Two of the most interesting people making experimental music today performed to a packed Metro Gallery last week. Pharmakon’s two full-lengths, Abandon and last year’s Bestial Burden, both made it to close the top of my best of lists in their respective years. She has a way of making challenging music that easily fits into the realm of noise but also is very listenable in a way that most music from that genre is not. “Listenable” is probably not the best way to describe the hellish soundscapes she creates, yet they are extremely captivating records that seems to be able to cross over to metal listeners as well as avant-garde/experimental. I’ve seen her perform three times now and each performance she seems to bring in new elements and work with the crowd aspect more and more – at Metro Gallery, she wound her way through the crowd, getting her microphone snagged on people and furniture, at one point the audience had to struggle and pull on the microphone cable en masse as she ascended back onto the stage – it was pretty interesting to watch.
Drew Daniel (of Matmos fame)’s the Soft Pink Truth project flew under my radar for many years, but when he announced that his most recent record would be a series of Black Metal interpretations entitled Why Do the Heathen Rage?, I took notice. It’s a really odd record, idiosyncratic electronic/dance versions of classic black metal tracks. And, lest you think Daniel is making fun of the genre… well, he is, sort of, but it’s the loving sort of jibe that comes from a true fan who has encyclopedic knowledge of his source material. The record won lots of accolades, including “Best Thing Ever” from the City Paper, and has led to several pretty amazing live performances, the latest of which is the one pictured above. Really unique artist that I recommend you go see if you have a chance.
For his birthday, Baltimore promoter Adam Savage gave us a present – a sick party at the Metro Gallery (a venue that has stepped up it’s game of late with a remodel, new stage as well as way more metal shows). Local newcomers Putrisect are the most promising new band I’ve heard this year- brutal, guttural howling vocals, killer riffs and a “fuck y’all” live performance attitude add up to a band to watch. Black Metal band Cemetery Piss (featuring the birthday boy himself) have been a fave of mine for awhile but they just keep getting better and more consistent. Pick up their new 7″ if you are at all a fan of the genre. I had to slip away at this point to go to LadyFest to see Whore Paint, but Inter Arma’s set was, by all accounts, incredible. Magrudergrind killed, as always – love those guys and the crowd obviously did as well. Finally, it’s great to see Pig Destroyer strutting their stuff as a five-piece – they have been playing a lot of out of town dates, and it shows in how together they are. One of the best times I’ve seen them in awhile (and I’ve seen them a lot). Super secret birthday suprise: A Pig Destroyer Misfits cover set with Adam joining in on vocals!
This was such a great event. Two days of bands, workshops and community in Station North. Got to see some of Baltimore’s best bands and discover quite a few out of town acts that I had never heard of – Coup Sauvage and Whore Paint in particular impressed me. Baltimore rules.
Saturday night was the last night of The Gold Bar, an amazing local venue started by Dana Murphy of Unregistered Nurse Booking. In the same building as the Crown, it was unfortunately only open for a little less than six months, but in that short time managed to have amazing shows like Skull Defekts, the Death Set, Nothing, Big Mouth, and dozens more that I was too wizened to take pictures at.
A really cool spot and Baltimore is poorer with it gone – but Diarrhea Planet, Cowabunga Pizza Time, Ratboiler and Music Band, along with a packed house of local troublemakers, gave it quite the send-off. Beer, silly string, confetti, champagne and bodies were all flying through the air by the end of the show (sooner, actually), which sold out by 9pm. Everything got a little fuzzy (and messy) there at the end, but it’s safe to say everyone had quite the time.
Friday night one of my favorite Baltimore bands, Big Christ, played their last show at the Gold Bar (itself winding down – this was the second to last night of the venue’s existence) with another local favorite, Old Lines. Big Christ has been around for a bit, playing noise rock/punk in the vein of Black Flag or Shellac… clearly enunciated, bold lyrics with pounding, lurching music backing it up. They have a couple release up on their bandcamp, but I don’t think any of them really compare to their live sound. I saw them play recently with Protomartyr and was struck by how good they sounded; Friday they had improved even more. Apparently one or more members are moving away, a shame, was looking forward to them developing further.
The night was capped off (after plenty of nightcaps) by my friends Old Lines, who I’ve been talking with about providing some promo photos for their upcoming release on No Sleep for awhile now. Finally the night seem primed for everyone to be drunk enough for it to happen… with the help of some local lovelies, of course.
Haven’t updated my site in a WHOLE YEAR. Wow. Going to rectify that, hopefully, with a bunch of new stuff and slowly posted old stuff as well. What better way of starting it off than something that combines the two – photos of old homies and former Baltimoreans THE DEATH SET, playing an e.p. release show for their new record on Dim Mak, ‘King Babies’ at the Gold Bar?
A great night of seeing old friends, though a bunch of old heads I expected to see didn’t make – I guess we are all getting old now. Still, Johnny and Dan tore it up, played old favorites, crowd surfed, jumped around and generally reminded us all why TDS were considered Baltimore’s Best Live Band back in the day… good times.
Last week, Future Islands played a show at Baltimore bar the Depot, a fairly small place, to celebrate the release of their new album, On the Water. The place was PACKED OUT, and they didn’t disappoint, playing a mix of new and old songs… the temperature had to go up like 10 or 15 degrees in that place by the time they were done. They are going on a nationwide tour starting next week, so check the tour dates and don’t miss your chance to see them!
Spotted this walking down the street in Station North. Apparently there had just been a big fight. The police broke it up. Moments after I took this, the owners of a nearby business washed the blood off. Made me think of how many other messes like this get cleaned up all around me, all the time.
This year’s MICA-sponsored experimental fashion show was a lot of fun… luchadors, strongmen, swashbuckling pirate fights, and a lot of cool clothes… in a new gallery venue right next to the Wind-Up Space. Click here for some more photos…