Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) and Gwar first appeared on my television screen in the late 90’s in a cameo in the film Empire Records in the infamous pot induced tv kill hallucination. When I saw their awesome kill and “No way this is real, this is too cool…”, stupidly I went on with my life and made some horrible teenage musical choices. I never got to feel the wet spray of cuttlefish jizz spray my face and till this day it makes me weep. I later saw Holliston (a show first aired around 2011 on fear net and will be gearing up for Season 3 on GeekNation-their first season without Brockie) and I fell in love all over again with his grotesque alien charm, his always on point whit and the gentle smile hid behind his monster. Brockie passed away March 23 2014 and the world has never been the same for many of us. Last year I took my first trip to what the loving Bohabs (Gwar fans) refer to as the Q in honor of Dave and his monster. I took the journey again but this time I went to bring you the reasons why you should go.
Four days on the bus then finally, I arrived in my home away from home RVA. As soon I stepped off the bus my friend and recently adopted father “ Gran Daddy Bohab” picked me up and I began my journey. There are so many things to check out with Richmond’s rich history but during GwarBq month its focus is mainly on Gwar History. I started with VCU the place where Dave and the other slaves of Gwar began the culmination of the entity it is today. Chaffers Court, located on the Campus, is where Death Piggy (first incarnation of Gwar) played their first show. Although its not much to look at you can still feel the energy off of it. Also another big piece of Gwar history is the Richmond Dairy Factory that is now the Richmond Dairy Apartments Dave and Hunter Jackson (Techno Destructo) first used this building when it was abandoned to build movie sets and create their monsters. Lastly, but definitely not least, Dave Brockies final home. I will not divulge the exact address out of respect for the family now living there. The people living there now are used to fans going to their door and asking to take pictures so ask around. I got to gaze upon the the enclosed side porch said to be where he said to spend the most time. I sighed as I wished I could have made this visit many years ago. It felt good to be there and if you are a Gwar fan these are a do not miss.
I can’t forget to mention the Planet Hollywood’s answer to the Scumdogg – Gwar Bar. After Brockies passing Gwar decided to open up a dive bar pandering to the bohabs that love and miss Dave with all their disease ridden hearts. Old show fliers, Gwar-tifacts (such as Oderus’s sword Unt Lick and Flattus Maximus’s Guitar) and blood streaked floors set the atmosphere. The food is great and so is the booze but be prepared to spend money. It’s a nice place but I can’t help but wonder what Brockie would think of this place.
Another part of the GwarBq weekend is the Clarion Hotel parties! Originated a few years back by Dave Brockie himself, Bohabs and Scumdoggs alike gathered here to declare a war against being sober. Since last year, there has been new management and to the chagrin to the bohab nation bright spotlights were installed and stricter security rules were in place. This did not stop us! Beer and liquor pool side with weed and many other things I will not discuss in this article were steadily available. Viking pool battles and naked streaking brought the party in an uproar. The best part of the Clarion parties are the Bohabs themselves. Many have come long distances in honor of Dave Brockie and Cory Smoot (the last Flattus Maximus), but others come in honor of loved ones who passed and to celebrate anniversary’s. So many cool stories of interactions with Dave made me feel like I really was partying with him.
Friday night the official festivities began with B4BQ but I myself couldn’t go due to the exhaustion of my funds that were mostly spent on food and booze. That night I prepared my gear and geared up for the GWAR BQ and shook off my nerves for I was going to interview a member of Gwar. I was hoping to get some big questions answered but unfortunately the heat, the heaviness of his costume and an all-around unenthused attitude kept me from answering much. (Find out which Gwar member in my interview article, So This is Gwar??). As sleep beckoned me at 7 am Gwar Bq day, I drank my hotel coffee and forced myself into action and got myself ready for a long fun filled day. I and Granddaddy Bohab checked in at the employee gate and was allowed to enter before many others. I got to see Mobile Death Camp set up and met Todd Evans. He was really kind and really busy so I ventured off in my exploration of this year’s Q. I later got to see them tear up the stage and it was an awesome performance. I really hope to see them in Sacramento for a show. It was a high energy performance that made me see why Evans was chosen in the past to be a part of Gwar.
Mobile Death Camp gave everything they had in their set and they still had time to be awesome to their fans. Gwar Vodka, Gwar Beer, Gwar bloody mary mix, Gwar beard oil; all signs and advertisements were making me feel like I was at a Gwar Disney park. Don’t get me wrong, I like the merch and there will always be band merch but a part of me felt a little odd. A band that once made fun of KISS’s branding habits is now doing this themselves. It was just too funny to me as I would imagine Oderus’s commentary if he was still around. As I carried on I let that go for awhile and enjoyed a couple Oderus Ales and watched some really cool bands preform, the one thing I love about Gwar BQ is that Gwar thought about the up and coming bands that were trying to get out there when he created it. One of the bands, The Sawyer Family, spoke with me in an interview telling me of all the great opportunity the Q has given them to grow (see article So This Is Gwar???). I truly enjoyed their performance. I also got to see a bit of Eat the Turnbuckle before my interviews. Let me tell you, if you have not seen them live! Then it’s a definite must! Barbed wire bats to the face! Hardcore wrestling! Table dives! Everything incorporated with well preformed metal music! This is everything a metal head wrestling fan could ever want to see. They have been to Sac before so let’s pray to the metal Gods they come again. After a delicious meal from one of the many local vendors and a short lived Gwar interview I hung out with my bohabs and saw the sheer joy on their faces and that made my day even better. Many of my friend s went through the Crypt Of Chaos, the kick ass haunted house that covers you in gore, sadly I could not go due to my journalistic duties but I would suggest to go if you come to the Q. I went the year before last and it was an amazing time.
The 5pm Gwar set was approaching and everyone headed to the SCUMDOG STAGE and waited in baited breath. The crowd stretched out for miles. They started off with announcements of the winners of the costume contests and the Spew Olympics. I enjoyed seeing my friends onstage with their glorious costumes that they worked very hard on. One of the awesome things to see is the sweet characters people create every year. Many of which began to take life of their own in bands and online personalities. The first prize went to a band called GWELLO, a band you should definitely check out! They cover Gwar and Green Jelly songs and have been on the road with Manspeaker himself! As they all left the stage smoke began to billow out from the side of the stage and the screams of awe echoed from the crowed behind me. Bal-Sac’s (Mike Derks) recorded voice opened us to the new story line of 2 evil politicians seeking to gain world power, Trump and Hillary, and must battle against each other in an intergalactic wrestling match which may cause the end of the world. A ephagy of Obama came on to the stage to discuss the current events but then was thwarted by the bands manager Sleazy P Martini (Don Drakulich) and thusly began the “Slaughter-Rama”. Blowthar the Berserker, and his 4 cow utter cocks sprayed me and everyone else mercilessly as we rocked out to classic songs such as “Madness at the Core of Time” and “Tormentor”. We also had the return of the Sexicutioner (Chuck Varga) to help inspire nostalgia of the old days of Gwar. It was an awesome experience. With that being said, I was hoping for a new song off the new album they say will be coming out or some new pieces of art. Everything was very similar to the last year I was here. I can understand and sympathize with their current situation of having to try to rebuild an empire without their true leader but some new art and songs would have been much nicer to see than a whole bunch of new products.
After the sheer brutality of Gwar and we are all drenched in the bodily fluids of our Scumdogs, we all traveled across the way to watch Lamb of God tear it up. These Richmond VA natives got their start after meeting Brockie while paying their dues. It’s amazing to see how far they have come! Randy Blythe has overcome many obstacles, in the most recent with a near death car accident and being obtained in a Czech prison a few years ago, has grown a lot as an artist. Swirls of dust arose from the ground as a mosh pit of over a few hundred and possibly close to a thousand people stirred up the energy. This was an awesome set to close out the evening.
Later, I talked to someone who was one of the original Scumdog slaves during the early slave pit days when masks were made from fabric and carpenters glue. He told me what the Q was initially was. It was a family reunion where Dave got all the fans and all the bands to come hang out and bring their own meat to share and beer to drink. It was a time of celebration and time for Gwar to relax before their next tour. It was still bands and food but mostly free. If you were charged to get in it wasn’t more than $40 bucks mainly when they had first started it at Hadads to cover the cost of everything extra needed to be covered. I was told of the joy it was to party with everyone back in the day. This was a far cry in comparison to the now $60-$450 range in tickets and the $2 bottles of Gwater. It’s understandable they must make money but I can’t help but sigh and wonder what it would have been like if it remained that way. The one thing that remains and keeps me coming to RVA every year are my Bohabs. Without them there would be no Gwar and be no Q. The Q will always be a family get together of all of us wierdos, artists, music lover and outcasts. As long as there is a Q and there are people who love what Gwar truly is, music and stage art that speaks to the souls of the strange, I will always be going and so should you.
HAIL DAVE. HAIL ODERUS. HAIL CORY. HAIL FLATTUS. HAIL BOHABS OF Qs PAST and HAIL THE TRUE GWAR.
Words by Nikki Knight – Live Photo’s by Brian Mcdonald