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.

Review of Ilsa gig at Hole In The Sky

Sunday night, the 9th of January, I got to see my first metal show of 2011. The show was local death/doom band Ilsa playing with the lo-fi doom duo Olde Growth from Boston. There was another opening act, a new local band named Spirals but I didn’t get there in time to see them. I’d never been to this DIY venue in DC, Hole In The Sky, which just started hosting concerts in June of 2010. They seem to get more shows that are punk and hardcore, but they do get some metal too. Ilsa is a band that seems to bring metal to people who aren’t really the typical metal head. The audience was different than what you’d see at a typical Jaxx show, but a fan of metal is a friend of mine. The set up was interesting, you have to walk down an alley to find the front door which is rather nondescript, a small wooden sign above it lets you know you’ve found the right place. You go up a dark flight of stairs and open another door and you’re in what is basically the large common area of an apartment. Instead of a lot of furniture, they’ve got a nice open space set up in the corner for bands to play. The walls are covered in spray paint and other designs, and there’s a corner with a place to hang bicycles. They also have an outdoor rooftop that people can smoke on, but I didn’t spend a lot of time out there cause it was cold as shit. It’s probably much nicer in the summer though. There were a couple of the local neighborhood kids who had wandered in and were running around underfoot for a bit, even playing with some of the instruments between bands. A small table with merch was set up too. Someone came around asking for $5 donations to the show, but the exchange was very friendly. The place was pretty welcoming really, and while I didn’t really know anyone there, I did find a few people to strike up conversations with.

The first band to play was named Spirals, but as I said before they had finished playing by the time I got there. Olde Growth was setting up when I walked in, and I didn’t really know anything about them. Usually at these DIY shows there’s at least one touring band, and a couple local acts to help draw people to the show. Most of the money collected goes to the touring bands, even though the local acts tend to get the better draw. This might seem unfair, but ideally they are trying to help pay for those bands to tour, so people can see bands they wouldn’t normally get to, and ideally the local bands will be able to use the same network when they want to play in other cities. This show was no different, and since I didn’t know anything about Olde Growth other than what the flyer stated I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wouldn’t call them the best band I’ve ever seen but they were worth getting there early enough to watch. They are a very bassy doom duo. Their songs weren’t overly complex, but they did have a sort of epic feel to them. They really brought the tempo down to a crawl but still managed to bring things back up. The set seemed really short though, maybe the songs were long so it seemed that way, but I think they only played about four songs total. Still, it was a pretty entertaining set and they were a good act to play with Ilsa.

Ilsa was playing last, and they were the main reason I was there, and you could tell by the size of the audience that I wasn’t the only one with that sentiment. I’d been meaning to catch them for a while, glad I finally got a chance to. They’re called a death/doom metal band, but I think they’re more on the doom side of that with some sludge in there too. Whatever they are, they’re really heavy. They’ve made a name for themselves in the local DC scene, though they seem to be known more in the world of local hardcore fans than the typical metal circles. I think that’s starting to change as their latest album, Tutti il Colori del Buio, is starting to get noticed, and for good reason. The show was a bit different than their studio work. The songs are a bit dirtier sounding, and a bit more energetic live. The cleaner studio production gives way to a more raw vibe, and honestly I thought it was great. Plus really feeling that heavy distortion shake through you is just something ya don’t get from a recording. I enjoyed the songs that I recognized as well as the older material from their first album, which I don’t know. And while half the band had their backs to the audience most of the show, the crowd seemed pretty mesmerized by the performance. Really it’s not so much about the band’s stage presence as the sheer crushing sound they produce. Ilsa finished their set but they were talked into playing another song before calling it a night, which was pretty cool of them. It was a good show and I’m glad I made it out to see them play. They’re a great local metal act and I can’t wait to see them again, it was a hell of a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen them yet you should, they’re quickly becoming one of DC’s must see acts. I did get a few videos, posted below, one of Olde Growth and three of Ilsa, but they’re all pretty dark. The audio is decent, but Charred Resistors should have the audio from the entire show posted soon. I’ve got more pics on my Flickr page too. It was a great way to start off my year of metal concerts, a cool local act I’ve been meaning to check out in a venue I’ve never been to before. Lets hope the rest of 2011 is as fun.