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GWAR / GODHEAD / BLACK OPAL
Majestic Ventura Theater; Ventura, CA; 05/21/99

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

BLACK OPAL, a metal band from Oxnard, California (which puts them right in Rough Edge territory) was up first. We missed them because there was a mix-up with our tickets. We hear they were great, though.

Up next was GODHEAD and, believe us when we tell you that these are a brave bunch of rockers. Despite the fact they are a desperate mis-match to open for the legendary shock rockers GWAR, the band took the stage at the Ventura Theater Friday night and played their set in its entirety, rocking hard, true and tight and managing to ignore the assholes in the audience who were so hyped up to see GWAR that they didn't realize there was a hell of a  band playing onstage then and now.

Godhead should be opening for MINISTRY or RAMMSTEIN, not the speed guitar and flying blood antics of Gwar. Their music is a sometimes eerie combination of industrial rock and gothic. Atmospheric and rock-solid with thought- provoking lyrics and music that dares to be a little bit different. Sometimes driving, sometimes haunting, always riveting, It's a soundtrack for the horror movie of the 90s.

Lead vocalist Jason Miller knows this. With shaven head and Uncle Fester-painted eyes, his holds court during the live performance, often spreading his arms in a Christ-like manner and feeling the music while he performs. Miller was the center of an intense band and he ignored the drunken crowds cheers of "Gwar, Gwar, Gwar!" and belted out the music, refusing to give those few of us who were really listening anything less than 100%.

The rest of the band raged, too and managed to keep their cool in a hostile environment (except for guitarist Mike Miller who gave the crowd the double birdie at the end of the show - and who can blame him?). Godhead played a magnificent set and deserved a far better response.

At a little before 11:00 PM, GWAR finally took the stage, much to the delight of their cheering minions. The band wasn't even on stage before the first interactive stunt took place: A puppet-headed archaeologist named "Dr. Leaky" pulled out his tallywhacker (also puppet-headed) and proceeded to douse the audience with artificial urine. It was then that Gwar broke through the faux-stone set and raged through a collection of tunes that came from all aspects of their career: from the early days to tunes from their most recent release, "We Kill Everything" (now in stores).

As is typical with most Gwar shows, there were several be-headings, a disembowelment, several uses of illicit drugs, battles with monsters that looked like they came from "Power Rangers on Acid" and much, much more. Of course, all of it is done in a comic book setting that is so overblown that it's hard to be offended. Most of the time, your jaw is gaping wide open in awe at the spectacle you're seeing on stage.

And, as if the onstage antics weren't enough, the audience was a blast as well. Many Gwar fans show up in brand new white t-shirts or coveralls and push their way to the front of the stage to be blasted with fake puke, phony blood, pretend pee or worse. We saw more than one female concert goer lift up their t-shirts to be blasted on their naked chest with streams of Hawaiian Punch blood.

But what's really fascinating about Gwar is that - beneath pounds of "Dawn of the Dead" makeup and aslosh in inches of fake body fluids - the band really rocks hard! Gwar is never going to win any awards for lyrical content or social relevance, but the band's music is a perfect soundtrack for the chaotic insanity taking place on stage. That Gwar can play their fast-paced songs so tightly and still put on such a ridiculously extravagant show speaks volumes about their musicianship.

It's big. It's ludicrous. It's outrageous. It's Gwar. And it's an experience you won't soon forget.  We can't wait until they come around again!


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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.