This past weekend, many of metal, hardcore and punk’s elite descended on Richmond, VA’s Hadad’s Lake not just for the 5th annual GWAR-B-Q, but also to pay tribute to fallen frontman Dave Brockie and his altar ego Oderus Urungus. And while first and foremost, the event remained a celebration of all things GWAR, there was an undercurrent of sadness, and even a bit of anger, throughout the weekend. This was Metal Insider’s first GWAR-B-Q in its five years of existence, and from what others told us, the biggest one yet. Since this was our first time there, we’re going to bring you a recap with our thoughts, divided into days.
Friday, August 15th
Bram: Funerals are the worst. Losing someone that means a lot to you has to be documented, and putting on a brave face while paying tribute to someone that isn’t with you any more is a tough thing to do. While it wasn’t any easier for Dave Brockie’s public memorial, the informality of it all helped. We were forced to park on the street, as the lot was full. “Sorry guys, it’s like trying to put 10 gallons of shit in a five gallon bag,” the attendant said, setting the tone for it all. You’ve hopefully gotten a chance to read our recap, and while a blazing boat containing the Oderus costume and lots of fireworks aflame on the lake was absurd, it was also solemn and strangely touching.
Zach: Before going down to Richmond, I really had no idea what to expect from the memorial service. Was it going to be a legit, somber memorial, or was it going to be a service as vulgar and off-color as GWAR is itself. As it turned out, it ended up being a mixture of both, being emotional enough without being too sappy while still being humorous enough without being in bad taste.
For me, the tone was set when Jenna Anderson (who previously sang on a few tracks off of GWAR’s last album Battle Maximus) kicked the service off with a rendition of “Danny Boy.” “Oh wow, this is gonna get heavy,” went through my mind as soon as she started singing. Jello Biafra and Randy Blythe did a great job balancing humor with sadness during their eulogies. However, Adam Greene of the show Holliston got me a little teary eyed, both with his perfectly stated words and by playing a voicemail Brockie sent him days before he passed away. The biggest surprise for many (including me), though, was how emotional it was to see Oderus burn to a crisp during a fitting Viking funeral. While it was the perfect send off for a larger than life character, it also was a cruel wake up call, reminding us that both Brockie and Oderus have left the building for good.
Nick: The memorial was definitely exactly what it needed to be. It was predictably irreverent in some of the speeches – let’s face it, Dave Brockie probably would have wanted it that way – but the love everyone had for the man couldn’t have been more clear. Oderus the alien was larger than life, but Brockie the human wasn’t too far behind. The funeral itself was similar; all at once sorrowful, celebratory, just a little vulgar, (farewell, cuttlefish) and everything in between. Everywhere around me were people laughing, sobbing, and mourning a deep loss to the metal community, but more importantly celebrating the life of one of the most truly free creative minds we’ll likely ever see in extreme music. “We’ll miss you, you fucker!” somebody shouted from nearby. I couldn’t agree more.
Kodi: Even having only met Brockie one time just months before he died, I teared up twice during the course of the memorial. The man’s genius was celebrated in a perfect combination of sweetness, heaviness, weirdness and crudeness – not unlike the man himself, by all accounts. I think the part that stuck with me most (aside from the flaming-arrow-and-all Viking funeral) was both Jello Biafra and Adam Green talking about how he’d left them voicemails a couple weeks before he died, saying he loved them and remarking on how rare that is to hear men say to each other. Brockie did everything on his own terms with an amazing honesty that’s rare to find from any artist, and the love everyone had for him made watching Oderus burn on the lake feel like the closing scenes from Return of the Jedi – sure Darth Vader goes up in flames, but the man we finally saw behind the mask lives on. Yes, even if he did end up with a charred Cuttlefish.
Nick: The B4BQ was a pretty interesting event in itself. The schedule was fast and loose, and allowed for some great hangs in between some really quality openers. Black Dahlia is always an inhumanly tight live band, and the openers were so energized by the preceding ceremony.