Show Number One: GWAR at Upstate Concert Hall

JTG Photo-Corrosion of Conformity-07There is a phrase that we do not use at – ‘(insert band name) killed it’, simply because it is overused hyperbole. But there has always been one exception to the rule – Gwar. Part tongue in cheek, part serious, Gwar truly does ‘kill it’ on stage, the ‘it’ being the audience’s wardrobe, each of the costumed freaks on stage and the expectations of even the most fervent Gwar fans. I have never seen Gwar before, but I knew of them in high school thanks to my friend Larry. The only song I can recall even today is “Have You Seen Me?” and whether they played it or not, I was making Gwar my destination on December 11, a birthday celebration and the best choice of a birthday show possible. Here are my takeaways from my first Gwar show at Upstate Concert Hall.

  • I missed American Sharks, out of Austin, but showed up in time for most of Corrosion of Conformity. Years of seeing jam bands has me convinced that an 8pm start time really means an 830 or 845 start time. But I met American Sharks and they are some quality guys with a solid first album.
  • The mood in Upstate Concert Hall (UCH) felt like a haunted house when Corrosion of Conformity was on stage.
  • Listening to CoC made me think back to Headbangers Ball in the ’90s. What a great era of MTV.
  • UCH is pretty much the only venue in the greater Capital District area where I would want to see a show like this.
  • No one was on their phones, no one was taking selfies, everyone was just standing around and staring at the band, half waiting for Gwar, half indifferent to CoC. To each their own.
  • There was a small mosh pit up close which I promptly got the fuck away from.
  • Not sure what the real title of the song is, but ‘Funky Time Push Up’ was a great song in the CoC set. Overall, a good warmup for the main act!

  • Tonight’s Gwar show was the third to last of their ‘Eternal Tour 2014’. I had to wonder if this meant they would mail it in or if they were ending on a high note. Ultimately, it was a high note, but regular fans could make a better call on that than a noob like me.
  • As the crowd gathered close to the stage, I wondered if there would be a Sea World style ‘splash zone’.
  • The Gwar chant from the Bohabs and Scumdogs (this is what Gwar fans call themselves I later learned) gets an A+ for the idea but C+ for execution.
  • An opening tribute to Oderus Urungus set a theme that went throughout the evening and brought all individual players into the spotlight for a song or two. a well deserved aspect of the show.
  • Thankfully this wasn’t a lame ‘Shit, Oderus isn’t here…. well lets just do the same old but without him.” It felt not so much scripted as it was a well thought out performance that brought the recently deceased Oderus (Dave Brockie) into the spotlight, but not in a ‘we’re whoring you out from the grave’ kind of way.
  • Two songs in and I was wondering for Vulvatron to appear.

JTG Photo-Gwar-19

  • Crowd surfing: I hadn’t seen this since Woodstock 1999, because this isn’t my scene anymore. Plus, I’m at the age where I can’t help but think ‘that’s dangerous’ even though I know what a thrill it is.
  • Band members have giant breasts, antlers, one is a weird knight from Gauntlet and a troll or two; what PCP fueled dream is this from?
  • “Genocide” – this was a great song, highlight of the night.
  • This is not a concert or a show; this is a performance and an incredible one at that.
  • How do they play/perform in such bulky costumes?
  • Two girls who were covered in the band’s ‘fluids’ walked by me to clean off in the bathroom. When they returned, I asked them if getting sprayed was worth it. The 19-year-old said no, but her 20-year-old friend next to her was nodding her head enthusiastically. To each their own.
  • The old school thrash of “Bonesnapper” was pretty awesome.
  • Musically, the guitarists stole the show and the drummer is solid as he drives the head banging.
  • Weirdest on stage appearance: giant lamprey eel meets Mac n Me, then squirts blue blood.
  • Vulvatron is more than just a pretty face – she has giant fake blood squirting boobs too!
  • There were a fair amount of couples at the show, but it was tough to tell who dragged who.
  • The spraying of fluids increased in distance as the night progressed. I got hit standing near the soundboard. It felt like my show experience was complete at that point.
  • The band has an odd infatuation with crack during their on stage banter.

  • Without the monologues in between the songs, the entire show would have blended together.
  • The use of Oderus was tasteful and not desperate, and ultimately tied the whole show together. The band exists without him but they have found a way to pay tribute to him without overdoing it.
  • The encore of “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys was… unexpected. I was hoping for “Carry on my Wayward Son” or “Have You Seen Me?” but I wasn’t chasing a Gwar song at my first show.
  • Following the encore, there were cheers and chants for Oderus, prompting Blothar implore the audience to SCREAM for Oderus. Collective community interactions abound regardless of music genre.
  • Altogether, this was a phenomenal show and I can’t believe it took this long to see them. I know I will see Gwar again in my lifetime – the performance is one of the most elaborate I have seen and I can’t grasp how they do this night in, night out, dozens of times a year. I can’t think of another band that puts this much work into a musical performance on this level.