I sat down with Ben Braden in his living room on Hawthorne over a couple …
I have never before experienced GWAR live and the first time that I did, I experienced them in the midst of turmoil as they had just lost a brother, friend, and amazing guitar player in Corey Smoot/Flattus Maximus.
Ghoul opened the show with death metal lyrics that brought the crowd scarily to life while being sprayed with blood by a gruesome Witch Doctor and the unforgettable Giant Robot picking on band members.
The second band of the night was Warbeast. Not only did their guitar player, Scott Shelby, look like he was from a battlefield in the deepest ring of Hell, but Bruce Corbitt (vocalist) howled in perfect harmony to the screaming guitar solos. It was a glorious set full of all things metal.
Those familiar with Every Time I Die may think it peculiar for this band to be on the same tour with theatrical, even appalling thrash metal, but they fit in quite well. This sibling fronted, Southern, metal-core group made the crowd sweat out the blood they’d been covered in right at the get go. The pit was filled with action ranging from hardcore dancing to straight up moshing, not to mention Jordan Buckley’s livewire antics diving into the crowd at one moment and jumping off speakers the next. It just goes to show that a GWAR concert brings people from all sub-genres of metal together as one big moshing, head banging, and bloodthirsty family.
GWAR has been performing their melodramatic, shock & thrash metal for the last twenty-seven years. This band has continually left crowds covered in fake blood and alien goo, only begging for more. This, however, was special, the performance was very somber and emotion-filled, only days after they lost their brother in arms. He had been with the band since 2002. For the last nine years, Corey Smoot had helped to produce Beyond Hell (2006), Lust in Space (2009), as well as a large part of their latest release, Bloody Pit of Horror (2010). His former band members all spoke of him with reverence and respect. His talent will be greatly missed.
Their set opened with Death welcoming the audience over into his domain—Death Castle. The set starts off with Death receiving the finger from Oderus Ungerus (Dave Brockie) and explodes into a set evenly mixed between old and new songs, with blood and gore reigning supreme. Blood was spewed across the crowd with endless gore. A model of the Jersey Shore’s Snooki was disemboweled, and vulgar skits performed to the point that it was quite literally raining blood.
Despite the gore, it was obvious that the loss of their friend and bandmate was weighing on them heavily, but it was still a tremendous show. GWAR paid homage to Corey multiple times throughout the night. They brought his guitar out on stage twice to commemorate Smoot’s life and Brockie became so distraught at one point that he ripped off his costume and spoke to the crowd directly. He thanked the crowd, welcomed the entire stage crew to the spotlight and thanked everyone for their years of service and helping make the band what they are. He stage dived into the crowd and was met by a sea of fans who embraced him as he wept, “thank you” into the microphone.
I hadn’t realized the real power that music had until that night. The response from the crowd was electric and made me feel that I was part of something larger than myself, larger than the Roseland Theater and larger than our city. Everyone there was part of a monumental change in people’s lives. Brockie ended the show by leaving Smoot’s guitar on stage, saying, “You stare at that guitar in silence and you’ll know what we’ve lost.”
The Smoots, GWAR, and Metal Blade Records have created the “Smoot Family Fund”, and GWAR and Slave Pit are calling on the metal community to support Cory’s family in this tragic time. Donations can be made here and more information on GWAR can be found here.
Photos by Kimberly Lawson
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Words by Sean Smith