Friday, 6 December 2013

Scumdogs of the Universe

It felt like the final year of high school was passing by quicker than any of the previous years, and I had yet to attend a concert in 1991. That all changed in the late spring when "Gwar" decided to return to Toronto for their second ever performance. After what Mike Myre had told me about (their first show) there was no way I was going to miss Gwar this time. They were on tour to support their second full length release "Scumdogs of the universe" Looking back at this exact moment as I write, one can only wonder if that album title is a play on Black Sabbath's "Symptom of the universe" Never the less, I got two tickets for the show, one for myself and one for my trusted chauffeur and best friend Jerry. 

By now it was well known that if you went to see Gwar, you wore white. This is still an unwritten metal rule. One knows they will be covered in blood shall they dare and brave the pit, so wearing white ensures you will have a free souvenir for afterwards. I clearly remember wearing my "Team Alva" shirt, as it was the only white shirt I think I owned at the time. We headed to the concert hall a.k.a. The Masonic temple, and we were anxious for the madness to ensue. 

When the lights finally went out and the curtain raised, there was a brick wall across the stage. In front of the wall, a group of picketers with signs that read such things as "down with Gwar" we're protesting the group. Two familiar faces in that crowd of picketers were Michael Jackson & Bart Simpson. The picketers were soon joined by the then president of the United States, George Bush sr., who came forth with a speech for all of us in the crowd about the evils of Gwar and the music associated with them. Midway through the speech the brick wall crumbled down as Gwar bust through it. They slaughtered all the picketers, ripped the presidents face off, then jumped into the first song.

Admittedly, I didn't know much of Gwar's music asides from the handful of songs thrown on a mixtape Myre made for me the previous year, but it didn't really matter. These guys were so entertaining that the music was almost secondary. You could go watch them perform having never heard one song and you'd still be in for the show of your life. I later learned that Gwar's lyrics told the story to each song, and each album was themed and in turn played through like a story. So if you actually knew the lyrics it was easier to follow the visual part of the performance while making sense of it all, but that didn't matter to me on this particular night.

It was surreal sweating it out in that over populated mosh pit, seeing the people around me and myself included, getting covered in blood, urine, and semen, all of which was simulated and fabricated by the band. Gwar also had a large video screen that would air segments and skits between songs that helped tie the story together. Meanwhile innocents were being slaughtered on stage left right and centre. At one point the band brought a giant meat grinder on stage and they looked to the crowd for "sacrifices" Fans would get on stage, get clobbered on the head with a prop weapon, and then get dumped into the meat grinder, which sprayed strong streams of blood into the crowd. It was so hot in the building that the paint was actually peeling off the walls.

For years after I would spread the good word of Gwar, insisting to anyone that they should go see them perform live if ever given the chance, as it would be the greatest rock and roll spectacle one could ever witness. Even if you didn't like their music I would still strongly urge you to see them perform live. To me Gwar was the new Kiss. Musically they weren't that great, but the magic, mystery and madness they brought to the table made them a special entity in the history of music.

While in the pit, Jerry ended up loosing one of his shoes. We waited for the building to clear out afterwards so he could find his shoe, which surprisingly to us was quite a feat once we saw the HUGE pile of shoes in the centre of the floor. He found a near match and we called it a night. When the insanity ended, it was incredible seeing the looks on the faces of the general public, as thousands of blood soaked punkers and thrashers made their way down Yonge street. It was a magical thing, and I couldn't wait to do it the next time Gwar came to town...

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