I first discovered GWAR by watching Empire Records in my freshman year of high school — a movie with one of my favorite soundtracks. The scene in the movie I found out, was actually shot at a concert, which I thought was awesome as all hell. Thus, began my intrigue with the band. Later, a friend who passed away a few years ago furthered that interest by telling me a little bit about how awesome it would be to photograph them, and that he would take me. Well, now I have. Sitting with my older sister Jaki, while scrolling through events on Facebook in search of a show to shoot that weekend, I found out that there were going to be at Mercury Ballroom. “Oh, shit! GWAR is going to be at Mercury! I have to shoot that for Mike!” I said to Jaki. She then informed me that she might have a way to get me in. “Let me make a call.” She called Justin, a longtime friend and there I was a day later. I was in to shoot GWAR on their Blood Of Gods Tour. Holy shit.
“I was in to shoot GWAR on their Blood Of Gods Tour. Holy shit.”
I was standing in the photo pit nervously awaiting GWAR to come onto the stage. In order to calm myself down, I started photographing details of the show — such as the crafted weapons and mic accessories on stage. I had just photographed the U.S. Bastards, Doyle, and Ghoul. They were all equally awesome, even if they’re not my general taste in music. Some of my favorite shots of the night ended being of Doyle and Ghoul.
For being my second show at Mercury Ballroom, I was quite happy with the photos I had up to that point and was not as nervous as I thought I’d be. However, when I realized that I was about to shoot one of the most energetic, crazy, bloody shows known to concert goers, I began freaking out a bit. It was imperative that I did this right, that I got photographs for Justin, as I had promised to do. The thing about me when I shoot is, that as much as I do it for myself, I do it mainly for the musicians and the friends of mine that have an interest in said band. I had told Justin I’d also send him the final photographs from the night. I didn’t want to let him or myself down on this one so I had to make sure I photographed the insanity that is GWAR. I had to get the shots I had in my head and there was no option for failure. People who know me well understand that I am incredibly hard on myself — especially with my photography. This just had to be perfect.
But then there they were and then I was armed with a trigger-happy finger photographing everything possible. Talk about overstimulation. Being in a photo pit with 10+ photographers, trying to work around each other with respect but also get the angles and photos you want is rather hard. That’s a tiny little pit, you guys! Did I mention the plastic I had to wrap my camera in? Yeah, that was a pain.
“Did I mention the plastic I had to wrap my camera in? Yeah, that was a pain.”
Then there it was. A face full of “spew” from Blothar warranted me briefly lowering my camera to understand what the hell had just happened. I laughed, shook my head, and continued on shooting once I cleaned my camera lens off and got back into my zone.
General mayhem is a good phrase for the time that GWAR was on stage. Between trying not to get hit by crowd surfers, “spew” going everywhere and in unexpected places — like my camera bag which was about 15 feet away hidden underneath a bench — other photogs in the pit, crazy lighting, a shit ton of people on stage, and just general “Oh, crap! Bolthar is doing that! But wait a minute, Balsac is doing that! WHERE DO I GO?” — it was one of the most challenging shows I have shot thus far. Actually, probably the most challenging, but also one the most entertaining.
With gross, violent, brutal, and over-sexualized theatrics, this band alone is enough to warrant a ticket purchase to a show — even if you don’t enjoy the music. I tried convincing my dad as well as my twin sister to tag along with me since I had a +1… unfortunately, neither were convinced — sorry, but you guys missed out! I’d like to offer a giant thank you to Justin and Jaki for helping me be able to photograph the show! A definite highlight of my year.
“Take a poncho.” They said. I didn’t listen. My chucks are still a magenta color, but hey, I shot GWAR! Here are some of the shots I got in all of that madness! Take a look: