More than a hundred people came to Brown's Island, many wearing black T-shirts, in sweltering, triple-digit heat Sunday.
They gathered to show solidarity for Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe, who as of Monday was sitting in a Czech Republic jail. Blythe is being held on charges of manslaughter in connection with the death of 19-year-old Daniel Nosek, a fan who repeatedly jumped onstage at a May 2010 show. Prosecutors allege Nosek sustained a head injury, which killed him nearly a month later, after being pushed offstage by Blythe.
At Sunday's rally, people hung out beneath trees and carried signs reading "Bring Randy Home" and "Let Randy Go Now" The band's guitarist, Mark Morton, brought stickers with the popular Twitter hashtag, #FreeRandyBlythe. The group has started a legal defense fund on its website.
"We're just here to support our friend," Morton says, remaining mum about the incident. The four-time Grammy-nominated band issued a statement last week that it was standing by Blythe, maintaining his innocence, but information was changing too fast to comment. If found guilty of manslaughter, Blythe, 41, could face 10 years in prison.
On Sunday, Blythe's supporters show up in force to protest his innocence. Vanessa Gibson and her boyfriend drove eight hours from Ohio.
"We came to show unity and demand justice," Gibson says. "We are a family in the metal scene. We're not all 'Hail Satan!' We have hearts."
The hero of the day proved to be Mac McCormack, owner of McCormack's Whisky Grill and Smokehouse, where Blythe worked as a DJ in the early 2000s. Early on, McCormack parked his blue Ford pickup near the island to distribute 1,500 plastic bottles of water.
Gwar frontman Dave Brockie, who plays Oderus Urungus on stage, says he heard a rumor that a powerful legal figure may become involved soon.
"I'm still worried to death about Randy," Brockie says. "But if anybody has the moral strength to turn this into a positive life experience, it's him."
Josef Bucman, who is from the Czech Republic and moved to Richmond in 2002, speculates that Blythe is being treated well.
"The courts there are slow moving. Corrupt? Well, yes! But no more than other places," Bucman says. "I'm sure they will take care of him. In Czech if you have money, not so harsh. At least we do not have the death penalty."
Meanwhile, could the days of audience members jumping onstage be numbered?
"I don't think this will change security overall," Brockie says. "If Dimebag Darrell [a metal guitarist killed by a fan in 2004] getting his head blown off onstage didn't, this won't."
Instead, Brockie is calling on bands to boycott the Czech Republic.
"I don't think we should drink Czech beer either," he says. "But I already fucked that up the other night."