Nothing like hitting the ground running, am I right? After spending the majority of my Thursday in a car on my way home from Iowa, it sure would have been nice to just sleep a little bit but life is weird and, instead, I found myself anxiously awaiting the arrival of some of my friends from Iowa for an epic show at First Avenue. I know, I know, I’ve seen Gwar a million and twelve times but that’s still just not enough and I intend to keep seeing them until every last one of my friends has seen them with me whether they want to see the legendary band or not.
Unfortunately, the first of this three-band lineup had to drop off of the show due to a covid exposure. Although I was bummed I wouldn’t be catching Eyehategod, I was excited with the thought that maybe Napalm Death would have an extended set. Although I don’t know if it was longer than it would have been had Eyehategod still been on the bill or not, Napalm Death’s show absolutely packed a punch and got the crowd moving. Since 1981, Napalm Death has been a staple in the grindcore scene. Their music is chaotic and aggressive and their logo and the imagery they use is nothing short of iconic. I’ve had the honor of catching this UK-based band a few times now and they have yet to disappoint. The amount of energy that this band brings to a stage is insane and watching vocalist Mark Greenway pace from side to side is almost threatening but in the best way possible. Although Napalm Death must have played nearly twenty songs, it just wasn’t enough for me or the rest of the packed audience but, at the same time, you could feel the undeniable anticipation in the air as they left the stage and made way for the almighty Gwar!
I won’t get into the whole history of Gwar because, well, I feel like if you don’t know who Gwar is by now, then you just won’t get it or care. Long story short, Gwar is a super theatrical band that has a habit of spraying “blood” and other “bodily fluids” on their audience. Gross and obscene? Absolutely. Cold and messy? Absolutely. The time of your life whenever you find yourself in the audience at a Gwar show? Bingo! Honestly, that’s why I keep going back. Something comes over you when you’re sprayed with the “blood” that just makes you forget anything else that may be on your mind and being able to see that effect on your friends is truly the icing on the cake to any Gwar show.
Gwar’s set on Thursday night felt ridiculously quick even though they powered through nearly twenty tracks and had the stage for nearly an hour and a half but, like Napalm Death, it just wasn’t enough. Playing songs that I recognized from previous shows and throwing in some that I honestly didn’t recognize at all, I feel like Gwar’s music always takes a backseat to the elaborate costumes and the almost constant flow of “blood”. That being said, there’s no denying the musical power of this band. Their sound is a bit glam metal with a lot of trashy guitar parts and slamming drums. It’s the kind of music that makes you want to shove the person standing next to you (in the nicest way possible, of course). Whether you get lost in their music or lost in their epic stage show, there’s something for everyone.
I’ve seen Gwar rip everyone from Hilary Clinton to Donald Trump to pieces and always look forward to seeing who they are going to “kill” on stage. I wasn’t surprised to see a Joe Biden as they always seem to have at least one political figure sacrificed on stage but also had to chuckle a little bit at the other characters they brought onto the stage. I’m not going to spoil it all because I feel like their always-changing shtick is what keeps people coming back but I will say there were some surprises that had my friends laughing and me in awe of the pure creativity of this band. Although they were definitely up to their usual antics, there were also some pieces missing from their show. Most noticeably it was the part of the show where the band takes fans and puts them in the “grinder” and the crowd gets, you guessed it, sprayed with the blood of the sacrificed. I guess it makes sense that Gwar wouldn’t want a bunch of strangers on stage as we find ourselves still fighting with an ongoing pandemic but I will say it broke my heart a little bit to not see this signature move happen.
Even with the lack of the grinder and the feeling of Gwar’s set being a bit too short, Thursday night’s performance was exactly what I needed and exactly what I wanted all of my friends to experience.