January 19, 2015 GWAR take over NYC 11-30-14 w/ Corrosion of Conformity & American Sharks
While many people were out shopping for Christmas deals the weekend after Thanksgiving, Metal fans crowded Irving Plaza in New York City for a one night show of epic proportions. Ending their second month on the Eternal Tour, the legendary GWAR rocked the masses on Sunday November 30th, 2014 with a bulletproof show that dropped the city that never sleeps to its knees. Preceded by Houston, Texas’ American Sharks and Raleigh, North Carolina’s Corrosion of Conformity, GWAR were making their return to New York for the first after a short break to mourn the loss of Dave Brockie, the lead singer and alter persona of Oderus Urungus. Beefcake the Mighty’s Mike Bishop has taken the reigns as new character The Beserker Blothar, with bass player Jamison Land taking over as Beefcake, saying, “Dave was our friend and anchor for as far back as anyone can remember. He’s held us together, and sometimes he drove us apart. He is our brother and we love him. Unlike a lot of prominent musicians, he was friends with all of the fans. He made GWAR fans feel special on a personal level. The fans love Dave as much as we do and ‘The GWAR Eternal Tour 2014′ is our way of getting together and sharing that love.” With that said, there was plenty of love going around the venue as fans awaited the show to begin.
First on stage was American Sharks, making their initial appearance at Irving Plaza. These genre-twisters combine Punk, Metal, and Classic Rock with a breakneck, rock hard sound, earning them a fast and fervent following. Not new to the touring scene, American Sharks have also ridden with Clutch, Red Fang, and Decapitated over the past couple of years. Comprised of guitarist Will Ellis, vocalist/bassist Mike Hardin, and drummer Nick Cornetti, the band released their debut self-titled album in 2013 via The End Records. With Ramones-like repetitive beats, Cornetti and his kit in the forefront, American Sharks whipped the crowd up into a frenzy with tracks that included “Cocaine,” “Iron Lungs!,” and “Freak Out.” A wish for a happy birthday to a friend turned into a crowd pleaser, with numerous rockers in the audience claiming birthdays. Hardin finally called out, “Okay, we fucked up. We wish you… and you.. and you… a happy birthday!,” as he pointed out other celebratory revelers. American Sharks are kicking off their Australian tour with Clowns on February 20, 2015, as they continue to make an impression.
Second to take the stage were Groove Metal vets Corrosion of Conformity. Sustaining a series of changes, bassist Mike Dean left the band in 1987 and returned in 1993, drummer Reed Mullin left in 2001 and returned in 2010, and vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan took a break in 2010, only to announce his return in December 2014. Lead guitarist Woody Weatherman has been the only constant in the group’s three decade plus history, and in July 2014 they returned with ninth studio album entitled IX. As energized as ever, the band was ready to show New York City that all these years later, they still have it. Jump-starting the mood with fast guitars that ripped into the audience’s eardrums, along with the thundering bassline of Dean, Weatherman sliced through the cannonade with his squalling, tangled chords. Lyrically, the band is a straight shot, filled with short barks and very little chorus action, but with the thunderous mountain of sound pouring from the speakers, it is clear that Corrosion of Conformity is all about the music. The set list included both newer and older songs, with “Holier” from 1985’s Animosity to 2014’s “The Nectar,” and plenty of tracks in between. Standouts were “Vote With A Bullet,” “Brand New Sleep,” and “Psychic Vampire,” to which fans responded voraciously with headbanging and hands in the air. In 2015, Corrosion of Conformity have big plans lined up, including a new album in the works with Keenan’s return, along with a spring tour scheduled for both the UK and the Netherlands.
Finally, the time came for GWAR to take the stage, and these interplanetary Thrashers put on a show like no other. The performance of the members is just as important as the music, and attending a GWAR show is always as much fun visually as it is audibly. It is probably the only Metal show on the face of the earth where the floor is crowded with white t-shirts, as everyone floods the front barricades in hopes that they may walk away splattered with some of the viscous, alien goo that GWAR members love to spray out. Their newest album, 2013’s Battle Maximus, is lucky number thirteen for GWAR, and was featured prominently during the show, while older tracks brought up some nostalgia for long time GWAR fans.
As audience members chanted, “Gwar! Gwar!” over the sounds of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” the tension fermented like a bubbly, rotten froth. All became quiet as the voice of GWAR’s manager, Sleazy P. Martini, was heard over the cacophony, explaining the story of the missing vocalist Urungus and expositing, “Through the power of my Magic Mirror, we shall finally reveal the circumstances of Oderus’ disappearance! You shall bear witness…” The band then took the stage, with iron and skull covered Pustulus Maximus (Brent Purgason) on lead guitar, Pagan Trojan warrior Beefcake the Mighty (Land) on bass, the steel jaws of Balsac Jaws of Death (Mike Derks) on rhythm guitar, monstrous dog Jizmak Da Gusha (Brad Roberts) on drums, and the simpering turtle Bonesnapper (Bob Gorman) picking up backing vocals. First things first – the Scumdogs announced their intentions by ripping the head off of a passing security guard, resulting in the first wave of blood during the song “Fly Now,” an ode to both the missing Oderus and the passing of Flattus Maximus (Cory Smoot) back in 2011.
From backstage, a new character (Bishop) arrived, a demonic entity with antler-like wings and a purple fur loincloth. He announced, “I am The Bezerker Blothar!” before turning to Beefcake, saying, “I was you before you were you,” a nod to the fact that Bishop had played Beefcake while Oderus was still alive. Launching into “Madness at the Core of Time,” Blothar sang “The Years Without Light” and “Hail, Genocide,” all the while squirting the crowd with the front of his codpiece that he insisted were not udders, but a bag of dicks. Then the razor sharp saw operator Sawborg Destructo (Matt Maguire) and huge breasted Vulvatron (Kim Dylla) took the stage and the battle to be GWAR’s new lead singer began, with members spurting blood from various orifices. Vulvatron announced that a time machine was going to be used to find Oderus and bring him back to GWAR. Bonesnapper was even given time in the front to sing his own song, “I, Bonesnapper,” before the band decided to order an intergalactic pizza. The poor pizza guy had his face ripped off and his brain torn from his head, and Vulvatron and Beefcake played tetherball with it. Just after Beefcake got a chance on vocals with “Hate Love Songs,” GWAR’s newest villain, the volcanic robot Mr. Perfect, appeared from the time machine and announced that he had, in fact, killed Oderus with his own sword. Naturally, the band’s reaction was to literally tear Mr. Perfect apart in horror and outrage.
The show continued in outrageous fashion, and at one point, the Scumdogs found Orderus’ monstrous penis in another dimension and squirted the crowd with its sticky, green semen. Welcoming the theatricals, the audience rejoiced as older track “U Ain’t Shit” closed out the set. Included in the encore, the band promised to play a song from a band “so bad that GWAR would never play its songs,” and after guesses of Steely Dan and Nickelback, the group lit into a Speed Metal version of Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” followed by a much more fitting tribute – the Jim Carroll Band’s 1980 punk hit, “People Who Died.”
All in all, a rousing and bittersweet show, with fans young and old turning out to see these brain bashing Thrashers. All three bands were at the tops of their games and kept the crowd spinning. GWAR proved to be as entertaining as ever and many would agree this was them at their finest, even with the obvious loss of Scumdog Oderus in the forefront. The Eternity Tour continued on down south, wrapping up in Baltimore in the middle of December, and hopes are a new string of dates are in the works for 2015.