The time I almost died onstage.

The closest I’ve come to death was on stage with Dave Brockie.

The dude almost killed me.

It was my first show as the new bass player for Death Piggy (the band that would later turn into Gwar). It was an ill-advised move as they were perfect as a 3-piece.

Death Piggy in all their original glory playing in Shafer Court Spring 1984.

My inclusion in the group enabled Dave to switch to guitar, which is something the man should never have done, as he was a god-awful guitar player.

For my first gig, it was decided that at the end of the show, we would ask the audience if the band should keep me or kill me. Knowing full well that the answer would be for me to die, the rest of the band would lynch me to the rousing delight of the audience.

Death Piggy’s entire recorded output. Mercifully, none features me or Dave on guitar.

To pull off the trick, Scott Krahl, Brockie’s high school friend and longtime co-conspirator in Gwar, found a harness that would pull of the illusion.

Dave Brockie (l) and Sean Sumner (r)

Problem is, Scott is a good 6 inches taller than me and the life-saving harness was never adjusted to my height. We didn’t sweat the details back in those days; we were only looking to secure laughs.
 
 “People are going to love seeing you die”, Dave said with fiendish delight, “this is going to be awesome.”

To this day, I still believe he wanted me to die.

It comes to the end of the show and the crowd screams, “Kill him” as we knew they would. Dave hooked the noose around my neck and scurried around with the rest of the band to string me up.

As my feet left the ground, I realized something was terribly wrong. I was really being hung.

I started twitching and thrashing trying to get their attention but to no avail. They were in the moment basking in the adulation of a grateful audience while I was seeing stars and gasping for breath.

Filling in on bass with DBX in the early 2000’s. Photo by Joe Ott.

If it were not for brother who came to my rescue seeing me turn many different shades of blue, I most certainly would have died.

My last memory of this world would have been of Dave chanting along with the crowd, “die, die, die”.

It’s been over 30-plus years since I almost died on stage with Dave.

I’m glad I didn’t die that night for many reasons, but one of them is that I would have missed our perverted baby’s evolution from art school amateurs to full fledged, moray bashing professionals.

Dave Brockie: 1963–2014

Bopst 2018

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