Gwar @ Concord Music Hall, Chicago (US)

GWAR / UNEARTH / SAVAGE MASTER

Date: 30th December, 2019
Venue: Concord Music Hall
Ticket: $20/€18
Promoter: n/a


Despite the fact that five years had gone by after the abrupt departure of Uderus Urungus from this plane of existence, this would be my first time seeing this collection of Scumdogs Of The Universe. I cannot pinpoint the exact reasons for not supporting the almighty GWAR on their ongoing plan to conquer this poor planet, but 2019 was about to give me a chance to redeem myself before entering the new decade.

The chilling wind and the fact that it was one day before New Year’s Eve could have been a bad set-up for a Metal show on a Monday. However, the GWAR forces do not falter in front of any weather conditions and therefore the Concord Music Hall arena was quickly filled by metalheads who some of them were wearing the “traditional” white t-shirts. Oh yeah, the walls and the monitors were covered with thick plastic because in a couple of hours the place would have been soaked with the trademark GWAR fluids... Gross, right? Haha, you bet it was as it should be!

I’ve lucky enough to have watched SAVAGE MASTER rather early in their career and had seen how much they have been improving both in the studio and on stage. Yes, their third and latest album “Myth, Magic And Steel” showcases a band that is still working hard with audible signs of improvement and this is why arriving early was non-negotiable. What would be different this time, was the size of the stage. Sure, the half of it was already filled with the GWAR stuff but was bigger than any of the times I had seen the band from Kentucky. I am saying this because sometimes a young band has not gained the appropriate confidence and attitude to “fill” any stage size, and with this in mind I was more excited to see SAVAGE MASTER. A couple of minutes before 8pm, the lights went out and a stream of fake smoke set up the stage for Stacey and her red-hooded bandmates to break through the cold and get us on concert mood. Without further ado, the guitar groove of “Ready To Sin” skipped any warm-up period and gave us a hearty taste of traditional riff-driven Heavy Metal. For an opening band, SAVAGE MASTER had very good sound and to my delight really good lights, making the red color to really pop up. Stacey has solidified here fronting role and I quickly captured the attention of those metalheads who had never heard of SAVAGE MASTER. Without pausing, “With Whips And Chains” and the fast and catchy “Looking For A Sacrifice” built upon the momentum the setlist-opener had quickly gathered. As I said, there was plastic covering almost everything and especially the stage monitors, creating I would say slippery conditions for the band. Stacey was running across the stage feeding from the energy of the music and during the last of three setlist-openers fell after losing her balance on these covers. Fortunately, she did not step on the gap between the subwoofers as the plastic covering two of them had a huge gap creating a death-trap. Performing-wise, I have to tip my hat to her for not losing her cool and in fact she kept singing, giving meaning to the ‘show must go on’ saying.

“How are you doing tonight, Chicago? We are doing pretty good ourselves” said Stacey before adding that SAVAGE MASTER have released a new album. This was the perfect cue to deliver the album’s title track that sounded awesome especially the catchy chorus that soon enough ‘convinced’ more metalheads to join in singing-along before raising their fists in the air the moment Stacey brought a sword on stage. In case you missed the memo, swords, shields and steel in general go extremely well with Metal, especially of the traditional one or the True Metal as some like to call it. In any case, such props combined with the lineup’s outfits are things that sadly are being less and less used by younger bands. As Cronos has told METAL KAOZ in the past, “there are a lot of bands out there that go out there in their jeans and t-shirts” and SAVAGE MASTER is definitely not one of those being aware that a Metal show is more than just playing your songs. After the galloping fast “The Devil's Ecstasy”, Stacey put on a black cap to visually support “The Ripper In Black” bringing to mind HELSTAR’s James Rivera and that’s a huge compliment. The short setlist ended with “Death Rides The Highway” leaving everybody satisfied and ready to keep the Metal festivities going, even though the next band on the billing would change our music-genre bearing 180 degrees.

SAVAGE MASTER setlist:

01. “Ready To Sin”
02. “With Whips And Chains”
03. “Looking For A Sacrifice”
04. “Lady Of Steel”
05. “Myth, Magic & Steel”
06. “The Devil's Ecstasy”
07. “The Ripper In Black”
08. “Death Rides The Highway”

SAVAGE MASTER

Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Savage Master @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Oh man, the bearing indeed was changed, setting the course for groovy Metalcore that raised the temperature as well as the metalheads’ heart rate with moshing getting on the menu right away. “Chicago, Illinois” said Trevor and in a way sounded the charge with “This Lying World” setting the tempo for the first headbanging course of the night. The fast break with the snare-drum action was the only “excuse” the Chicagoan metalheads needed to get the mosh-pit going. I love it when the band is in synch with the audience because this creates an infinite loop feeding with energy both sides, and this was the set-up from the get-go. The McGrath-Susi guitar duo was serving the guitar riffs and groove when not jumping up and down, matching the energy of the metalheads in the front rows who soon enough got into crowd surfing as well with “Incinerate” blasting off the PAs. “What’s up, Chicago? We are UNEARTH, we put out a record a year ago” said Trevor before introducing the riff assault titled “Survivalist” that to my ears sounded more Thrash-y and less Metalcore-ish, but no matter the style, it kept the audience going. That’s the best way to welcome a new year!

After joking a bit about NFL teams (I think it was about NFL but I would not bet any money on it), UNEARTH floored the gas pedal with “Never Cease”. At some point during “The Great Dividers” I lost track of guitarist Ken who soon appeared all the way back to the soundboard on top of the bar… That’s right; he kept playing while greeting the sound engineers for their work. I don’t know about you but I love such moves even if this is something the band is doing at any given chance. Spontaneity is a huge element on live shows and I would take this anytime in place of a bunch of fancy effects. “Thank you so fucking much for showing up, we love Chicago! We’ll see you as fast as we fucking can” were the last spoken words Trevor used before “My Will Be Done” that sealed the moshing deal with a loud singing-along being the appropriate cherry on top.

UNEARTH setlist:

01. “This Lying World”
02. “Giles”
03. “Incinerate”
04. “Survivalist”
05. “Endless”
06. “Never Cease”
07. “Watch It Burn”
08. “Dust”
09. “The Great Dividers”
10. “My Will Be Done”

UNEARTH

Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Unearth @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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It time for me to confess and repent my sins in front of the Scumdogs Of The Universe and prove that the war must and should go even if our leader had disappeared deeper into an unknown location in an unknown galaxy. It was exciting and a bit frightening to be in the photo-pit as this was the show I would use my new camera. Kind of stupid, I know, but sometimes you learn faster under high pressure and under some gallons of colorized water... As tradition has it, the first decapitation happened before GWAR had stepped onstage and after some intro that played on the two screens set on both sides of the drum riser.  A police officer showed up to let us know that we should rise because the court would soon be in session. You see, the Scumdogs Of The Universe would be soon on trial and the poor officer would soon lose his head for this… Oh my, taking photos became a challenge but not because of the lights; the unprepared photographers tried to “hide” and protect their cameras because the blood had started flowing towards all directions. Blothar did the honors and separate the head from the shoulders with the appropriate “Fuck This Place” kicking off the set. You could only see smiling faces on the front rows already soaked in red and green water while the security crew trying to find the bearing in the middle of this super-slippery chaos. “This is our last song for the night” said Blothar before the (also) appropriate “Sick Of you” that to my surprise was welcomed by a loud singing-along. Keep in mind that this number comes from the ‘90s and the second GWAR album. Well, this was the last song of the night... and GWAR left the stage only to return by popular demand. I guess the rest of the setlist was the longest encore, right? After a bit of messing around with the “Windy apple” as Blothar said referring to Chicago, it was time to get back to action with “Krak Down” and “Maggots” keeping both feet on the ‘90s. Of course, losing Uderus was a huge blow for GWAR and there is no question about it, but one should respect their decision to keep the legacy going, and seeing in the setlist these oldies, seemed extremely appropriate revising the band’s Punk days. After all, Punk works perfectly with the ongoing onstage chaos with more slaughtering and doing despicable acts to more GWAR victims.

The biggest adjustment in the show is that the entire band is involved with lots of things happening at the same time. Damn, “Metal Metal Land” reminded me how I had missed GWAR and their unique humor that in this instance was more straightforward than in the past. I mean, Uderus had a unique sense of humor and he was saying more than his twisted jokes were saying... I guess, he was doing more satyr than just socking the audience with all things wrong... Speaking of which, GWAR “invited” a figure that looked like Caitlyn Jenner only to slaughter her later on… Well, more things happened to this figure as you should be imagining but I think it’s best not to give away any spoilers. I will only say this; everything happened during “Hail, Genocide!” if you catch my drift here...

I found it hilarious overhearing the sound engineer saying “This is soooo wrong” during “Have You Seen Me?” that involved an (intergalactic) IRS agent and some GWAR-looking children but I have to stop here... Like I said, the show feels rawer and at some extent less spontaneous when compared to the past. Sure, there are things that should happen in sequence so maybe this is just my interpretation and my way of comparing the old with the new. In any case, the audience did not matter and obviously had a great time with “I, Bonesnapper” sung by Bonesnapper himself.

After the figuratively explosive “Bring Back The Bomb”, it was time to bring another “guest”; this time around it was Dickie Duncan who was soon bisected in two under his “soundtrack” song “Death To Dickie Duncan”. The spoilers reading “covfefe” at the screens made it clear who would be the next guest to do more inexplicable acts... Before going down that route, Blothar announced that he got married and then showed his other half under the celebratory tunes of “Ham On The Bone”. Oh and his partner was a dog, in case you missed the headlines...

The judge made his last appearance by showing up during “Battle Maximus” only to receive his own punishment by seeing his hands and head getting separated from his body letting more blood and green stuff on the already soaking wet audience. I think this was the wet-test [sic] GWAR concert I have been and I believe adding more stuff to the show is the band’s way to adjust after their loss. And I believe it works because seeing the audience’s reaction to the last guest who revealed his identity by saying “tremendous” a lot – well, it was not that hard – got his dismemberment gift from the Scumdogs under the sound of “GWAR Theme” underlining the lyrics “cause we are GWAR and we’ll go far” in all their glory. Was there an encore? Of course there was, and of course there was more blood. Yes, Blothar asked if we wanted more of this, and oh man, did we get more! Well, I would say we got gallons of it during the AC/DC cover and response to the audience’s demands, “If You Want Blood (You've Got It)”.

The cold outside the venue was fricking brutal but no one seemed to mind not even those fans who were soaking to their bone. I guess the adrenaline was still spiking and I will credit GWAR for this and for making the ending of the year and the dawning of a new decade so special. Cheers with lots of GWAR love!

GWAR setlist:

01. “Fuck This Place”
02. “Sick Of You”
03. “Krak Down”
04. “Maggots”
05. “Metal Metal Land”
06. “Hail, Genocide!”
07. “Have You Seen Me?”
08. “Beat You To Death”
09. “I, Bonesnapper”
10. “If I Could Be That”
11. “Bring Back The Bomb”
12. “Death To Dickie Duncan”
13. “Ham On The Bone”
14. “I'll Be Your Monster”
15. “Battle Maximus”
16. “GWAR Theme”
17. “If You Want Blood (You've Got It)”

GWAR

Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Gwar @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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