On its Wikipedia page, Gwar is described as a "satirical thrash metal band." For 30 years of outlandish costumes, gruesome gore-filled imagery and lyrics, and relentless touring and recording (12 studio albums and two Grammy nominations), the outspoken band managed to walk the line between parody and social commentary and did it brilliantly if not brutally. Sadly, 50-year-old Gwar frontman Dave Brockie, a.k.a. Oderus Urungus, was found dead in his Richmond, Va., home on the evening of Sunday, March 23. The cause of death has not yet been determined. This is another difficult blow for the band, which lost 34-year-old guitarist Cory Smoot, a.k.a. Flattus Maximus, in 2011 due to complications from coronary disease.
One early tribute came from Lamb of God guitarist Randy Blythe, who was arrested on manslaughter charges stemming from the death of a fan following a 2010 concert in Prague (Blythe was acquitted in 2013). Brockie was outraged at the lack of outrage from U.S. media or the metal community.
"If [Blythe] was a pop artist, the media would be all over this," Brockie/Urungus tweeted. "Naw, just because Randy is in a nasty metal band, you can just throw his ass in jail anytime you want."
The metal men's relationship clearly extended beyond being musical peers. On his Instagram page (drandallblythe), Blythe writes, "My band learned how to become a real touring band from GWAR--they gave us [our] first shot at this thing. ... Richmond, VA has lost one of its most creative people. This is a crying shame to me. Thank you Brockie, for all the crazy shit you did."
Speaking of crazy shit, organizers of the annual Sasquatch Music Festival (held at The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash.) have canceled a second weekend of the event, scheduled for July 4-6. According to a press release, "the second weekend was not embraced" by the "Sasquatch community." Live Nation Seattle president Jeff Trisler went on to say, "We felt it was better to cancel the new event now. ... Going forward, Sasquatch! Music Festival will be on the weekend the fans want: Memorial Day Weekend only."
On a less sad but still bittersweet note, Treefort 2014 has come and gone. Thousands of hours worked, miles traveled, lines queued, photos snapped, stories told and songs sung added up to yet another successful iteration of this beloved event. One festival goer summarized the peaceful, fun-loving Treefort vibe perfectly as he joined a group of people trying to prevent an argument from turning into a fight (they succeeded):
"This is Treefort, man. Things like this don't happen at Treefort."