An hour and a half waiting in line in the freezing cold is how it started. Just before doors, which were a bit later than listed, they separated us into “those with tickets,” and “those with will call” – I was will call.
I was about the 20th person in line and bolted up to the over 21 section to the most pristine spot. Watching all of the kids in their white shirts below was awesome.
First up was Motorhead….er, U.S. Bastards. Entertaining and energetic, U.S. Bastards gave nods to Motorhead with every song, even if not blatant. They are a great rock and roll band, and unapologetic about it. Looking down on the crowd from my vantage spot, some kids were crazy for them, some just stood there with their arms folded. Rumor had it that the guitarist/vocalist was also in Gwar tonight, but I wasn’t able to confirm that tidbit at this writing.
Set changes were fast. House music was lame. And it was cold in the venue.
However, He is Legend took the stage and everything changed. At first I thought the Black Crows kidnapped He is Legend, but then I realized it was just a lazy comparison in my mind. The kids were starting to be active, and the place warmed up significantly. The tall and lanky singer was full of swagger and sway, as he absorbed the music by his high energy band. With the occasional heavy breakdowns and groove, He is Legend was a bit more subdued than I had expected. The band was gracious, and each had their own form of prancing/dancing/headbanging. The drummer was exceptional I must say.
As the set change happened between He is Legend and Ghoul, I noticed more plastic being put on the speakers, cables, etc. I’d not seen Ghoul before, but was excited to see what all the fuss was about. Wearing gunnysacks face masks, they were awesome! While they were “Gwar Light,” to me they were the best of the night. While their body fluid spray wasn’t as strong, and their costumes were more mundane, their grove was awesome! The mosh pit became active, people surged to the front to catch a drip of colored fluid and a few bodies thumped the few security guards who were stationed in front.
Now for the much anticipated mighty GWAR. Grown men turned into fanatics. Kids turned into spastic spectacles. The entire floor moved like a strong wind hit them. If you’ve never seen Gwar, you should really put them on your bucket list. They are silly, but they are entertainingly and professionally silly. On occasion the crowd would chant, “Ball Sack…Ball Sack,” for no particular reason. The Donald Trump doll had some severe mishaps on stage, Gwar and their props are completely inappropriate and politically offensive…but they pull it off and make us love them for it. The crowd was stained, the floor wet, the moshers in full force, and crowd suffers fell upon the now increased yellow-shirted security like hail. Security at the Roseland did a great job landing the flying bodies safely to the floor, the kids in the front seemed to not “fight” after hours of bodies landing on their heads. It was chaos. But chaos people expected, and even wished for. Gwar is a force to be seen. How they get away with what they do is beyond me. Apparently “loud when they want to be groups like Antifa” have no problem with blatant blasphemy and pedophilia, political incorrectness, and all sorts of mayhem that is taboo. Maybe they didn’t come because it was raining. Good thing it rains in Portland a lot. The show was a site to be seen, and well worth the price of admission.