TVD Live: The 6th Annual Gwar BQ at Hadad’s Lake, 8/15

Blöthar. Beefcake the Mighty. Sexecutioner. To the uninitiated, these may seem like names from a twisted, perverted comic. To the Bohabs, or devotees to the band known as Gwar, well, you’re still not too far off. For three decades now, Gwar had been pushing the limits of musical outrageousness with their twisted music and their gore-filled live shows have become a thing of legend.

In recent years, one of their latest ventures has been the annual Gwar BQ in their hometown of Richmond, VA. Correction, adopted hometown, as they claim Antarctica as their home on Earth. The Gwar BQ has been picking up steam, as the annual event has grown bigger each year, and that was most apparent with this year’s lineup.

Three stages, featuring some of punk and metal’s heaviest hitters like Down, Clutch, the Descendants and Of course, Gwar themselves.

The sun shone brightly, and the August day was expectedly hot. Not shockingly for anyone from the DC area, traffic was at ridiculous levels, causing myself and anyone coming from the north to arrive late to the festivities if you didn’t leave before the sun came up. The early start time of 10AM made this an even tougher feat, but with a hard curfew in place (or so I heard), the early start was necessary with so many bands on the bill.

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Having missed some bands by the time I arrived—I was particularly distraught at having missed Valkyrie, who I was told sounded fantastic—I quickly headed over to the Scumdog Stage in time to see the last two songs from Cancer Bats who put more into two songs than some bands out into a whole set.

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From that moment on it was full throttle all day long, shifting from stage to stage to catch as many bands’ sets as possible. Ghoul, decked out in burlap hoods and daisy dukes gave the crowd an early peek of what was to come, spraying the crowd with faux blood at the Slaughterama Stage. As the activity in the pit picked up, dust and dirt filled the air creating a brown haze over the area.

The Slaughterama Stage was situated between a large swimming pool where fans were lounging with their cold beer to stay cool, and what I refer to as “The Black Lagoon,” a murky pond of questionable bacteria content where a brave few were swimming and the more adventuresome were jumping BMX bikes off of a ramp into the pond.

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The power of New Orleans was strong over on the Scumdog Stage, as the next two bands up were Goatwhore and the mighty Down. Goatwhore was relentless, their NOLA-bred brand of blackened thrash leading the crowd into a frenzy akin to a school of piranhas in the Amazon feeding on a wounded animal. Singer Ben Falgoust was all hair and spiked gauntlets, and has proved time and again to be one of the top frontmen of thrash metal today.

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Down took the stage next, and as the band eased into the first song, singer Philip Anselmo produced a bottle of white wine from within his deep pocket, toasted to the crowd, and downed a slug (pun intended).

After jamming on the intro of “Eyes of the South” for a few minutes while getting into the groove, the intro crescendoed its way up and up until the song exploded to life. The frontline of guitarists Pepper Keenan and Bobby Landgraf formed an imposing wall of sound that drove the sonics of the remarkable set, by far one of the best of the day.

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John Joseph led New York hardcore legends Cro-Mags through a breakneck set of brutal classics. The dirt out once again set a haze over the Slaughterama Stage area as they cranked out “Sign of the Times” and the seminal “Hard Times.”

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The funky go-go sounds of Chuck Brown’s “We Need Some Money” pumping from the PA could only mean one thing: it was time for Clutch to bring the rock. Opening with the hand-clapper blues jam of “Gravel Road,” the Maryland rockers put the pedal to the floor and kept it down throughout the set. Save for a few older songs mixed in, the majority of the set was composed of newer material—seven from 2013’s Earth Rocker and three from the forthcoming Psychic Warfare. 

The new songs, including the first single, “X-Ray Visions,” are high energy and translate well live, feeding the rekindled fire in the band that began with Earth Rocker. Having seen Clutch many times over the years, the band—especially wanton frontman Neil Fallon—are performing with renewed fervor. Clutch is picking up steam as they grow older, not typically the opposite, and fans of the band are reaping the benefits.

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After the fantastic set from Clutch, the time had finally come for Gwar! After a brief introduction from longtime manager Sleazy P. Martini, the scumdogs took the stage to rain terror and gallons of fake blood onto the eagerly awaiting Bohabs.

The insanity began as they opened with “Madness at the Core of Time” and “Saddam a Go-Go.” Imposing singer Blöthar led the chaos, as Gwar slave Mattron was seemingly everywhere, assisting in the carnage and getting just as bloody as the crowd.

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Not appearing often enough for the fans’ liking, Sexecutioner took the stage to sing his own debaucherous song, aptly named for himself. As he sang of his horrific sexual exploits, he and Mattron worked together in tearing apart a vile creature in a flurry of blood and guts.

After “A Short History of the End of the World,” Sleazy returned to lead the faux-game show song “Slaughterama.” Scumdogs of the Universe was my introduction to Gwar many years ago, and memories of high school flooded back into my brain as character after character come onstage, and were slaughtered in short notice. The outrageousness of Gwar came to an end, as the crowd helped sing Oderus Urungus’ anthem, “Sick of You.”

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Closing out this year’s Gwar BQ was punk rock legends the Descendents. Singer Milo Auckerman was a walking contradiction as always, with his green dad shorts and Croakies holding his glasses in place, yet unleashing an explosive energy in every note he sang.

Leading things off with “Everything Sux” and “I’m the One,” guitarist Steven Edgerton was all smiles, as was the euphoric crowd as they sang along with every word.

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Later in the set, local metal hero Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste and Iron Reagan joined the band onstage to help sing “Thank You,” and the band and fans were locked in a competition of vivacity, matching each other as the energy level climbed.

The set ended, bringing 2015’s Gwar-B-Q to a close. People wandered in a haze of sweat, chlorine, beer and blood, some hitting the road for home, others making their way to the GwarBar in Richmond for some after-party action.

It was only a year and a half ago that many wondered if the untimely death of Dave Brockie would mean the end of Gwar. His name was heard repeatedly throughout the day, making Gwar BQ not just a typical summer festival, but a way for bands and fans to keep his spirit alive—both the spirit of Oderus and Brockie—a spirit that was reflected on every blood-spattered face at Gwar BQ.

GWAR

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DESCENDENTS

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CLUTCH

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CRO-MAGS

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DOWN

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GOATWHORE

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DEAD EARTH POLITICS

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CANCER BATS

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THE BOHABS

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  • http://metalmaidenphotography.rocks Carina Kay Montgomery

    I drove 1,100 miles to be there from Missouri. If you’ve never been you should. Great time, great people, great bands….. Photos are awesome, good job!

    • jpacella

      Thank you! Pretty awesome day indeed.

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