Rise, bohabs, for the Scumdogs of the Universe return to Nashville 

Gwar and Peace

Gwar and Peace

Hello. My name is Sean, and I'm a bohab — an unrepentant, unwavering devotee of Gwar. Here's the thing about Gwar, the foam rubber-and-thrash metal space aliens who have been terrorizing the stages of this toilet of a planet for the past two-and-a-half odd decades: It's the greatest rock show on earth and the best show you'll see all year, every year. Think of it like the circus. But instead of abusing endangered animals for your entertainment, they're abusing celebrity effigies and, well, the audience.

It's like Cirque du Soleil as directed by Leatherface, with all of the acrobatics and aerial ballet moves performed with copious amounts of fake blood and artificial man-glue. It's P.T. Barnum meets Hannibal Lecter on the set of Cannibal Holocaust, then blasted through a prism of anti-everything politics that would make you think there are giant storehouses full of PCP on the dark side of the moon. It's a debased, transgressive and boorish bloodbath that shits down the throat of everything good, proper and moral.

That's why I still buy their records, spend countless hours rewatching their 1990 appearance on The Joan Rivers Show — back when Rivers had a face that actually moved — and go see them in concert every year. Except for last year, when the unexpected and unfortunate passing of guitarist Flattus Maximus — birth name Cory Smoot — took the band off the road, and I missed out on my yearly pilgrimage to pay tribute to the self-declared Scumdogs of the Universe, to worship at the unholy altar of frontman Oderus Urungus. It was a weird time for the bohabs, or at least it was for me. Without the prospect of my yearly Gwar fix, I began asking questions.

Why am I, a grown man in my 30s, shedding tears over a dude I don't know from Adam — a dude best known for wearing giant demon wings and playing on songs like "You Can't Kill Terror," "Womb With a View" and "Release the Flies"? Why, in my 30s, do I still get a bizarre rush and waves of giddy prurience from listening to a band I first discovered in middle school? Do I actually like this shit, or am I just hung up on some bizarre nostalgia for a time when I was blissfully unaware of taste, class and subtle aesthetics?

It was a time of great contemplation and self-discovery, but the short answer is this: Gwar fucking rules, and they always have. They're not simply a band, but an entire mythology, a multimedia enterprise that spans every major art form — from painting and sculpture to film and theatrical performance — like a Whitney Biennial bathed in the blood of sacrificial Muppets. And at this point in their career, Gwar has developed such a mythology and created such an involved universe — seriously, it makes Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica look like Glen A. Larson's by comparison — that the narrative running through album and performance alike is as compelling as your favorite comic book.

That narrative is even more compelling than the possibility of seeing a puppet version of Kim Kardashian being disemboweled by a guitar. (Truth be told, the latter is a very compelling reason to see a show, too.) But there's more to Gwar than just shock and vulgarity. Oh wait, no there isn't. And if there was, people probably would have forgotten them before the first Iraq War. Fortunately for bohabs — and every other self-respecting scumbag on earth — Gwar has never deviated from their most deviant of paths.

Email music@nashvillescene.com.

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