GWAR decapitates Indy’s Vogue Theater
by Rev. Walter Beck
The goriest band in rock n roll took the stage Friday night in Indianapolis to bring an evening of blood-splattered entertainment to the masses. It was a main course of GWAR with the Casualties and Threat Level serving as the appetizers for this night of musical slaughter.
Taking the stage around 7:30 was Threat Level, a local metal band; they’ve been out earning their stripes for the last several years, opening for whoever they could. They took the stage as most of the crowd was still at the bar ordering drinks or ambling around.
But before long, Threat Level had the crowd’s attention and the pit was starting to move in force as they plowed through their set.
I wasn’t expecting a helluva lot, honestly; I’ve been to enough shows to know that the openers are usually alright, but nothing special. I was wrong that night at the Vogue; Threat Level burned through a set of raw, no-bulls**t American metal.
It was some of the most muscular sounding underground metal I’ve heard since I first heard Blood Tribe out of Evansville, Indiana. They had the crowd stomping, headbanging and shouting along, the energy was already heating up in the venue, especially as they thrashed through numbers such as “Leading the Vicious” and “I’m Not Your God”.
If Threat Level was the essence of muscular American metal, the next band was the essence of American street punk- NYC’s The Casualties.
The Casualties certainly look like a true punk band- a rarity these days- and they had the live chops to match the Mohawks, patched vests and pipe jeans. They came out to a flurry of raw noise as their lead singer chugged down a Budweiser before belting out violent anthems of life on the streets.
The crowd’s energy intensified as more and more people rushed towards the stage. By the look of the audience, with the prevalence of gutter punks, some were anticipating The Casualties as much as GWAR.
They certainly didn’t disappoint, ripping through roughly forty-five minutes of true punk. It was a violent, joyous frenzy as the circle pit grew through songs like “We Are All We Have”, “Tomorrow Belongs to Us” and an excellent cover of Motorhead’s “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.”.
The band was just as lively as the audience with guitarist Jake Kolatis and bassist Rick Lopez jumping back and forth on stage, climbing on the monitors and of course, lead singer Jorge Herrera barking out his lyrics between bottles of beer.
It was great to see a band such as the Casualties live, I had long lost faith that true punk still existed in America, I thought punk had breathed its last, buried under the destruction of Hot Topic, but the Casualties proved that true blue dirty American street punk was still out there and still kicking ass.
The Casualties left the stage and now it was the moment we had all been waiting for, the arrival of the galaxy’s goriest metal band, the Scumdogs of the Universe, GWAR!
I was right up in the front row, pressed hard against the steel barricade as the crowd chanted for GWAR to take the stage. Before the band came on, two characters came on stage, apparently arguing about a deed and then lead singer Oderus Urungus shouted “Let’s just kill this motherf****r!” and proceeded to decapitate one of the characters.
Being right in the front as I was, I took my first direct blast of stage blood that night.
Right after the decapitation, GWAR kicked off their set with “The Salaminizer” from their 1990 masterpiece Scumdogs of the Universe and began ripping through track after track from their catalogue and killing any number of enemies on stage.
Now I’ll admit, I haven’t been very impressed with GWAR’s studio output over the last several years, but for an old-school fan like me, GWAR didn’t disappoint, breaking out tracks from such albums as America Must Be Destroyed with a back-to-back thrashing of “Ham on the Bone” and “Crack in the Egg”.
When they played “Crack in the Egg”, in typical GWAR fashion of mocking and satirizing popular culture, they brought out one of their on stage slaves dressed as a pregnant Snooki, proceeded to gut her, rip the fetus out and kick it around on stage, thus saving mankind from the abomination brewing in her belly.
Of course, being in the front row, I took several more direct blasts of fake blood and viscera.
Snooki was the only celebrity to get slaughtered on the stage that night, but it was hardly the first instance of on-stage violence. Going back to their older albums, they brought out the Jagermonster and played his song “Jagermonsta” from 1999’s We Kill Everything, which I found a bit surprising given that most members of GWAR consider We Kill Everything to be their worst album. Nonetheless, the beast was slain and bled black Jager blood all over the audience.
Speaking of surprises in the set-list, I was delighted to hear “Saddam A-Go-Go”, GWAR’s thrash-ska number from 1994’s This Toilet Earth. The heavy grooves had the entire crowd stomping their feet and pushing up against each other. If there was ever a GWAR number to dance to, this is it. Although I think it would have been cooler if they had played “B.D.F.” from the album.
This wasn’t just an evening of GWAR classics as they played numbers from their newer records, including “Bring Back the Bomb” from 2004’s War Party, a satirical political number glorifying nuclear war, certainly a fitting number for our current political season. As well as “Zombies March!” from their newest LP, 2010’s Bloody Pit of Horror.
But for some old-school GWAR, they couldn’t have topped the evening’s closer; the last song they played for their regular set was “Sick of You”, from Scumdogs of the Universe, a true GWAR anthem if there is one and everyone in the audience knew the lyrics.
Oderus had his infamous cod-piece, the phallus known as the “Cuttlefish of Cthulu” hooked up and as the song raged on, he looked right at me in the front row and proceeded to blast me directly with a bloody discharge.
Continuing with the Scumdogs motif, GWAR came back on for an encore, bringing back one of their most cherished characters, the World Maggot, and played “Maggots” while feeding the remains of their slain enemies to The Beast. As the World Maggot gobbled its last, GWAR thanked Indianapolis and left the stage.
I walked back to my car, covered in stage gore from head to toe; it was dripping down into my boots even. But I had just seen one of the wildest shows I’ve ever seen in my years of covering underground metal. The openers were amazing and you can’t beat GWAR for a stage show.
If the Scumdogs of the Universe come to your neck of the woods to bring a bloody feast of metal, show up and get right in the front row. Just make sure you wear a plain white t-shirt.