Review: Gwar at Summit Music Hall, 11/16/11

Categories: Concert Reviews

Aaron Thackeray
Gwar last night at Summit Music Hall
There's not a lot left to say about Gwar that hasn't already been mythologized. Instead, I'll defer to tradition: About twenty minutes before one of the band's shows, you hear the collective sound of zippers. Attached to ponchos and raincoats and the occasional sweatshirt, the zippers mark a fondness for the fake-blood-slinging alien metal band but an unwillingness to leave the show coated in their antics. Twenty minutes in, however, comes the night's most important (and again typical) question: Why are so many people crying?

Aaron Thackeray
Behold the crushing waves of the red sea. More GWAR Denver photos.

Soon, the crowd divides like the Red Sea into masochists and sadists -- those who are ready to get doused in red ooze, and those who prefer to watch. At some points, it would appear the Red Sea also came out of their faces: At least 15 people pushed through the crowd sobbing before the guys even made it to "Hail, Genocide!" But you don't go to see Gwar for the music -- which is biting, acerbic and epically technical guitar-driven heavy metal -- the variety that often comes with the word "slaying." You come for the show.

Aaron Thackeray
Gwar last night at the Summit Music Hall More GWAR Denver photos.

"Greetings, my friends," is as solid a beginning as any. Every Gwar performance follows a storyline of sorts, one that always begins with the alien beasts inside their Castle of Death -- wherever the stage is -- and last night included Snooki, a Nazi necromancer and what appeared to be several adult cast members of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. All of them, of course, are subsequently eviscerated: Snooki's body parts are slowly ripped off onstage until her fake intestines look like pink spaghetti. The JagerMonster, however, is brutally beaten and sodomized by mostly naked stage helpers until the crowd is covered in his pink faux blood. At this point, the most appropriate word is "awesome."

Aaron Thackeray
Oderus Urungus and his alien dong More GWAR Denver photos.

Oderus Urungus and his dastardly crew of extraterrestrial assholes have been repeating the show in various forms since the '80s, and everything involved is big: the talk ("Balsac, you are fucking wasted"), the sound (which breaks only -- and rarely -- for the talk), the size of Oderus' alien dong (swinging in the faces of the front row). Even the costumes are so oversized it's questionable whether they could successfully tune their own instruments. It took 45 minutes to set up for Gwar, but that could also have been how long it took Oderus to go from human to nightmare.

Aaron Thackeray
Gwar last night at the Summit Music Hall More GWAR Denver photos.

He is a terror even before you realize he is wearing (and gyrating in) a black mesh thong. The most captivating aspect of every Gwar show is its sensory overload, your complete inability to notice and focus on anything because you are trying to be a part of everything. At its core, Gwar remains one of the most self-sufficient and consistently rewarding DIY-esque metal projects in the world, and it takes both blood and badassery to earn that title.

More Gwar Photos: Gwar at Summit Music Hall

Apparently, though, they might not have earned it. Although all the fans know this to be a lie, Oderus spent the night's most significant chunk of crowd banter (read: rant) railing on the faults of Mayhem, the touring metal festival Gwar has yet to be invited to play. "Their idea of metal would be Metallica and Lou Reed onstage together. Fuck all that shit!" The audience reaction proved a better gauge of the band's worth than its festival line-up, but it didn't keep him from talking. The monsters in Gwar are a multi-talented bunch of misfits: Oderus alone can simulate ejaculating blood while both growling unintelligibly and rubbing his mike stand all over his thonged, trollish ass. The only thing the guys can't do, really, is come down to Earth.

Click through for Critic's Notebook and Setlist.

Location Info


Summit Music Hall

1902 Blake St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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"Tonight was the group's first Denver show without guitarist Flattus Maximus (Cory Smoot), who died November 3. The message "R.I.P. Flattus" on the backs of homemade T-shirts was the only noticeable sign. (It certainly wasn't in performance quality.)"

Kelsey Whipple, FUCK YOU.A long time band member and friend DIED, the fans are literally crying over his death and the band has the dedication to continue on in his memory, and you openly insult him and GWAR?Kelsey Whipple, FUCK. YOU.


Did you just sit at the bar all night and take notes on what songs they played? Who brings a fucking raincoat to a GWAR concert? Who gives a shit if you can barely understand what he is saying, the entire point of the concert is the experience and comradery. If you show up wearing ANYTHING other than a white shirt, or one stained with years of fake blood, you're just a bystander. Getting drenched with fake blood that stains your skin and hair for days is a badge of endearment for true Bohabs.

As for the crying, did the impromptu chanting of "Flattus!" from the entire crowd after the show not give you a clue as to what happened?

Westwood, next time you send somebody out to review a show please make sure they have at least a Wikipedia-level knowledge of the band.

Ami Thompson
Ami Thompson

Where did you get your journalism degree? A f@#king cracker jack box? I too was in that photo standing right next to my compadre V who gladly stood in front and center knowing full well what was going to happen welcoming it all with open arms (without ran jackets mind you). If you were to take any extra time to make this a valid review and actually talk to the band after the show, you would see that they are alot more "down to earth" than you think. They work hard to put on a show for faithful fans even with the present economy. Other bands would have crumbled and threw in the towel by now. They must be doing something right to have such a strong following after 27 years. Then again, had you done any reaserch outside your comfort might have known that.

Julie Stout
Julie Stout

Why are so many people crying??  Really??  How about the death of Cory Smoot, which I'm shocked you seem to be unaware of.  Dude. 

And uh...where are the supposed zippered up hoodies and ponchos in that pic up there?  I see my amiga V in the pic, but no one hiding behind a rain jacket.  Speak for yourself.  Real fans are there for the music, the show, and because GWAR HAS earned every ounce of support a thousand times over, and we are eager to soak up whatever they want to spew on us and wear the stains with pride.

Sorry if my remarks are less than "nice review" here, but I can't really even tell if you liked the concert...just that you appear to have been more or less present, and may have also scanned their Wikipedia page at some time in the last 6 months in prep for writing this.  The only thing that comes across clearly is that you find the entire affair very weird and possibly a bit uncomfortable.


I agree with you.  I had never been to a GWAR show before, having only heard a few songs. I wanted the experience of seeing the blood and theatrics i had heard about, always in high regards.  I saw rain jackets or anything protecting the crowd, just the equipment.  The show was awesome, defiantly worth the $25 hey charge. Would give up more of my money to see them next time around.

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