This year’s GWAR B-Q, marks the fourth time local metal band Occultist will melt faces at the festival, something that’s sure to excite even the most casual metal head.
Anyone even remotely familiar with Richmond’s metal scene knows that Occultist is a force to be reckoned with. Their a raw, in-your-face live energy has earned the band their prominence and popularity in the local scene. Though they’re now seasoned veterans of GWAR B-Q, it’s no less exciting for them to be playing it once again.
“It’s always a really fun time out there,” said Jim Reed, one of Occultist’s two guitarists.
They’ll be performing two new tracks that aren’t yet recorded, “Transfixed” and “Endless Ones”, which should be an exciting opportunity for fans of the band to get a feel for the sound of their upcoming second album, which is slated for release in early 2017.
They’ll also be playing stuff from their vicious demo Hell By Our Hands, and material from their debut album Death Sigils.
GWAR B-Q, which has been held since 2009, has become a prominent event in the metal world, with people coming from all over to attend the RVA-based party. It’s an experience that entails getting drenched in fake blood, cum, and other lovely bodily fluids, among many other things. The lineup, which features a more diverse lineup than in recent years, serves as an opportunity to expose GWAR fans and metalheads alike to music they might not normally listen to.
“The members of GWAR listen to literally every kind of music,” Reed said. “And I think they are trying to evolve the festival to be a bigger umbrella to represent not only their personal tastes, but also not preaching to the choir every year. They’d like to have GWAR fans that come maybe experience something new they haven’t experienced before sonically.”
That’s not to say that there isn’t a strong effort on behalf of GWAR to include local bands. Featuring Richmond’s local music scene is an important part of the event, and something they actively strive to do.
“I feel like there’s a little bit less than normal this year, but there is definitely an aggressive effort,” Reed said. “We got asked to play, but we’ve played it before, but definitely a lot of local bands have been involved in the past. There’s been a lot of different bands that are more regional, or at least local, or have ties to Richmond.”
There’s more to experience than just the music, though. GWAR B-Q is notorious for being a filthy, sweaty, raucous party, and while the formidable lineup is the main draw, there are plenty of activities to partake in, and no shortage of weirdos to watch. Fans will be able to get plenty of GWAR memorabilia, like GWAR’s own beer, BBQ sauce and vodka, and compete in the Spew-Olympics, a watersport themed competition that awards cash and prizes. And while some would advise against it, you could join the drunken masses of grimy metalheads in the waters of Hadad Lake, which are known for being less than stellar in the sanitation department – but GWAR wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s kind of like a fucked up Six Flags,” Reed said. “… Without as many rides and a lot more fake blood and drunk people. It’s a lot of fun. There’s definitely nothing like it, I would say.”
Fans of GWAR invest various amounts of time into dressing up as their favorite characters and figures from the band’s twisted, grotesque mythology, and wear their costumes to GWAR B-Q.
“There’s everything from, ‘Okay, alright, you put no time and effort into that,’ to people who are like, ‘Wow, you’ve been working on that for awhile, haven’t you?’” said Kent Jung, Occultist’s other guitarist.
Others see it as an opportunity not to dress up, but rather, to dress down.
“You know, I didn’t expect it from GWAR fans, but there’s like a fair amount of… body positivity,” said Brandon Whittaker, Occultist’s drummer. “You know, like, people are real comfortable in their skin. You’re gonna see some scantily clad people that don’t normally walk around half naked. And I think it’s really cool. It’s a welcoming, fun environment and I like it.”
Occultist will be getting to work right after their set, deciding to help out with GWAR B-Q instead of joining the festivities, a testament to their dedication and love for the festival. It’s come a long way since its inception in 2009, and continues to grow.
“I see the inner side of [GWAR B-Q]… I help out with the production end of it,” Reed said, “so it just seems like more stuff every year, either going on or in general, or like, the lineup kind of bringing higher profile acts to Hadad’s Lake. It’s definitely grown. It’s come a long way as they’ve just been steadily growing it, and I’m pretty impressed how far they’re taking it.”
Catch Occultist, GWAR and the rest of the remarkable lineup on Saturday, August 20th, at Hadad’s Lake – snag your tickets here!