Aug 27, 2014

Fake Blood to the Right, Real Blood to the Left: Gwarbecue, 2014

Photo credit: Su Thongpan

I remember the first time I saw Gwar.  It was in a tiny club here in Raleigh called The Fallout Shelter where I used to go see Confessor back when I thought they could really use a drummer like me.  Lots of nights were blurs back then, but rubbing elbows with giant phalluses and blood covered men and women in their skivvies stood out as one of the highlights from that club.  Some of my first shows with Confessor were as an opening act for Gwar.  I don't remember how many, just that there were shows here and in Richmond. At the comedian Gallagher's shows back in the 80's people brought sheets of plastic to protect themselves from his "Sledge-o-Matic", a giant prop hammer with which he smashed watermelons while telling sixth grade level jokes.  At Gwar shows, a sheet of plastic would have been nice to keep from getting fake blood and copious amounts of fake ejaculate all over you.  I never saw them once they were a big deal, so I can only imagine what people had dripping off of them as they came out of their shows.  Sunn were able to combine some of the creepy side of horror movies with music that sounded like a horror soundtrack to create a punishingly loud aural and visual experience.  Gwar took schlock and schlong magic and combined it with a sort of puppet show horror, home movie sex-perience. Perhaps Loincloth have found their niche market, opening for various forms of horror experimentation bands.  Not the worst thing on earth.  Certainly interesting.

I didn't know Gwar's singer, Dave Brockie, but I know many people who loved seeing Gwar and I was sad to hear of his passing.  Tannon is a deeply rooted Richmond guy and spoke very highly of him, and his stamp of approval means something to me.  There were hundreds, if not thousands of people at the Gwarbecue who were there to get one last night of celebration in honor of what Dave Brockie and the other members of Gwar started so many years ago.  It was impossible to know who was an active member of Gwar while slithering through the blood soaked crowd, as many people had gone the extra mile with their Gwar costumes.  There had to be about thirty people who looked like they could be a legitimate member of the band.  Some were young and some were not so young.  Such a strange thing to me, that they became such a huge subculture phenomenon.  I guess it was like The Grateful Dead in that so many people just enjoyed getting their freak on at their shows. Actually, The Grateful Dead make far less sense to me than a band like Gwar that was designed for outcasts and was such a horror party.  The Grateful Dead have played in front of more people than any other band in history.  And they didn't even have giant, bloody phalluses!  Drop acid and go figure.

Loincloth had a pretty busy docket this month, relatively speaking.  We played our second show in Raleigh on the 9th of August, and we found ourselves waiting to enter the nuthouse at the Gwarbecue at 9:30 am the following Saturday.  Yes!  There is a 9:30 am, too!  Both shows were a lot of fun, and we played pretty damned well if I do say so myself.  My brother, Michael brought our mom out to the show in Raleigh.  I'm not sure if it was so much because she really wanted to come or because it was her birthday and it seemed like a neat idea. Regardless, she seemed to genuinely enjoy the experience.  Hell, if all we have to do to get her or Dad out more often is provide a familiar designated driver, it's worth it just to watch them have fun out on the town every now and then.  Thanks, Mom!  Thanks, Michael!  I love you both, and I loved seeing you at the club!  Oh, my apologies to anyone who may have felt that the jerk running the fog machine was a little heavy handed.  I was the jerk, and I must admit that there was a sick thrill at the very end of the set when someone yelled out "More!" giving me,in my own sadistic logic, license to lay on the fog button for a good six or seven seconds.  I hope that the few people up front that Craig said he actually felt sorry for have recovered their full lung capacity by now.  Surely faux-fog is good for you!  

After the show plenty of people said that we were tighter and heavier than our first show in town.  I made a conscious decision to keep things closer to the same speed we played on the album because I have a tendency to amp things up live.  It's never intentional.  Adrenaline gets a hold on you and BAM, you've chewed your way through a bat in front of thousands of people without even realizing it.  Wait, maybe that was some other drug... and possibly some person other than myself.  The important lesson is that a little self awareness and will power pay off every time.  That, and cooked bat meat is much better than raw bat with its fur intact.  Thanks to everyone who allowed us to be the focal point of their night at King's a couple of weekends ago.  We sincerely appreciate you coming out, and we hope that we gave you what you were looking for.  Thanks also to Enemy Waves and Bandages for setting the mood perfectly.  Craig did a great job of turning over the right stones to pull that lineup together.  My hat's off to all involved.

The Gwarbecue was a crowd watcher's delight.  It was like a C-grade horror movie extras' State Fair with an all metal and punk soundtrack.  I know that sounds like an insult, but in the small dose I got of it I was pretty well entertained.  Costumes, fake and real blood, bikinis and people who looked hungover before lunch were on parade as far as the bloodshot eye could see.  All things considered it seemed to go off without any real snags. Oddly, this was my second gig at a water park.  There is a video that has finally surfaced online of a show that Confessor played many moons ago in Texas at a water park.  I remember that day very well!  We were pretty high up on top of a fake wave attraction.  As a ginger, I really have no business being out in the sun all day.  Hmm, kinda sucks that I work outside. Maybe I should have gone to college after all.  In Texas I had dozens of tiny blisters that popped up on my forehead from being severely sunburned before we even finished our set!  Holy crap! At the Gwarbecue there was a cover over the stage.  Yay!  We finally made the Big League.

My drums were backed all the way to the railing of the covered picnic area where the second stage was set.  Fortunately all of the very real blood left over after the first band was relegated to the carpet under my drums by the time we went on.  As I looked at the stage once Eat the Turnbuckle were done with their set I was conflicted.  While I don't think of myself as a prude I had a hard time getting excited about setting up on top of the puddle of blood their drummer left for everyone who would play after him.  I was very thankful I had my own kit to play as his snare was nearly half covered in blood.  I guess when your props include bats and tennis rackets wrapped in barbed wire, and one of your "things" is to stab each other in the top of the head while you're playing, sliding around in other's blood is a way of life.  I suppose it brings people together.  Polly Prissypants here had no interest in mingling DNA that day.  I had to rip the bloody section of a sheet of paper off to write out our set list, but I thought that was a fair compromise for not having to run the risk of banging my finger on the blood covered rim of someone else's snare.  The show, and my own contagion free life would go on!

I have always enjoyed having people around my drum kit when we play shows.  It isn't something that happens all the time.  Sometimes the venue isn't laid out in such a way that allows for it, and sometimes security prevents people from being able to get very close.  But whenever it does happen I feel as though I am providing people a glimpse into something they may be pretty interested in seeing.  They choose to be back there instead of getting the full impact of the band after all, so I figure if it's important enough to them to check out what I'm doing then by gosh, I'm not going to disappoint.  I had roughly six to eight people literally within arm's reach of me throughout the entire set.  I warned the daughter of a very enthusiastic fan about my backswing possibly breaking a finger or cracking her on the nose. It can get hairy!  I have a small abrasion right now as a matter of fact from knocking the crap out of my forehead at practice last night.  I usually catch my nose in mid swing, or a finger. Occasionally my eye gets the worst of things, or my pride.  No one was hurt that afternoon, and judging from the reactions of the people who were right on my back, they thoroughly enjoyed the spots they chose for our set.  I got to hear their reactions as things were happening, even during songs.  Lots of "Goddamns" and "Whoas" and my own personal favorite, spontaneous laughter that occurs when words just won't do the trick.  A special thanks to all of those people who ended up being a seriously inspiring cheering section for me, and for us!  

There was a show several years ago that Fly Machine played in a nearly identical setting. As was the case at the Gwarbecue, we played outdoors at an all day festival sometime during the early afternoon.  It was one of the most fun shows I have played, and I had no reason to expect that it would be that way.  After the other weekend I think I know what was so striking about the two shows.  I could actually see the reactions of the people in the crowd. Normally I can only see the five or six people who are dead center at the front of the stage. Everyone else is lost in the darkness.  Sometimes I drown them out with a fog machine, but usually they are just shadows.  Being able to see facial expressions made it possible for me to relate to the experience we shared with them because I could see the excitement, and all of the "Holy crap!" moments.  It was fantastic, and very encouraging.  

Connecting with people is the ultimate goal of creative expression.  It isn't always done with words, but more often with a sense of wonderment.  You try to create, or recreate something that made you feel awe or inspiration.  That sensation may have led you to a new thought, perhaps even a new set of parameters.  You found an open door with a wonderful world behind it, and you just want to hold it open for others to peer in so that someone else might also find inspiration, whether it's the same inspiration you found or not.  It's about discovery and sharing.  So to all who came out to celebrate the creative life of Dave Brockie, and to those who just wanted to gaze at outcasts getting their freak on... Thank you!  It would be a cold, dark place without you.

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