GWAR honors deceased guitarist’s return to the home planet

Pub date April 9, 2012
WriterSean McCourt

Those sleazy, salacious scumdogs of the universe in GWAR wasted no time in unleashing their riotous brand of musical mayhem on Friday night before a packed audience at the Regency Ballroom, with fake blood spraying and splattering the audience as quickly as the first notes came screaming out of the amplifiers.

Singer Oderus Urungus strode out onto the stage wearing his usual wardrobe of outrageously oversized armor and tattered fishnets. While the rest of the band began taking their positions, the band leader and a cloaked figure began miming to the first hapless victim of the impending carnival of carnage, a creature holding a document that read “Deed To The Castle.”

With loud encouragement from the audience — which had already been whipped into a frenzy from an excellent opening set by Bay Area favorites Ghoul — a sword was produced, and with a mighty swing from Oderus, the blood started squirting from the decapitated freak, who ambled about the stage, drenching everything and everybody, as GWAR launched into its first song.

From then on, it was the always entertaining live show from GWAR that fans have come to expect after more than 25 years of trashing venues and leaving concertgoers covered in every manner of fake bodily fluid imaginable — some kids even wore homemade shirts, taking a plain white tee, writing the words “GWAR 4/6/12” in pen, and coming out with a custom gory tie dye job and beaming smiles.

The only people who didn’t look like they were having a blast were, of course, the helpless security guards in front of the stage, who were all wearing rain gear, and had to deal with untold gallons of fake blood raining down on them in addition to the crowd surfing kids coming over the barricades, and the passed out girl who had to be carried out from the front barely five minutes into the set.

The theatrical terror ended its regular set with the signature sing-along song, “Sick Of You” before coming back out for an encore that paid tribute to departed bandmate, Corey Smoot, aka Flattus Maximus, who died last November while on tour with the group (GWAR had to cancel its last scheduled Bay Appearance as it fell during Smoot’s memorial service).

With Smoot’s custom Schecter guitar placed upon the top of an amp stack, lit by a white spotlight, Dave Brockie —  aka Oderus — introduced the last song, “The Road Behind,” by telling the crowd that one of GWAR’s members was called back to the home planet.

Amid all of the prosthetic pandemonium and controlled chaos, it was probably the most appropriate way to deal with their grief, and to honor a real human being, friend, and bandmate. Seeing Smoot’s guitar sitting alone, while the surviving members of the group performed around it, actually made for a touching moment, something that has to be an exceedingly rare event in the sordid history of the band — but yet another example of how GWAR is still the best at what it does.