he was feeling behind the creepy mask (which he and his bandmates removed on stage during a show a few nights prior). In this context, it was difficult to review the performance.
Random Notebook Dump: Maybe the new album title -- Bloody Pit of Horror -- should have given us a clue about what we were in for, especially taking pictures right under the stage.
The Crowd: Obsessed! Forget about Juggalos or Deadheads. Gwar-lords and ladies not only know the lore inside out, they love and savor every ghastly aspect of the live experience. Many have pink t-shirt collections!
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See our Nightranger Slideshow for more pics!
Set list below: