GWARBQ7 2016 Sleazy P. Martini for President? ...by Brian McDonald

Was it gross? Yes…

Was there fast, furious, loud music and rabid fans in mosh pits getting fake blood and bodily fluids sprayed all over them? Yes…

Did it include touching moments, and a cuteness overload? Yes…Wait, what?

My perception must be shifting with age… I heard a lot of incredible music over the weekend. I saw fake as well as real blood on the faces of some performers. That said, what stood out this year was the realization of how diverse the metal and hardcore fans are and how important the fan/artist connections are to a band’s success. I met music lovers from four years old to over seventy, from all nationalities, backgrounds, and political affiliations… none of it mattered. Not this weekend. The event kicked off with the Summer Slaughter Tour at The National with over a dozen metal acts. Veteran metal icons Cannibal Corpse headlined and reminded everyone why they’re still so significant and influencing one generation after the next.

The Gwarbq itself started bright and early on Saturday with doors opening at 10:00a.m. and the first band at 10:30. I didn’t make it in time for the first couple of bands. Brain Tentacles was one of those I missed but I heard their electric set discussed more than once, words like metal fusion and experimental were used so I am certainly intrigued. By the time I gathered my thoughts and credentials, Todd Evans (previously Beefcake in GWAR), Chad Smith and JC Chino aka Mobil Deathcamp were already up on the main stage pounding the haze from the eyes of the sleepy and/or hung-over crowd. If you think you want to learn about proper speed metal, you can skip the training wheels and go right to the Masters class by picking up their new cd, Summon The Destroyer! I missed acts here and there but never heard a mention of a bad set. I was able to catch a few songs by The Sawyer Family, out of Kentucky, American Nightmare from Boston, and August Burns Red, a Christian metal-core outfit from Pennsylvania. Then, while rounding a corner, I thought we had stumbled into a brawl. No, it was just Eat The Turnbuckle from Philly. If the WWE ever decides to do a thrash/ death metal/hardcore musical, they are too late. Their brutal set included bloody faces and a flying elbow off of the roof of the building (video below). After that it was time for the meet and greet in the air-conditioned hall with GWAR. Meeting people in the line is always fun. This year I met two young ladies who flew from Japan. We shook hands and nodded to each other but few words were exchanged or needed. I met Tim and his four year old son, Gus. Already a Gwarbq veteran, he was high fives and head banging with the best of them, obviously loving every minute. Then I had the honor to meet Emily and her twin brother Alan. I noticed how excited he was to see the hosts, in all their hideous glory, arrive one by one. He jumped up and called out each of their names barely able to contain himself. You see, Alan is a twenty-six year old high functioning autistic young man. As he approached each member, they quickly recognized him and were so kind and thoughtful while signing his swag, carefully choosing their words while giving him the full on Rock Star treatment. Normally at these things everyone is self involved and star struck but on this day Alan’s joy was so infectious that I, and everyone who witnessed it will remember it forever and I’m sure Alan will. Emily offers her story in the picture of Alan below. After wiping my eyes because I must have gotten something in both of them, I rushed over to catch Phil Anselmo, formerly of Pantera, front the sludge metal band from New Orleans, Eyehategod. Their singer could not attend so Phil helped out by manning the microphone. He adjusted his tone and cadence and even the bands loyalists seemed pleased with his performance. I also heard California get well represented by old school punkers Lagwagon. Next up was a band that I had read about but had not heard yet, The Death Of Rock N Roll. On vocals and guitar is Pete Lee (Gwar’s guitarist Flattus Maximus from 92-98) along with his brother “Filthy” Phil on the drums, John Williamson on bass and Dorian Rainwater on lead guitar. If liking this band means I agree that rock and roll is dead, then I wish these guys had killed it a long time ago. To see them light that place up and steal the crowd from every direction like they did, gave me hope for the future since all but one of them is my age or a bit older. Buy their debut, self-titled cd and tell rock and roll to rest peacefully.

Just enough time to eat something and get ready to be slain. The meat sandwich with extra Gwarbq sauce scarfed down, plastic taped around camera, electronics in a zip lock, nothing is safe. The herd packed in tight for the voluntary slaughter. And slaughtered we were. Just like every other time I’ve seen them, far too much is going on to see it all. Maybe that’s why once you’ve witnessed it, you always crave more. There were three wrestling matches to the death on stage while they played through their set of old and new songs. Sawborg took on Bozo Destructo, Blothar went up against the Jagermonsta and then Trump and Hillary were the surprise guests who battled it out for the finale. Hillary edged out Trump but Sleazy came out and dismantled Hillary for the win. Death, destruction, and satisfaction filled the air.

They killed, that’s what they do.

Just in case there were any survivors, Richmond’s own Lamb of God closed the show. Making certain to honor the hosts with praise and respect, Randy Blythe (LOG singer) told the crowd how GWAR had helped and supported them in their earlier years, bringing them out on tour and sharing their knowledge of the business. It is easy to see and hear why they are at the top of the metal world. After a quiet ride back to the hotel, a couple of showers and a little sleep I headed to the GWARBAR for some food and fellowship. It overflowed with both. Besides the great food and drinks, Gwar’s members mingled and visited with everyone there, offering and accepting appreciation for the long, fun weekend. Everyone shared stories and experiences while local bands kept the energy up. Even the famous Gwar Baby made an appearance, dressed in her Spiked Shoulder pads and Oderus inspired outfit. Cameras were coming out of everywhere and a small crowd gathered just to see her entrance with her family. Then, Mike Bishop (Blothar in GWAR) teamed up with his previous band-mates from Kepone and put on an incredible display of musicianship. I have always been drawn to three-piece bands and Kepone has always been the trio that others are compared to for me. Old dogs might not be able to learn new tricks, but these old dogs sure could teach the youth a thing or two about commanding a stage. It was so nostalgic and great to see them together again, more powerful than ever if that’s possible. So glad I stayed for that. I learned a lot this weekend, not necessarily about music but more about the happiness and beauty that we worthless humans need to pay more attention to. The music was the magic that brought us all together to experience it. I just wish the rest of the world was as inclusive and felt as safe as a bloody GWAR pit.

Congratulations Sleazy, you are our only hope!

Rest in Peace Dave Brockie and Cory Smoot.

-Brian McDonald

 

MANY MANY PICS AND VIDEO BELOW! Just scroll on down!

Pic Gallery #1 below w/story caption,  ...just scroll over it and read the caption story! 

The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
This little angel in black is Katana, daughter of Richmond based tattoo artists Gwooki and Sabrina. Gwooki explained his affection for GWAR this way, "When I was about 12 or 13 years old I saw GWAR on a magazine for the first time and I made up my mind, seeing them in those crazy costumes made me realize that it’s ok to be different and to be into weird stuff even after you’ve grown up. Medieval weapons, action figures, horror, humor, metal and even a hot chick! all my interests merged together into a theatrical metal show. Dave Brockie and Gwar changed my life forever, I am now an award winning multimedia artist and I had the honor of tattooing the 25th anniversary GWAR logo on Dave. One of the best days of my career hands down."
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
Humongous (Byron Bassett) Urungus stopped exterminating attendees to take a pic with Matt McGuire (Sawborg/prop master in GWAR) to trade sculpting techniques. Humungus also placed in the costume contest with his homemade outfit and is a gifted artist himself. Matt is on the left.
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
"My name is Emily, my twin brother is Alan, we were born and raised in Richmond but now live in NC. I have been a fan of Gwar about fourteen years. I was worried to tell Alan about them because he has a hard time differentiating what is appropriate to say in public and what is not. They even went to the same college as me (VCU). Last year after I moved down here (to NC), I saw that gwar was playing Ziggys in Winston which isn't too far from us. Alan had never been to a show in his life, much less a metal one. On a whim, I messaged Mike Bishop (Blothar) to ask him about possibly meeting before the show so Alan could see them because I did not know if he could handle the noise and people, not to mention at the time, being new to the area I did not have a job or money to afford tickets but I told Mike if compensation was needed, we would figure something out. A few days later Mike messaged me that they would be glad to meet Alan and would not charge us to do so. When Mike walked out to our car. (Story cont. below article, bottom of page.)
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
Luckily, upon arriving at the hotel, we were able to get some ground rules for the weekend from Heavy Metal Jesus himself.. He can be found floating atop many metal shows the world over in his robe and boots. Like his FB page and you too can receive Heavy Metal Blessings whenever you need them. From left: Mike (BossMan) Dougherty, Michael (HMJ) Medford, Me (Brian McDonald) and Jay Lee.
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
GWAR members can often be found hanging out with their fans. Jamison Land stopped by our hotel and visited.Im pretty sure there are not many other bands that care as much about their fans as GWAR.
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The man being throttled by members of Eat The Turnbuckle is Pedro (The Roadie) Rodriguez Jr. from Philly. He has been a GWAR fan since 1992. When asked what brought him to the GWARBQ, it turns out he has been in the extended GWAR family for years, sometimes helping with load-ins and outs and even with the merchandise. He informed me that he was celebrating being alive after some extremely serious health problems, and that nothing was going to take him out except GWAR themselves. He added, about the fans, "Im honored to be a part of such an amazing family of people who have mutual love and respect for each other." If you read this, send out some good vibes for my new friend Pedro's complete recovery.
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The unexpected surprise of the weekend. Kepone at the GWARBAR. Worth the GWARBQ ticket price just to witness these three play music together but it was free for all in attendance and everyone within about a quarter mile in all directions.
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
The story behind this pic...scroll here!
Tim with his son Gus...Im pretty sure this is the only time he wasn't smiling the entire day. Tim is a long time GWAR fan and Im sure Gus will not only remember this day forever, but will also be a fan for life also.

Pic Gallery #2 below, Bohabs, Monsters and other random scenes from the show

Pic Gallery #3 below, ...some of the GWAR guys painting a mural.Matt McGuire, Bob Gorman and Chuck Varga

Pic Gallery #4 below, ...Kepone playing in the lot at the GWARBAR

Pic Gallery #5 below,  ...Mobile Deathcamp

Pic Gallery #6 below,  ...August Burns Red

Pic Gallery #7 below,  ...The Sawyer Family

Pic Gallery #8 below,  ...American Nightmare

Pic Gallery #9 below,  ...EYEHATEGOD with Phil Anselmo

Pic Gallery #10 below,  ...Lagwagon

Pic Gallery #11 below,  ...The Death Of Rock N Roll

Pic Gallery #12 below,  ...Lamb Of God

Pic Gallery #13 below,  ...GWAR

VIDEOS BELOW:

 

 

(Story continued from story pic above) Alan had seen all the gwar guys outside of their costumes in pictures, but I wasn't sure if he would recognize them or not. Sure enough, Alan sees Mike and says, "are you Blothar?" Mike tells him "yes" and told him his real name also. He then took him on a tour of their bus, back stage, the venue etc., Alan was walking around the venue going on about how he couldn't wait to see the show that night when I had to tell him, 'well, i didn't actually buy tickets because I didnt think you could handle it.' Gwars tour manager overheard me saying this and promptly gave us tickets and told us "this way, if he cant handle it, no big deal, but if he can, awesome!" All the guys were taking pics with him and just being super awesome, it was taking everything in me not to cry. When I called my mom after we left to tell her what all went down, we were both crying like silly and Alan was naturally baffled as to why we were crying lol. That night we came back to the show, the guys were AMAZING to Alan, he spent the entire show right up against the stage, never even used the headphones the tour manager gave him. At the end of the show, as they were exiting the stage, Mike Derks (Balsac) handed Alan a guitar pick and he might as well have given him a million dollars because that is all Alan talked about the whole way home "My best friend balsac gave me a guitar pic! did you see that??" Ever since then, if the guys are playing nearby, we make sure to go see them since according to Alan, all the gwar guys are his 'best friends'. I've also found it really sweet the girlfriends/fiancés of GWAR members often check on Alan. We have seen Eve at all but one show and she always comes up and gives Alan a big hug. Lindsay has always asked me about him and enjoyed his photos/videos, and Nicole occasionally will message me as well, and was super sweet to him at the first show we went to when he was overly excited at the merch table. He only wears gwar shirts or on wednesdays he sometimes wears his "hump day" shirt lol. Alan also told me about having dreams involving Brockie and Smoot, he says he hangs out with them and they play songs and talk to him. He told me about these dreams before I'd even told him that they had passed. The first time he told me about him talking to Dave, I kind of froze in my tracks, and said 'Alan, did you know that Dave passed away?' and he said 'no, he didnt tell me that.' They also have a really awesome fans that have sent Alan gwar goodies free of charge and are always looking out for him at shows. I can't think of any other band or group of fans that would go out of their way for someone the way they do for Alan.

Brian McDonald

I am a 49-year-old child who refuses to grow up and put away his childish ways.  I have lived in the Tidewater/Hampton Roads/7-Cities/Coastal Virginia (wtf, decide on a name) area my entire life.  If I'm not in the Atlantic Ocean with one of my daughters, I'm listening to punk, metal, hardcore, or any hybrid of the three.  I still think I'll be the drummer in a killer band one day.  I'm really just a simple fan of truthful, brutal music, and happy if that's all I ever am.