Concert Review – Gwar

Lineup: Gwar, DevilDrier, Cancer bats, Legacy of Disorder
Place: Ace of Spades in Sacramento

It was November 6th, 2012 that the aliens from Scumdog found their way to Sacramento’s Ace of Spades. On this day, Sacramento saw chaos. The city saw blood. The city witnessed…GWAR.

In the evening following my interview with Dave “Oderus Urungus” Brockie from Gwar, I found myself back in The Ace of Spades for what became a very interesting evening for people watching and metal music.

I am an early concert goer because I enjoy being up close. I like to look the vocalist in the eye, I enjoy seeing the guitarist’s hands fly from fret to fret and, for a Gwar show, I wanted to be covered in as much blood as possible.

Being so close for this show did bring some unwanted experiences though. The first experience was watching the opening band, Legacy Of Disorder. These guys are a fairly fresh band from New Zealand. Their sound could be described as the combination of modern thrash coupled with a nu-metal throwback sound. The music this combination produced was a series of aggressive fight anthems. I respected the abilities of guitarist Rana Freilich, but the overall result was not my cup of tea.

Next up was The Cancer Bats, or “The MOTHER…F*CKING….CANCER BATS!” as vocalist Liam Coimer informed us. These guys  have a very interesting mix of southern rock and hardcore punk. Most of the time I’m not into this mix, but this band did it well. The highlight of their set was the song that they, admittedly, added to the set just so there was a song people would know, and this song was surprisingly a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” Fans of the original version would have probably hated it, I didn’t though. The rest of the band’s set was quite solid as they weaved songs I was unfamiliar with alongside ones I enjoyed from their last album, Dead Set On Living. What made this set even more enjoyable was the realization I had that the entire time I had been preparing for this concert, I had been getting the band confused with Every Time I Die. When I realized that I was hearing songs from Dead Set On Living and not ETID’s Ex Lives, the performance became more enjoyable.

You ever have that moment when Dez Fafara recognizes the look of utter boredom and disinterest on your face while his band DevilDriver performs right in front of you? I did! While DevilDriver’s latest album Beast wasn’t a groundbreaking step for the band or it’s groove/thrash genre, I thought it was alright, so I was kind of looking forward to the band that night. While the musicians are all very talented and Dez knows how to be a frontman, the band was just so underwhelming. Perhaps, I’m jaded from years of seeing bands creating very similar sounds, but I wasn’t a fan. Having said that, half the crowd was super into DevilDriver, but the rest of us were waiting for Gwar.

Everything you hear about the amazing show Gwar puts on is true. The band does come out in monster costumes, the band does wield plastic swords, the band does “kill” people on stage with these aforementioned swords, and there is sooooo much blood being sprayed on the crowd. What I didn’t know was that the band’s set has a storyline through most of it. The story is Gwar is at war with god, and god is sending various forces to kill them on his behalf. These minions include a priest, Jesus, and Hitler, to name a few. Gwar’s battles often serve as brief intermissions between songs and are certainly welcomed, because Gwar fans are crazy.

Gwar roadies taping protection to monitors

Gwar’s audience is the craziest crowd I’ve ever seen, second maybe to Slayer (until Gwar fans adapt Nazi imagery into their face tattoos, Slayer…wins?). There were mosh pits unlike any I’ve seen, quite a bit of crowd surfing, and an admirable moment of human kindness from the crowd. Roughly ten songs and 100 gallons of blood into the band’s set, I feel a jabbing of something in the back of my leg. I have been in the front row of a handful of shows and in doing so, I often get hurt somehow by an entire room pressing against me, but this was very different. I ignore this very hard jab for a song or so before a hand grabs my shoulder and a man turns me as much as he can and screams in my ear, “ LET HIM UP FRONT!” I then see the source of the jabbing. It is the footrests of a mostly naked man’s wheelchair and a dozen or so blood covered Gwar fans pushing it forward. I move aside as much as I can and the chair inches forward. The man next to me refuses to make room and the group pushing the man in the chair begins to scream at him. The original man who got my attention threatens the man next to me, and this is the point when I begin to make my escape to the back of the crowd for air and water. I enjoyed the rest of the band’s set from a well-ventilated area in the back.

As much as I enjoyed the band’s performance, I still cannot say that I am a fan of Gwar’s music. I can say that it translates much better live. This could be because of the stage show, or the blood, or Brockie’s finger dance he executes while he yells incoherent nonsense instead of actual words. To anyone considering going who is a fan, I say go, you will love it. To those not a fan, I still say go. You may not love the music or the borderline Juggalo crowd Gwar brings out, but the experience is well worth it.

Gwar’s Setlist

Horror of Yig
Womb With a View
Madness at the Core of Time
Saddam a Go-Go
Bring Back the Bomb
Black and Huge
Metal Metal Land
Immortal Corrupter
The Years Without Light
Let Us Slay
Have You Seen Me?
Hail, Genocide!
War Is All We Know
A Short History of the End of the World
Rock & Roll Never Felt So Good

Carry on Wayward Son (Kansas cover)
Sick of You

Gwar can be seen right now alongside DevilDriver, The Cancer Bats, and Legacy of Disorder on the Fate or Chaos tour through December 21. Also, their latest album, Bloody Pit of Horror, is in stores now via Metal Blade Records.

_Daniel Cordova
Tune in to Far Beyond Metal every Tuesday from 3-5 PM PST on


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