October 25th, 2018 – The Illinois venue Pop’s, with the massive electric guitar on the roof, is packed tonight, Gwar comes back to town to corrupt the earthlings of Missouri and Illinois. A venue you can usually still find someone getting away with smoking inside and sticky floors, the lights and speakers are all wrapped in plastic in preparation for Gwar’s fluid pyrotechnics. Gwar is joined by Ringworm, Hatebreed and Miss May I on “The Gore, Core, and More Tour 2018.”
Miss May I delivers the ferocious vocal talents in crystal clear quality injected with frontman Levi Benton’s energy and rousing spirit get the circle pits moving and horns in the air. Pure shredding and double bass chugs of “Under Fire” engage the crowd singing along as Benton eggs them on leveling up the participation with each chorus. It’s no wonder, Miss May I gathers new fans every show they play. Wrapping up the set with “Shadows Inside” from the album of the same name, Miss May I never lets up the energy. As the set comes to a close, Benton kneels on the platform onstage and is met with a flood of horns on the hands of fans pushing against the barrier in applause.
Hatebreed’s thundering bass blasts through Pop’s in sonic booms as bodies crash towards each other, and are tossed by hands over heads of fans of all ages. The crowd encompassing zelinnials and even those rising from their day job coffins of mosh retirement to party once again and slam into strangers for “As Diehard As They Come.” Playing “Honor Never Dies” Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta talks about the band approaching their 25th anniversary segwaying into “This Is Now” off the album they made 15 years ago The Rise of Brutality. “Destroy Everything” plays and sure enough a fight breaks out at the edge of the pit as the song comes to a close. Hate breed plays a song from nearly every album they have made in 25 years and certainly knows how to pull a crowd and keep them sweaty and entertained.
Hatebreed wraps up, I’m perched in the balcony weighing the odds between the fear or missing out not shooting Gwar and the fear of my new Canon 6D getting damaged from the blood and alien jizz about to money shot everyone within ten feet of the band. ‘Watch for hoses, and the Blothar’s costume attachments” to avoid the most of the mess, a veteran photographer tells me. Anxiety is NOT helping me decide this. As a woman in white silk dress and bow adorning her ponytail glides out of the restroom and back to a group of her friends, the woman in white makes me realize, this show is an amazing opportunity and I need to photograph them. After all seeing Gwar is one of those incredible experiences and photographing them has been a dream since their Empire Records cameo back in 1995. I poncho up and head to the photo pit, abandoning the attempt to cover my camera and hope for the best. Once the band takes the stage Beefcake the Mighty is directly in front of me after the intro. The anticipation in the pit builds steadily as I hide behind a speaker trying to avoid some of the initial spurts of gore. The attempt was futile as the alien abominations lured me into a false sense of security in the middle of the photo pit when two costumed alien officers heads were pulled off and began spewing blood. Managing to escape to the edge of the stage the adrenaline from the riotous metal and fear of ruining a prized possession made for a roller coaster ride of elation. Gwar puts on shows unparalleled in today’s music scenes. It’s something to behold and as long as you can deal with the brutal honesty of the politics, you should definitely get covered in blood and goo and see some of the best metal musicians perform today. A fellow St, Louisan Jeff Kuhlengel described the Gwar concert experience for us,“It’s the most unique show/experience there is. They should be on everyone’s bucket list to see at least one time (though not for the squeamish). There is nothing else out there that’s like it. Perfect Halloween show. They never fail to entertain.” So add a Gwar concert to your bucket list and pick up an album or two, the band has released 20 albums over the last 30 years, including the newest release The Blood of Gods which delves into the loss of former leader Oderus Urungus. Or treat yourself and attend the annual Gwar-B-Q music festival in Richmond, Virginia at Hadad’s Lake for an extra special concert experience.
Miss May I
Photojournalist: Jessi McKee