GWAR @ Fillmore at Irving Plaza (12/13/2009)

Logo - GWAR

Artist: GWAR
Venue: The Fillmore NY (New York, NY)
Opener: The Red Chord, Job For A Cowboy
Date: 12/13/2009
Label: Metal Blade Records

While the band has been something that the people of Earth have been aware of for twenty five years, the origins and history of the band GWAR goes back over 43 million years to when their members were denizens of the planet Scumdogia. Eventually they found their way to Antarctica where they laid buried beneath tons of snow and ice for many, many years until they were unfortunately unleashed upon our modern day society by now manager Sleazy P. Martini. Since that time the band has devastated the concert stage and the unworthy audience members who pledge their souls in allegiance to them for over two decades and with their newest album “Lust In Space” they show no signs of giving us a way out of their booby trap laden web. Tonight would be New York’s turn and apparently the final night of touring for the band until their appetite for destruction had returned and found them seeking out fresh victims once again. The tour found a completely Metal Blade Records roster as the support and that can’t be bad for business as both The Red Chord and Job For A Cowboy got things started. I made sure to get into The Fillmore NY early enough to enjoy everyone and when I walked in I found the place to be strangely carpeted. My guess was this would absorb the various “goop” that comes along with a GWAR show.

Red Chord: I had only seen The Red Chord once before and that was when the band was opening up on the first Sounds Of The Underground tour back in 2005. As a band they come off as straight ahead Death Metal and this evening they wore “Red Chord Bowling Team” shirts which some people thought was funny while others felt it was sad. Oh well, you can’t please everyone in this stuff can you. The singer was very talkative with the crowd and pointed out that they only let crazy people on this bowling team. The Boston based band did tunes like “Nihilist”, “Three Heads” and “Send The Death Star” (which I rather liked being the old time Star Wars geek) and the singer seemed to dole out quite a few instructions to the crowd for an opening act. One normally expects the band to be ignored when they are not the main group, but the crowd was listening to him and when he directed them to get a wall of death going for their last number they all did it. It was a quick scene of chaos and the fans who seemed like they were going to expend themselves too early quickly recovered from it as there was no way they would lose the proper energy required for GWAR. The band delivered their material better than any of the other Metal bowling teams that I have ever see and now it was onto Job For A Cowboy.

JFAC: Without trying to sound strange in this, I have only been half enthused by this band over the past couple of years and since the last time I caught them was at the third go round of Megadeth’s “Gigantour”, I was looking forward to giving them another go tonight. Fortunately they would exceed my originally lackluster expectations and truly deliver the goods with an intense performance from the moment they came out. The band is fronted by Jonny Davy who had a great presence this evening and was doing all within his power to rile the audience up for the coming of GWAR. The fans that were present and paying attention were enjoying this, but there were others who were using this time to actually meet GWAR in person. Just before JFAC took the stage, the announcement came that if you bought the tour book which was on sale that you would be escorted in to meet GWAR for a moment before they took to the stage. That had to be cool and part of me questioned why I didn’t partake in this as well but I am sure the chance to do something like this will happen again. JFAC has two albums out on Metal Blade Records with their first being “Genesis” and the second being the more recent “Ruination”. Their lengthy set featured material from both albums and seemed to please. Time for GWAR, let the insanity commence.

GWAR: Before GWAR came out to slaughter the hapless miscreants that willingly offer themselves up for such an honor, I observed the surroundings of The Fillmore NY as I had never seen the venue prepared for a show like this. As we mentioned earlier, the floors had many carpeted areas for maximum blech absorption and when you looked up at the stage you saw that many of the amplifiers, monitors and speaker cabinets were tightly wrapped in plastic. In some sense the stage looked like something out of the “Dexter” cable program where the protagonist is trying to protect everything from the blood that will surely spill. With that being said, GWAR took to the stage and that’s when things got interesting. The band arrived after a short video film about their origins and adventures and to say they arrived like monstrous titans would be an understatement. As many readers of these reviews are aware, I am fortunate in the opportunity that I have to get right up close and personal when these bands first hit the stage in order to bring you right into the mix should you be more along the lines of those armchair concert goers instead of someone who braves the terrain of the myriad clubs and concert halls. Sometimes this is “easy” for lack of a better word but tonight would be a different animal and it began the moment that GWAR arrived to their tune “Metal Metal Land”. The band is as you can imagine, an insane experience and yet having seen the likes of Emperor, Slayer and numerous other bands of heavy nature I was hardly expecting anything like what happened within the first few moments of the bands show. The audience is separated from the stage by a five or six foot space which is often referred to as the security zone or the “photo pit” and despite the occasional crowd surfer that flies over the wall the region is pretty safe to be in – this would not be the case tonight. As the band got into their second song of “Saddam A Go-Go” I glanced over my shoulder to see all of the security force holding back the heavy metal barricade which was actually being moved by the swirling chaos that was happening in the audience. So much a force of humanity was this tonight that it was moving the barrier onto its side and I had to say that for a few minutes while I was in there I was terrified (and this is not something that happens to me in this scenario ever). Whew was all I could say and now from “safer space” I took in the rest of the show.

The band sounded great and was commanding their armies on the floor and as reward for their loyalty would find themselves sprayed with streams of faux blood or other bodily fluids depending on what song the guys were up to. Leader of the mayhem Oderus Urungus and his massive prosthetic wang or “Cuttlefish of Chtulu” as he calls it were dishing out the orders on the crowd who was absolutely ravenous by this point and here we were only three songs into the set. There is really far too much to easily describe at a GWAR show and to denote everything that happens would take away a little bit of the fun but we shall say that there was a high body count this evening. The first victim was a religious figure of some kind in a throne and he was torn to shreds. Giant lizard Zog came out and was eventually assaulted and murdered and I was certainly not expecting a visit from Michael Jackson this evening what with the King Of Pop being dead for a number of months already. Oderus said how Mike wanted to make one more appearance before being on his way and he was joined by a mutated space baby who was raped by Jackson who then in turn was struck down and ripped apart by the members of GWAR. “Maggots” was musical highlight for me since I’ve always enjoyed that one and it led us to the presentation and eventual sacrifice of this same mutant space baby that we had only met a few songs earlier.

Oderus spoke out against being hunted by someone or something called Cardinal Sin and this led to an epic stage battle between the band and a giant robot figure. While imposing and massive in size and armed to the hilt, the band made short work of him and really did you expect anything different to take place. We were drawing close to the end of the night when the presidential seal appeared on the screen behind the band and all of a sudden our country’s man with the plan the Commander In Chief Barack Obama was on the stage. El Presidente was wearing a king’s crown and holding a scepter and said that he was there to present GWAR with an award for continually saving the planet from alien invaders and other treacherous threats. The band thanked him, took their award and then…..well….executed him. Did you expect anything else to happen? Let’s face it GWAR gives no quarter to anyone no matter what station they hold. “Can You See Me” was the next to last number and pretty much as close to a sing-along as the audience was going to get from the band and before it all ended Oderus mentioned something about a contest being held for his very head. I was not sure if this would really be the prize to some unlucky fan that attended a show across the tour but with GWAR you really cannot attempt to predict what might happen. It all falls down to whatever they want to do to you. “Sick Of You” was the bombastic closer and during it we learned how there were more spray jets available to the slaves than the ones we saw being used on the stage. It was literally raining blood to borrow a phrase from Slayer.

At the end of the night the venue was a bloody mess and that was largely in part thanks to the streaming jets of blood that gets sprayed onto the audience, the walls and the members of the GWAR band and their assorted slaves. It’s funny to see members of the audience coming into the show wearing long white t-shirts and leaving with art projects on their bodies and multi-colored hair from all of the goop. GWAR’s “Lust In Space” tour might have ended this evening, but the band will be releasing expanded and remastered editions of their early albums within the coming months and they are surely something that we will hope to examine for your eager eyes soon.

JFAC Set List:
1. Unfurling A Darkened Gospel
2. Knee Deep
3. Reduced To Mere Filth
4. Constitutional Masturbation
5. Regurgitated Disinformation
6. Bong Hit
7. Ruination
8. Bearing The Serpents Lamb
9. Entombment Of A Machine
10. Embedded

GWAR Set List:
1. Metal Metal Land
2. Saddam A Go-Go
3. Lords and Masters
4. The Apes of Wrath
5. Tormentor
6. Where Is Zog?
7. Womb With A View
8. Let Us Slay
9. Maggots
10. Immortal Corruptor
11. The Price of Peace
12. Lust In Space
13. Bring Back the Bomb – encore
14. Have You Seen Me? – encore
15. Sick of You – encore

Drummer Jizmak da Gushers kit
Drummer Jizmak da Gushers kit

Before the band came on we snapped a shot of drummer Jizmak’s kit as it was surrounded by various implements of destruction in terms of shields, swords and battle axes. If you look closely you can even see a couple of demonic baby figures between the two kick drums. Tonight was going to be a lot of dangerous fun.

Balsac's microphone stand base
Balsac's microphone stand base

What you see above is the microphone stand base for rhythm guitarist Balsac the Jaws Of Death.  We snapped this because it not only said GWAR but also had a little cartoon graphic of Balsac which lets the road crew slaves know whose equipment it is when they are setting it up.

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One thought on “GWAR @ Fillmore at Irving Plaza (12/13/2009)”

  1. FINALLY KEN!! I’ve been waiting for this review. This happened to be the most memorable show I have ever been too for a few reasons. First, It was my first GWAR show and I was utterly NOT prepared. I go in wearing regular clothes thinking it was a normal show, but of course it’s not. I met up with some of my friends and they told me abt what happens during the show so I check my bag and coat. Then, the show started; now me being at the front at the metal gate I almost died. GWAR was halfway through there first song and I start to go down, along with a million other people on top of me. Now although I almost died, it was such an amazing set and I was covered and soaked in GWAR jizz hehe. Hands down best show performance I’ve seen.

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