Review of Marduk gig at Sonar

Monday the 23rd of November 2009 was a rather grim and rainy day, perfect for a black metal show. Luckily Swedish black metal band Marduk was playing at the Talking Head Club inside Sonar in Baltimore that night, the closest stop to Washington DC on their US Plague Tour. I had a couple friends flake out on me, but since Marduk failed to get into the US for Maryland Deathfest back in May, and I missed their Baltimore stop on their 3 show mini tour back in August, I was determined not to miss them for a third time this year. So I drove up to Baltimore in that dreary cold rain by myself blasting metal all the way. When I got there Nachtmystium was setting up. They’re ok, sort of a thrashy black metal band. Not my favorite but worth checking out while drinking a beer or two. The final song of their set was a cover of GG Allin‘s song I Kill Everything I Fuck, which I gotta say was pretty fucking cool. Wasn’t expecting that one, wish I’d had my camera ready, I’d like to have that one on video. They’re scheduled to play with Kreator and Voivod at Jaxx in early March, so maybe I’ll get my chance then.

When Nachtmystium’s set ended I moved up to the front of the stage as everyone was clearing out to go smoke, order more beer, piss, etc… Got right up there and was chatting a bit to the people around me during the final sound check. Glad I did cause 2 of the guys next to me were throwing mad elbows all during Marduk’s set and fucking people up from the pit, but I got in good with em before that so I didn’t have any probs. Kinda dick of them, but it did keep people from the pit from fucking up my camera. Plus that latino guy wearing eyeliner and a shirt with the sleeves cut off looked like he could use a few bruises. Marduk’s set was pretty good, they played a good assortment of songs from a variety of albums which was cool. I’m not a huge fan of when bands play most of their new album and a few classics live, I much prefer the career spanning classics with a couple songs from the new album thrown in approach. This show was a pretty good example of that. During their long set they played songs off just about every album except for, oh yeah, my fucking favorite Marduk album Heaven Shall Burn… When We Are Gathered. Seriously, the whole time I was driving up there I was thinkin to myself how it’ll be worth all the stress of dark, rainy interstate traffic just to hear Infernal Eternal or maybe even Glorification Of The Black God live (basically a cover of Modest Mussorgsky’s classical piece A Night On Bald Mountain as arranged by Leopold Stokowski for the Disney movie Fantasia). Well, that didn’t happen. They did play some classics like Wolves, Funeral Bitch, and Baptism By Fire, but still, Infernal Eternal fucking rules. What the hell? If you like black metal and you haven’t heard those 2 songs do yourself a favor and listen to them right now by clicking their names up there. Fucking brutal! Anyways, the show was still fun and if not for the events on my drive home I’d probably say it was totally worth the trip to Baltimore on a Monday night (even tho the show ended after midnight on a weekday and I had to drive home afterwards). About 5 minutes outside of Baltimore on 95 my car decided it was going to stop running. Seriously, of all the times? I’ve had very few problems with this car in the 3 years I’ve owned it, but dying in Maryland was not awesome. A $200 tow truck ride got me back home at about 5am, plenty of time to be fucking exhausted for work the next day. Still, the set was good, the show was fun and I think I got some good pics too. I thought it was odd the drummer, Lars Broddesson, didn’t use 2 kick drums but instead had 2 petals set up on a single bass drum. That’s pretty uncommon for metal bands. By the end of their set, which was about an hour and a half, their corpse paint was smeared and the audience was running out of energy. They did the typical walk off stage encore thing but came back really quick, like 1 minute later, to play the final song of the night, Panzer Division Marduk. You can watch that video below. Overall I’d recommend any fan of old school black metal to go see Marduk, it’s a brutal show definitely worth the money.

Review of Baroness gig at Rock And Roll Hotel

On Wednesday the 18th of November 2009 I got off my ass and headed up to the Rock And Roll Hotel in the Atlas Theatre district of North East Washington, DC to go see Baroness play. I’d been to the Rock & Roll Hotel before, but not to see a band play. The venue wasn’t great, not very wide but deep, which must have been a bitch for the people in the back trying to see. The stage lighting was pretty poor and they don’t allow flash photography and since I can’t afford a $3k camera my pics aren’t the greatest. They did allow you to shoot video, but again since the lighting was so bad it all came out pretty dark (though the audio isn’t too bad) which you can see for yourself at the bottom of this post. It was $4.50 for a Miller Lite bottle which I guess is pretty standard for DC. The bar was crammed on one of the side walls to the back of the room, and the merch stand was crammed into the other side in front of the mixing console. Apparently they don’t allow moshing of any kind because a couple songs in when some guy started pushing people a bit the security came right up and put an end to that. The shift actually helped me get a little closer to the stage. Even though I’m usually holding a camera up front, I really don’t mind moshing at concerts (hate crowd surfers tho). If you don’t want people moshing at your venue, maybe you shouldn’t book metal bands at let them play somewhere more fun instead. Anyways, on to the band’s performance…

This was the first show of the tour supporting Baroness’ new album, Blue Record. I’m not certain but I’m betting this was the first time those songs were being played live. On the stage they had a cool looking fabric backdrop of the cover art from the new album. Their show started off a bit disorganized, they had some intro song playing, then it stopped, then after several minutes of silence they walked onto the stage and started playing. I noticed the lead guitarist had changed from a St. Vitus shirt to a Dark Castle shirt in this time, for some reason. I really like the energy of a lot of their songs on their new album. I’ve listened to their first one, Red Album, a few times but it has never gripped me as much as these newer songs do. The one thing I don’t like about the new album is all the intros and instrumentals, there’s a lot of them. Unfortunately for me, they play them live too. I guess that’s cool for people who enjoy them, but it’s really just a pause in the energy to me and honestly I don’t find theirs particularly interesting. Their show was pretty loud for a club this size, which is never a bad thing to me. The kick drum was really pounding, though the microphones didn’t seem to work well for the live show. They seemed to be very tight uni-directional microphones, which means if you’re not directly in front of them, you might as well be in the next room. This made the vocals just disappear completely from the mix a few times when the band members were particularly excited on stage. This was especially a problem for the lead guitarist and bass player, who were helping with backing vocals from time to time, since their mics were not as loud in the mix to begin with. The show was pretty good for the most part, they played most of the songs I really wanted to hear. The stage was pretty cramped but they still did a few theatrics to make things interesting. I thought it was kinda cool when the drummer poured water on his cymbals before a big entrance in a song, spraying the water everywhere in a cool visual effect. At the end of the show they did the typical encore thing where they walked off stage and waited a couple minutes to come back and play their final song of the night. I don’t understand why every headliner band seems to feel the need to do this, regardless of genre. It’s not an encore if it’s scripted! Anyways, they did play for almost an hour and a half, which might be a bit long for them. I mean I do enjoy their music, but since they’ve only got 2 full length albums out, they started running out of material to play that’s of the same caliber. This made the show start to drag on a bit for me. I really think these guys are a great up and coming band and I think with some better exposure they would be playing much larger venues. On the other hand, watching concerts at the 9:30 Club has become quite a drag, so I hope they don’t get too big too quick! It was a really fun show and for $12 it was well worth attending.

One more thing, if you’re planning on buying the Blue Record on vinyl at the concert, try to do it early. They ran out of copies to sell at this show. They said they were getting more the next day, but who knows how long those will last. I spoke to the bass player, Summer Welch, after the show, and the band seemed to think the vinyl was available on their record label’s website, I had checked earlier that day and knew it wasn’t, so that means this vinyl is going to sell more than they’re expecting since people can’t buy it anywhere. They were selling all vinyl for $20, all t-shirts for $15 and CDs for $12, cash only of course.

Ticketing Changes

So the 9:30 Club is changing it’s ticket company from to Ticket Fly. All shows from 1 Jan 2010 onward at the 9:30 Club will be using the new service for ticket purchases. What does this mean for you? I tried comparing the differences of the two from a consumer standpoint, and I didn’t find a whole lot to be excited about. I was hoping with a new ticket vendor maybe service fees would go down, but that doesn’t seem to be the case really. The first show at the 9:30 Club with tickets that will be sold by Ticket Fly is Gogol Bordello on Sat 2 Jan 2010. The cost listed on the 9:30 Club’s website is $30. Of course if you’ve ever bought tickets to a concert before the day of the show, you know the cost will actually be more due to various fees tacked on. To compare, I found a concert also for $30 at the 9:30 Club, but since it’s before Jan 2010, it’s still on The show is Devendra Banhart (whoever that is) on Weds 25 Nov 2009. Ordering the $30 tickets through gave me a $6 “service charge” per ticket. They didn’t charge any other fees, but they do charge you $4 for mailing you the tickets, or for will call (yes, they charge you $4 to NOT mail your tickets to you). They do have 1 other shipping method, for $22.50 you can get FedEx shipping. It doesn’t say if this is 2 day, overnight or what, but for $22.50 it had better be delivered the next day in Megan Fox’s ass crack. Anyways, assuming you opted for the $4 shipping (or will call) that brings your $30 ticket to $40, a 33.3% increase (also known as: ridiculous). Did I mention that beers in the venue cost $7 before tip?!?! You can also pre-pay for their shitty parking service (another $10) for any show. This is retarded for 2 reasons: 1, you can usually find free parking on the street around there if ya look long enough. Secondly, they stop watching your car “15 minutes after the last song is played” but even that I think is bullshit as the last time I went there (to see Motörhead in September) I left right after the show ended and nobody was there watching the cars. And as a side note, also does this thing where they time how long it takes you to enter various info. If you don’t fill out your info on any particular page in time (and there’s several), they make you start the whole process over, which I find extremely annoying.

Now if you use the 9:30 Club’s new ticket company, Ticket Fly, to buy a ticket at the same list price of $30, you don’t really save any money at all, but there are a few differences. They charge you a $6 “service fee” per ticket again, and then on top of that a $4 per ticket “order processing” fee. It boggles my mind how these companies charge you for service and order processing when it’s a god damn website doing all the work for them. Do they need to pay it’s ridiculous overtime wages from it always working 24/7? Hell no, they just want to charge you more for them doing less, the fuckers. At least they don’t charge you for shipping (or will call, wtf They don’t have any other shipping options though, so no more Megan Fox’s ass delivery for 9:30 Club tickets. Awesomely they don’t have a timer on the site for how soon you need to buy your tickets in either. So your $30 ticket still costs $40 from them, they’ve got less shipping options but at least they don’t time your transaction either. Supposedly they’ve got some new “social media tools” for customers, which is just part of that annoying corporate marketing trend where every company wants us to promote them by posting their spam all over our Facebook and Twitter pages. According to the press release about the switch (you can read it here) this was a main factor in the switch. Fucking wow. I really wish it was cheaper for the customers though. With all the various ticket options popping up these days you’d think they could manage that. I guess you can always still buy tickets at the door ahead of time with cash. Of course, I found out when buying my Motörhead tickets that the 9:30 Club will charge you $1 per ticket for that too. No, I have no reason (other than greed) why they would charge you anything extra for buying presale tickets in cash, MOST clubs make presales a few dollars less. At least they’re not doing what DC9 is with their ticketing service…

DC9 has changed their ticketing service from Etix to the generically named Ticket Alternative (also used by the Black Cat and Rock & Roll Hotel). This change is actually going to cost the customer, aka you, more money. Currently, for a $10 ticket to a DC9 concert, Etix will charge you a $1.92 convenience fee. They don’t charge you for will call, but if you want the tickets mailed it’ll cost you $4.50 for a stamp and envelope. There are no other mailing options available. You can also buy a ticket at the door with cash and DC9 won’t charge you any fee, just the flat $10, though sometimes the day of show price is a few bucks higher than the presale, and sometimes they sell out. Still, it only brings the cost of the $10 ticket to $11.92, or 19.2%, if you buy your ticket ahead of time and choose the free will call option. Some shows on DC9’s calendar still use Etix, but all further shows to be added will be using Ticket Alternative. For a $10 ticket to a DC9 show from them, they’ll charge you a $2.73 fee. They do have many more options for ticket delivery, will call, print at home and standard mail all are free. They also have various forms of FedEx delivery, ranging in price from $13.50 for 2 day delivery to $35 for Megan Fox’s ass crack covered in honey delivery. Still, a 27.3% increase over list price is pretty steep for a small club like DC9. This means if you got the free will call option from either service, for a $10 ticket, Etix would charge you $11.92 and Ticket Alternative will charge you $12.73. Since Etix is being phased out, you don’t have a choice in the matter but to pay extra. Now, I know it’s less than a dollar increase per ticket, but still, when you go to a lot of concerts (like I do) it adds up, especially if you also find yourself buying tickets for other people a lot. Ironically, Ticket Alternative’s slogan is, “the cheaper way to buy tickets!”. Yeah right! I’m sure these changes are helping the clubs, probably costing them less to sell tickets than the previous companies were, I just wish there was someone trying to lower the fees tacked onto concert tickets for us, the customers.