“Are we listening to that Owl City song about butterflies on the way up to a Gwar show?” I asked.
“Yes,” Joe said. “And it’s ‘Fireflies’.”
That was the last time I would hear a sentence at a normal volume for three days.
It’s weird for me to say that this list was initially created so I could justify going to a Gwar show, but it’s the truth. A few years ago my cousin Greg and I stood on the platform of the Park Street station and saw people covered in fake blood. Greg figured out that Gwar was in town and I decided that I needed to be a part of that. I think this was the same night that we both attended the James Taylor/Carole King show at the Garden. We’re eclectic. No big deal.
Let me preface this entry by saying that I’d only heard of Gwar through the movie Empire Records and found them terrifying. Also note that I hate the following things: getting messy, fake blood, general admission shows, loud noises, standing, tall people, late starts, and shitty beer offerings at bars.
Somehow, I was able to convince my friend Joe to go with me. Joe’s a good sport and kept me entertained during ALL THREE opening acts by referencing the movie “Nell” and thinking that Bing Crosby was in Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. And I’m glad super glad that he came because knowing what I know now, there is no way I would’ve survived that trip up to Wally’s Pub.
Nestled in the heart of a completely desolate Hampton Beach, Wally’s Pub caters to…you know what? Nevermind. You can draw your own conclusion based on the rest of this story.
From reading the line up online, I deduced that Gwar was supposed to go on around 9;30 and be done no later than 11pm. That meant I could be home by midnight and get a decent night sleep before class the next day. However, as I previously stated, three bands opened for them including one that may have been a Gwar cover band fronted by Papa Shango, but I’m not entirely sure. How am I supposed to know these things?
We took a few risks while we there. For instance I ventured in to use the bathroom, Joe suggested we split a Jello shot that someone left behind (and we totally did, you guys!), and I made eye contact with three separate people with head tattoos.
So, like an old person, I bitched endlessly until Gwar eventually came out at 11:10pm and did all their classics like “Saddam a G0-Go*” and “Ham on the Bone*” All the lyrics sounded to me like they were screaming “Motherfucking pterodactyl” over and over again. At one point two men in thongs came onstage and beat up a metal construction that resembled a Dinosaur and an Antelope. Later, a dude dressed as Snooki came out, had a C-section on stage, and sprayed fake blood all over the crowd from the umbilical chord.
I felt like this was an opera. A long musical piece in an entirely different language that told a bizarre story. Somehow that Dinolope and Snooki are connected. Perhaps Snooki was the overlord that ordered those two thonged men to beat the Dinolope. Was Snooki’s live birth a statement on our current culture and media obsession? Was the man with a bear trap for a face the protagonist of the story? Again, I’m not sure, but I’m just going to label it “a cluster fuck” and move on.
Luckily, the mosh pit separated us from the constant blood splatters. Mosh pits are a funny thing. There is a very supportive psychology to them, much like improv. People willingly jump in to a circle where they push, shove, and inflict harm on each other. If they fell on the ground, about six people immediately rushed over to pick them up. If they wavered to the perimeter, those on the outside pushed them back in to the center without question or an air of annoyance. When a mosher decided that they had had enough for that moment, they would turn around, completely glassy eyed and nauseated, and exit past me. I was convinced that although I would not be covered in fake blood, I could end up being covered in real vomit.
Around midnight I turned to Joe and said “Hey, we can go at anytime…”
“Okay.” And he took off towards the door. I think we both were feeling complete sensory overload and confusion. I left Wally’s Pub still not really understanding what Gwar is or the appeal. They’ve been around since the early 80’s and there has to be a reason for that, but what that is, again, I’m not sure. I thought that by attending this show I’d get a better understanding of metal culture and performance art, but I really think I am making this out to be something with far more depth and complication than is necessary. Basically, Gwar is loud, edgy, and totally out of my wheelhouse, but an entertaining time nonetheless. And that’s really what it’s about.
*I have no idea if these are classics, but, according to setlist.fm they are at least Gwar songs that they performed that night.