Music festivals can be niche. Whether you’re into Russian folk music, or you’re a disco aficionado, there’s a festival out there for you. There’s even an underwater music festival in Florida. But perhaps no festival caters to a breed more unique than GWARBQ—the unapologetically grossest and strangest gathering of the summer, six-years running.
Last year I was lucky enough to partake in my first alien invasion known as “GWARBQ”. Having never been to a GWAR concert before, I had no idea what to expect. When I walked into a crowd of spew-splattered bohabs, drunk off of GWAR brand beer and decorated with horns, fake weapons, in curious homemade costumes, I was taken by surprise. GWAR fans are proud, loyal, and passionate about the crusty culture the band has cultivated, lending an air of fellowship to the atmosphere at this blood-soaked festival.
Many of the people, and many of the bands, had traveled from far away to be a part of the annual gathering of the cult of GWAR. The lineup was a varied mix of heavy acts, consisting of Clutch, Down, Goatwhore, Cancer Bats, Cro-Mags and many more playing several stages against the scenic backdrop of Hadad’s Lake in Richmond, Virginia.
The festival was an over-the-top display of vulgarity and fake gore, to say the least. As a first-timer, I was in shock and awe at first but quickly gave into the immensely positive energy resonating from Hadad’s Lake. GWAR’s set was a full-fledged performance, complete with several costume changes, a cast of corrupt characters and endless amounts of neon bile erupting from their costumes, spewed onto the crowd. The audience was incredibly receptive, screaming along to every song, and constantly moving towards the streams of multicolored alien juice, decorating their white t-shirts with GWAR’s discharge to create their own GWARBQ souvenirs.
While I’m not 100% committed to going to GWARBQ 2016, I can’t help but wonder what cast of characters will make their appearances next year. Perhaps GWAR will massacre Donald Trump during their show? Maybe they’ll share the stage with other masked metallers like Mushroomhead or Kissing Candace. You can never really know what to expect from a band like GWAR. One thing is for sure though—GWARBQ will be an over-the-top, out of this world celebration for many years to come.