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Gwar Produces Loud, Artless Mayhem

May 16, 1997|MIKE BOEHM

If nothing else, Gwar's typically gore-soaked night of heavy-metal shtick on Wednesday at the Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana revealed who has dibs on the "hack" in "hackneyed." Since the late '80s, this Richmond, Va., band has been pandering to fans of deafening volume and extreme bad taste.

Decked in armored-barbarian regalia that could have been nicked from the gang of miscreants in "The Road Warrior," Gwar played nondescript speed-metal at the Galaxy, providing its own soundtrack for a cartoonish Grand Guignol of simulated mayhem and sexual violence. Think of the World Wrestling Federation scripted by Larry Flynt.

While Gwar is objectionable on all the usual grounds cited by the William Bennett school of defenders of public virtue, its show also was objectionable by hard-rock's own bacchanalian standards. Gwar's sins were predictability, lack of wit and, above all, an absence of songs worth hearing. Gwar served up a good deal more grossness than Alice Cooper or KISS in their horror-rock heydays, but it was artless overcompensation for second-rate music that seldom worked with the theatrics except as a pounding backdrop.

You'd think Gwar would try to be stylish and give its jousting some timing and choreography and enough character development to build some rooting interest. Instead, this was mere, unstructured, mechanically executed hack-work, lacking any of the diabolical wit that might have flavored the proceedings.

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