The Crawling Ear column: I Saw GWAR And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

James really isn't a fan of GWAR.


The other night, a fairly attractive girl I know was listing all the reasons why she plans on attending grad school at Yale, and one of her points was the  puppet-laden foam rubber heavy metal abortion known as GWAR.

“They always play around there,” she said, implying not only that she had seen GWAR once before but in fact wished to see them again. Her statement proved we are fundamentally two very different people. I’m not sure I’d readily admit to having seen GWAR within earshot of other human beings. It’s hard enough to admit it to myself. I have seen GWAR, though, and quite honestly, once was enough. Since I couldn’t land that exclusive interview with the little gnome who lives in Amy Winehouse’s beehive this week, I suppose I’ll tell you about it.

The year was 1999. The place? St. Petersburg, FL. Oderus Urungus and his band of evil pretend aliens were playing a show with the reconstituted and Danzigless Misfits at an outdoor venue known as Jannus Landing. My primary reason for attending was a rumor I heard from my best friend’s older brother that, at one point during the Misfits’ set, someone in a Frankenstein costume would come out, wrestle the Misfits, and ultimately get body slammed. If I had any goal in life at that point, it was most certainly to witness someone in a Frankenstein costume get body slammed in front of a few hundred people at a GWAR concert.

The band who opened the whole shebang that night is worth mentioning only because they played the worst version of Johnny B. Goode ever performed by anyone anywhere ever. Really, it was quite an accomplishment. I’m pretty sure the “go, Johnny, go go” parts were substituted with “oi, Johnny, oi oi.” The fact that everyone in attendance didn’t kill that band or themselves immediately following that aural tragedy is a testament to the forgiving nature of mankind.

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GWAR didn’t headline this concert, which seemed (and still seems) absolutely ludicrous. Technically, I suppose the Misfits were the bigger draw (I actually met one guy that night who thought Danzig would be there), but GWAR’s show is an absolute spectacle. There’s just so much to take in. I wouldn’t want to follow them if I were Elton John or Jay-Z, let alone a few weightlifters from New Jersey. How do you follow a giant foam rubber alien rocket penis that shoots space cum into the crowd? I wouldn’t want to have to worry about that backstage.

The theme of GWAR’s show that evening revolved around an elaborate Tomb Raider parody (that wacky GWAR, always keeping up with the trends). A giant Aztec catacomb was erected at the front of the stage, and after the swarthy little male explorer accompanying the phony Lara Croft shouted the magic GWAR catchphrase (shame on you if you know it), the wall exploded and there those wild bastards were. Within seconds, I had fake vaginal juice all over me. I think it was just colored water. Whatever it was, it provided a relief from the warm, muggy air and the heat of the bodies around me.

Someone once asked me if GWAR played Fish Fuck at this show. I have no idea. It should come as no shock that the music at a GWAR show is absolutely secondary to the interplanetary scumbags’ “performance.” Hell, it’s beyond secondary. It’s like a distant fourth. I’m not even sure there was music. It was hard to tell, what with all the people parading around in space demon costumes and manipulating Muppety pieces of genitalia so they would ejaculate all over our sweaty, stupid heads.

Eventually, GWAR got back on their galactic freight train and exited the stage. I didn’t know it at the time, but my white undershirt had been stained a wonderful shade of magenta by the river of fake piss, shit, and jizz that had been hosed on the audience. There was no clue it had been white just hours before. This was a nice souvenir when I discovered it the next morning (how I drove four hours home and got into bed without once noticing my shirt’s new color is beyond me; the fact that my interior car light was broken might have something to do with it).

The only thing I can recall about the Misfits portion of the concert that night is that there were lots of technical problems and absolutely no Frankenstein body slamming. There was no Frankenstein period. Just the four Misfits, and they wrestled not fictional monsters but amplifiers, guitars, and microphones. It was a bigger sham than Al Capone’s vault.

At least I had my authentic GWAR piss n’ jizz shirt. I felt pretty cool parading around in it that weekend, and I didn’t think twice when I tossed it in with the laundry at my mom’s house a couple of days later. Dumb move. When my clothes were returned to me, the wonderful memento I had inadvertently received from GWAR was once again a regular white t-shirt. I guess all that fluid really was water-based. I was mad for about a week, after which I realized I could just as easily mix up authentic GWAR fluids myself with Easter Egg dye and ruin all my clothes forever.

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That’s just what I did. My entire wardrobe is magenta now, and I didn’t have to suffer through any mind-numbing cheese metal guitar solos during the process. Hats off to ingenuity.

Next week: the Stampede returns. I’ve got loads of geeky music to go off on. See you then.

James writes every week at Den of Geek – see his last column here.