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A History of Gwar, the Best Satirical Extraterrestrial Metal Band Ever.
Say what you will about their Satanic-looking masks, gnarly R-rated-Jim-Henson-warrior outfits, and strapped-on penis appendages – no band has ever made monster metal like Gwar. Then again, when a band essentially creates its own genre from scratch, they really don’t have much competition.
Born in 1984 out of the Richmond, Virginia artist collective known as Slave Pit, Gwar embodies a certain kind of rock sensibility that seems like the brainchild of a metal-loving teenager who would go on to become a performance artist. Their band members have names like Oderus Urungus (“undying chaos demon” the late Dave Brockie) and Balsac the Jaws of Death (Mike Dirks)
Following the death of frontman and lead singer Dave Brockie in 2014, the group has continued without any of its founding members. As part of their mythos, are a group of intergalactic “chaos warriors” that were banished to Earth and became “the sickest band in metal history.” (They also throw really great “Gwar-B-Qs.”)
But beyond the fun, shock-and-awe value of a lot of the memorabilia, there’s also the story of an artist collective and a movement that set itself apart from the hardcore punk in nearby Washington, D.C. in the early 1980s by mixing its social commentary with monster masks, satire, and political commentary. The exhibit will also show how the band’s mythology and decidedly intense live shows fostered a unique fan community that emerged before social media and has persisted for three decades – from the 1980s to Beavis and Butt-Head and beyond.
“I think people don’t always see Gwar as being in the context of theater,” Benjamin Thorp, the exhibit’s curator, told WIRED. “We understand theater as being this massive undertaking that takes years to develop – to create props, sets, narratives, production, drawings, budgets, and all of this stuff that we’re presenting – I think it puts them in the context I believe they deserve to be viewed in.”