It’s that time of year again, Memorial Day Weekend is coming up and that means another Maryland Deathfest. This is the festival’s 11th year and as usual there’s a ton of great bands on the bill from old classics to hot up and coming acts and of course some rare appearances by some exotic and/or obscure bands. There’s local and regional bands playing Deathfest as well as some coming from around the country and even other continents. I have been updating this post as MDF goes on with things like drink and food prices, photos of exclusive merch being sold by vendors, and anything else that might be of interest to those attending. You can skip to the updates by going here If you’re only coming one or two days then check this post before you leave to know what to expect! Now to start things off, here’s some links you will find useful if you’re attending the fest.
I put together these handy full schedules and band running orders for each day of the fest (they load quick on phones too!)
Baltimore Yellow Cab: 410-685-1212 (website)
MDF main grounds address: 407 E Saratoga St, Baltimore, MD 21202
MDF main grounds parking lot entrance address: The Fallsway & N High St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore SoundStage address: 124 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202
I made this custom Google map with things like the location of both venues, the path to walk between them, the closest places to buy booze and smokes, and other stuff. Just click the below image to load it.
New Info For This Year
This year there will be no bands playing inside the venue formerly known as Sonar (now it is called Paparazzi Nightclub). The main stage has been removed from inside the venue and the bands said to be playing “inside” this year at MDF will actually be in some sort of large tent on the street outside the venue. There will be bars and merch vendors inside the Sonar building however, and it is my understanding that the bathrooms will be open as well. Why did they put a tent outside instead of just making another outdoor stage? I don’t know, but I’m betting this is the last year they’ll be at this location. I’ll try to get a photo of it when I see it and add it to this post once the fest starts.
Also note, if you are just attending the main Sonar grounds, which means you’re not going to see any of the bands at the Baltimore SoundStage, then the fest ends earlier this year. The two main outdoor stages are all finishing up at about 10pm, and the tent “indoor” stage is wrapping up at midnight each night, and 11pm on Thursday. This may have something to do with noise ordinances but also to keep the headliners from the Baltimore SoundStage from going on at the same time as bands at the main Deathfest grounds. Note that the opening door times are the same at both venues on all all three days (Baltimore SoundStage is not part of MDF on Thursday).
This year will have a signing area where members of many of the Maryland Deathfest bands will hang out and sign merch and meet fans. This does not cost extra. How many bands have you seen charge ridiculous prices for a meet and greet VIP ticket package? Very cool that MDF is making this something anyone can do. They said they would post a schedule of when different people are doing the meet & greets, but I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll post it when I find out more info but right now all I know is that Bobby Liebling of Pentagram will be there at 4pm on Sunday.
There will be a FREE Maryland Deathfest XI program near the gates when you enter. You can see the cover image below so keep an eye out for it as you enter, the cover looks like this. It’s packed with info on the bands playing and other cool Deathfest related stuff and is great for passing the time between bands.
Good To Know For Every Year
Wear comfortable shoes and try to bring a cheap parka in case it rains. You’ll be doing a lot of standing and walking so dress accordingly. Maryland can get very hot and humid this time of year so be careful wearing all black and drinking and moshing in the sun all day. Crowd surfing is very much tolerated at MDF so if you don’t like being kicked in the head repeatedly, don’t get up front. Also, bring some sunscreen, not only will it keep ya from getting burnt but you want to keep those tattoos from getting sun faded!
Bring cash! There will be a ton of vendors with all kinds of rare and obscure vinyl, CDs, merch, patches and all kinds of other stuff. There’s usually a couple ATMs inside but I’m sure they have some shitty service fees so stop by the bank before you head up. Some of the stuff you’ll see here will be Maryland Deathfest exclusives, and some of it will be just so rare you’ll probably never find it anywhere again anyways. Relapse Records has put together a video showing some of their wares, including some MDF XI exclusive vinyl, which you can see below. There will be tons of other vendors with booths as well, which are: Acid Queen Jewelry, Bazillion Points, Black Mess, Century Media, ChopoBrujos, Dave’s Metal, Deathgasm Records, Decibel Magazine, Deepsend Records, Forever Plagued Records, Haunted Hotel, IndieMerch, JSR Direct, Largactyl Records, Lock and Shock, Old Cemetery Records, Relapse Records, Salvation Distro, Sevared Records, Speaks Volumes Records, Thrash Corner Records, Vienna Music Exchange, Warlord Clothing, Willowtip Records
There will also be many food vendors, several with vegetarian and vegan options on their menus. The diner just across the street from Sonar will be open. The list of known food vendors is:Nader’s Bistro, Sangtawan Thai Food (curry, pad thai, spring rolls, etc), Golden West Cafe (variety of options, including vegan friendly food), Smokerhead Barbeque, McCabe’s of Baltimore, Heavy Metal Hot Dogs (vegan), Totally Hot Dogs, The Loaded Potato.
Other Metal Shows Going On
- Wednesday the 22nd, the night before the first day of Maryland Deathfest, the Sidebar will be hosting a cool pre-MDF show with six bands total. Be sure to catch Raw Radar War (from Boston) and Wake (from Calgary). The Sidebar is just around the corner from the main Maryland Deathfest grounds, check the map (here) for its location. Full details on that show are listed here.
- Also on Wednesday, there’s a show a little farther away at the Windup Space, which is actually a photo exhibit reception of Baltimore photographer J.M. Giordano’s photo series “Killer Angels: Faces Of American Death Metal.” Part Death and Coffin Dust will be playing that show, details are posted here.
- On Thursday there is an early matinee show at Sidebar as a pre-fest warm up featuring the all female death/doom metal band Derketa. They put out a fucking sick album last year and you will be sure to find me there! This show will sell out so if you don’t have a ticket yet (online sales are closed already but they wanted to save some for walk ins) then get there early to be sure you can get one of the 50-60 remaining tickets. Doors are at 2pm, Derketa takes the stage at 3:30pm. Details on this show are here. It looks like they have posters made for this show too.
- Friday night there is an “after show” (I use the term loosely since the doors open at 8pm, well before MDF ends that day) at the Sidebar which is being headlined by Coliseum, one of the best bands from the legendary Louisville, Kentucky hardcore scene. It’s $8 to attend however you can get in for just $5 (assuming it isn’t sold out) with an MDF wristband on your arm. Details on this show are listed here.
- Saturday night the band Baroness will be playing at Rams Head Live, which is a few doors down from the Baltimore SoundStage. This is the first appearance by Baroness in the area since their line up change due to their awful tour bus accident. Also playing is the excellent Richmond band Inter Arma. It’s a great show, I would probably go if it wasn’t right in the middle of Deathfest. Details on this show are listed here.
- Sunday there is a show at the Sidebar featuring Glorior Belli (who is playing MDF earlier the same day!), Krieg and Wolvhammer. This show is actually going on while bands are still playing at Deathfest, so you’d be missing Pentagram, Ascension, Venom and Carpathian Forest. Anyways, details are listed here.
If you know of any metal shows I missed, leave a comment on this post or email me at DCHeavyMetal@Gmail.com and I’ll add them if I have enough info. There are often little makeshift after shows that pop up around the fest as well but I won’t list those here, I don’t want to get anything shut down by the cops or whatever. You’ll just have to talk to the right people at the fest to find out about those.
I stopped by the main fest grounds real quick and shot this photo of stage 3, the “inside” stage, which is really a big tent. This is looking east on Saratoga Street and that’s Sonar/Paparazzi on the right and the parking lot is to the left out of sight. I zoomed out a bit so you can get a sense of perspective. You can click this image to see it larger.
It’s Thursday as I write this and all day the line to get in has been VERY long. They are taking longer than in previous years to get people through the door so get here very early if you want to make sure you see a band. I’d say at least 45 minutes before they are scheduled to go on, maybe even more time than that during peak hours. The lines might be worse on later days as the fest will have more people in at that point. Once you do get your wrist band you can skip the line though. They are being very meticulous about what you can bring into the fest this year and really going through everyone’s bag. However they haven’t hired any extra door people so the process is causing a lot of delays.
There aren’t many food and drink vendors set up yet, but here’s four pictures I shot showing prices. I’ll have more when I can on Friday. The first image is a list of the prices for the booze at the bars inside Sonar/Paparazzi. Click the images to see them larger.
I went to the diner in the fest grounds and it wasn’t very good. They don’t have a full menu, in fact, I shot a photo of the entire menu which you can see below. I asked and they said this would be the same menu for the entire weekend.
It looks like Carpathian Forest is the first band to cancel their MDF appearance this year because of visa issues. They were set to play Sunday night. I haven’t seen an official schedule update from MDF yet but I’ll update the Sunday schedule once that announcement is made. You can see Carpathian Forest’s statement here.
Here’s more photos of some of the food vendors menus and prices.
Below is the food menu at the Baltimore SoundStage. They said the veggie burger is vegan. I asked but they said they didn’t have a menu with the alcohol prices on it.
Merch booths are a bit of a cluster fuck this year. Inside Sonar/Paparazzi I saw one vendor with a bunch of bins just on the floor selling CDs and DVDs. Outside there are some mud issues, as you can see in the two pictures below.
I looked around for the signing area but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Also, still no word on what how Carpathian Forest pulling out of the fest will affect the Sunday schedule.