Fear And Loathing On Hadad’s Lake: Or, What Went Down At GWAR B-Q

Posted by on August 24, 2016

If you’ve ever spoken to me at length about music, you probably came away from that conversation knowing that I adore GWAR B-Q. It’s everything I love about music festivals, and none of the stuff that tends to suck about them. I often refer to GWAR’s annual bacchanalia of meat, fake blood, and heatstroke as what I imagine the Gathering of the Juggalos must be like, in the sense that there’s no other festival so united in their singular love for something so bizarre. I’m no stranger to immersing myself in some profoundly weird shit, but this is my third GWAR B-Q – not only am I intimately familiar with the proceedings, but I’ve got the ink to prove it. This is my favorite party of the year, so allow me to walk you through it. Pack sunscreen.



A more recent GWARBQ tradition is the addition of the B4BQ, a show the day before at The National in town that gets bundled in with the fancier ticket options. Last year’s event included the Fear Factory/Coal Chamber tour as well, but the core of the event for the last two years has been Summer Slaughter. If you’ve ever set foot in a Summer Slaughter date before, you know what to expect here.


#Suffocation descends upon the #B4BQ

A photo posted by GWAR (@gwar) on

The National is rapidly becoming my favorite venue for these excursions, as they seem to keep the air conditioning cranked during August. The bar right in front of the doors is serving what they’re calling a “GWARgarita.” There will be many of these in my body by night’s end.




It’s the best day of the year #rva #rvamusic #gwarbq #punkrocksummer

A photo posted by Daniel Sellergren (@dsellergren) on


If you’re not familiar, GWARBQ takes place at Hadad’s Lake, an old-school water park consisting of several dirt floor man-made pools next to the lake proper. There’s 2 large stages, one small pavillion in the middle, and a whoooole lot of Oderus Ale to get through by the end of the day.


This stuff gave me life.


@braintentacles is first up, sax metal #gwarbq #gwarbq

A photo posted by Nick DeSimone (@ham_cravings) on


Brain Tentacles sucked us in pretty much immediately. The word “skronk” was penned for music like this. Sax-driven avante-garde jazz/metal wackiness. Totally mesmerizing.

Sawyer Family wins the prize for best /weirdest surprise of the day #gwarbq2016 #gwarbq

A photo posted by Nick DeSimone (@ham_cravings) on


Sawyer Family was an early main stage act – I’d never heard a note of their music before that day, and they completely ran away as one of my favorites. Not particularly heavy, but a strange rockabilly-sludge vibe with an upright bass helped them stand out.

Photo by author


Naturally, it can’t be a GWARBQ without Eat The Turnbuckle. They’re festival veterans at this point, with members scaling the pavillion for makeshift ladder matches and very real body slams. That referee onstage isn’t just for show – I’d like to see them fight GWAR.


Agreed. It is hot as hell out here.


I won’t pummel this dead horse too much further, especially since I agree with their artistic reasons for doing so, but it fucking sucks that The Dillinger Escape Plan are breaking up. That said, a second option in two weeks to see them on their extended farewell tour? Sign me up. Where things took a strange turn, however, is when the band took the stage minus vocalist Greg Puciato, and with the addition of Brain Tentacles/Yakuza saxophonist Bruce Lamont. Guitarist Ben Weinman briefly explained that Puciato’s plane from LA was cancelled, but they wanted to play anyway. About halfway through a set of instrumental Dillinger-plus nightmarish sax noise, the band invited…a random guy from the crowd up to sing the rest of the set. He did a really good job, actually! The description for the video says he’s the singer in a couple local bands, so he got to have his Rock Star moment.


Waiting for one of my friends to get some GWAR ink in the pop-up tattoo shop, I jumped in the lake to cool off. I’ve been stopped at shows quite a few times by people who tell me I look like Phil Anselmo, so that’s not really unusual. The two dudes who jumped in shortly after me, however, actually mistook me for the guy and congratulated me on a great show. The illusion was shattered before I could get any free beer out of the deal, but they weren’t kidding – the real Anselmo crushed it fronting NOLA sludge legends Eyehategod.



Against Me! have been on my list of bands to see for a while now, and their place in the afternoon was a perfect breather for the main event. Laura Jane Grace is still probably the most punk rock person on earth.

HAIL ODERUS, HAIL GWAR!! #gwarbq2016 #gwarbq

A photo posted by Nick DeSimone (@ham_cravings) on


GWAR’s set was madness, to be expected. Sleazy P. Martini took the stage first to set the tone, a hearty “your vote don’t mean SHIT!” before decapitating Obama onstage, and bringing out Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump for a cage match resulting in blood being shot from places that shouldn’t be shooting blood as the set’s plot concerned GWAR’s attempts to win a galactic wrestling belt.

A photo posted by Joshua Lemons (@lemons4201) on


As the carnage from our lords and masters GWAR died down, we limped over to the other main event, a LAMB OF GOD HOMETOWN SHOW. Their set was heavy on new stuff, but a few deeper cuts made it in as well, including the first time I’ve heard “Descending” played live since Ozzfest 2007, right as Sacrament was hitting stores.

@drandallblythe of @lambofgod destroying @gwarbq today in their hometown of Richmond, VA!

A photo posted by The Loudest Rock 💀 89.5 FM (@wsou) on


As per the GWARBQ usual, the town dictates that the party has to end at sundown. The mob starts limping back to their cars, absolutely caked in the filth of a good time.

#gwarbq #gwarbq2016

A video posted by Nick DeSimone (@ham_cravings) on


Verdict? 1000% worth it. Every GWARBQ conquered only makes you stronger, and makes the next year better. Seven years running, the fest is growing into a true destination. I’d recommend it to anyone, anywhere. The GWARbar kicks ass, too.


No ragrets.

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Categorised in: GWARzone, Hard Hitting Investigative Journalism