Saturday, August 16th
Bram: I’ve got to say, the festival, for the most part, was really well-run. We had parking issues, since as a sponsor, we were supposed to be able to park backstage, but the lot was full. The vehicle in front of us had the same problem, and we were told to follow it. It turned out to be, once again, Randy Blythe. He wasn’t the only musician not scheduled to play representing, though. Members of Broken Hope, Battlecross and Ramming Speed were among the musicians stopping by to take in GWAR’s first non-Brockie show. Ultimately, it can’t be said that Blythe didn’t play either, as he got up and sang with Hatebreed.
One thing we liked about the day was that we were able to see some bands that we didn’t know about before. Revocation’s cancellation meant that we got to see The Glorious Gone, featuring Revocation bassist Brett Bamberger and Municipal Waste’s Dave Witte. Loincloth’s super tight instrumental set was inspiring as well. We also got the opportunity to see Kepone, a long-running Richmond band featuring the original Beefcake the Mighty, Michael Bishop. It turned out that wouldn’t be the only time we saw him onstage.
Zach: I knew Hadad’s Lake was a waterpark/lake getaway for Richmond locals. Yet I was still taken aback at how we were literally seeing a GWAR festival at a waterpark! The entire day I wished I brought swim trunks as I tattooed festival goers diving and sliding into the water. Plus, I can honestly say that this is the only festival you could see a young couple drenched in fake blood in a row boat for a lover’s stroll on the lake.
However, with all the great music and wacky water sports going on, the overall theme of the day was Oderus. From seeing his face tattooed on fans’ bodies, to seeing Jamey Jasta lead the crowd through a rally cry in honor of the late scumdog, it was obvious that Brockie was still on everyone’s mind. Even as GWAR was making its triumphant return onstage (and the show was indeed a success), the loss of Brockie hit everyone hard. It was especially emotional to watch Slymenstra Hymen fighting back tears as GWAR played “The Road Behind,” and it was hard to find a dry eye from anyone standing on the side of the stage watching the show.
But even with the inevitable sentimental moments, GWAR-B-Q was still a hell of a time and was without a doubt a day each member of GWAR and The Slave Pit should be proud of. Not only did they get back onstage to carry on without a pivotal member at its helm, but also pulled off a festival that essentially encompasses everything they and Brockie have worked towards accomplishing. In short, it was a day of chaos and extravagance that Oderus would’ve been proud of.
Kodi: There was such a massive crowd for Gwar-BQ that the crew on the ground had their limitations tested. One guy I talked to waited 30 minutes to get in, and by the hour before Gwar went on, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a beer or bottle of water remaining in the park. But with that all in mind, everyone had a blast and supported each other there, to the extent that litter wasn’t the problem you’d think it would be and those moshing didn’t seem intent on drawing blood. That’s the way a metal show should work! The latest incarnation of Gwar was supremely fun live, and while they didn’t bring out the largest cannons they’ve used for spraying their audiences down in the past, a lot of the other key elements (Gor-Gor! Slymenstra Hymen! Sleazy P. Martini!) were all out in force. Right down to a moment of silence that Sleazy passed off afterward as an attempt to locate some crack Beefcake dropped, Gwar’s set was the right mix of poignant and outrageous. Bonus props to Venomous Maximus, who filled in for Goatwhore at a moment’s notice and deserve much more attention. It was amazing to meet people from all over North America (I see you, new Ottawa friends!) who had dropped everything to make this festival for the first time; in the wake of this year’s edition, it’ll likely just keep getting bigger.
Nick: GWARBQ is a pretty interesting festival in itself, in that the energy is pretty dispersed through a wide area. Music almost becomes a very small part of the entire event! There were some folks that hit the lake as soon as they arrived, and staying there all day wouldn’t even be a terrible idea. Paddle boats, people riding bikes into the lake, tons of vendor booths, artist signings – it’s pretty dizzying and easy for the entire afternoon to disappear in a blur of beer and barbeque, but that’s something that I actually found very endearing. It’s a really all-inclusive sort of crowd, (suppose you’d have to be, affinity for being splattered in alien semen is a bit of a niche thing) so the atmosphere was warm and inviting all around. Musically, the festival was an absolute slam-dunk, and the artist roster was perfect, in spite of both Goatwhore and Fuckface Unstoppable dropping off last-minute due to van troubles. GWAR brought a massively lively show, debuting new characters and bringing their trademark gore in full force. I still have fake blood under my fingernails! The elephant in the room was still the solemn undercurrent for the entire weekend, and although I’d felt it since the moment we arrived, “The Road Behind” absolutely leveled me, along with everyone else there. There were a lot of blood-drenched people crying like babies, and to call it a heavy moment was a massive understatement. That said, this gave me plenty of confidence that the band could continue in the wake of losing their ringleader. Brockie would have wanted that anyway, and I’m eager to see what happens next.
Bram: From the turnout of this past weekend’s festival, to the reaction of the crowd, to the promise of new material that Brad said was in the pipeline, it seems like there’s quite a bit of demand for GWAR still. It’s not ever going to be the same without Oderus, but the return of Sleazy and Slymenstra, as well as the introduction of Blothar, showed that the band can definitely keep things going. It was an entertaining 75 minute set that featured nearly everything you’ve come to expect from GWAR. What wasn’t expected was genuine emotion. After being coated in alien goo and blood for over 25 years now, the tears that flowing when the band played “The Road Behind” might have been a GWAR first for everyone in attendance. It’s a tough act we’re looking forward to seeing them follow.