Drink Company’s Rick and Morty-themed bar only lasted a day before it was shut down by legal threats from the animated show’s parent company. To avoid further trouble from Turner Broadcasting, the bar owners also agreed to destroy all their Mr. Meeseeks, mega trees, and other fan art. Helping on that front will be the inspiration for their next themed pop-up: Gwar.
The theatrical heavy metal band, known for grotesque costumes and gratuitous fake blood, will wreak havoc on the Shaw bar on Thursday, Sept. 6. “They’re going to come in and kick some things around, and break some things, and let Gwar be Gwar,” says Drink Company President Derek Brown, a longtime fan. “We just want to make sure we follow the letter of the law.” (Stay tuned—there will be a video.)
That evening at 5 PM, one section of the three-bar space will reopen as Gwar PUB (Pop-Up Bar), featuring more than 30 years of the Richmond-based band’s real-life stage props and costumes. Not familiar with Gwar? “It’s a kind of sci-fi, horror, comedy show with metal and a touch of Damien Hirst,” Brown explains. Members of the band will make cameos on opening night. The pop-up will run through Oct. 31, when there will be a special Gwar Halloween party.
Brown is friends with guitarist Michael Derks (stage name: BälSäc the Jaws ‘o Death), and various band members used to frequent Eat the Rich, the oyster and cocktail bar that once occupied part of the pop-up space. Brown says he’d already been talking with the group about doing something in October, when the Rick and Morty-themed pop-up was originally supposed to end. He’s also a fan of GWARBar in Richmond, whose co-owner Travis Croxton was involved in Eat the Rich. “Certainly that inspired what we’re doing,” he says.
The Gwar “retrospective” will display stage backdrops and costumes old and new, including that of Oderus Urungus (the character of Gwar frontman David Brockie, who died in 2014). Also expect to find a mobile of Gwar’s interplanetary journey and the original 20-foot World Maggot, famously seen in ’90s cult classic movie Empire Records:
The Drink Company team has created a “hall of blood” made of mirrors and red light. They’ll also have a “blood suit” that people can take pictures in. “When you look at them kill people on stage, it’s the thing that they rip off and all the blood comes out of,” Brown explains.
Gwar was founded by art students at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in 1984, so their appeal is visual as much as it about the music.
“There are just so many cool little elements that if you are a Gwar fan, you’re going to say, ‘Holy crap,'” Brown says. “And if you’re not a Gwar fan, I think you’re going to be pretty amazed at what they’ve created.”
The themed drinks promise to be just as outrageous as Gwar. The bar will have a limited edition Oderus Eternal tiki mug for sale. Gwar will also have merchandise for sale onsite for anyone who wants to pick up a T-shirt, albums, and other memorabilia.
Gwar is clearly involved with the pop-up, but given the intellectual property issues that Drink Company ran into with Rick and Morty, do they have some sort of licensing deal this time around?
“Honestly, we live in fear of crossing Gwar. I’ll leave it at that,” Brown says. “The last thing we want to do is upset a bunch of blood thirsty intergalactic extraterrestrials.”