Venue Changes Around The Area

There’s been a lot going on at several concert venues in the area recently. The biggest story is probably that the Fillmore will be opening on September 15th in Silver Spring, Maryland. The original Fillmore is in San Francisco and during the 60’s helped spawn many of the era’s biggest hippy bands, such as the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. Now there are several Fillmores around the country and it’s the DC area’s turn to get one. The Silver Spring location is a two level 2,000 person capacity venue. For comparison the 9:30 Club holds around 1,200. The first concert there is Mary J. Blige on September 15th, but the first metal show will be on Friday, September 23rd with Bring Me The Horizon. There are more metal shows coming as well, including Yngwie Malmsteen and Between The Buried And Me with Animals As Leaders. The venue is located inside what used to be a JC Penny and is run by Live Nation (who have merged with Ticketmaster) who also runs Jiffy Lube Live. I am excited to check out this brand new venue in the suburbs of DC and hopefully they’ll get even more metal concerts in the future.

Another big change happening in the area is the management of Jaxx Nightclub in Springfield, Virginia. The venue has been run by Jay Nedry since June 1994 but he has decided to sell Jaxx to Jason Malhoyt and Jeff Cohen of Outerloop. They will run the day to day operations of the venue starting on January 1st of 2012 though Jay will still book several shows a month for them, mostly the glam/hair bands, death metal acts and various European black and power metal bands. You can read Jay’s statement about the sale here. You can already see some changes at the venue though, the new website design is an obvious one. Unfortunately the calendar is awful to navigate and opening local bands are often not listed on it either. The new logo and site layout does look nice though. Outerloop has also recently taken over Alley Katz in Richmond, Virginia and renamed it Kingdom. It is still closed right now, but it will be opening for the first time under the new management on October 8th when Periphery plays there. Both Jaxx and Alley Katz/Kingdom appear to be switching their ticket sales to a company called Amped & Alive, which also seems to have ties to Outerloop, though I’m not 100% sure what they are exactly.

Up in Baltimore you’ll see that Bourbon Street hasn’t been booking any more shows. The venue is apparently closing down, though the people running it appear to be moving to a new Baltimore venue named the Baltimore Soundstage. This new venue is in the inner harbor area and will hold 1,000 people. However, on select nights they’ll have seated shows that will hold 500 people. I think this is going to be a table setting similar to what you’d find at the State Theatre or the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse. There will also be a full menu with things like crab cakes as well as a full bar with wine, beer and liquor. The venue will open on Saturday, September 3rd when Milkman plays there, though the first metal show will be Devin Townsend and Anathema on Wednesday 12 October. The venue is going to sell its tickets through Ticket Fly, the same company that handles ticketing for the 9:30 Club and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Aside from Bourbon Street, there have been a few venue closings and other problems of late with area venues. The Hexagon, a DIY space in Baltimore, closed on May 20th. Really it was more of an eviction and you can read their post about that here. So Addictive Lounge in Herndon, Virginia had long been holding Metal Monday local metal band spotlight shows every week before they decided they’d convert to being a gay bar seven days a week. However, the Metal Mondays are not entirely dead as the people behind them have been hosting various metal shows at the Old Firestation #3 (aka Firehouse Grill) in Fairfax City. Now you can see local talent as well as touring bands play there, and it’s still just $5 to get in. Hole In The Sky, a DIY venue in Northeast Washington DC, was shut down by police in the middle of a concert on February 16th. They’ve since done things like build a fire escape staircase to get up to code and have reopened, though they don’t seem to be hosting concerts very often and certainly not metal shows. Silver Spring, Maryland’s DIY space dubbed the Corpse Fortress has been condemned after 5 years of awesome shows. Everyone has to be out by October 1st but there will still be a final show there on September 24th. More info on why it is being shut down is here. This is a huge blow to the area’s DIY scene, metal or otherwise. It had just recently gotten a kick ass paint job in the basement where bands perform, which you can see here.

All is not lost though! There’s the Palace Of Wonders and The Red & The Black which have merged to form the Red Palace on H Street in Northeast DC. They get occasional metal shows, including a special free performance by Clutch that’s coming up on Monday the 29th of August. And while Sonar had a big problem with liquor licenses and almost shut down temporarily back in May (more on that here), it seems it was just a hiccup and they are back to running things as usual again now (although the lot across the street from venue is now metered and thus no longer free to park in). The Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring, Maryland seems to be getting more metal shows as well (Auroboros will be performing there this Sunday, the 28th of August for a matinee show at 2pm) and I’d expect to see more metal gigs get shifted there once Corpse Fortress is gone. There’s also a new DIY house venue that’s starting to host a few metal shows in Annandale, Virginia that is called the Cellar Door.

So there is a lot changing in the area’s venues and hopefully this article will help encourage some of you to get out to an extra concert or two that you might not have before. Remember, if you’re looking for info on any of these venues’ upcoming metal shows be sure to check out the DC Heavy Metal upcoming concert calendar here. If you want to know more about any of these venues, including their addresses, links to their website, Facebook page or Twitter, or even on how to book a show there check out the Venue page here.

Metal Marathon – Days 4, 5 and 6

Ok, so my Metal Marathon posts are a bit behind, but I’m still going to recap them because the shows I saw during those 9 days were just too damn good. This is my second of three posts covering the 11 concerts and I’m going to recap the metal concerts I went to from Tuesday, March 8th 2011 through Thursday March 10th in this post. Three great shows, especially considering they were all in the middle of the work week.

On Tuesday I borrowed a friend’s car and drove to Silver Spring after work to catch a DIY show at the Corpse Fortress. The touring band was Earthling and they were playing with Baltimore based Revolta and the DC band Spine Buster. There was also a surprise set by Ilsa at the end of the night. Spine Buster had just started their set when I got there, and they were pretty entertaining but Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Earthling came out and just shredded for their entire set. They played what must have been the longest set of the night and it was high energy and just a lot of fun to be there for. I hope they play around here again because they really are worth seeing again. If you don’t believe me check out the thrashtastic video I’ve got of them at the bottom of this post. The video quality sucks visually but the audio is great and it’s a killer song! The next band to play was Revolta, a sort of punkish thrash band from Baltimore. I’d seen them a few weeks before at the Candlehaus with Fatal, though they had another guitarist then. Their set seemed a bit short this time, I think there were outside time constraints going on that were made worse since Ilsa was still yet to play. Ilsa did play a good but short set, I think it was basically a practice for their show coming up on Saturday opening for Dropdead (more on that show in my next post). I’m not sure why, but the band’s vocalist, Orion, started puking all over the floor at the end of the set. You gotta admit that it’s pretty damn metal to be barfing your guts out, mic in hand, while your band plays. I’m really glad that I wasn’t the one who had to clean that mess up! In all the show was a lot of fun and the venue was really laid back, even for a house show, and I got to talk to a lot of great people all night between sets. It was really a fun atmosphere and a great experience for my first show at the Corpse Fortress.

The next show on my list was Rotting Christ and Melechesh on Wednesday the 9th of March at Jaxx. If you go to a lot of metal shows in the DC area you’re going to find yourself at Jaxx sooner or later and fittingly this was the only venue I’d be at twice during my Metal Marathon. Some people complain about various aspects of the venue but at the end of the day, they are the only place in this area that will play any number of international metal bands and if it wasn’t for them I’d surely have seen a lot less of my favorite bands from Europe and even farther away. This night was a perfect example of this fact when the Greek band Rotting Christ headlined a show with Israel’s Melechesh. Two great black metal acts that happen to not be from Scandinavia. The tour also features the Polish black metal act Hate but they weren’t able to make it to this gig, the first show of the tour. When I got there Melechesh was getting ready to play and I quickly secured a spot in the very front. These guys are one of my favorite bands these days and I was really excited to get to see them again. They had played their first US concert ever at last year’s Maryland Deathfest (my extensive recap of that is here) and this night’s show at Jaxx was going to be their second US show. Their set at MDF had been cut short and they had a new album out since then too, so this concert’s set was longer and featured new material too. Simply put, they hit the stage and just killed it. Yeah I’m pretty biased about these guys but even most of the people I talked to afterwards said they also thought Melechesh had put on the better show. Their sound is certainly black metal but with a distinct middle eastern bent and they have some really catchy riffs that really make the sound work. That all said, Rotting Christ didn’t put on a bad show by any means. Their set was heavy with a lot of songs from their latest album, Aealo, which is ok but I think their album previous to that, Theogonia is the best of their 20+ year career. They did play several songs from that too, but the last time I saw them they were touring in support of that album and the setlist was just superior. They didn’t play much of their older material though. I was hoping they’d play some of their classics like Under The Name Of Legion and Sorrowful Farewell but I guess they’re trying to appeal more to their newer fans. I enjoyed the material they did play and combined with the set by Melechesh would say this show was definitely worth the price of admission.

Thursday the 10th of March was the sixth day of my nine day Metal Marathon and since my car was in the shop I found myself in need of a ride to see Atheist play at Sonar in Baltimore. Luckily one of my readers, a really cool guy named James (who I’ve run into at a few shows now after this night) gave me a lift in the pouring rain up to Charm City. This show was a bit of an odd line up. While I was there to see Atheist and catch opening act Revocation, I didn’t care about some of the metalcore opening acts, A Life Once Lost or Last Chance To Reason. This show was the first time I’d seen Revocation and they certainly come from the Galder school of on stage facial expressions. They were making all kinds of faces during their highly energetic set. I’d heard they were a good band live but even so I didn’t expect them to be that entertaining. They also played a cover of the Death classic Pull The Plug which is always a good way to get extra points from me. My only problem with their set was that they weren’t the last support act for Atheist. After they played A Life Once Lost hit the stage. I wasn’t familiar with their material but it seemed to be pretty typical metalcore, which I’m not a fan of and after a couple songs I’d heard enough and found my way to the bar for a beer I’d gladly enjoy out in the hall. After some good conversations out there, I went back in while Atheist was setting up to get right up front for taking some pictures. Atheist is a progressive technical death metal jazz fusion band. Yeah, that’s quite a description but pretty much sums them up. They were around in the late 80s/early 90s Florida death metal scene but broke up in 1994. They reunited in 2006 with guitarist Kelly Shaeffer sticking to just the vocals because he was unable to continue playing guitar due to some medical issues. I saw them play at Jaxx in July of 2009 but this time they had an album of new material, their first in 17 years, and this was the first tour that they’d be playing any of the new songs live. Luckily the new album, Jupiter, kicks ass and fits in with their older songs perfectly. The set was pretty awesome except for two things really, they skipped over Mother Man which was on the setlist, and their final song, Piece Of Time, was totally screwy due to technical difficulties. Those are my two favorite Atheist songs so that kinda sucked, but otherwise the show was great. They have a unique sound that fans of either technical heavy metal or jazz will enjoy, not just people who are fans of both. The band is really tight live and it sure is fun watching them play those kick ass tunes in person. The audience begged for an encore but guitarist Chris Baker came out on stage and said they couldn’t because of the technical difficulties they were having. Sort of a shitty way to end the night but what else could they do?

Well, that’s what I did on days four, five and six of my nine day Metal Marathon. You can read about the Metal Marathon plan here or about the concerts I saw on the first three days here. My next post will be covering the four concerts I went to in the final three days. So stay tuned to hear about my impressions on concerts by Meek Is Murder, Dropdead, Trap Them and Apocalyptica in my next post. Until then you can check out some of the videos I shot over days four, five and six of the Metal Marathon below or go to my YouTube page to see all of them. You can also check out my Flickr set here that has pics I’ve posted from this awesome string of concerts.