GWAR: A Night to Remember; An Homage to Be Proud Of

On Sunday, Oct. 19, Buffalo’s Town Ballroom was treated to a timeless spectacle, the likes of which metalheads have simply come to expect from the one and only GWAR. Only this time around, something very different was in the atmosphere. It was the kind of family-like atmosphere you’d typically feel around the Thanksgiving dinner table or at a Fourth of July barbecue.

On March 23 of this year, the band lost longtime frontman and friend, Dave Brockie, to an accidental heroin overdose. Since his passing, many have been skeptical about GWAR’s fate in the metal universe, but that didn’t stop an impressive crowd of loyal fans from storming the gates of hell to greet the “scumdogs” head on.

Many diehard GWAR supporters made themselves known with their signature white wife-beaters and tee shirts, featuring hand-drawn fan art and brandings, proudly displaying the words “Hail Oderus”, referring to Brockie’s stage name, in bold black Sharpie. The masses showed up early to take in the entire event from start to finish, not missing a single beat or a single excuse to mosh during the opening acts.

American Sharks from Austin, Texas, kicked off the night with a relentless assault of punishing chords, driving melodic vocals and pulverizing punk beats. For only a three-piece, they started the night off right, creating energy amongst the GWAR and Decapitated fans alike, paving the way for a night they’ll all remember for years to come. As it was my first time hearing them, I can say that they instantly reminded me of a cross between Danzig-era Misfits and Black Sabbath. I found it very refreshing, and from what I heard, the majority of the crowd seemed to agree. These guys even announced that they had a black and white vinyl for sale at their merch table, which fans could color in for a chance to win six hundred and sixty-six dollars; one of the most unique gimmicks I’ve ever heard from a band.

However, the infamous death metal tyrants, Decapitated, were another story all together. They got the crowd amped with their soundcheck by abruptly breaking into “Walk” by Pantera before moseying off stage to cast an ominious cloud over the night. Their well-received soundcheck was then immediately followed up by an eerie drum, bass, and guitar intro on a backtrack, which shook the venue to its core with overwhelming bass bombs. The overall feel reminded me of the beginning of a Ridley Scott film, before they quickly switched gears and started their first song. The same merciless death and thrash metal vibe their fans know and love was on full display, with all-powerful low growls courtesy of vocalist, Rafal Rasta Piotrowski leading the charge. The guys are currently promoting their latest album, Blood Mantra, which in my opinion is a must-listen for any old or new fans of death or thrash metal.

Then, finally, the “scumdogs of the universe” themselves appeared before an awestruck crowd, with theatrics meant to send chills down your spine. But despite their usual displays of blood, guts, alien monsters, and just downright gore, you still can’t help but get the impression that in the end, they’re just here to warm our hearts. Their songs are fun and energetic. Even their merch table caters to the masses with an array of comics, action figures, cartoon shirts and hoodies, and even onesies! That’s right! Want your newborn or toddler to be immersed in the GWAR universe right from the beginning of their lives, then check out their hilarious onesies. You won’t regret it.

As for their set, they covered their entire discography, treating us to classics as well as newer material off of their latest album, Battle Maximus. But more importantly, Buffalo was introduced to their two newest members, Blothar and Vulvatron. Now armed with two lead vocalists, Blothar, the “male barbarian from the distant past”, and Vulvatron, “the female cybernetic assassin from the distant future”, delivered an action packed set, complete with ritualistic sacrifices and blood-squirting breasts, courtesy of Vulvatron’s demonic tendencies. And although she didn’t make an appearance until much later in their performance, she clearly isn’t the type who needs to keep up appearances in order to maintain a commanding presence.

All in all, it was a great night and none left disappointed. I can only hope to have just as much fun and be just as captivated at future shows. Hail Oderus!