Maryland Death Fest 2013 Preview

Now in it’s eleventh year, Maryland Death Fest has a long history of bringing a wide assortment of heavy bands to the city, from mainstream acts to obscure cult favorites, and everything in between. On May 23-26th, MDF returns to the former home of Sonar (407 E Saratoga Street) and expands to take over even more of the street and parking area as well as a satellite stage devoted to hardcore and punk, located at Soundstage (124 Market Place). There will be dozens of bands performing, let’s take a look at some things you shouldn’t

Pentagram & the Obsessed on the same bill
Both bands formed in the 70s (Pentagram in Alexandria, VA, the Obsessed in Potomac, MD), both are extremely influential, and both have iconic frontmen – Pentagram’s troubled Bobby Liebling and Scott “Wino” Weinrich of the Obsessed, as well as St Vitus and many other projects. There probably aren’t two metal bands from the DMV that have as enduring of a legacy as these two acts, and while they have reunited before, each tour has a “this could be the last time” vibe. (Disclosure: this author released two records by one of Weinrich’s later bands, the Hidden Hand)

INFEST reunion
One of the early and defining bands of the 90s powerviolence scene, Infest were a SoCal hardcore band with a reputation for great live performances, strong political stances and a small handful of influential releases on labels like Slap-a-Ham and Deep Six. They disbanded in 1996, before the peak of their scene’s popularity, so this MDF appearance will be many fans’ first chance to see them play.

Exclusive US Venom performance
Formed in the late 70s, Venom are an extremely influential band (they coined the term Black Metal, now a dominant genre), though arguably more for their use of dark, satanic imagery and over-the-top stage costumes and personas than their music. This is their only US show in 2013, and probably for the foreseeable future, and should be a fun experience, if only for frontman Chronos’ stage banter and showmanship.

Rare U.S. Bolt Thrower appearance
This is a rare US show for this long-running UK band who are apparently reluctant to come to this side of the pond. Their two appearances at 2009’s MDF (one announced, one by surprise) were the highlights of that year’s fest – full of energy and fun. This will be your only chance to see them on the east coast, so don’t miss it.

California stoner metal band Sleep specializes in droning, meditative, weed-soaked Sabbath worship. Their hour-long set on Sunday is just shy of long enough to play their epic 63-minute song, Dopesmoker. Here’s hoping that the organizers will let them squeeze the whole thing in. Either way, this will be a set that stands out from most of the other acts at the festival.

For more information on tickets, a full running order, and more go to:

Diamond Dustin 4/20 Cover Band Show 2012 @ Sonar

Dustin's Cover Show @ Sonar
Dustin's Cover Show @ Sonar   Dustin's Cover Show @ Sonar

Every year local neer-do-well Dustin Diamond has a cover band show at the Talking Head… well, next year it will have to be somewhere else, sadly, but it’s historically a great time. Different Baltimore bands or mixtures of Baltimore bands get together and do cover sets. This year among the bands were Fairies Wear Beards, which featured most of The Pilgrim doing Black Sabbath songs, and PISS, which featured most of Murder + Josh Seipp (formerly of Triac and Maudlin of the Well) and Matt Gabs from the Biters doing KISS covers… in full make-up! Continue reading

The Last Night At Sonar.

War on Women.
Simon, looking out of the former bathroom.  Tim.

Sadly, Sonar is no more. Sonar was a very special place, and had a great staff. Thanks to the club and staff for all the wonderful memories! The last night, in traditional Sonar fashion, was two very different shows, one a Millionaire$ show in the Club room, the other an Unregistered Nurse punk show featuring War On Women, Tacocat, Slutever & Guantanamo Baywatch in the lounge aka the Talking Head Club.

You can read the Baltimore Sun’s story on this here, read about #SonarMemories on Twitter, and see all my photos that are fit to print here.
Continue reading

Maryland Death Fest – a look back in photos.

EYEHATEGOD crowd @ MDF2010
Eyehategod crowd shot from 2010.
Reunited in 2011, with City Paper cover.

For the last near-decade, Maryland Death Fest has been a Baltimore Institution, bringing the best current and historic extreme metal bands to Sonar in Baltimore to play for thousands of fans. It’s literally the best and most interesting metal related event in the US. Spanning over several days (4 this year), dozens of bands play to a crowd of thousands, who travel from all over the world to be there. Because of it’s prominence, many bands choose to reunite to play it, or have their last show there, or play for the first/last/only time in the US there. Basically, it’s an amazing event. And this year’s, the TENTH Annual, starts thursday and last til sunday. For a list of bands and set times, click here. Here are some of my favorite shots from the last several years: Continue reading

Psychic TV & Celebration @ Sonar.

Psychic TV @ Sonar
Celebration @ Sonar.

See the rest of the Psychic TV & Celebration photos here.

This show was a real surprise. I knew what to expect from Celebration, one of the best (and most long-lived, at this point) current band in Baltimore… I have seen them many times, own all their records… so I knew they were gonna be great. But Psychic TV… that’s another matter. Genesis P-Orridge’s project post-Throbbing Gristle has gone through so many manifestations through the years (and I honestly lost track a long time ago), so I didn’t know what to expect. I was honestly expecting some 80s “I.C. Water”-era proto-rave… instead, what I got was 90 minutes of rollicking prog-rock, including at least two Hawkwind covers (but maybe three?) and some great banter by Orridge, include a claim (which I don’t think is true?) of actually having been a member of Hawkwind. Anyway, great, really unexpected show.

Total Control & Thee Oh Sees @ Sonar

Thee Oh Sees

Total Control   Total Control

Total Control

Great show the other day at Sonar, courtesy of Unregistered Nurse. Australia’s Total Control (featuring at least one member of Eddy Current Suppression Ring) and California’s Thee Oh Sees.

One night, two shows: Thou, Tremors 2, Natural Child.

Tremors 2 @ Golden West
Thou @ Talking Head
Natural Child @ Golden West   Natural Child @ Golden West

Caught one of my favorite metal bands, Thou, the other day at the Talking Head Club. They played later than I thought, but always great and they ended with a cover of Black Sabbath’s Sabotage Into The Void, which was really, really awesome. Great to see some old friends too.

I got out of there as fast as possible and made my way to the Unregistered Nurse show at the Golden West, just in time to catch the last couple of songs by new baltimore band Tremors 2. Amazingly bad/good/bad/unsure name, but they were really good and lively to watch. I managed to get a few snaps. Then Natural Child played, who are a slowed down southern garage/punk band who are really catchy and fun, most of their songs have more than a hint of humor about them and the dudes in the band are really chill as well. Go check them out, they seem to always be on tour.

Two shows: Wino’s Premonition 13, Purling Hiss @ Sonar

Premonition 13 f/ Wino

Premonition 13 f/ Wino

Purling Hiss

I caught two cool shows in the same building this Sunday, Premonition 13 (the new band of doom metal legend Scott “Wino” Weinreich), and Philadelphia’s Purling Hiss. Sadly, neither show was especially well attended, but it was great to see two really incredible musicians at work… Wino is, of course, a much-heralded guitar player, and his seminal bands St Vitus and the Obsessed (along with The Hidden Hand, and his solo albums) have won him countless fans in the metal underground… but Purling Hiss’ Mike Polizze, who I don’t know much about, is also an incredible guitar player. Dana Murphy from Unregistered Nurse Booking first turned me on to this band, check them out if they play near you… really excellent.

Trans Am, The Psychic Paramount, Dope Body @ Sonar.

the Psychic Paramount
Trans Am
Dope Body

The other week, I checked out Trans Am playing the entirety of their FUTUREWORLD record, along with local stalwarts Dope Body and the blissfully droney (and foggy) The Psychic Paramount. An all around great show, in the club room at Sonar, but to me the best part of the evening were The Psychic Paramount, who I had somehow never seen before… a great set, a wall of noise, feedback, fog, light, riffs… really good experience. Check them out.

Dillinger Escape Plan @ Talking Head

Dillinger Escape Plan @ Talking Head
Dillinger Escape Plan @ Talking Head   Dillinger Escape Plan @ Talking Head

Dillinger Escape Plan played a not-quite-secret-but-unpromoted show at the Talking Head, a very small venue behind Sonar after their recent two days opening at Sonar for the Deftones. It was pretty crazy! Everyone that showed up was a devout fan and there was alot of diving, surfing, moshing and other shenanigans. By the end of the show, the ceiling air duct was destroyed and the guitarist’s face was covered in blood. Wild times.

Maryland Death Fest – Day 4 : Coroner, Nuclear Assault, Skinless, Ghost, Citizens Arrest & more

Coroner @ MDF 2011
Gravehill @ MDF 2011   Citizen's Arrest @ MDF 2011
Malignant Tumor @ MDF 2011
Malignant Tumor @ MDF 2011   Ghost @ MDF 2011
Gravehill @ MDF 2011
Coroner @ MDF 2011   Coroner @ MDF 2011   Skinless @ MDF 2011
Skinless @ MDF 2011
Malignant Tumor @ MDF 2011   Nuclear Assault @ MDF 2011
Skinless @ MDF 2011

Finally! The last MDF 2011 post… so many photos to dig through! This final day was pretty fun, though I was dead tired. The surprise of the day for me was probably Skinless’ last show, which was ridiculous, with the singer stagediving and jumping into the crowd constantly. Malignent Tumor, who I’d never heard before, had a circle pit like no other, full of inflatable penises and other assorted insanity. Most fun crowd experience of the fest. Also, Nuclear Assault invited the crowd on stage with them, which was really really fun.

Other notable things were the dude from Exhumed playing in ANOTHER band (Gravehill), Cthulhu showing up for a visit, me saying I’d believe that Ted Leo was going to be playing with Citizens Arrest when I saw it… then realizing I was standing next to Ted Leo.

Another big deal for me was managing to make (with the help of my friend Dustin) this happen:


Yes, that’s Marel, the woman from the Deathfest City Paper cover, posing with Jason, the security guy in the photo, both standing in the same spot that picture was taken last year. I had tried to connect with her for several days, we finally managed to make it happen on Sunday. She was really nice, and said that she started getting texts about the City Paper cover as soon as her plane landed at BWI and thought people were joking! Too funny. Glad we could get this shot.

Maryland Death Fest – Day 3 : Voivod, Exhorder, Acid Witch, Cretin, Impaled Nazarene

Impaled Nazarene @ MDF 2011
fans @ MDF 2011   Acid Witch crowd @ MDF 2011
Voivod @ MDF 2011
Exhorder @ MDF 2011   Voivod @ MDF 2011
Exhorder crowd @ MDF 2011

Over the halfway mark with my MDF photos! Day 3 was a little more relaxing for me, the highlight was getting to see Exhorder, a New Orleans thrash metal band that I grew up on and hearing about, but never was able to see live (a little before my time), as well as seeing Voivod again… they were excellent and the crowd seemed super stoked. Many people told me their set was their high point of the whole show. My favorite discovery of this day was Acid Witch, who I had never heard before but who I thought were excellent live. Cretin was also good live, playing with Matt Harvey from Exhumed (he seemed to be guesting in at least one band a day at this MDF).

Maryland Death Fest – Day 2 : Neurosis, Marduk, Corrosion of Conformity, Exhumed

CoC @ MDF 2011
Neurosis Crowd @ MDF 2011   Exhumed @ MDF 2011
CoC @ MDF 2011
Neurosis Crowd @ MDF 2011   Neurosis @ MDF 2011
Marduk @ MDF 2011

Day 2 was pretty epic. I saw several bands that I had never seen before, the standout of which was Exhumed… amazing live, totally over the top, with chainsaws and severed heads and fake blood… just really fun. Marduk were great live, too… but seeing Corrosion of Conformity with the classic line-up was really great, as was meeting Woody from CoC and Steve Von Till of Neurosis. Right before Neurosis played, an epic rain storm loomed which threatened to end or severely delay their show… but hundreds of fans stood in the rain to wait it out, and they cheered and pumped their fists every time there was a flash of lightning. Pretty awesome and totally metal. When they finally came on, they were great and played a barely abridged set. It was slightly less epic on an outdoor stage than the last time I saw them, at the Masonic Temple in Brooklyn, but they were still great live and actually played some older songs (Souls At Zero and Through Silver In Blood), which surprised me. This was a great second night of the fest.

Maryland Death Fest – Day 1 : Tragedy, BuzzOv*en, Extortion

BuzzOv*en @ MDF 2011
Tragedy @ MDF 2011
Tragedy @ MDF 2011   BuzzOv*en @ MDF 2011
Tragedy @ MDF 2011

MDF this year was a great success… so many amazing bands, so many good times. Pretty much every aspect was incredible and it went off with only a few small bumps, at least as far as I could tell. I am gonna be posting photos from it over the next few days, with a big megapost scheduled to go out on monday. Click on the link below to see more photos from the first day!