The Greatest Show On Earth!

I was bummed to hear that GWAR guitarist, Cory Smoot, died a few days back. I don’t know all that much about the men behind the masks, but the guy was only 34 years old and it’s a shame he passed on. Talk about one of the coolest jobs ever.

After a few google searches, I’ve learned that Smoot wasn’t the original Flattus Maximus (the character he played in GWAR), nor will he be the last. Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, GWAR’S outspoken frontman (and original member since 1984), plans on continuing the tour in Smoot’s memory. The mask angle gives a band like GWAR the anonymity (and longevity) to swap musicians as needed.

(Super badass!)

GWAR is more known for their live shows than their song writing ability, but they have some pretty great songs. I prefer the old stuff – their fun debut HELL-O (1984), and their crowning achievement in terms of concept and musicality, SCUMDOGS OF THE UNIVERSE (1990). The two lively sets are filled with funny, sleazy rockers. They are in regular rotation on my iPod.

Of all the art-rock, punk rock, thrash bands, I’ve got floating around my hard drive, GWAR probably gets the most play.

In any case, those live shows?

Those live shows RAWK and ROLL, Loyal Reader.

I’ve seen GWAR about six times. I’ve stood apart from the action, marveling at the spectacle and I’ve been in the trenches, up to my eyeballs in sweat and food coloring.n

The best shows – the ones spent in the heat of an undulating, pushing, throbbing sea of bodies, crowd surfers above, a tornado of moshers whirling a few feet of flesh away – are near religious experiences. You thrash and dance and squeeze, while the band sprays you down with hoses (and gnarly squirt guns, and, um, phallic cannons).

(The calm before the blood soaked storm)

In the midst of all that sweat and latex and sugar sweet blood, GWAR actually rock pretty damn hard. Each time I’ve seen them they’ve gotten heavier and heavier. I like Death Metal thrash about as much as the next guy, but punk metal is more my cup of tea. Their old stuff had that vibe.  Their new stuff grinds, but some of it buries melody with growling instead of singing.  Still, they play their cooler songs every show. Most of them have built-in sketches. The GWAR guys seem to delight in performance art. Their shows aren’t just violent trash – the artistry is sublime.

They used to have a fire dancer (according to Wikipedia she’s since left the band) that did an awesome routine to a killer instrumental.

No matter your tastes in music, if the opportunity to go to a GWAR show presents itself you HAVE to go.



2 Responses to “The Greatest Show On Earth!”

  1. I never saw them live, or bought any of their cd’s, but never had anything against them. Couldn’t help thinking how weird it was that I just watched them on Jimmy Fallon a few weeks ago, and that was the first time I’d thought about GWAR in ages. Very sad.

  2. The flame still burns. I know were old guys and probably the oldest guys at the club, but you gotta drag your wife out for one of their shows and catch them before it’s too late.

    I know they play a couple a times of year, all over the place. In your neck of the woods, they’re likely to play a small place with cheap tickets.

    I took my Michelle (several times actually) and she was blown away by the sheer artistry of it all.

    Oh, and if you are swayed enough by my recommendation to actually see them, be sure to see them on a headlining tour – we caught them for a few festival sets and they only do a fraction of the cool stuff they do when the stage is set for them and them alone.

    Also, I just dropped too much money on a whole new band set up! 2 killer VOX (2×12) guitar amps and a Roland bass amp! Too bad you live so far away!

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