Darkness Descends on Toronto as GWAR (and fog) Rolls In

The Berserker Blothar of GWAR performing at The Phoenix Concert Theater in Toronto, ON on 11/02/2022. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick


Toronto, Canada – As I headed south-west from my suburban 9-5, a thick blanket of fog began to descend over the city. As though a portal to another dimension had been opened to our world, the dark, dense mist had appeared out of nowhere. The cloud that was enveloping the surroundings was almost smoke-like. For an instant, the obscurity before me had taken my mind elsewhere and I thought ‘This doesn’t look right. Is Toronto on fire?’ As I quickly came back from my trance, I remembered “AH! GWAR is in town!!!”

A long time ago, from a planet far beyond Uranus, The Scumdogs of the Universe were soldiers in an elite army, serving The Master. Unfortunately, a handful of these troopers were complete fuck-ups, and as punishment for their less than stellar ways, they were banished to Earth. Once they arrived on this planet, these anti-heroes banded together to form GWAR. They have since become the story of legend to hordes of “Bohabs” (GWAR fans) across the globe.

The Berserker Blothar of GWAR performing at The Phoenix Concert Theater in Toronto, ON on 11/02/2022. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Despite the passing of original frontman Oderus Urungus in 2014, the band had kept things together by summoning another Scumdog outcast, The Berserker Blothar in 2015. They have since toured the universe bringing their blood and slime filled mayhem to the countless Bohabs that crave a good old fashioned soaking.

I like to arrive to a shoot early. Well, in all honesty, I like to arrive early to everything (yes, I’m one of those). This show was no different. It allows me to be chill and relaxed ahead of a shoot, and who knows, maybe even strike up a conversation or two. While the fans started to line up outside of The Phoenix Concert Theatre, I did in fact start chatting with some fans. One of them points out to me “I have never seen so much white clothing at a metal show”. I looked around, as I had not quite noticed this, but how could I not have? The guy was right. I have never seen GWAR in concert, although I am well aware of the band’s reputation. Still, the white clothing was peculiar to me, until 3 minutes into the set.

Amidst chants of “GWAR, GWAR, GWAR, GWAR”, a character wearing a GWAR t-shirt appears before the crowd and the band hits the stage for a rather early start. In their famous gigantisms, the Scumdogs completely fill the stage at this iconic Toronto Venue. Immediately, the character is beheaded and blood comes spraying forcefully from its neck. Directed straight at the crowd, they are quickly drenched in blood, and the music hasn’t even started. This my friends, is only the beginning. Things are set to get completely insane over the next hour and a half.

Beefcake the Mighty of GWAR performing at The Phoenix Concert Theater in Toronto, ON on 11/02/2022. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

The setlist starts with the track “The Cutter” from GWAR’s 2022 release The New Dark Ages. The album is the band’s 13th studio release but only the 2nd release with their new vocalist. The track on the album features Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale, who The Berserker claims is a Scumdog herself named Clitaurus Maximus.

After the second song of the set, we get another character that appears on stage whose face is quickly skinned off and more blood sprays into the crowd. Aside from us photographers, most of who are covered with rain ponchos, nobody cowers from the downpour. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They are jockeying for position to get their share of the action. In reality however, they don’t have to force themselves into a space too far from where they are. The bleeding characters on stage move from side to side, ensuring that the blood covers the concert hall from wall to wall. Even the females in the crowd are hellbent on getting covered in the slimy mess. I remember back in the day, it was a rarity to even see chicks at a metal show like this, let alone wanting to be soaked in theatrical blood. My, how times have changed! My thoughts go back to all the white shirts that were outside a couple hours earlier ahead of the doors opening. 15 minutes into the show, and there is not a white shirt in sight.

Balsac the Jaws o Death of GWAR performing at The Phoenix Concert Theater in Toronto, ON on 11/02/2022. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

The band ensures that they have the crowd engaged with their banter as well. Jokes ensue throughout the evening. Jokes about late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his love for crack cocaine (Google it if you have never heard of him), and jokes about Canadian food like Poutine. A delicacy that bassist Beefcake the Mighty calls poon-tang. He fondly tells us that he loves to eat it every day! We even get The Berserker Blothar saying “Thank-you Montreal!!” to a series of boos and hisses. See, there is no love lost between the two Canadian cities. He follows it up with “Should I say it in French??”

Within all the carnage and theatrics that are being displayed in front of us, there is in fact music. It’s a concert after all. Now it’s true, the band isn’t going to win any Grammy’s specifically for their musicianship. This, however, is not a slight on their abilities. We even get guitarist Pustulus Maximus center stage for a brief guitar solo. The reality is, there are many great musicians who will never win an award. Important to add here though, is that GWAR has in fact been nominated for 2 Grammy awards. One each in 1993 and 1996. It was around this time that I had first become aware of this band.

The Cutter
The Issue of Tissue (Spacecake)
Bring Back the Bomb
New Dark Age
Mother Fucking Liar
Rise Again
Bored to Death
Saddam a Go-Go
Womb With a View
Black and Huge
Venom of the Platypus
Berserker Mode
U Ain’t Shit
None but the Brave
Sick of You
Fuck This Place

Bohabs cheer for GWAR performing at The Phoenix Concert Theater in Toronto, ON on 11/02/2022. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

From my standpoint, despite the real talent, the entertainment we are getting is purely comedy. Sweet, grotesque comedy. Most importantly, the crowd is in complete adoration.  As a Horror aficionado, the best show I have ever seen (in terms of theatrics) was Alice Cooper back in the late 1980s. That was until I saw GWAR, on November 2, 2022. With its decapitations, stabbings, skinning, limb chopping, and bloody, pus laden masturbations (yes, even that), this show was a non-stop blood bath. Granted, it’s not going to be everybody’s taste. In fact, most “normal” people may have stopped reading this review after the 3rd paragraph. But let’s not take this too seriously folks. It’s completely over the top, and it’s 100% meant to be this way. The world is a mess right now. Too much negativity everywhere you look. We all need a mental health break. It may seem counterintuitive to suggest a blood bath with abortions and bleeding anuses is mentally healthy, but happiness shone brightly on every single blood stained face when the show came to its bloody end. So much so, that I felt compelled to hang around a bit and chat to and shoot, some of the happy customers.

The only thing I needed to know at the end of this one was, who’s going to clean up the mess?

The “This is GWAR” documentary is now streaming on Shudder:


GWAR Online:

show date: November 2, 2022