Pulling into the parking lot of Reverb, my first reaction was “Geez, this is the shit hole of rock ‘n’ roll!” It is plain on the outside, bordering a residential area and commercial zone, and if I wasn’t paying attention I would have missed it. Although the building is a decent size it only has one sign on a pole saying it’s there. Parking is easy due to the large parking lots on either side of the building and even better, it is FREE. Not to worry, there is also plenty of on street parking.
Upon entering the venue I quickly found out that looks may not be important when it comes to REVERB but the sound is perfect. A giant PA system flanks the stage on both sides, putting out a blast of music that could rival most stadiums. Stacks of speakers as tall as shipping containers run the length of the wall with about 20 foot of stage in between them. The lighting, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately for photographers, this is an ongoing issue for most small venues. As I entered, Metalblade recording artist Battlecross had the crowd energized. A cross between classic rock and thrash metal, it was clear as to why they will be continuing on for the second leg of the GWAR 30 Tour. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see much of their set due to traffic.
During the set changes for the bands I had the time to talk with other concert goers to see who they were most excited to see. I was surprised to find it was split between Butcher Babies and GWAR. Fronted by two of the strongest female vocalist in metal, Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey are gaining the respect of a male dominated genre. Backed by the talented guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner, Butcher Babies are well on their way to securing their place in modern music. Tonight it is all about carving up the crowd at Reverb and proving to the world why their latest release ‘Take It Like a Man’ deserves its spot in the billboard two hundred.
The opening song ‘Monsters Ball’, the first single from ‘Take It Like A Man’, set the tone for the rest of Butcher Babies nine song set. From the moment they stepped on stage the energy level was off the charts. Heidi and Carla never stopped moving, each of them working the crowd into a frenzy by begging for the mosh pit to get energized. Security was caught off guard by the crowd reaction as fan after fan was flipped, pitched and passed, at times head over heels towards the stage. By the halfway point the ladies had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands and started in on a ZZ Top classic Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers. The crowd cheered and chanted in time while Carla and Heidi bounced around and hyped them up even more. They even took a moment to jump into the media pit to hug a few fans and give them a chance to sing into the mic. From that point forward it was a controlled chaos of mosh pits, crowd surfing and good ‘ole rock ‘n roll. Butcher Babies closed out their set with Magnolia Blvd before encouraging the crowd to stop by the merchandise booth to say Hello. This evening’s set proves without a doubt that no matter whether they are at a festival, a small venue or an arena, Butcher Babies will give one hundred and ten percent every time and they will leave the audience wanting more.
Straight from the pits Antarctica, GWAR took the stage just before 9:30pm, ready to overtake Reading, Pennsylvania in their desire for global dominance. After last year’s search for missing leader ODERUS URUNGUS, GWAR has taken on a new mission for their 30th anniversary. Manager Sleazy P pointed out while he stormed on stage to berate the remaining members that if they continue to sound like shit they will lose their fans. No fans=no money= no more crack and no more whores and they will have the internet to blame. At times it was a little difficult to follow the story line between songs. The crowd checked on what they could find on their tablet, searching parody sites like Fistbook, Shitter, Grype, Kinder, and SpewTube in order to decide where in the cyber world they would find the source of the internet in order to kill it. Judging by fan reaction throughout the room everyone was enjoying the mess of spew and blood being sprayed all over them. Several surprise guests decided to take the stage including reporter Brian Wilson, Hillary Clinton, and Kanye, each of them meeting with untimely ends in very creative ways. Beheadings, face removals, and unwanted mastectomies added to the mayhem that is a GWAR show. At some point during the set, every member of GWAR had an opportunity to take the lead on vocals, blazing through a mix of classics like Saddam A Go-Go, Babyraper, and Captain Crunch, while blending some newer songs to the delight of the younger humanoids in the crowd. Towards the end of the night the crowd paid respects to Oderus by chanting his name in hopes that he could hear them in whatever time vortex he was sucked into. To end the show, a rare appearance was made by an internet troll, only to be ripped apart by Blothar, Beefcake The Mighty, BALSAC THE JAWS OF DEATH, and PUSTULUS MAXIMUS.
The smiles on the faces of everyone making their way to the doors summed up the night perfectly. “Insane, but it was worth every minute.” From the first note to the last there was something for everyone to enjoy. At times GWAR ‘s set felt a little choppy but it is a new era for GWAR. Given time, I believe the remaining members will work out the flow and continue destroying the human race one song at a time. If you just want to see a bunch of dudes stand in one place and play a few chords, Battlecross, Butcher Babies, and GWAR are not for you. If you want to move, mosh, and get a great show, you’re in the right place.
GWAR Set list:
Crush, Kill, Destroy
Madness at the Core of Time
Black and Huge
Saddam a Go-Go
Vlad the Impaler
Jack The World
I’m in Love (With a Dead Dog)
Let Us Slay
You Can’t Kill Terror
A Gathering of Ghouls/Storm is Coming/ Hail, Genocide!
A Short History of the End of the World
Metal Metal Land
Sick of You
For more info about Butcher Babies follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ButcherBabiesMusic
And be sure to check out http://www.gwar.net for info on where GWAR will be taking over the human race next!