I ventured down to the fourth annual GWARBQ at Hadad's Lake water park this weekend for an experience I will never forget.
First off, the drive from New York to Richmond is a grueling 8 hours. One hour in, I didn't think I would make it, but after you accept the fact that you are just going to be sitting in a car forever, it's not a big deal at all. Weed and heavy metal also help.
Arriving at the event, we went down this long road and our GPS was telling us we were there, but we saw nothing. Then, past a really large tree, there was a GWARBQ sign. We have arrived!
The "park" itself looked like it hasn't been updated since the '70s. It's really just one giant pool with attractions and then a lake you can dive into… not exactly the most sanitary of conditions. There was a main stage, which was a giant festival stage you'd come to expect and then a second stage which was plopped in a converted gazebo, allowing a much more intimate setting for the bands.
I managed to get there in time for one Cannabis Corpse song, and I really hope to see more of them when they release their new album later this year. Sadly, I missed X Cops. After doing some interviews for our video report (which should surface in the next few weeks), it was back to party mode.
GWAR's publicist, Jon Freeman, ever-so-kindly handed me a cold GWAR beer which I'd been dying to try. Unfortunately, it's a pale ale, which my taste palette does not agree with. But it was cold, and I wasn't drunk so it all worked out.
While I was roaming the park getting photos of the attendees, which you can see here, I heard Corrosion of Conformity crush the main stage, and these guys are legends for a reason. I then watched Battlecross perform, and it's incredible how tight those guys are. Being on Mayhem Fest, and playing every day has made them an unstoppable force. Even JR from Pig Destroyer noted to me that he never saw the band play before and was impressed by their stage presence. In a cool moment, Shannon Lucas, who drummed on the band's new record, War Of Will joined the band for a song.
Municipal Waste was on next on the main page. They were over the "wall of death" and commanded the crowd to try the "crowd surf of death." A sea of people came forth crowd surfing to the front as Waste played their killer thrash.
The most anticipated performance of the event was next, Pig Destroyer. Besides GWAR of course, they were the main reason I wanted to go because these guys don't ever really play. They played the gazebo stage and it was one of the most dangerous performances I'd ever seen. One dude decided "hey, let me climb up on the rafters" and I guess other people watching the show were like "hey, that's a great idea" and then there were 20 people hanging from or sitting on the rafters watching the band. Security tried to get them down but it was a lost cause. If just one of those bars broke, I had a feeling there would never be another GWARBQ, but everybody made it alive. When the band finished their explosive set, the crowd demanded one more song and rushed the stage in a way that the band was almost trapped and had no other choice. This might've been the most exciting Pig Destroyer performance I'd ever seen.
GWAR was up next, and it wasn't even 6:00 yet. This show was supposed to end by 7. Seeing GWAR in the day time is a real treat because you can watch as the masses of bohads get their clothing drenched. I was watching mostly from the photo pit and GWAR fans were nuts. People were crowd surfing to the front and landing hard on the grass, and I would feel bad for them but then five minutes later, they'd be right back at it.
There are no words to describe the fun that is watching GWAR live. It's a full-on spectacle. From Jesus, to Barack Obama to Hitler, nobody is spared from GWAR's wrath. Not even me! During their last song, "Sick Of You," I was thrown in their meat grinder by one of their slaves. What an honor to be almost killed by GWAR!
If you can make it next year, I highly suggest a visit for a fun afternoon of Gwactivities.
Check out our photo gallery of the people of GWARBQ and stay tuned for a full video report coming soon.