Hard Rock Café on the Strip, April 9

A Gwar show is a rite of passage for any metal fan. For me, it came 20-some-odd years into my fandom, but you know what they say: Better late to the headless-body-squirting-blood-from-its-neck-stump-during-the-first-song party than never to the headless-body-squirting-blood-from-its-neck-stump-during-the-first-song party.

With all the joie de vivre of a Troma film making sweaty love to an Anthrax album, Gwar delivered a taut set of surprisingly competent speed/thrash metal for 60 short minutes.

No one goes to a Gwar show just for the music. Yet to go solely for the spectacle would be a mistake. A show like this requires an aficionado’s love—you just don’t understand true scope and breadth of art until you see what appears to be Satan’s dust bunny sword-fighting with a beefy, mutant tortoise while wielding a magic feather duster.

Crowd faves such as “Bring Back the Bomb” and “Metal Metal Land” gave way to a surprising power-ballad finish with “The Road Behind,” dedicated to recently deceased guitarist Flattus Maximus (Cory Smoot). An odd end to a show that left the concept of subtlety in tatters halfway through, when the band didn’t bother anymore with stage executions and went right to a giant blood cannon to hose down the faithful. ★★★☆☆

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