By: Melody Ryan
If you have heard of GWAR then I don’t need to explain much about how incredibly unique and disgustingly brilliant their shows are. This past week, the Scumdogs of the Universe, the extraterrestrial warriors known as GWAR, unleashed their fury of metal upon Nashville, TN at Exit/In. I would like to fast forward to a little bit after the show. So after enjoying a night of guitar-playing aliens, my boyfriend and I went out for pizza and drinks. We ended up having the following conversation with multiple groups of people.
“What happened to you guys??”
“We were at the GWAR show.”
We were asked about our appearance several times, and as soon we mentioned GWAR, we were met with “ooOOohs” and nods of understanding. For those of you who are not familiar with the antics that occur at GWAR shows and are wondering why people were staring at us and questioning our appearance, I’ll go ahead and say it. It’s because we were covered in blood and urine. Yes, that’s right folks, blood and urine and other bodily fluids. I must clarify for those of you who read that and aren’t quite certain… the red and yellow spatters we were covered in were fortunately not real bodily fluids. They were actually little color spattered memories of a weird, loud, and crazy night of metal and gore.
The night started off on the right foot with local post-hardcore band Look What I Did. They formed in Nashville in the early 2000s, and just this year their fourth album Zanzibar III: Analog Prison was named Best Metal Album of 2015 by The Nashville Scene. I am consistently impressed by the metal and hardcore bands coming from Middle Tennessee, and I am pleased to say that Look What I Did continued this trend and has gotten my approval. I had not heard of them before, but I was impressed and will continue to keep up with these guys. With their music, they have managed to put their own mathy twist on hardcore, and there is just something quirky about them that I like. Singer Barry Donegan might be my favorite part of their performance, because he really put a lot of passion and energy into his stage presence, which made him a pleasure to watch… I almost even want to say his energy is on the verge of the good kind of psychotic, only because I can’t think of a better word to describe it.
Next to take the stage was Battlecross, a thrash metal band from Michigan. They have also been around since the early 2000s and the current lineup has a pretty great vibe. Tony Asta on guitar was a lot of fun to watch, smiling and laughing the whole time while shredding away like it was nothing at all. Another thing that is pretty amusing is that their bassist Don Slater currently looks like an exact copy of Riff Raff from Rocky Horror Picture Show. There was plenty of hair swishing and breakdowns, and it was a good time.
Before GWAR came on stage, the adrenaline and excitement in the room was high, and the stage set up looked very promising with the drums sitting high atop some kind of mess pile of screws and wheels… honestly, I couldn’t tell what it was, but it looked very cool. GWAR came out with a bang of course, donning extravagant costumes with horns, spikes, udders, armor, and antlers… and musical instruments. They didn’t waste any time before exposing one of the characters’ guts and spraying everyone with blood. Their show is one that you have to be very open-minded about in order to be able to enjoy, because it is filled with controversial, gory, and perverted scenes that make you cringe and laugh at the same time. Warning: do not attend a GWAR show if you have a sensitive stomach or are easily offended… or if you do not want to get squirted in the face with fake urine. For this show, I actually had to prepare my camera by covering it in layers of plastic. Many of the fans had prepared in a different way, sporting white clothes, which after the show let everyone know approximately how close they were to the band by the amount of stains on their clothing.
Many bands out there don’t put much effort into their concerts other than just coming out and playing their music, but GWAR goes all out and puts on a literal show for their audience. In some moments, I felt like I was in an alternate reality where I was watching little action toys that had come to life. The characters and the costuming are done so well that the show actually becomes believable and you find yourself to get wrapped up in the experience of it all. Throughout the show, not only did I get to hear some great straight up heavy metal, but I also got to see beheadings, strange creatures exposing themselves, and Kanye West’s face get ripped off. Where else could you see any of these things than at a GWAR show? The crazy thing is that this group has been doing this for thirty years now and is still putting on a fantastic show… and for thirty years, these guys have been spewing crowds with blood, urine, and other bodily fluids and getting away with it.