GWAR / The Casualties - live in San Francisco (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

GWAR / The Casualties

live in San Francisco (2010)

live show

"I was backstage about to smoke my 9-ton crack boulder when I realized that I hadn't showered you all with my syphilitic, AIDS-infested spew!" announced Oderus Urungus, GWAR's lead vocalist, to the San Francisco crowd, after the band took the stage for their encore. "I mean," he cackled, "this is THE TOWN that invented AIDS in the first place!" He then proceeded to make good on his threat/promise.

Some 25 years into their re-emergence from the icy prison of Antarctica, GWAR continues to trounce upon the world, slaying their fans and delivering biting commentary of the human condition through gross-out gags. At their 11/21/2010 show in SF, they chose to focus on their songs by supporting them with a minimal stage show, in great contrast to when they were there last.

When GWAR played the Grand Regency ballroom about a year ago, they were on their Lust in Space tour, and the show was heavy with props and background. As they preformed most of their bigger hits, not only were dozens of creatures annihilated on stage, but a gigantic video backdrop provided a setting for their space adventure.

However, this time, GWAR focused almost squarely on their songs. Whereas the last tour featured most of their most well-known songs, the Bloody Pit of Horror tour focused on their lesser-known hits that really should have gotten more attention from the GWAR fanbase. Seemingly in punk rock mode, they tore through deep cuts like "The Horror of Yg," "War Party" and "As Pure as the Arctic Snow" with hardly any breaks or stage banter between tunes, which is somewhat unusual for GWAR's shows.

That's not to say that there weren't unlucky individuals who met gruesome fates. Lady Gaga, who was dressed in a toilet muumuu for some reason, was ripped limb from limb. Sarah Palin left the concert as Sara IMPALIN for obvious reasons.

To close out the concert, the band's encore was a clever mini-show. Although they are touring on the Bloody Pit of Horror album, selections from that album were sparse until they returned to the stage where they played the mini-epic that names the album as well as covers the first quarter of the release.

Certainly a band like GWAR that is so well-known for their live show could simply play the same 12 tunes every concert and most fans would be just as happy. But, because the band plays basically an entirely new set on every tour, hardcore fans get a new presentation with every year. Although James Brown was the hardest-working man in showbiz, GWAR are most likely the hardest working monsters in showbiz.

Openers the Casualties played their brand of street punk/Oi! with a high energy level reminiscent of the Ramones. While the band gets a lot of flack around these parts, the GWAR audience warmly received their three-chord attack. Although their lyrics might not be that deep, I suppose there is something to be said for writing songs that sound like soccer anthems, which in of themselves, sprout from ancient ballads.

Could the Casualties be the bards of modern folk tunes? I must admit, though, that I was confused as to why the band routinely referred to their New York roots but spoke entirely in cockney accents...