Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Gwar and Cradle of Filth at Myth Nightclub (St. Paul, MN 10/24/2007)

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , , , .

Opening the show with Swedish sleaze rockers Vains of Jenna and closing with English death metal band Cradle of Filth, the Viva La Bands tour covered extracts from this world and beyond—the unearthly Gwar playing middle spot and entirely gorging its audience with hedonism and irreverence. While the highly anticipated CKY couldn’t make the bill due to illness, the other bands did not fail to take over, and in Gwar’s case, completely conquer.

Vains of Jenna opened the night with a feathered hair manifesto of drug fueled scum rock, something far from the ordinary when compared to their tour mates. Throughout the course of the evening the band slammed its way through their set, entirely specific to that of an atypical Hollywood sleaze rock; as was mentioned during one of the videos played during an intermission later in the evening “you have to go to Sweden to get a band that looks this Hollywood.”

It’s a bit off-putting to see a band of musicians on stage (in some cases shirtless) that make Tommy Lee look fat, but the boys in Vains of Jenna’s skin and bone physiques in no way hindered them from playing a lively set of rock and roll anthems. “This song’s about drugs” lead singer Lizzy DeVine muttered half way through the set; though such a statement could have been as easily been aimed at any number of songs throughout the group’s surprisingly talented performance. While by no means did they exert the same showmanship as would later come in the night, Vains of Jenna displayed an honest talent this evening proving that again Bam Margera (the tour’s spokesman, of sorts) knows a thing or two about international hard rock (having previously championed the likes of H.I.M., Hardcore Superstar and Children of Bodom, all who have now garnered a growing fan base in the States).

Saluting the crowd, as many returned the motion without blinking, DeVine called for a bit of middle finger friendship as the band played out its last track before exiting the stage. And as they left, drummer Jacki Stone in an N.W.A. cut off, bassist JP White in a similar Jack Daniels t-shirt and guitarist Nicki Kin looking ever-so-Izzy Stradlin, the band made its mark amongst a crowd that was likely not there to see them.

Throughout the intermissions in between bands, fans were given exclusive clips of Margera’s Veins of Jenna video shoot, Bloodhound Gang videos, Bam’s skate vids and backstage clips of Margera’s forthcoming feature Minghags (formerly titled Kiss a Good Man’s Ass), the follow up to the Jackass star’s stab at legitimate acting, Haggard.

After the stage was set and what could be covered in plastic was covered with plastic the lights dimmed, and the music played… it was time for Gwar!

For those who don’t know what Gwar is all about, no better description is there than that from Wikipedia, “Gwar is a satirical thrash metal and shock rock band formed in 1985. The band is best known for their elaborate sci-fi/horror film inspired costumes; raunchy, obscene, politically incorrect lyrics; and graphic stage performances, which consist of humorous re-enactments of scatology, sadomasochism, necrophilia, pedophilia, paraphilia, bestiality, pagan rituals, satanism or devil worship, executions, battle, torture, malice, rape and physical abuse, racism, anti-Christian messages, suicide, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, and other controversial violent, political and moral taboo themes.” Gwar: one of a kind.

I’m not going to front: I have no frame of reference in terms of song titles, but there is no way that anyone can argue that Gwar is nothing if not for its spectacle; this night proved that sentiment oh-so-true. Looking to offend the entire evening, Gwar used costumes and masks to portray a Nazi pope, a Hitler-Jesus and George W. Bush (which is worse?), all of which were chastised then chopped wide open by singer Oderus Urungus’s giant prop sword. And just like the blood canon that was later unleashed, each “character” not only oozed fluid (mock ups of various bodily sources) but sprayed it with fire hose-like velocity.

Again, if nothing else can be said of the band, they are a show. They are offensive and filthy, but they’re also talented, smart and driven. It takes leadership to gain such a cult-like following, and after seeing the fans who arrived in droves on a Sunday night only to be drenched in fake blood and witness a show where a giant (and actually fairly detailed) foam dinosaur stomped across the stage it’s fairly apparent that Gwar might very well be a full blown cult.

After another series of video clips the elaborate setting was removed, mops whisked across the floor and the stage then ablaze in darkness with the exception of Cradle of Filth’s emblem stamped in light on the stage.

When the group played the Quest Club a few years back with Type O Negative there was no better show in town. Gargoyles and acrobats, spark-shooting dancers and costumes galore; Cradle of Filth were a literal black metal opera set to a stage of Cirque du Soleil regulars. This time however, some four years later, the group played a cut and dry set, no theatrics: just metal.

And while my initial sentiments were those of disappointment, as it’s always fun to watch someone hang suspended from the ceiling by two mere pieces of expansive silk drapery, Cradle of Filth have plateaued their career and appear to wish to focus their act on a different level. This is also true in terms of the band’s last few albums, all sounding gritty and raw, but then again lacking that dramatic mind blowing feel that many have come to love them for.

After a fairly straight forward set the band returned with an encore of “Born in a Burial Gown” and “Her Ghost in the Fog,” two obvious fan favorites. But playing a show heavily favoring newer tracks left a feeling of dissatisfaction, though a band cannot stay fresh by playing the same songs for over a decade. (Maybe that’s just it though, maybe Cradle of Filth are no longer “fresh”…) Still though, as hard as it is to follow Gwar, it would have been cool to see a pair of lifelike gargoyles float about the stage.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]