Fresno Beehive

Gwar’s Use your Collusion tour is 90 minutes of shock, awe and so much fake blood

So. Much. Fake. Blood.

That’s the quick review of the satirically obscene chaos that happened Wednesday night as Gwar took the stage at Tioga-Sequoia’s beer garden. The concert was 90 minutes of dodging the spray, or just getting drenched, while Gwar stomped around in giant monster costumes playing songs with lyrics not fit for print in a family publication.

Gwar has built a 30-year career on being offensive — to the eyes and ears, along with most people’s general sensibilities — and the latest version of the band’s live show certainly pushes hard at the limits of morality and public decency. But it’s so comically over-the-top that it borders on the absurd, and that’s what saves the whole thing from being just kind of gross (and, for the record, it is gross).

And there is some heavy political satire, layered under the gore and profanity.

The show starts with the members of Gwar being put on trial for crimes again humanity; the punishment is impeachment from Earth. The tour is called Use Your Collusion, and much of the show takes jabs at President Donald Trump.

Video of Trump plays while the band members abuse puppet children in cages. The final song of the set is introduced with a video of the “Celebrity Apprentice” opening, inner cut with clips of the band as contestants on the show. The president himself (or a comically costumed version anyway) then makes a cameo, to let the band know how much he loves what they’ve done over all these years.

Subtle, Gwar is not.

The shock rock factor

Gwar should be commended for the show’s production value.

The band’s attention to detail in stage design and costuming is staggering. And while the over-the-top theatrics tread the same ground as Kiss (Gwar’s closest pop culture link), it’s done without rock-star attitudes and with an added sense of urgency you don’t get from even the best seats at an arena rock show.

There was a kind of do-it yourself quality in being pressed up against the stage in the parking lot of a downtown Fresno brewery on a random Wednesday night. The concert came across like a back yard wrestling match, done by the best cosplayers you can imagine and set to a really great heavy metal soundtrack.

If you’re into that scene, Gwar can’t be beat.

Other observations

If you haven’t seen Gwar from down in front of the stage, then you haven’t seen Gwar. A post-concert show was mandatory for the band and most of the audience.

Sacred Reich was one of three openers for the night. The ’80 thrash metal band has aged along with its fans but hasn’t lost its step. Singer Phil Rind certain hasn’t lost his voice or penchant for social commentary.

Judging from the smiling faces, the happiest place at a metal show is in the middle of the circle pit. For most of the night, it was dominated by a dude in a full-on rhinestone Elvis costume.

Tioga-Sequoia is proving to be a viable, mid-sized concert venue.

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Joshua Tehee covers breaking news for The Fresno Bee, with a focus on entertainment and a heavy emphasis on the Central Valley music scene. You can see him share the area’s top entertainment options Friday mornings on KMPH’s “Great Day” and read more of his work here.
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