Gwar is not just a band. One look at a promotional photo should tell you that, but Gwar isn’t just a group of dudes in weird costumes either. If you’ve ever been to a Gwar show, then you might know what I’m hinting at. And if you’ve been to nearly a dozen or more Gwar shows, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The success of Gwar as an institution in live heavy music is undoubtedly credited heavily to the dedication of its frontman and mastermind, Dave Brockie. Brockie’s Oderus Urungus has been savagely destroying any semblance of decency on stage for more than two decades. And it’s his dedication to a character, to an idea, and lack of compromise that has endeared him to fans for so long. It almost defies logic that a band like Gwar, with their outlandish costumes and offensive on-stage antics, has been able to tour their act around the world for such a long time, and nearly sell out each show along the way.
And that’s why Gwar isn’t just a band. I’ve known about them since the MTV days, when Beavis and Butthead worshipped them. I saw them live first in 2004, and it changed me. It changed my idea of what a live concert could be. And since I saw them that first time, at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida (at Downtown Disney!), it has been my mission to show as many people as possible the same sort of experience.
I’ve taken friends that have made fun of heavy metal for years to see Gwar, and they walked away loving it. I’ve taken girlfriends to see Gwar. I’ve made custom t-shirts to wear while seeing Gwar. I even saw them on Halloween one year, dressed as a sword-wielding penguin (my friend Steve was an axe-wielding penguin…hardcore Gwar fans will get the joke). I attended a meet-and-greet just to get an autograph, and eat a Gwar-B-Q “Meat Sandwich.” Oderus signed my friend’s pregnant belly. I’ve seen presidents decapitated, the pope disemboweled, a demon torn limb from limb, and I saw Dave Brockie – ahem – Oderus Urungus stab a T-Rex in the mouth with a sword.
That’s why it’s more than just music. For the initiated it’s esoteric, like some joke we all get that no one else can possibly understand. And at the heart of it since the beginning has been Dave. Despite the buckets of blood, urine, and other bodily fluids spilled and sprayed on the crowds, and despite all the despicable things uttered in the lyrics, and despite the seeming irreverence for anything sacred or holy, there is an underlying intelligence to Gwar. One look at a promotional photo and you’ll know that Gwar isn’t just a band. But experiencing the vision of a true showman manifest before your eyes each time they took the stage – that was the magic of Gwar. And now that Dave is gone, it looks like maybe Gwar will be gone as well. So rest in peace to the ultimate Scumdog, the supreme Lord and Master, the Anti-Antichrist, the “hulking, heaving, dribbling War-god,” and the driving force behind one of live music’s most unpredictable and exciting acts. Thanks for all the memories, Dave.