Halloween may be over, but the town of Lawrence, Kansas still had some scares to share on Sunday night. As we adjust to shorter days, and colder nights, a feeling of doom and gloom blankets the quieter streets on Sunday night. Fans lined up before doors, many clad in white (and hopefully getting soaked in blood and gore), waiting in anticipation for the gore-fest that would later take over the Granada Theater. Lawrence was a change of scenery in our usual Kansas City focused reviews, but the city of the Jayhawk proved to be quite welcoming for both us and the fans waiting to be soaked in blood. As the line for the doors started to snake around the venue, and the temperatures outside seemed to drop, you could really start to feel the excited energy of the fans as they waited to see U.S Bastards, Doyle, Ghoul, and Gwar.
Kicking off the four-act show was U.S Bastards from Richmond, VA. Formerly U.S Brass, this talented trio launched an all-out assault with their old-school thrash sound. U.S Bastards is made up of Jeremy Dutra on drums, John Kelly on bass, and Brent Purgason (also known as Pustulus Maximus in Gwar). Being an opening act for such bands could be daunting, but Purgason and Kelly kept it loud on their Gibsons while Dutra kept it fast on his drums. Outside the venue may have been chilly, but U.S Bastards did a hell of a job warming up the crowd for more to come.
Next to the stage was Doyle. Leading the pack is former Misfits guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein with his signature Annihilator guitar, white face paint, and devil lock. Rounding out the rest of the band is bassist Brandon Strate, Brandon Pertzborn on drums, and Alex “Wolfman” Story on vocals.
Opening with Abominator, from the same titled album, Doyle led the charge for their seven song set. Doyle and Wolfman really trade energy, be it Doyles crushing guitar riffs (and sometimes, he appears to actually be crushing that damn guitar) to Wolfman’s howling vocals – it’s as if this band has stepped right out of a monster movie. Also being their last stop on the tour with Gwar until mid-December, Doyle really wanted to get the most out of the set. The opening song was followed up by Beat Like Me from their newest release, Doyle II. Wolfman punctuated the beginning of each song saying “This next song, is sorta a love song. You can dance to it if you want to.” To me, it’s always fun to see a spooky band like that have some fun on stage.
The band closed the set with two more songs from their newest release; “Witchcraft” and “King of the Undead”.
Following Doyle was Ghoul. Before tonight, I had no idea who this band was, but I figured if you’re playing before Gwar, and after Doyle, there must be something monstrous here. Before soundcheck, I usually roam around the venue talking to random people. To my surprise, there happened to be a few families here in addition to your normal concert goers. One kid was even decked out in a burlap sack mask, very reminiscent of the Scarecrow from Batman. I thought this may have been a Halloween costume from this year. Soon, I would find out this mask would become significant.
Not much is known about the band Ghoul. Like a band we have covered in the past, Ghost, Ghoul keeps their identities well hidden, under burlap masks like I had previously encountered. The members of the bands go by Cremator on bass, Digestor and Dissector on guitars, and Fermentor on drums. All the Ghouls share vocal duty. The band shares the stage with a huge cast of characters, such as Mr. Fang, The Swamp Hag, The Grand Basilisk, and Commandant Yanish Dobrunkum. All of these characters, combined with the band, make up the denizens of Creepsylvania. Looking past the fantastic stage presence Ghoul brought, their riff heavy music and signature thrash metal sound went together like peanut butter and jelly with the evening’s other musical acts.
Finally to the stage, Gwar! Throughout the previous acts, sound and lighting equipment was all covered in thick black plastic. Josh himself even brought a rain poncho, and a cover for his camera (his shoes did not survive the onslaught). As anyone familiar with the band Gwar, it is almost common knowledge at this point that the show will be a filthy, bloody mess.
Gwar has been around with a frequently rotating line-up of musicians since 1984. Their grotesque themes and over the top costumes has generated a cult following spanning multiple generations of fans. Their current line-up consists of Balsac the Jaws of Death on rhythm guitar, Jizmak Da Gusha on drums, , Beefcake the Mighty on bass, Pustulus Maximus on lead guitar, Sawborg Destructo, Bonesnapper, and Sleazy P. Martini on backing vocals, and Blothar on lead vocals.
To really put the name of the show to the test, “The Blood of Gods”, 2 large hazmat-clad effigies spewed fake blood everywhere. It became apparent why everyone seemed to be wearing white t-shirts – if you’re at a Gwar show, you are expecting to be covered in blood and filth. Gwar’s presence made the venue less the Granada and more the GraNasty. In additional to the gore-fest, Gwar played fan favorites like “Hail Genocide”, “Death to Dickie Dunkin”, and “Saddam a Go-Go”. Gwar concluded the set with “Fuck This Place” off of their new studio album “The Blood of Gods”
May all the stained clothes that happened at that show be fondly remembers, as they did not die in vain. I’m sure the owners of said items of clothing all had a great time, just as I did.
The tour continues with Gwar, Ghoul and U.S Bastards until December 10th. Doyle will headline his own tour, concluding in Flint, MI on 11/11
Words by Dallas Hessel
Photos by Josh Chaikin