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Photos By Andy DelGiudice, Review By Jeb Gavin

I’m never going to discourage people from seeing GWAR live. Their show is a spectacle, a ridiculously overblown theatrical piece meant to add value to a musical performance, and they managed to fit the whole thing in between plastic sheets inside the 9:30 Club last night. While the music is fun, there’s better, far more technically impressive and interesting music out there. You go to GWAR for the show, and that could be a problem.

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I know I’m going to have to go back over and over again here: I’m not saying this was a bad show. If you’re seeing GWAR live, it’s a spectacle, and you have to own it. “Live” set pieces eviscerated on stage? Check. Roadies dressed as neanderthal slaves wielding swords? Check. Doing battle with an evil lava monster from the future hellbent on castrating the lead singer Oderus Urungus? Yeah, not only did that happen, it sort of makes sense in the context of the show. (It was also why the first 10 rows of the audience got sprayed with Windex-blue “jizz” during a song.)

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Even the openers had their moments. Iron Reagan, born of the same Richmond thrash scene as GWAR, doesn’t bother dressing up, but play perfectly suitable metal for the show. Their set was helped along by bottles of liquor flying (or rather, thrown) from the wings. Lead singer Tony Foresta explained GWAR spent the tour trying to get them black-out drunk on stage, and so getting bottles of vodka, Jack Daniels and Maker’s Mark thrown at them during the performance was normal. They also brought GWAR artist and fabricator Bob Gorman (go look up his work) for a cover of The Cro-Mags’ “Don’t Tread on Me.” A solid set, but as usual I’d of rather just seen Municipal Waste, of which Iron Reagan is a side project.

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Before them Band of Orcs wasn’t bad, as far as a band made of actual orcs is concerned.

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But getting back to the main event, and what I find troubling about both this show, and metal in general: I’m not saying GWAR is sexist. I’m not saying GWAR’s fans, or metal fans in general are sexist. I’m saying there are some vocal metal fans who are sexist, and there are parts of GWAR’s show -however ludicrous- which could be construed by the very vocal minority of sexist GWAR fans as tacit support of their beliefs.

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Granted, these fans are not smart people. These are people likely to believe a bald, alien-like creature really did show up from the future during the concert. Perhaps they also believe a certain Canadian male pop star was gutted and had his limbs ripped off on stage. They’re also the kind who might believe a band full of mutants playing aggressive rock music thinks the guided evolution of the female race should result in a gray monster covered in tits, sans brain or vocal cords.

This is made all the more confusing when 20 minutes later, apropos of nothing, they start ranting about how the Skins lost their game against the Eagles, and will continue to lose games until Washington changes their name and mascot. If it weren’t obvious to the non-mouth breathers in the crowd, the point is to garishly push the line on all fronts, in hopes of stumbling upon deeper truth in the irony that monsters are being more humane than football team owners. At least, that would explain suggesting the team mascot be changed to a potato, so the team could keep its name. But if you can’t make the cognitive distinction which says some aspect of the show is parody, why the hell would you be able to make any further connections about the meaning of their show?

I’m not telling you to miss a GWAR show. See them live, mosh, get to the front and get sprayed with mutant blood. Go apeshit. Just be aware, there’s more going on here, even unintentionally. We create symbols, be they crosses or gang signs or painted foam rubber brains, and they become their own entities. They can be used for entertainment value, but they can just as easily be used by idiots to justify idiocy. Just as I want to see robots or Mexican wrestlers or Kaiju Big Battel, I want to enjoy GWAR, and I want everyone else to enjoy them, too. But when I’m standing next to a 40 year old guy in a “The Women’s Movement Is From the Kitchen to the Bedroom” t-shirt, and I can’t be assured he understands the difference between a message and “a message.”

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Iron Reagan

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Band of Orcs

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Some Dude That Rules

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