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Bloody and Bruised after GWAR Concert

GWAR & Hatebreed; a lesson in crowd killing

Gwar Injury Live Costumes Performance Tickets Blood Bruise Minnesota

RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.

Crowd Killing: purposefully injuring the crowd on the edge of a mosh pit while moshing.

These are important definitions, but I’ll get to that later. First, let’s talk about the troupe of blood-spraying monsters known as Gwar.

Gwar is a heavy metal band. Gwar are performance artists. Gwar are social critics, outlandish extraterrestrials, decapitators of presidents.

Gwar is a group that exists in its very own universe, providers of an experience truly unique in metal or anywhere. They’ve been around for three decades and employed countless members. I have wanted to see them live for years.

This brings me to last Saturday night, at the god-forsaken Myth Nightclub. The Myth is a place many of us don’t go unless we have to – it’s a 25-minute drive from the cities in Maplewood, nestled between a Best Buy and a strip-mall.

A large placard by the front entrance proclaims the staff’s ability to kick you out if they don’t like the way you are dressed. There is a VIP balcony (an extra 50 dollars) and Miller Lite is 8 dollars a pint.

It’s a sort of bougie nightclub that really only exists because of its max-capacity: about twice the size of First Avenue and the Hennepin Ave theatres but much, much smaller than our two stadiums. This makes it the perfect venue for multi-act bills where each band has its own draw.

Tonight is as follows: Gwar, Hatebreed, Miss May I, Ringworm. So we’ve got two metalcore bands (Miss May I, Hatebreed,) a hardcore band (Ringworm,) and Gwar, who really are just Gwar.

All of this can fall under the umbrella of Metal as a genre, but we’ve got a mixed crowd. This is an all-ages show and it spans from teenagers to middle-agers.

My friends and I arrive just after doors, we want to see it all. Ringworm is on by 7:15 on the nose, and I’ve gotta say, I’m surprised. I’m mostly here for the spectacle of Gwar – metal isn’t really my bag and I’ve never been to a show like this before.

Ringworm is straight hardcore punk: loud, fast, screams. Few melodic leads. Straight through angry. It’s fun, energetic, makes you want to thrash.

For this set, my friends and I are off to the side above the crowd on a fenced in riser. Good sightlines up here and we’re right next to one of the bars. I’m filled with energy but not ready to go into the crowd yet. And plus, there’s no pit! Just a handful of kids running in circles.

This pit is weak, man!

My friends are more seasoned hardcore kids. ‘Just wait’ they tell me. ‘This isn’t a punk show, man.’

Words I should have listened to, advice I should have heeded.

Ringworm plays for a half hour. Four bands mean quick sets. By the time Miss May I goes on at 8 I’ve got some liquid courage in me and I’m starting to get antsy.

This band is getting the crowd moving, still, only 10 or 15 kids moshing but it’s an improvement. Again I ask my friends: ‘Where is everybody? The pit should be full by now!’

I’m again informed that it’s different, here. Only the crazy ones go in. Have you heard the term Crowd Killing? Most people stay out of the pit until the end.

Miss May I picks things up a bit, melodically. My closest analogy here is Avenged Sevenfold but this doesn’t quite describe it, I just don’t have a deep bag of references to pull from. A7X is poppier, but the same energy is there with Miss May I.

Gone are Ringworm’s weighty distorted chugs. This band features more lead lines, occasional clean vocals, intensely present double kick drum. It’s fun, and I’m done standing.

Hold my glasses man, I’m going in.

Famous last words. I’m in the pit about three minutes before I go down, hard. I’m shoved with full force by a large blur in a red shirt, falling down sideways, over the top of my ankle.

As soon as I hit the ground I know something is wrong. Pain shoots up my leg and my left ankle is one bright red pulsar. I limp out, defeated.

Crowd Killing: purposefully injuring the crowd on the edge of a mosh pit while moshing.

I’ll fess up, I was in there. I wasn’t on the edge, I wasn’t an unsuspecting victim. Nevertheless, the energy inside of that circle was different. I saw two people go down before me. If this happens at a punk show it’s common knowledge and courtesy to stop what you’re doing, give the guy some space, hoist him up, make sure he’s okay. Somebody picked me up and shoved me out of the circle. Get lost man, you can’t handle this shit. Message received.

I’ve got some misplaced anger here, surely. I don’t want to condemn a scene. I write this only as a warning to fellow punk kids: it’s different out there. Keep yourself grounded. Maybe don’t go in blind and drunk in your late 20’s if you don’t know what you’re in for. Look at this:

Sprained ankle severe brocken foot swollen injury moshing

Determined to not let this slow me down, it’s back to the bar for some overpriced light beer and rail tequila. We’re only two bands in here. This night is far from over.

Hatebreed takes the stage and the pit is immediately on fire. Dozens of bodies, a blur of movement. I would have died in there. I vocalize this thought to my friend and he points out an audience member a few feet in front of us with a Hatebreed t-shirt. The back reads: “I survived the Hatebreed tour (of some year or another.)”

These guys have incredible presence. The drummer is on a huge riser in the back and he is a full body player. The lead singer darts and jumps and screams. They play a song called ‘Destroy Everything.’ Everyone explodes. In two words this is intense shit. Gwar does a brief cameo towards the end of the set.

It’s finally time for Gwar and The Myth has filled up. The set opens with a dark stage and a few mounted TV’s playing strange and grotesque visuals. A monologue from off stage comes through the speakers. I’m up by photo pit and can’t make it out fully over the screaming fans but I catch this snippet:

We’re back here jacking off while Donald Trump jacks off Putin.

A good place to start, I think.

Before long they are here, fully decked out in larger than life costumes: spikes and gnarled skin, ghoulish masks, platform monster boots. And the blood starts spraying.

This set is a blur. There is too much input, an off-the-charts level of stimuli. A cartoonish Donald Trump doll is brought out with a noose around its neck and swung through the air. Non-playing members are brought onto stage and faux-decapitated, spraying Kill Bill amounts of fake blood onto the audience.

Watch our hilarious interview with GWAR!

The music is mainly mid-tempo, old school heavy metal. Flying-V guitars and squealing solos. The air is a constant red mist. We are breathing in blood. Gwar. Gwar. Gwar. A mostly naked man comes out carrying a giant cross. On stage screens constantly broadcast eerie visuals.

Absurdity. Spectacle. Grotesque. There are many words to describe this show, but the most accurate is simply Gwar.

I’ll be back, just not back in the pit!

Gwar Blood Concert live performance characters
Gwar Blood Concert live performance characters

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Written by Harley Patton

Writer and reader in Minneapolis, Minnesota

2 Comments

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  1. SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME! MY entire left side is one GIANT bruise! I was bleeding after I got out of the pit during Hatebreed – not from GWAR’s fake blood shower but my own, organic, homegrown blood. That pit was insane and I’ve been to punk shows, rock shows, and metal shows. That was the single most violent pit I’ve ever seen. Glad I’m not alone with my bruises and cuts 😀

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