Gwar, Decapitated, American Sharks – Boise, ID
Fans can count on three things when GWAR comes to town; the music will be loud, the show will be entertaining, and clothing will be ruined. Monday evening at the Boise Knitting Factory was no exception. Staff arrived early to line the walls with black visqueen plastic, and security all wore one-night-only white t-shirts, destined to be destroyed over the course of the evening’s festivities.
The November 10 show marked the band’s first show in Idaho since the passing of frontman Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie). The show and the tour are delivered as a tribute to GWAR’s lost and fallen comrade. In his stead, fellow scumdogs and vocalists Blothar and Vulvatron have joined the search for Oderus; keeping his music and spirit alive. Old friend and tour mate, Bonesnapper, has returned to the fold as well for GWAR Eternal Tour 2014.
The manic psychosis began with Austin, Texas stoner rock punkers, American Sharks. The trio combined a touch of humor with their deep-in-the-heart-of-Motorhead sonic abuses. Bassist and vocalist Mike Hardin, guitarist Will Ellis, and drummer Nick Cornetti kept it fast, fun, and tongue-in-cheek as they warmed up the crowd.
Adding brutality to the night’s auditory mix, Polish death metal miscreants, Decapitated took the stage next. The band is touring in support of its newest release, Blood Mantra. I spoke with guitarist Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka before the show about the new album, and their recent tour accident: On the band’s way to New Orleans the quartet’s van crashed. The incident brought back memories of the 2007 tour accident which took the life of drummer Witold “Vitek” Kieltyka and also injured vocalist Adrian “Covan” Kowanek, who has yet to fully recover. Fortunately, this time, no one was seriously hurt and no tour dates were cancelled.
Decapitated’s set consisted mostly of material from Blood Mantra including the tracks; “Veins”, “Instinct”, “Exiled”, “The Blasphemous Psalm to the Dummy God Creation”, and the title track. They also tuned up “Pest” from their previous album, Carnival is Forever. Vocalist Rafal “Rasta” Piotrowski prowled and growled his way across the stage, while Vogg chunked his way through a myriad of thick riffs and blistering solos on his classic Ibanez Iceman guitar. The band’s new rhythm section of drummer Michal Lysejko and bassist Pawel Pasek pummeled their instruments and decimated the audience.
The sizable Monday night crowd was notably amped up by the time Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” signaled the intro for GWAR. Through a “magic mirror” Oderus performed the night’s first track with the band, which featured longtime members Jismak De Gusha (drums), Balsac the Jaws of Death (guitar), Beefcake the Mighty (bass), and Pustulus Maximus (lead guitar). The stage was awash in bodies, and chaos ruled the stage. Various decapitated and abused body parts spewed forth blood and other colorful liquids as the band plowed through a set that included tracks from the band’s newest album, Battle Maximus, including “Fly Now”, “Mr. Perfect”. “Bloodbath”, “Madness at the Core of Time”, and “I, Bonesnapper”: The latter appropriately sung by Bonesnapper.
The setlist covered the band’s 30 year catalog, with “Horror of Yig”, “Black and Huge,” and “The Years Without Light” from the GWAR classic, Scumdogs of the Universe. They tuned up “The Road Behind” from 1992’s America Must Be Destroyed, “Saddam a Go-Go” from 1994’s This Toilet Earth, and “Hate Love Songs” from 1997’s Carnival of Chaos. Beefcake the Mighty took over vocal duties on this track, while Blothar took over on bass.
From more recent albums, GWAR delivered, with Blothar and Vulvatron putting their own spin on the vocals for, “Tormentor” from 2006’s Beyond Hell, “Let Us Slay” and “Metal Metal Land” from 2009’s Lust in Space, and “Hail, Genocide!” from 2010’s Bloody Pit of Horror. Other songs performed included “The Private Pain of Sawborg Destructo” and their recent cover of The Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls” for the AV Club.
Throughout the highly visual performance the crowd was repeatedly pelted with GWAR bodily fluids, both soaking and delighting the crowd. The floor in front of the stage looked like a slaughterhouse at the end of a brutal day. Fans were “spared” the visual effect of Vulvatron’s blood-spurting breasts, as the venue was reasonably concerned about fines for “indecency” after another local club was recently fined.
In all, the show was GWARific–a concert experience not to be missed: A fantastic and frenetic mix of sonic elements, humor, and theatrical excess that fans will not soon forget. While Oderus Urungus will forever be missed, it is satisfying to know the Scumdogs will not rest until they find their leader.
All photos © 2014 Katarzyna Cepek Photography.