GWAR @ Best Buy Theater 12/6/10

Written by Big Smile Staff

Posted Dec 27, 2010, by The Bear.

Featured Artists: GWAR; The Casualties; Genre: Hardcore; Metal; Punk;
Okay so yesterday 20 inches of snow was dumped on New York City throughout the day and late into the night. The airports were brought to a standstill, cars got stuck in the streets, the Long Island Railroad stopped service at 10 PM – and I had an advance ticket to see GWAR and the Casualties performing at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. I went. Now New York City is a lovely sight when it's covered with several inches of new fallen snow, but that doesn't mean you want to be outside in it while the storm is happening. The snow was already several inches deep as I headed downtown and it was considerably deeper on the way home. As I was slogging through the snow on my way to the subway at around 7:15 PM I was thinking “this show had really better be worth it!” (Longtime GWAR fans don’t kill me – it was, but I’ll get to that).

The Best Buy Theater can hold about 2,100 people but it was only about half full last night. This was entirely due to the weather. The mere fact that the show went on at all, and that people still fought their way through the snow to come (and it some cases were stranded in Manhattan afterwards) is impressive in its own right. It only goes to prove that New York City shows are like the Postal Service – neither rain, nor snow, nor blah, blah, blah will stop them from happening.

I admit to being a very latecomer to the GWAR party; I’ve played them on my show on multiple occasions, and once, many years ago, at a college station that shall remain unnamed to protect the guilty, I was one of a trio of people who, upon finishing a late-night shift, left a GWAR CD running on repeat all night – something which we knew was very wrong. In fact as we were walking home at about 3 AM we kept saying to each other “that is so wrong. Leaving GWAR playing all night is so wrong!” However until last night I had never seen GWAR perform live and, well, all I can say is: Wow! Just Wow!

I’ve often said about a lot of bands that you have to see them perform live to fully appreciate them. Saying something as simplistic as that about GWAR doesn’t even begin to do them justice. It is futile to try to describe GWAR in performance; those who have seen them know what they know; those who haven’t seen them, well, what can I say? It was one of the most spectacularly awesome, spectacularly bizarre, and incredibly entertaining shows that I have seen in a long, long time. The props, the costumes, the effects, the characters – watching the antics of band members Oderus Urungus, Flattus Maximus, Balsac the Jaws of Death, Beefcake the Mighty, and Jizmak Da Gusha, helped along by their friends / colleagues / villains Bonesnapper and Sawborg Destructo, and supported by the Slaves who did all the crew work, is something that I will not soon forget even if it was just a normal GWAR show. Remember please that this was my first GWAR show (there always has to be a first time) so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

I knew it would be an interesting set when, during the set up a crew member walked across the stage carrying a ten foot long sword. And so it was. There were several decapitations, a few dismemberments (including a very memorable one of Sarah Palin, and another of Lady Gaga), some bestiality, and blood – lots and lots and lots of blood sprayed all over the crowd at very frequent intervals. Oh, and the music was great too. The band was tight, and they played with an intensity and familiarity that comes with a long track record. I don’t know if one calls GWAR “metal” or “hardcore” or “industrial” or what the hell? I think “great” will fit the bill nicely however. But if you can’t take profanity (lots of it) and taboo subjects then do yourself (and us) a favor and please stay away as you WILL be offended.

The best thing I can say about GWAR is that they know how to put on a really great show; it was well done, superbly executed, and most importantly, the guys never took themselves too seriously while they were doing it. It must be a real trip to be member of that band!

It would be unfair of me to end this review here and not say anything about The Casualties, who also performed last night. I’ve been a fan of theirs’ for a good number of years, seen them a bunch of times, and even interviewed Jorge, the singer, once. The fact that they were performing too was what really brought me out to that show and I’m happy to say that they did not disappoint. The current line-up has been stable for over a decade and it shows in the tightness of the performance. They delivered a hard-driving Old-School Punk set and the crowd was into them as much as they were into GWAR.

The Casualties have not changed much; Jake still has an impressive mohawk which, he told me afterwards at the merch table, he intends to enjoy as long as he can. Jorge didn’t spike his hair for the show but that was mainly due to the weather. The songs ranged from all throughout their history; highlights included “We Are All We Have” from 2009’s album of the same name, a cover of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” and a performance of “Riot” from their debut album during which they got the crowd to do the infamous “Wall of Death” exercise where the crowd first divides in half and moves to opposite sides of the room. Then, when Jorge starts screaming the song, they run at and crash into each other at full speed causing a giant free for all.

I missed the opening act, and there was one other band that played but I don’t remember much of them except there was a fight during their set, which resulted in one fan being thrown out of the show into the snow, which must have really sucked for him (I hope he hadn’t checked a coat). Other than that it was definitely worth it to come out in a raging blizzard to this show.

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