Gwar at First Avenue, 10/5/13

Gwar at First Avenue, 10/5/13
Photo by Erik Hess


with A Band Of Orcs, Iron Reagan, and Whitechapel
First Avenue, Minneapolis
October 5, 2013

The combination of Oderus Urungus's twitter feed of late, the addition of quasi-politically themed openers, and Gwar's frequent literal skewering of political figures might lead one to believe the Madness at the Core of Time Tour had some sort of societal message. Obviously it didn't; these are, after all, the Scumdogs of the Universe, the nihilistic alien mutants bent on destruction of the human race, the living hyper-exaggeration of all things heavy metal.

See Also: Slideshow: Gwar at First Avenue, 10/5/13

There will be blood. There will be ejaculate, urine, and vomit as well. Oh, and let me caution those in the first five rows: You will get wet. Mayhem and destruction are typical lyrical themes for many metal bands, but Gwar go the extra step of enacting evisceration and gore onstage, to the delight of everyone. Many fans had their old concert shirts on, tie-dyed red with the ghosts of fluids past, even some of the First Ave staff, who played defense on the margins of the mosh pit. It was a classic Gwar crowd, with ages ranging from the way-too-old to the way-too-young for this, with many drunkenly staggering shirtless men bringing the one-man mosh pit along with them wherever they went.

Openers Iron Reagan arrived to the tune of "Hail to the Chief" in some ham-fisted political irony, followed sharply by their self-proclaimed "old-school thrash." Their stage banter leaned corny, and they kept insisting the crowd "mosh harder." "Let's play faster!" was their solution, and much of the set was explosively concise. It was often hard to decipher what the message of the ostensibly political hardcore act was, but it didn't matter to those beating other people in the pit. The following act, Whitechapel, brought a little bit more variety, with their ambitious if straight-forward deathcore, complete with double-kicks and guttural growls. I found myself taking more to tracks that toyed with rhythms  and slowed down the pummel. The pit adapted to the changing song structures well, especially when the band asked people to form the classic wall of death, after which the center of the crowd spiraled into unmitigated mayhem. 
Gwar at First Avenue, 10/5/13
Gwar at First Avenue, 10/5/13
Photos by Erik Hess

Frankly though, no band can ever really compare to Gwar in terms of sheer stage show insanity. It's this unholy mixture of metal tropes, rock opera, '50s horror films schlock and zombie film gore, raunchy Beavis and Butthead-level humor, Wild and Crazy Kids-level messiness, and complete intellectual abandon. The 25-year-old institution of a band has played First Ave since its inception and called it one of their most beloved venues, and the audience returned the love by soaking in the rock insanity as they've done time and time again.

The corny stage banter other acts participate in is blown up to epic proportions, as alien figures attempt to steal band member's scrotums to obtain the secret to eternal life, monsters and pop-culture figures get slaughtered in increasingly over-the-top ways, and multi-boobed sex zombies' faces explode and dump semen all over the audience. Easy targets like Justin Bieber, the Queen of England, and the Pope all met their bloody ends to massive cheers from the audience. Always ready to go the extra step over the line, Gwar made Justin Bieber suck his own dick after being ripped in half. The Queen of England got whipped with her own severed crying fetus as she bled profusely from her sagging breasts. The Pope was reminded that he was "supposed to be an asshole" and that even though he's slightly cooler than past Popes, he still had to get beheaded. There were a few battle sequences set to guitar solos, where Oderus swings his mighty blade (and his mighty Cuttlefish) into enemies while his minions and half-naked slaves rip off sections of bodies to keep the blood flowing. It's beautiful, really.

Gwar at First Avenue, 10/5/13

Gwar at First Avenue, 10/5/13
Gwar at First Avenue, 10/5/13
Photos by Erik Hess

Gwar really needn't be put into words. Every show is a shit-soaked bacchanal, a symphony in guts and gore, the beginning and end of heavy metal mythology. It's an experience more than any other music act can be. The music itself does its job, blasting forth unrepentant metal fury to soundtrack the lowbrow circus of violence onstage, but as Gwar proved by playing "Baba O'Riley" and "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" as their encore, what's being played is less a concern than what's being killed. This is spectacle, this is theater. This is possibly the best and most entertaining rock concert there is. When Oderus paid tribute to their former guitarist Cory Smoot, a.k.a. Flattus Maximus, who passed away after a Minneapolis show in 2011, it was an actual touching moment. Then they played a song about nuclear war destroying all humankind. Long live Gwar.

Personal Bias: I came ill-prepared, wearing clothing I didn't really want to get covered in GWAR gunk. It's a wholly different show for those unwilling to bask in the nastiness.

The Crowd: All ages were definitely present. Many long-time fans.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I LIVE FOR THIS SHIT!!!"

Random Notebook Dump: Some songs were dedicated to Walter White, Jonbenet Ramsey, and Jim Henson.


Madness at the Core of Time
The Salaminizer
Hail, Genocide!
I Hate Love
Bring Back the Bomb
Ham on the Bone
Preschool Prostitute
Jack the World
Happy Deathday
Sick of You + Born in the U.S.A.
Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car

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