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GWAR w/ Dying Fetus and All That Remains (Friday, November 19th, First Avenue, Minneapolis)

GWAR is An acronym for God, What an Awful Racket

By David de Young

Dave Polaschek of Dave’s Picks remarked earlier today how he was looking forward to seeing some of the local color reporters calling in a story from a GWAR show. The local media definitely was out in force at the newly re-opened First Avenue tonight. News vans were parked in front of the club with broadcast antenna's extended when I arrived around 6:30. And inside, WCCO’s Mary Tan, who had done a live report on the 6 o’clock news, looked a little out of place amongst the crowd of metal heads inside the club, as did I as well in my yellow raincoat and business casual attire.

Before entering the club, I’d already learned from Star Tribune photographer Jeff Wheeler that Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak (perhaps wisely, given the nature of the GWAR event) had rescheduled his stage dive for tomorrow’s Los Lonely Boys show.

The club was packed for show openers All That Remains ( Now, I’m very much not a metal guy, i.e. I don’t know the genre well enough to have what they call an informed opinion, but I will still say I was unimpressed and that Middle band Dying Fetus ( put on a far better show.

Dying Fetus front man John Gallagher sounded like he’d gargled with Drano before taking the stage, and his band kept the energy high with near constant double kick drum speed metal beats. Gallagher put aside his scary death metal voice for a moment when he introduced the Baltimore Maryland band (quite politely actually) and said they didn’t have much time left. They finished up around 7:50.

Shortly after 8 PM, two gentlemen a tad above the average age of most audience members were seen lurking in the shadows behind the First Avenue screen/curtain. As the screen went up, flashes from press photographer cameras revealed their identities. “Alright, alright, alright,” said the first man. “My name is Steve [McClellan] and this is Jack [Meyer.]” To much applause, McClellan introduced GWAR, calling them “the one group of musicians that I knew wouldn’t wimp out on us.”

A few minutes later GWAR ascended the stage, some members of the band flipping those of us in the pit stage left us off in WWF style as they went by.

A figure in a John Kerry costume took center stage and did a brief impression, “I am not a flip flopper,” he said, cut off (no pun intended) almost immediately by an axe chop to the neck, and what I’d estimate as several gallons of fake blood started spurting dozens of feet into the audience from the hole where his head had been.

Next to become mincemeat was Arnold Schwarzenegger (after first having his wandering hands chopped off one by one). You might make an argument that this was song number 2. Two fans emerged from the crowd in “blood”-soaked t-shirts to order water by the downstairs side bar before returning happily to the gory fray.

GWAR Lead singer Oderus Urungus (aka David Brockie), told the cheering crowd, “Shut the fuck up. Say just one time how much you love this motherfuckin’ place.”

I’m not even going to describe what happened during song number 3 to the woman the band brought onstage, but for song 4, Michael Jackson was scalped. (“This is the best one,” I heard a few fans remark as the strains of Jackson’s “Thriller” filled the room.) For Song 4, Urungus informed us that the war on terror was a lie, and that GWAR would bring “what four years of bullshit operations could not.” He introduced their next guest, Osama Bin Ladin as his “gay lover” as the band chimed in with a chorus of “All we are saying….is bring back the bomb.” Bin Ladin was scalped and his entrails cut out revealing a bloody American flag inside.

I haven’t said anything about GWAR's music because musically, GWAR is a mediocre band at best. But music's not really what they’re about anyway. More blood and gore was to follow, but I won’t go into that either because I think you’ve got the picture by now. And when you get down to it, GWAR is doing nothing more disgusting or offensive than the things going on in the real world that we see on the evening news every night.

But seriously, the point to all this is? Welcome back, First Avenue. Welcome back.