GWAR - live in Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


live in Philadelphia (2019)

live show

Aside from drinking and killing and smoking crack and partying and making loud heavy metal and pillaging and torturing and feeding the world maggot, GWAR’s sole job is to criticize the human condition. Sometimes they do that by acting as stand-ins for humans, reveling in the follies that we ostensibly disdain, but secretly love. And sometimes they simply scour at the human race, looking down at the petty impulses of mankind from their god-like station. On their most recent tour, the GNR/Trump combo-titled “Use Your Collusion” trek, the band, as they have been doing since former singer Oderus was arrested for bearing the Cuttlefish of Cthulu, attacked us as grand overseers through ridiculing the legal process.

The October 5 show at Philadelphia’s newly named Franklin Music Hall (It’ll always be the Electric factory to me), started with GWAR being brought out on trial. A particularly vengeful judge accused the band of killing and raping and worse, parking in handicap parking spots. The parallels were obvious with a certain other orange alien facing the criminal or at least political, process. Throughout the night, GWAR made a mockery of the judicial process by bringing out witnesses and killing them. Caitlyn Jenner was brought out out- apparently one of the members of GWAR impregnated her- and in true GWAR fashion, she was slaughtered, blood sprayed all over the audience, and her poor child was ripped from the womb and displayed before the audience. Not only does GWAR not pull punches, but they don’t pull sword attacks either.

A, perhaps lesser mentioned, aspect of GWAR is that from tour to tour, they really do craft unique setlists. The Collusion tour setlist ranged the band’s entire catalogue. “GWAR Theme” was an especially nice surprise, as was mid-period hitter “Krak Down,” which was nosier and chaotic than it has ever been before. “Have you Seen me,” perennially the band’s most messed up song, was expanded into a 10 minute long epic with requisite unspeakable horrors committed on stage. Newer jam, “fuck this Place,” stacks up with any of their earlier classics and it’s great to hear it become a crowd shout-a-long classic as well.

For his part, newer singer Blothar is settling into his role more and more, after being thawed out following the untimely death of Oderus. Famously, GWAR vocal bits are multi-faceted and require a gymnastic vocal delivery- differing inflections, unusual emphasis- that might not be apparent without deeper inspection. Blother is now in control of these nuances and using them to benefit his own combustible voice.

Of course, it’s a GWAR show, so there’s lots of blood, semen, and other liquids being sprayed on the audience. And of course, lots of people get killed. But even so, the band actually managed to slip in a few nice surprises, which I won’t revel here. That being said, what happens after perennial show closer “Sick of You” was one of the band’s funniest gags in recent memory. The outcome of the trial was classic GWAR, yet the visitor that surprises the band post-judgment was fitting, hilarious, and gruesome.

GWAR claims time and time again that they don’t care about the human race. Yet, with the current upheaval of the USA, they sure to do seem to be keenly aware of contemporary human issues, and appear to even be taking a stand- though, as always, the stand is also likely in the band’s self-interest- would you want it any other way? Still, what with their recent slate of victims, maybe GWAR cares more about us then they care to admit… I mean, sure they are still killing hundreds of humans at every show, but they’re doing it with love.