Despite recent losses in their ranks, GWAR invaded Toronto yet again to conquer the placid Canadians with their metal. Humans crawled out of the gutter to pack the Opera House with much alcohol infused enthusiasm. Of course, GWAR did not come alone, they brought their usual entourage of human slaves to prepare the minds of fans for the onslaught of metal.
First up was the old-school sounding American Sharks from Austin, Texas, with their fast punky beats and garage band-type sound. A solid, if somewhat simple bassline was paired with punky vocals while the drums were getting hit so hard the drummer had to literally stand up after every song. Their ‘whatever, man’ attitude made for witty comments as they called the first half of their set a warm up, and promised to get into the real set soon.
Corrosion of Conformity took the stage next and I don’t know what I was expecting, but what they delivered was definitely not it. Their sound was more progressive, with good clean vocals leaning more towards a prog-rock. They made for an interesting sight with each member having his own defined style, whether it was bassist/vocalist Mike Dean’s denim look or drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin’s more sporty/metalhead. No matter what I was expecting, I soon started grooving to COC’s tunes and was pleased that the bass was both entertaining and loud enough to hear. Having stepped it up a notch in technicality, COC had a unique way of moving to their own groovetastic songs. Lucky for us, they also got into some heavier crowd pleasers with drummer Mullin taking over the vocals. You know a band is playing hard when a cymbal flies off it’s stand, as was the case for Mullin.
After being entertained by the GWAR’s human slaves (the opening acts), we received a message from Sleazy P. Martini himself via a “magical” mirror. Sleazy P informed us of Oderus Urungus, the leader of GWAR, has gone missing and has sent us a message from back in time. With this message, the band opened up with Oderus performing the first song via de magical mirror. What a fantastic way to start the set. The dilemma was then put to every band member, how do we find Oderus? And so began the theme of the night, the pursuit of Oderus through time with the aid of a time machine that instead brought monsters for the scum dogs to fight.
Blothar, a large scumdog with antlers and udders, came out on stage and took over GWAR while this problem was being looked into. As he made the rounds greeting each member, he stopped at Beefcake the Mighty and said “you look familiar!” (if you don’t get the joke, Michael Bishop who now plays Blothar used to play Beefcake the Mighty back in the day). They immediately started ripping into some amazing GWAR tracks like “Madness at the Core of Time” and “Hail, Genocide” with plenty of banter in between. The blood and goo started flying immediately, soaking fans who begged for more.
I was surprised about how long it took for Vulvatron to come out and give us some boob spew. I was a bit disappointed to see how little she actually participated in the show. Aside from occasionally singing or beating up monsters brought forth from the time machine, she mostly stood around grooving to the music when she was on stage and performed only one solo song. However, her character did win me over as she took over the role of badass in the band, ripping off Bonesnapper’s chest during his performance of “I, Bonesnapper” and spraying boob spew on fans with an evil grin.
All the theatrics aside, GWAR did a stellar job performing without Oderus as lead, hitting up the GWAR anthems that got the pit and crowd surfers going such as “Hate Love Songs,” “Sadam a-go-go,” “Let Us Slay” and “Metal Metal Land.” However, by the end, the scum dogs admitted that their former leader Oderus could not be brought back by the time machine. Blothar summoned fans to yell out a primal cry that Oderus would be able to hear in the halls of Valhalla and never before have I heard such heartfelt cries from devoted fans. It was heartbreaking and almost therapeutic, while it also geared up fans to mosh themselves into a frenzy. A mock funeral procession with Oderus’s weapon of choice ensued and their set was finished off with a cover of “West End Boys” (because GWAR is so great that they can make shitty music awesome according to Blothar) and the very apt, “People Who Died.” Melancholy, powerful and extremely satisfying.
Michael Bishop (Blothar) – vocals
Kim Dylla (Vulvatron) – vocals
Mike Derks (Balsac the Jaws of Death) – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Brad Roberts (Jizmak Da Gusha) – drums, percussion
Jamison Land (Beefcake the Mighty) – bass, backing vocals
Brent Purgason (Pustulus Maximus) – lead guitar, backing vocals
Bob Gorman (Bonesnapper) - backing vocals
Matt Maguire (Sawborg Destructo) - backing vocals
Label: Metal Blade Records