Back in 2006, when I was still new to SF, I went to see GWAR at The Warfield. I had always wanted to see them. However, I had spent most of the early 2000’s out of the metal scene, trying to learn to love hip hop and indie rock because that was what the guy I was dating was into. But I somehow made it to this show, and I went by myself. It would be the first of many solo metal shows for me.
I remember walking into The Warfield, and the band was already on stage. I walked closer and closer to this live action horror film, getting more and more excited. It was amazing! I left that show remembering how much I loved metal, crazy spectacles like this, and horror films….another thing the guy I was dating didn’t like. While it would be nearly three years before I left that guy, this show was the turning point for me realizing that I had lost part of my identity. I started slowly working on gaining it back from then on.
GWAR seems to come through SF every October or November like clockwork. I saw them one more time after that first show (to which I dragged indie rock boy, and even HE had fun), and then missed last year’s show because I was “sick”. So I had been eagerly awaiting this night for a long time.
GWAR devotees often wear white to their shows, so we can see all of the stuff that is sprayed on us. Last time, I just wore a white shirt, but this time I decided to sacrifice a pair of jeans I had tired of, and a bandana as well. Feeling like a painter, or a very casual bride, I walked up to the Regency Ballroom, attracting a few stares. This is the venue that doesn’t allow pens or gum to enter the premises- and I had emptied my bag of such- but I was chewing gum at the time AND THEY MADE ME SPIT IT OUT. I laughed in their faces at that one- ummmm…do you know what is about to happen inside there? I think a little gum should be the least of your worries.
However, when I walked inside I started dying of laughter at everything being covered in plastic. So exciting! I saw Photo Ray waiting to take pictures, so I got him to take a before shot of me.
The Red Chord, from Boston, played a short, but heavy set. I first became aware of them through this hilarious video taken at the Maryland Deathfest. And the humor came through during their set- they like to make fun of the crowd. It kind of turned into death metal comedy half hour up there. “I like you guys.” The singer gave the finger to someone. “See, I’m fucking you from the stage”. Of course, they made a lot of SF gay jokes. They’ll get over that for next time. They sound good; I’m interested to see where this band goes.
Job For a Cowboy quickly set up and literally turned around and started playing. I saw snippets of their set several times at Mayhem Fest this year- they either came on before or after Behemoth- but I always kind of wrote them off because I disliked the name. However, I’ve changed my mind. I actually quite enjoyed their set. The vocalist goes from deep growls to shrieks as he paces back and forth in a diagonal on the stage, using hand gestures to kind of mime whatever he is saying. Despite watching him blow snot rockets and spit all over that stage (I think he might be sick….at least, let’s hope)….a good shower and a little grooming and he’d actually be one of the better looking frontmen of this metal generation. The guitarist near me just props his foot up on the monitor, puts a demented half smile on his face, and headbangs at the same rate the entire set, like a bobblehead. In comparison to The Red Chord’s set- they made little crowd connection, and their energy could have been a little better, but they sounded really good. The crowd seemed pretty into it- they got the first crowd surfer of the evening, who fought security when he went over the barrier and I’m pretty sure was thrown out as a result.
Time for GWAR! The monitors were covered in plastic, and security put on plastic rain ponchos. The photographers had their equipment covered in plastic. The crowd started yelling GWARRRR!!!! GWWWAAAAAARRRRRR!!!! And then the lights dimmed, and a long video started, which I couldn’t see at all as the screen was behind a stack of speakers. But apparently it went through the GWAR legacy, as this is a 25th anniversary tour. 25 years! That’s a lot of touring. I’ve discussed this with several people- many of us who love GWAR pretty much hit their shows whenever they come through town, but we don’t listen to them much outside of this. And I’m pretty sure GWAR knows this.
It’s so exciting when they walk out on stage; their costumes never stop being impressive. I snapped a couple of pictures before things got messy. Only two songs in, and they’re on to one of my favorites, ‘Saddam A Go-Go’ and some monster thing was carted out on stage and pieces were sawed off and he was eviscerated all over us. I had never done rail at GWAR before, so it was interesting to see how carefully choreographed everything is. The GWAR slaves work hard- they are as much a part of the set as the band.
So I’m getting completely covered in fluids, laughing at the photographers scrambling around in the pit- when all hell broke loose. I was standing at an extension of the rail, and it couldn’t withstand the crowd crush, so it flew forward up against the stage, me along with it. Security started freaking out about this and ended up having to designate a guy to try to hold the rail in place. It was a little iffy at first- I thought I might have to bail. At a GWAR show, about half of the danger is that it’s a rough pit made up of a weird cross section of metal fans, and the other half is that it gets slippery and no one can hold their balance. People were coming over the rail and they were totally eating it and taking security with them.
The fun thing about getting sprayed like that is that it turns all of us into demented little children. In front of me, I can hear the band, but just as loud behind me is an ongoing soundtrack of evil laughter. I mean, all pretenses float away when you are jumping up and down asking for a band dressed as monsters to spray you with fake blood and space jizz.
One thing to note about GWAR is that, despite the ornate costumes, they are pretty exposed up there. but none are more exposed than the slaves. Tip for future GWAR goers: if a slave bends down in front of you…LOOK AWAY! I got my fill of man ass for a while.
I was very interested to see who they chose to kill during this set, and the first one was definitely a crowd pleaser. First they brought out this deformed baby looking thing, and then out comes Michael Jackson to, ummm, make it with the baby, for which he was killed and had his face torn off. And while the blood is spraying from his face, he’s doing all the signature MJ dance moves. It was almost too much…evil laughter.
Time for ‘Tormentor’, another favorite of mine, and probably the song that sent the crowd into the biggest frenzy. I got elbowed in the face by some chick behind me that was screaming the words along with me, to the point that I had to look down at my shirt and try to determine the fake blood from real blood. Fake blood- all good.
“Festooned with finery
You’ll find him in the winery”
“This is his story
Various monsters and such were executed and eviscerated throughout the evening. Oderus sprayed us with his giant space penis….which always makes me feel a bit odd….but honestly not nearly as odd as a SHAT show. I remember thinking, I wonder if when he takes that thing off, his real manparts seem smaller in comparison, kind of like when I wear tall heels and feel shorter when I take them off.
I was REALLY hoping that Sarah Palin would get the GWAR treatment this time around. However, it was President Obama that made an appearance. I am beginning to wonder if GWAR are Republicans…especially since Oderus is on Fox News a lot!
When it was over, I turned around to look at the crowd, covered in fluids, still screaming GWAAAARRRR!!! GWWAAAARRRRR!!!! which they did all the way out the venue.
When I got home, I ran inside as to not scare my neighbors.
Until next October/November, GWAR.