Maryland Deathfest X Survival Guide

Maryland Deathfest X is almost here and I’ve created another Survival Guide for this tenth installment of the festival. This post is full of info you can use regardless of how many days you spend at this year’s fest or whether you are visiting Baltimore or a resident. First, I’ll post a few handy links for you to have all in one place:

Maryland Deathfest’s official website: MarylandDeathfest.com
MDF’s official Facebook: Facebook.com/MarylandDeathfest
Sonar’s official website: SonarBaltimore.com
Sonar’s Address: 407 E Saratoga St, Baltimore, MD 21202
Baltimore Yellow Cab: 410-685-1212 (website)

Quick loading set time schedules to bookmark on your smartphone:
Thursday Schedule: http://bit.ly/mdfthursday
Friday Schedule: http://bit.ly/mdffriday
Saturday Schedule: http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday
Sunday Schedule: http://bit.ly/mdfsunday

Click the image below to see a custom interactive Google map of the area around Sonar with some places of note like where to eat or buy cigarettes within walking distance. Click on the points or lines and more info will pop up. You’ll have to zoom in a bit since Google sets that.

Before You Get To The Fest

You can order your tickets online (here) if you haven’t bought them already. They will be will call only at this point, which means they’ll hold them at the door for you. Thursday is sold out so you can’t get tickets for that day nor four day passes any more. If you really want to go Thursday you can try looking at the MDF Facebook event page (here) for people selling extra tickets or the MDF Message Board’s thread for buying/selling tickets here, and maybe you’ll get lucky. You could also try getting cheaper tickets for other days there from people desperate to sell. You can order merch for pick up at the fest here. You don’t have to order merch online but if you do you can guarantee they will have your size in stock when you pick it up at the fest. They have decent prices, their shirts are $13 and the zip-up hoodies are $27. This year they also have a poster for sale for $12. There is another poster for sale (see image on left) by Warlord Clothing, who has made posters for the fest the past two years as well. It is also $12 and is limited to just 150, you can preorder that here. If you are flying into BWI airport for Deathfest, the city has set a flat rate for a taxi to or from Baltimore at $30. From the airport you can also order a Super Shuttle ride for around $12 – $15 per person each way here. Alternately, you can ride the Baltimore Light Rail system to or from BWI to several downtown stops for $1.60 one way. Most downtown hotels will be near the Convention Center through Centre Street stops (two maps, one here and another here). More info on Baltimore’s mass transit systems can be found here. You might want to bring some sunscreen with you if you are going to be at the fest for Friday, Saturday or Sunday as you’ll probably be spending a large portion of the day outdoors. Bring shoes you like wearing because you will probably be on your feet a lot while you’re there. You may want to bring a cheap plastic pull over parka in case it rains, especially if you’re packing a lot of electronics. You can bring a backpack or other bag in if you’d like to use it to hold merch you buy there, just know that they will search it when you enter. They do allow you to bring in cameras, including “pro” SLR cameras with detachable lenses however they will not be issuing photo passes to anyone. They do allow you to shoot video on your pocket cameras and phones but not on pro video cameras. Crowd surfing and moshing is allowed so be aware of what is going on around you, particularly if you’re bringing expensive equipment, and especially if you are up close towards the center of the stage. I recommend bringing some extra cash as there will be all kinds of vendors selling CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos, t-shirts and other merch, and even some MDF exclusives (I’ll update the end of this post with photos and prices of the exclusives once the fest starts). There is an ATM inside the Deathfest area but it will of course have service fees.

Arriving At The Fest

When you get to Maryland Deathfest you’ll see that they’ve blocked off the street in front of Sonar. They’ll build the stages there Thursday night so if you want to park in the parking lot in front of the venue, you’ll have to enter from the other entrance on the back of the lot. You can see where that is on the map I made (here). The lot across from Sonar was free in previous years but now the City Of Baltimore has decided to meter the lot. I shot a photo of a sign in the lot with the rates that you can see here. It’s 40¢ an hour from 4am to 6pm. Any amount of time from 6pm to 4am is a flat rate of $7. Yes if you do the math that means they jack up the rates at night specifically to screw over people going to Sonar, but that’s the city’s doing not the guys who run MDF or the venue. At least you don’t have to bring quarters, the meters accept debit and credit cards as you can see in this photo of one here. It will print a receipt that you will need to leave on your dashboard. I got a parking ticket there when it first switched over because I didn’t realize it had become a pay lot and the ticket was for $32. There will probably be a long line to get in during peak hours and if there is a band you definitely want to see I’d plan on getting there at least 45 minutes before they go on to make sure you get into the fest on time. You may end up getting in early but then you can always check out a band or two if you do, or scope some of the wares of the vendors. There’s often a bunch of junkies that hang out around the festival and I recommend you avoid them. Sometimes they find ways into the fest and try to pull admission bracelets off of people in crowds like when everyone has their hands up supporting a crowd surfer. They take these and give them to friends of theirs so they can get in as well and who knows what they’re doing, maybe picking pockets or something. They may seem nice and friendly but you really shouldn’t trust homeless drug addicts, call it common sense. Your ticket will get you a wrist band, and depending on how many days it is valid for will determine its color. Once you have your wrist band you can leave and re-enter at will and skip the line as well. Deathfest is all ages but you will also get a drinking age wrist band if you’re over 21 and show them your ID. Note that by law all bars in Baltimore stop serving at 2am, which is about when the Fest will probably end each night.

What To Expect Inside The Fest

Maryland Deathfest X starts on Thursday, May 24th and the doors open that day at 4pm. This day has a bit of downtime between bands because it is the only day that is indoors only, and they only use one stage (the main stage). Thursday is completely sold out and MDF has stated (here) that there is no such thing as a downloadable or electronic ticket, despite their appearance on sites like StubHub. Don’t be lured into buying such a ticket as it is certainly a scam. They probably won’t have most of the vendors set up until Friday so if you ordered merch to pick up at the event, you’ll probably need to get it later in the weekend. All weekend long you’ll be able to pick up, for free, a program for this year’s Maryland Deathfest provided by Invisible Oranges. I’ve been lucky enough to get a peek at its contents and it looks pretty cool. It has a short bio on bands playing and some bands, such as Electric Wizard, Tsjuder, Brujeria and Mortuary Drape, will have expanded features on them with lots of quotes from the members of the bands. Check out the cover art on the left and keep an eye out for it. Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be three stages going most of the day, so be sure to check out my quick schedules for each day that show which bands start on which stage in chronological order (linked at the top of this post). Because of the multiple stage set up, usually when a band finishes their set on one outdoor stage the band on the other outdoor stage will start immediately. This means if you really want to see a band up close you will have to camp out there a bit as they set up while most other people are watching bands on the other stages. Due to noise curfews, the outdoor stages have to be done each night by 11pm, however the indoor stage will continue to have bands well past midnight. There will be a food vendor who sets up shop inside the fences, same one as last year. Apparently they will expand the menu to have at least three styles of food, as well as some vegetarian options. There is also some food available within walking distance of Sonar and you can check out the map I made (here) to figure out where that is. One cool thing about Deathfest is all the vendors there. There will be vendors where the indoor second side stage normally is at Sonar, as well as some outdoors in tents and booths. You can find all kinds of rare and obscure releases, bootlegs, merch and other stuff here and most of them will only accept cash. The list of vendors at this year’s fest is: Black Mess Productions, ChopoBrujos, Crucial Blast Records, Dave’s Metal (I couldn’t find a link), Deepsend Records, Deathgasm Records, Emetic Records, The End Records, Forever Plagued Records, Handshake Inc., Ibex Moon Records, IndieMerch, JSR Direct, Largactyl Records, Lock And Shock, Old Cemetery Records, Relapse Records, Season Of Mist, Sevared Records, Thrash Corner Records, Utterly Somber, Vienna Music Exchange, Warlord Clothing and Willowtip Records. Last year they also had a corpse paint face painting booth (photo here) but I don’t know if that will be back this year or not. Relapse has even made a video commercial for their booth at this year’s fest and you can watch that below.

Other Things Going On

If you get into town Wednesday and you’re looking for something to do that night, there will be a couple pre-fest metal shows going on. The Sidebar, a place that is walking distance from Sonar, will be hosting Xeukatre, Horde Of The Eclipse, Palkoski, Wolfnuke and Weed Warlock for just $8. The venue’s address is 218 E. Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21202 (map) however the doors are actually just around the corner on Guilford Avenue. This show is ages 18+ only and the doors open at 8pm. You can see its Facebook event page here. This show looks to be pretty awesome with a range of styles including black metal, stoner, grind and speed metal. You can check out any of the bands by clicking their names. Also, for the four days the fest is going on the Sidebar will not be having bands play but will instead have DJs playing metal and punk music with tons of drink specials and no cover. Sounds like a cheap place to knock a few back before heading in to the fest. Doors open Thursday and Friday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 4pm.

Another metal gig going on Wednesday the 23rd in Baltimore is at the Ottobar, located at 2549 N. Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21218 (map). This show’s line up will be The Hackish, Visceral Disgorge, Seventh Chaos, Universal Remonster, SwampHög and Infidel, a group of bands definitely leaning toward the most brutal side of metal. Death/grind band The Hackish has come up from Florida to play this show. It’s also $8 to get in and is open to all ages. Doors open at 7pm. It’s a bit farther away than the Sidebar show, however it is open to all ages.

There are also two metal shows going on in Baltimore during Maryland Deathfest that are totally unrelated to the event. Power metal is a sub genre that doesn’t get much love at MDF and if you want to take a break and get some of that in then head over to the Baltimore SoundStage on Saturday the 26th for a spotlight on three power metal bands. Rhapsody Of Fire is coming from Italy to headline this show with their Australian touring support Voyager. Washington DC natives A Sound Of Thunder will kick off this show which is located at 124 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202 (map). It’s $29.50 to get in and this all ages show has doors open at 6pm and the first band start at 7pm.

Just down the street from the Baltimore SoundStage and also on Saturday the 26th, Rams Head Live will be hosting a metalcore show of mostly local bands headlined by Sky Came Burning and Serial Attraction. Also appearing will be The 10th Hour, Beyond Dishonor, GI9 and Blameshift. It will be $12 to get in. The venue’s address is 20 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202 (map) and this show is open to all ages.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the most tourist friendly area of the city and it isn’t too far south of Sonar either. There are lots of dining options in that area, plenty with Maryland’s famous crab cakes, and you can also find Baltimore’s world famous aquarium there (link). It’s pretty impressive and worth checking out if you’ve got some extra time. There are a few record stores of note in Baltimore. Black Mess, which will have a booth at Maryland Deathfest this year, is located at 3853 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21211 (map). Black Mess is a new store and they specialize in underground heavy metal. A reader mentioned that within walking distance of Black Mess is Celebrated Summer Records, another indie record store that has metal for sale though they seem to specialize in punk and hardcore. Their address is 3620 Falls Rd,
Baltimore, MD 21211 (map). There is also The Sound Garden, a large record store that is pretty famous even outside of the city. Last year I saw Lee Dorian of Cathedral browsing the records there one afternoon. Their address is 1616 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231 (map). And if you want my recommendation of the best place to eat in town it’s Joe Squared. They are a gourmet pizza place with great beers on tap and even outdoor seating. It’s a bit pricey but where the hell else can you get things like avacado, lamb, corned beef, artichokes, or calamari on a pizza? Plus they’re open til 2am every night. Highly recommended! They have two locations, one near Rams Head Live and the Baltimore Soundstage at 30 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202 (map) (I’ve never been to this location) and one at 133 W. North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21201 (map) which is a few blocks south of the Ottobar.

Wrap Up

I’ll be at this year’s Maryland Deathfest for all four days and if you see me walking around be sure to say hi. I’ll be handing out free DCHeavyMetal.com vinyl bumper stickers to anyone who wants one (and maybe some people who don’t). Recently I interviewed Evan Harting, one of the two organizers and co-creators of Maryland Deathfest and you can read or listen to that interview here. Shockwave Magazine recently conducted an interview with both of the guys who run Deathfest and you can check that out here. Baltimore blogger Mary Spiro has been counting down to Deathfest on her blog by listening to and posting short profiles of each band at this year’s fest and there are even some interviews in there with some of them too. Check out her MDF band profiles on her blog Metallomusikum here. NPR has posted a discussion about this year’s MDF with Bob Boilen, Lars Gotrich (NPR’s metal writer) and Kim Kelly (freelance metal writer) that you can listen to here. The Washington Post Express ran a preview piece, which I’m quoted in, that you can read here. Invisible Oranges made a short post about the fest, with a download of their guide, that is posted here.

I hope this survival guide helps you enjoy the best four days of heavy metal in the area. I’m excited and I hope you all have fun whichever days you are going. Stay brutal everyone!

Updates

Here’s the alcohol price list for the bars inside the main room, you can click it to see it larger.

MDF X Alcohol Price List

There are two food tents inside the MDF grounds this year. One has some pretty standard American food and the other has “Italian” and Latin food. The three menus are all posted below, and you can click on them to see them larger if you want.

MDF X American Food Menu

MDF X Italian Food Menu

MDF X Latin Food Menu

Also, there are some MDF exclusives but I’m trying to get back to the fest to catch one of my favorite bands, Macabre, play so I don’t have time to post the pictures yet. I’ll try to do that tonight. However, there is an exclusive Brujeria shirt, an exclusive Morgoth shirt (both shown below), and for some reason a vendor had exclusive shirts for a bunch of bands that aren’t even playing including: The Black Dahlia Murder, Aborted, Pig Destroyer, Brutal Truth, Misery Index, Cattle Decapitation, Rotting Christ and Devourment. There was also an exclusive Nasum shirt but that is now sold out. Oh, and Black Mess has a free to enter raffle to see Marduk, 1349, Wither and Weapon at Sonar on Saturday June 2nd. Winner gets a free pair of tickets to the show. You don’t have to buy anything to enter but check it out cause that show will be cool.

MDF X Italian Food Menu

MDF X Morgoth Shirt

Interview with Evan Harting of Maryland Deathfest

Evan Harting is one of the two co-founders and organizers of the annual Maryland Deathfest, the biggest heavy metal festival not only in this area but in all of North America. I thought he would be a great subject for the first interview on DCHeavyMetal.com and he was cool enough to speak with me on the phone for a bit on Tuesday the 24th of April 2012. You can download and listen to an mp3 of our 20 minute conversation (here) or you can simply read the transcription below (my words are in bold, Evan’s are not). Extra fun if you read along as you listen! We covered a lot of subjects like which bands he is most excited to see this year, what the food options will be like, what he thinks about people downloading music online, what happened with the pepper spray at last year’s fest, what the future holds for the event after this year and even what Morbid Angel might play during their performance. I hope you all enjoy it and if it is received well I want to do more interviews in the future.

Hey what’s up? This is Metal Chris from DC Heavy Metal and I’ve got Evan Harting here on the phone. He’s one of the promoters and creators of the Maryland Deathfest which is coming into its tenth year and is starting Thursday, May 24th over Memorial Day weekend up in Baltimore, Maryland at Sonar and I’ve got him here to ask him some questions for DC Heavy Metal.

First I wanted to ask, how did you and Ryan Taylor get to start up the Deathfest? How did you guys come up with the idea and how did you guys meet each other and just how did it get going?

We actually met in high school. We became friends through just being into the same kind of music and going to the same shows. Then eventually we started working in the same places. We were both cooks at the time. We were working at this place in Perry Hall, Maryland, when the blue prints for the fest came up and it just started from there. In 2001 we went to the Ohio Deathfest. I think that kind of got the gears moving a little bit and got us thinking about doing something similar on the East Coast.

Do you guys have any other day jobs you’re doing or are you just kind of doing this full time or are you doing promotions or what do you guys do otherwise when you’re not doing the Deathfest?

Well the Deathfest is definitely our main job, definitely our main focus throughout the year, but we do have other jobs sometimes. It really depends on the part of the year and how busy we are during the fest. Every once in a while I’ll do other shows and stuff but definitely the fest is the main thing and other jobs kind of we’ll work a few months out of the year but that’s basically it.

Cool cool, so Deathfest is definitely the main priority. That’s cool man. So as far as this year’s line up, you know this is the tenth show so it’s sort of like the big anniversary and I know you guys have an awesome line up. I mean you guys always have really good line ups but this year you guys really pulled out all the stops. Which band, personally, are you most excited to be seeing this year at the fest?

Well it’s kind of hard to say because part of how I book bands is also bands that I want to see. I would say most of them but if I had to pick out a few of the top ones I would say Electric Wizard, Sargeist, Church Of Misery, Bethlehem, Tsjuder, Confessor, Godflesh and Napalm Death. I mean I’ve seen them a few times before but they’re definitely one of my favorite live bands so they’re always good.

They’re playing the same day as the Nasum reunion thing or whatever is going on and I know Nasum announced that they were going to have guest vocalists on some of their sets that they were playing at different fests around the areas this year so I was wondering do you have any idea if Barney [Greenway, vocalist of Napalm Death] is going to be doing some songs with Nasum because that would be kind of awesome.

I don’t know if it’s… I thought I read something about a guest vocalist as well. I don’t remember who it was. I don’t think it’s Barney but don’t quote me on that I’m not sure.

Well I know they’re going to have different surprise guests come out so I was like, they’re playing right around the same time. I know you haven’t announced the times yet. What day do you plan on announcing the times for the actual running order?

We’re working on it now. Within the next couple of weeks we’ll announce it. It’s just that stuff changes at the last minute so we just tend to wait until kind of late to announce the set times.

Is it going to be the same kind of set up as it’s been the last couple years where you have the two outdoor stages facing each other in the middle of Saratoga Street or do you have another set up this year for the stages?

Yeah, it’ll be the same. Yeah that seemed to work out the best the same way we did it last year. We thought that worked out pretty well.

Now one thing I wanted to ask is, you know the big parking lot that everyone parks in, that’s now a metered lot. Baltimore City has changed that this year and you’ve got to pay to park there now. So do you know if that’s going to be lifted at all for the Deathfest or what people are going to have to do to park there?

I’m not quite sure yet. We’ve been trying to see what we can do it’s just that that’s completely separate from our operations. You know that’s the city and what they do. I’ve talked to the head of security at Sonar who is in close with the city and he’s trying to see if something can be done but it’s not going to be easy. But also I figure they’re going to have a hard time coming in to the parking lot and towing cars and giving tickets anyway. All the meters I think it’s until 6 or 7 you have to put a certain amount in, but after that it’s a flat rate of $7 or something like that.

Now usually Sonar has a small garage that you can park in for free now. That’s something they’ve been advertising on other nights when they have shows. But I’m going to guess that’s probably going to be blocked off as part of the back stage area for the Deathfest.

If it’s what I’m thinking of they have been advertising the parking lot that’s kind of on top of the venue…

Yeah, yep.

…when there’s like other shows going on but during the fest we kind of use that mainly as the staff parking lot because there’s so much staff that even including myself I park up there. Usually it’s pretty full.

Another thing I was going to ask you know last year after Ghost‘s set there was that big incident with the pepper spray or mace. I know somebody tried to start a fight with one of the security guards or something. So I was wondering are they going to be walking around with pepper spray and stuff again this year or is it the same security guards or what’s going to go on with that stuff this year? I’m assuming something has changed.

I mean that definitely never should have happened. I just heard kind of through the grapevine what happened from different people. From what I understand this guy was picking a fight with one of the bouncers and attacked him or something and then the bouncer used the pepper spray on him but since it was outside the pepper spray kind of floated around and got some other people at the same time. And they definitely should not be using that at all unless completely necessary. And that’s never happened before so, I certainly would not expect that to happen again.

What’s going to go on with food this year? I know they had vegetarian options last year and so is there going to be more of that kind of stuff cause you know a couple of years ago I had gone and there were a few different food vendors. And that last year I think, or maybe two, there was only like one actual in the fest vendor selling food. Now is it going to be the same kind of thing set up this year or are there going to be more options or what’s up?

Well in the past when we had a few different ones, that was when it was up to me and Ryan to hire food vendors from outside. And now the owner of Sonar, he owns a restaurant in Hampden, and he has wanted to work out a deal with us regarding the rental and everything so he would be the only food vendor. So that’s why it’s been that way for the past year or two. But we definitely have gotten like a lot of feedback regarding the limited options that were available and we talked to him for a while about it and it’s going to be his stuff again but there’s going be at least three different sections, like three different types of food.

Different kinds of menu styles or something right?

Right. He’s supposed to be able to give me some menus that we can post online but I don’t know we’ll see about that. Either way he knows that we need a much more extensive list of options for people.

There’s a few places you can walk to around that area too. So that’s one thing too is that it’s in a nice part of the city where you can actually walk to a couple places and get some food too. Now I wanted to ask, what’s the official photo/video policy of Maryland Deathfest this year?

People can bring in cameras and do whatever they want but if someone’s bringing in a huge professional video camera then that’s when we’ll tell them they gotta relax but otherwise we don’t care. Regarding press passes we don’t give them out to anyone. Obviously there’s a couple that we work with and we give it to them but other than that we do not. People ask us constantly like oh we have this web blog or whatever this little magazine can we have a press pass and we always say no because otherwise we’d have thousands of people in the press pit and back stage and stuff and that’s just ridiculous. So yeah we have our movie crew and maybe a couple of others that we have every year that are shooting pictures from the photo pit but that’s it.

So there is going to be a Maryland Deathfest: The Movie shot again this year also?

Yeah, this will be the final one.

Ok. Because I know there was an issue with some of the footage last year or something.

Yeah, it was a bunch of drama that I didn’t quite understand or have the time to try to comprehend but having something to do with one of the guys stealing some of the footage or a laptop with a lot of the footage on it so a lot of it wasn’t recovered. I don’t know. But it’s part of the same crew that’s coming this time and [we] decided it would be worth it since this is the tenth year to do a final one from those guys.

Yeah the line up is pretty incredible this year too.

Yeah. Hopefully it’ll end up looking pretty good.

Here’s one thing I wanted to know, now you’ve got Morbid Angel headlining I believe Saturday and that’s going to be with David Vincent. Now I saw them when they first got back together with David Vincent back in, I don’t know, 2004 or somewhere around there. All the songs they played were from Domination and earlier. Now do you know if they’re going to be doing that kind of thing again, or are they going to play some of their songs in the years he was gone or do you know if it’s going to be a heavy focus on the new album because, heh, because I know a lot of people were not impressed with their new album, heh, to say the least.

Yeah, heh, I’ve gotten a lot of comments about that too. Actually, when I’m out at shows and stuff like that a lot of people ask me, they say that they’ve heard that we have a contract with Morbid Angel to where, they can’t play any new songs and, heh, I don’t know where that started but that’s definitely not true. However, from what I understand, they only play one or two songs off of the new album and then mostly old stuff.

So probably Domination era and earlier.

Yeah. I ran into Dave Witte last night actually and he said he saw them not long ago and he said he was very impressed with their live show now and he thinks people will be stoked.

Now do you know who is drumming for them when they’re going to be at Deathfest?

It will be Tim Yeung.

Ok. Do you have any idea who’s going to be drumming for Suffocation?

Um… Oh I’m drawing a blank on his name right now. Um… Dave Culross I think.

Now here’s another one that I thought was kind of weird on the Fest this year was Anvil. I mean I know they’re a pretty big band they just don’t seem to fit with the other bands on the bill. So how did you guys decide to put them on because they seem kind of out of left field.

Kind of, but not really. They’re just an old school, legendary band. They’re not quite to Metallica status or anything but they’ve been around for a long time and have influenced tons of bands. There’s some people that think that it’s crazy that they’re on this but I think there’s also a lot of people, a lot of old school heads especially, that will appreciate seeing them.

And they’ll be playing on one of the bigger outdoor stages right?

Yeah.

I remember last year when Neurosis was getting ready to play a thunder storm started to roll in. Is there going to be kind any of preparation for that or what happens when we get another thunder storm like that this year or if there’s a longer one? Are we just going to have to just push stuff back because I’m sure there’s noise issues at a certain point where you just can’t keep having the outdoor stages play.

Our outside stages are going to be slightly different. They’ll have a slightly more boxed in feel to them but that doesn’t affect a whole lot as far as that’s concerned. It can rain all night long and that’s fine but if there’s lightning then that’s when we can’t because it becomes an issue.

Yeah, a safety issue there.

So basically we just have to hope for the best, really, and the noise curfew goes until 11 o’clock so we cannot run any bands past that point.

Outdoors at least.

Outdoors, yeah.

Cool, now one thing I always thought was really cool is every year you guys seem to get a few of the local bands from sort of the DC, Baltimore and Philly area and even just the Mid Atlantic region in general and I thought that’s kind of cool how you guys get these big bands coming from all over the world and doing these exclusive appearances and you still have some local bands. You’ve got like Coke Bust on there this year, Extermination Angel, Dying Fetus, they’re pretty big but they’re a Maryland band too. Is that something that you guys really try to keep is some of the local bands coming in too?

We don’t want to lose that feel completely you know? Even if the fest continues to grow we kind of want to look out for some of the local acts and some of the little guys. There’s tons of bands from around the area that are awesome and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t help showcase that.

It’s really cool that you guys do that and I’ve always noticed that every year. Now last year Sonar had some sort of snafu where they lost their liquor license and were closing and that happened about three weeks before the fest was supposed to take place last year. I know you guys were kind of scrambling at the time to try to find another venue and I was thinking it was going to be Bourbon Street, which is just across the street from Sonar. Well that venue is closed now so I was wondering do you guys have any other kind of back up plan in case something ridiculous like that happens again or they lose their liquor license or something?

Well last year it was an issue with the liquor license because the liquor license was still in another guy’s name and there’s just a lot of drama regarding that but this year it’s not going to be an issue. In the long run of what’s going to really happen with Sonar I don’t really know. I can’t say but I know for sure it will be around during the fest and even after for a while at least.

Have you been to some of those festivals over in Europe like say Wacken or Hole In The Sky or any of these big festivals they have over there. Has that influenced the way you guys try to run Deathfest at all if you have?

The only kind of bigger festival I’ve been to, overseas, has been the Obscene Extreme fest in the Czech Republic. I’ve been to that a few times. It’s all outdoors in the middle of the woods. I’m actually pretty good friends with the guy who organizes that and he’s now coming to Maryland every year for the fest. Ryan has been to a couple of others because you know over the years he’s been traveling to Europe a lot more than I have. At least the past few years he has so I think he’s been to a couple more but I don’t think it really affects too much how we do this because I would say that Deathfest is probably most similar to those in the States but in Europe I think it’s not that similar. Most of those fests are all outdoors and there’s camping and all that stuff going on and it’s pretty different.

Have you ever thought about trying to make Maryland Deathfest bigger like something like that? Maybe move to a larger location or a field or something where you could do that?

Well it’s not so much try to, but it would be like, well this is happening because there’s so many people trying to come. We definitely have been looking into those options. We don’t have anything set in stone yet but we realize that it may happen actually pretty soon here so we’re exploring what kind of options we can use. But we also don’t want to have it lose the indoor deal as well because the good thing of having it at Sonar is we have a stage inside and there’s the lounge area, stuff like that. [I] think that having part of it inside is really cool and certain bands in that kind of setting is just perfect. So if we were to move it somewhere else I think it would be important to have an indoor… at least like tents or something to give more of an indoor kind of feel.

Like a club kind of setting.

Right.

Now here’s something I’ve always wanted to ask you. What do you think about a lot of this, you know the peer-to-peer bit torrents and the other mp3 downloading because I know on one hand a lot of the bands and the labels obviously they don’t like a lot of that. They don’t want people downloading their music for free. However on the other hand, a lot of these bands at Deathfest nobody in America would even know some of these bands if it wasn’t for the availability of their music online.

Right.

So where do you fall on that line because I’d imagine lots of bands on Deathfest probably wouldn’t even be able to come over here and play that just because people wouldn’t even know who they are. But now we’ve got like Electric Wizard headlining and stuff so what’s your take on all of that?

I don’t know I kind of fall in the middle. I can see both sides of it. I think having at least some of your music available online for free is great and it gets your word out there. If you’re in metal to make money then you’re doing something wrong anyway. But that’s kind of the way it’s becoming now. More and more people are just downloading for free so if you want to make some money off of your releases it’s going to be more difficult. When I talk to bands they say that most of the money they make is made off merch now. There’s only so much you can really do about that because one way or another people will find a way to download your music free. I personally like to do both. I like to check out a band first by like downloading it and if I’m really into it I’ll go out and buy it next time I see it at a store or something like that.

Yeah you’re starting to see a bit of a resurgence in vinyl from some of that too because you can’t really download the vinyl experience you know whereas a CD is kind of easily copied.

Oh yeah, I definitely see vinyl coming back big time.

Anyways, speaking of free stuff, I know that you just put out the list of all the vendors and who are going to have tables and booths so I was wondering, what if you’re not one of the vendors? Are you allowed to hand out flyers, stickers, CDs of your band if you’re just walking around? Is that ok or is that not cool or what are people allowed to do as far as that goes?

Yeah that’s fine. People can feel free to promote their band and show or whatever. There’s nothing we can do about that and it’s no big deal. Every once in a while someone will come and set up a little table and try to like sell stuff and that’s when we’ve crossed the line. If you’re going to sell something then that needs to be worked out in advance. If you want to give stuff away, feel free.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years too is back when you guys started the fest it was mostly a bunch of grindcore bands and you’d have a few bigger death metal headliners like say a Suffocation or Zyklon or something like that. And now it definitely covers a lot more genres. You’ve got black metal and sludge bands and doom bands and there’s still some death and there’s thrash and there’s old school bands coming back and so like you were saying earlier a lot of the bands are just the stuff you like. Now is some of the line up changes just how you and Ryan’s tastes have evolved over the years to maybe expand more or is it just you’re now a bigger fest and you can get different genres or maybe you’re getting out of some of the death and grind metal some and you’re just more into some of these other genres now? How has that progressed and why?

It’s actually all of those things. The first couple years, actually a lot of it was brutal death metal and then some grindcore and goregrind and stuff. That’s what we were mainly into at the time and that’s just what we decided to book. But as the fest has matured over the years I feel so have we and our musical tastes as well so we’ve decided to expand not only our tastes but the bands that we get, the genres that we get at the fest. The more that we do that the more that we realize that no one wants to see one genre of metal all day long. You know you gotta mix it up. Even from a fan’s perspective I wouldn’t want to go to a fest and see all brutal death metal or all doom or something it gets boring.

Yeah well even one day is one thing. You start making it four days, that’s a lot. Haha. That’s a lot to take in.

Oh yeah, definitely. So I think people definitely appreciate the mix of genres as do we.

I think it’s kind of cool that some of these bands get to play on a bigger stage that they wouldn’t necessarily get to if they were just touring around the area you know.

Yeah definitely.

So that’s always something that’s really nice too. Not only do you get to see Electric Wizard this year but you get to see them on a big outdoor stage so that’s pretty cool. Is there anything big you’ve got planned for say, the next year? I know you guys are working on this stuff always pretty early and you start announcing bands usually about a month after the fest for the next year. So do you have any kind of stuff in the works already yet you might want to leak or anything? Maybe you’re adding an extra day or add an extra stage or I don’t know, change the venue, anything like that?

We have a little bit in the works and a little bit that we’re brainstorming on right now but it’s nothing that we can really say at this point. Basically we’re going to have to decide, you know after this one we’re going to have to decide if it’s too big to hold at Sonar first of all and then just kind of take it from there.

You guys want to keep it in Maryland though or…? Like you wouldn’t have any plans to move it somewhere else is what I’m asking.

Everyone knows it as the Maryland Deathfest so we definitely would not plan on moving it.

Alright well thanks man. Thanks for your time. It’s been cool getting to chat for a little bit here and thanks a lot. Have you ever checked out my site DCHeavyMetal.com?

I have a couple times briefly, yeah.

Ah cool man. I’m trying to cover everything in the area from Baltimore to Northern Virginia you know and get the word out. Deathfest is definitely one of the biggest metal events every year as far as festival things it’s pretty much the only one in this area. This was the first interview I’ve done for the site. I thought it would be really cool to talk to one of you guys as the first interview. Thanks a lot for doing this man and I guess I’ll see you in about a month.

Alright, I appreciate it man. I’ll see you soon.

Ok take it easy.

Bye.

Mega Sized Metal Concert Recap

Recently I’ve not been able to write as many concert reviews as I’d like to. I’m considering doing some shorter ones in the future. Believe it or not, my average concert review takes me 10-14 hours to put together. I have been going to a hell of a lot of shows and that just makes things back up a bunch and it can be hard to even get through just sorting through all my concert photos. However, I’ve been to some great shows since my last concert review, the Cavalara Conspiracy show review I posted back on October 14th, and I thought I’d just post a few pictures, videos and notes from those shows to give you an idea of what has been going on with live metal in this area from my point of view. Each paragraph below is about a different concert so you can skip ones ya don’t care about and move to ones you find more interesting easily. You can click any of the pictures below to see more of my photographs of the same band, and I’ve added some of my videos from the shows that I shot them at in this post as well, though as always I’ve got more on my YouTube page here.

On Friday, October 14th, 2011, I drove up to see Wabringer and Landmine Marathon at Sonar in Baltimore. This was Warbringer’s first headlining tour and while they are one of my favorite bands of the modern wave of thrash metal, I really wanted to see Landmine Marathon play. I’d never seen them before but had heard they were good live. Their vocalist, Grace Perry, was on the cover of the always controversial Hottest Chicks In Metal issue of Revolver magazine in 2009, but I didn’t care about any of that. She was absolutely ferocious on stage, really a sight to behold regardless of her gender or hotness or whatever. At one point she told the audience they better start moshing harder or she’d jump off the stage and kick everyone’s asses, and you believed it when she said it. Warbringer was fun live as usual, they played Living In A Whirlwind so I was happy. This was also the first time I’d seen them play anything from their newest album, Worlds Torn Asunder. Vocalist John Kevill did a stage dive into the audience at the end of the show. Lazarus A.D. played between those two bands but I don’t really care for them so I took that time to drink a couple Lancaster Milk Stouts in the other room. They’re delicious and Sonar has em in bottles at the bar, highly recommended when you’re thirsty at Sonar!
Grace Perry of Landmine Marathon

Warbringer

The next night, Saturday the 15th of October 2011, I found myself back at Sonar to see a black metal band from Singapore, Impiety. However, as a late addition to the bill I got to see a band I’ve been wanting to see for years, Ohio’s black/speed metal act Midnight. They came out in the executioner’s hoods that they’re known for and just shredded the place. They’re a fierce three piece and their sound reminds me of something of a cross between Motörhead and Darkthrone. After their awesome set Impiety hit the stage drenched in pig blood, and man did it stink like something awful. The pit was fierce for their entire set and the band never let up either. It was really a great show I’m glad I didn’t miss it. Considering where they’re from, who knows if you’ll ever be able to see them play around here again.
Midnight

Impiety

On Monday the 17th of October 2011 I found myself at Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia to check out local power metal band A Sound Of Thunder play support for the Swedish power metal band Sabaton for the final show of their tour. The audience was thin this evening, Dream Theater was playing at the Warner Theatre the same night and I’m sure that had an effect on the turn out. However A Sound Of Thunder put on a solid set and kept the audience’s attention. They were a good warm up act for Sabaton. I’d never seen Sabaton before, and honestly I’m not that familiar with their music, but I’ll tell you they were entertaining as hell to watch live. You could just tell that the band was having a lot of fun playing for the audience and even though the turn out wasn’t huge the people who were there really gave a lot of energy back to the band. They played a prank on their new temporary bass player when the rest of the band started playing a song they hadn’t taught him to play. It was a really fun experience from a band I didn’t really know what to expect from.
Nina Osegueda of A Sound Of Thunder

Sabaton

Skip ahead to Friday the 21st of October and I was at a kick ass Deceased show at Comet Ping Pong in Washington, DC. The opening acts were two I really enjoy, DC’s own stoner band Borracho and Richmond’s doomy/sludge band Windhand. Borracho went on first and they didn’t start until after 10pm. They put on a good show and the audience that came to see Deceased, different than the normal stoner band crowd, seemed to be into it. Next up came Windhand. This band is HEAVY and this set was no different than usual. Finally Deceased hit the stage well after midnight. Deceased has a lot of ties to the DC area, originally based out of Northern Virginia they are the kind of band that draws people out of the woodwork when they play in the area. It was good to see such a big crowd for them. They didn’t have a bass player, which made their sound a bit tinny and took some getting used to. King Fowley used to play drums but now was just doing the lead vocals, and he was having a lot of fun with the audience and even came out into the crowd a couple times. I got home really late that night, but it was worth it!
Borracho

Windhand

Deceased

Sunday the 23rd of October, 2011, I went on a road trip up to Philadelphia to catch a band I’d been wanting to see for several years, Kvelertak, play at Johnny Brenda’s. When I got there the Georgian psychedelic sludge metal group Zoroaster was playing and I saw them do a couple songs. Skeletonwitch, a thrash band from Ohio, was after them and they put on an energetic show, they’re definitely a better live band than when I saw them in April 2010. Not that they were bad then, but they’ve definitely got their live show down better now and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them doing a headlining tour sometime soon. Finally Kvelertak, the Norwegian punk/metal band I drove all that way to see, was up and they put on a hell of a wild show. There was a lot of stage diving and beer drinking and the show just had a crazy amount of energy going on. It was definitely worth the 6 and a half hours of driving there and back that night, so much fun! Hopefully they won’t skip the DC area on their next tour. Also, I met two other people, who didn’t know each other, who had both come up from the DC area for this show. That was kind of cool.
Skeletonwitch

Kvelertak

On Thursday the 27th of October I went to see a Sepultura cover band made up of members of various local bands, namely Disciples Of Christ (D.O.C.), Drugs Of Faith, Magrudergrind and Mind As Prison. This was at a small Ethiopian restaurant and bar called Asefu’s just a couple doors down from DC9 in Washington DC. Local guitar shredders Midnight Eye opened the set up and they were awesome as usual. They played a cover of Megadeth‘s classic Rust In Peace that was pretty slick as well. Local band Auroboros was next to play. They’re a great live band, with ex-members of Baroness and Salome in the group you know it’s just a matter of time until they really take off. During their set the drummer got caught in the fake spider webbing while playing, he even lost a stick to it, haha! The Sepultura all stars played next and while their set was mired with some technical difficulties at first, it was a lot of fun. I was a huge Sepultura fan in high school so it was cool hearing them play some of those old classics. They only played about four or five songs though, I wished it had lasted another hour! The final band of the night was Inter Arma from Richmond. Sadly a lot of people left after the cover band played but they played a powerful set regardless, I’m glad I stuck around to watch them.
Midnight Eye

Auroboros

Sepultura cover band

Inter Arma

I had another stop at Jaxx on Sunday the 30th of October 2011 to see Decapitated play. There were a lot of other bands playing this night, however I only saw the final three bands. Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse came out in their tuxedos and really got the mosh pit going, including a few guys in drag for Halloween that were in there. Next up was the California based tech death band Decrepit Birth. I really like this band a lot. They remind me of the band Death a lot, but with a more modern sound. Their vocalist, Bill Robinson, is a bit of a head trip but he really got the audience into the show. At one point he held up a copy of their latest CD and told the audience anyone could have it if they took it from him. This caused a wave of people to climb over the railing onto the stage and Bill kept pushing them back to stage dive onto the audience. Then came the headliners, the Polish death metal band Decapitated. This band had a tragic bus accident on October 29th 2007 while on tour. Their drummer was killed in the wreck and the vocalist was critically injured. Decapitated broke up for a little while, though guitarist Vogg decided to get them back together, with all other members of the band being new, and put out a new album back in July titled Carnival Is Forever. However, this band just isn’t the same, it was almost sad seeing them play. Spheres Of Madness, their closing song and most famous, just wasn’t the same, it was almost like seeing a cover band play it. Combined with their short set, they only played for about 45-50 minutes, they were a let down. I’m glad I got to see them a few times before their accident. Also of note, this was their final show of the tour and on the return flight their airplane had to make an emergency landing with no landing gear. The story with video of the landing is posted here. The band is fine but damn, maybe they should start walking when touring.
Fleshgod Apocalypse

Decrepit Birth

Decapitated

On Tuesday the 1st of November, 2011 I went up to Baltimore to see Opeth play at Rams Head Live. Their set was a rather laid back performance, even by Opeth’s standards. Their new album, Heritage, has no harsh vocals on it, and this tour was certainly to promote that album. The show was fun, and being that it was the last show of the tour the guys were kind of goofing off a bit. They let the audience in a short singalong to the chorus of Harvest at one point, and had a few pranks going on stage throughout the night. However the highlight of the evening was the encore. Members of the opening act that I didn’t get there in time to see, Katatonia, joined Mike Åkerfeldt and Martin Axenrot of Opeth to reform the Swedish death metal super group Bloodbath! They played two songs, Soul Evisceration and Eaten, in a very rare public performance by Bloodbath. Mike hinted that they might be back together for real, though he didn’t say if that meant a new album, tour or if it was even definite. Their short and brutal encore set was quite a contrast to the Opeth show that had gone on just before it. This was the only concert of the tour that Bloodbath made an appearance at, and I felt very lucky to be in attendance. Definitely one of my concert highlights of the year! You can see video footage of Bloodbath’s performance (not shot by me) posted here.
Opeth

Bloodbath

The next night, Wenesday the 2nd of November, found me in Baltimore again for the first show of tour by the infamous Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. When I got there the show was running a bit behind schedule though and I saw the end of Abigail Williams‘ set. Then the polish blackened death metal band Hate performed. They were pretty good if not overly original, sort of like a Behemoth junior. I have to say their guitarist had some of the worst corpse paint I’ve ever seen though. Then the Norwegian melodic black metal band Keep Of Kalessin played. I watched a couple of their songs but soon found myself in the next room drinking Lancaster Milk Stouts again. Keep has gone down hill in my book over the years, now they seem to be a sort of singalongy kind of band and they’ve lost the bite I enjoyed of their older material. Finally Mayhem was up next, their first area appearance since they played at Maryland Deathfest in 2009. Vocalist Attila Csihar came out looking like some sort of satanic vampire and it was awesome! He’s known for his wild stage costumes but this was just over the top. The band played a kick ass set heavily loaded with material from their classic albums De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Deathcrush and it got the place going crazy. There were tons of fights, even a woman got thrown out of the show for being to crazy in the pit, it was intense! I got some bruises but it was worth it to get some awesome shots of one of metal most notorious bands.
Hate

Keep Of Kalessin

Mayhem

On Sunday November 6th, 2011 I was at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland to watch Death Angel, Testament and Anthrax play there. However there was a problem with the photo passes that night and rather than risk leaving my camera in my car where it could be stolen, I had to head home after I already had my tickets in hand. Very frustrating let me tell you. I still haven’t been inside the new venue, I hope they get things straightened out next time. I really wanted to have some photographs up for you guys from that show, and have a nice big concert to end this long recap on but sadly, no dice. I might do more of these long recaps in the future, if you people like or don’t like them let me know. I’ve got a lot more metal shows to go to coming up and this might be a good way to try to cover more of them, starting with Torche tonight at DC9. Also, I should have some shirts with my new t-shirt design on them for sale very soon so keep your eyes peeled for that. They have new Abe Lincoln artwork drawn by DC based metal band Ilsa‘s drummer Joshua Brettell and they look awesome! Thanks for reading DCHeavyMetal.com, stay brutal everyone!

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.

Maryland Deathfest IX Recap

I’m not doing a super detailed Maryland Deathfest recap this year because I missed all of day three, Saturday, so I could attend the wedding of a good friend. However, I was there for day one, two and four and I shot a ton of pictures and video footage, including 70 minutes of the Neurosis set and 82 minutes of Coroner’s set (that footage is below). Each band I saw gets a blurb and a photograph and a video and you can hover over any image to see which band it is if you just want to skip to the ones you like. You can click on any of the photographs to see more images that I shot of that specific band. I hope you all enjoyed Maryland Deathfest as much as I did, or at least enjoy checking out all this stuff I shot for ya. You can see all the other pictures and videos that I didn’t use one this post on Flickr (here) and YouTube (here) if you want more of those. So anyways, here’s Maryland Deathfest IX over Memorial Day weekend 2011 as seen through my eyes (and lenses).

Day 1 – Thursday

The first day of the fest was all indoors on the main stage at Sonar and it was the only day that sold out. Most of the early sets were grind bands. Miasmal was playing when I got there. I didn’t know anything about them but they really impressed me. I was too far in the back to get any decent shots though so my first pics and videos from the fest are of Southern California grind act Lack Of Interest.

Lack Of Interest at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next up was Flesh Parade, a reunited grind band from New Orleans. Their vocalist made a lot of anti-gay comments and talked about how he loved smoking weed between almost every song. Flesh Parade had a bunch of people come out in various costumes (Santa, a surgeon, a Teletubby, a ketchup bottle, etc…) and start a crazy circle pit that involved dozens of glow sticks and inflatable animals and penises being thrown around the audience and onto the stage. These characters, dubbed the Party Patrol (picture here), would show up during various sets throughout the rest of the festival.

Flesh Parade at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band was grind act Extortion who came all the way from Australia to play Deathest and they were pretty intense stop and start grindcore. When they finished playing the vocalist for Lack Of Interest came out on stage telling everyone to give them a bigger hand because he liked them so much (and he told us we all should too!).

Extortion at Maryland Deathfest IX

Extortion was followed by North Carolina based stoner act Buzzov•en, quite a contrast from the previous acts. These guys looked and talked like they walked out of a backwoods scene in Deliverance! The band isn’t super heavy but more of a groove base, sorta rough around the edges and definitely southern in sound. They were a lot slower than the grind bands before them and it seemed they would have fit better playing just before the night’s headliners, Cathedral.

Buzzov•en at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next to play was Tragedy, a rare appearance by a band people had been waiting to see. They’re not really a metal band at all but a very aggressive punk band along the lines of Discharge or early DRI. The band is originally from Tennessee but relocated to their current hometown, Portland, Oregon. People were pretty psyched to get to see them live and the audience energy level was at a peak for day one while Tragedy played.

Tragedy at Maryland Deathfest IX

Finally the headliner of the first night was Cathedral. They are from Coventry, England and their lead singer, Lee Dorian, is a legend of the doom metal genre (he was also the original vocalist for Napalm Death). The band had recently announced their plans to break up at the end of the year and this one off concert would be their last performance ever in the US. They played a set with a lot of their old classics as well as some fairly obscure material for fans to commemorate the occasion. It was a good start to the fest, and although the last three bands weren’t grind it still felt like a pre-fest day instead of being part of the rest of Maryland Deathfest proper, mostly due to the single indoor stage I suppose.

Cathedral at Maryland Deathfest IX

Day 2 – Friday

Day two of Maryland Deathfest IX was the first day to use the two outdoor stages. I didn’t get there as the doors opened so missed the early bands but I did get there in time to see the Norwegian blackened thrash band Aura Noir play. They didn’t bring along the former Mayhem guitarist Blasphemer to play with them so they were a three piece. However Apollyon, the current bass player for Immortal, was there and he introduced the band as the ugliest metal band in the world! The set was fast paced and pretty straight forward and what you’d expect from them, just sold black thrash metal.

Aura Noir at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I watched was the Raleigh, North Carolina band Corrosion Of Conformity. Their sound is somewhere between stoner rock, southern rock, thrash metal and punk. The band has been around since 1982 and this was their classic line up of Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin but they were noticeably missing Pepper Keenan (he has been a member of the super group Down for some time but is still considered an official member of C.O.C.). The band seemed to really enjoy themselves on stage, the drummer, Mike Dean, seemed to be smiling the entire show. I guess they had more time to play than they had expected because at one point they asked if they could do another song and they were told they had another 20 minutes left to play!

Corrosion Of Conformity at Maryland Deathfest IX

After Corrosion Of Conformity played the sky looked like it was getting ready to storm. I wanted to see the Italian grind act Cripple Bastards playing on the indoor stage but I skipped it because I didn’t want to lose my spot in the front row to see the day’s headlining act, Neurosis. The Oakland, California based band rarely plays shows due to medical reasons of one of the members, and this was their first east coast concert in 10 years or so. When they were supposed to start playing the sky opened up and a thunderstorm rolled through, but the crowd didn’t disparage and actually started chanting Neurosis. I was worried they might not play because the outdoor stage’s roof was leaking water onto all the equipment. Their show was delayed but they did come out and the rain soaked crowd roared with approval. The lighting during their show was poor, the big lighting rigs had been covered due to the storm, but they did have a projector displaying all kinds of stuff on the band and the stage. The set was really awesome, and the vibe in the air after the storm only enhanced their performance. This was by far my favorite set of all of Maryland Deathfest IX. Neurosis has never been a highly technical band, they’ve got a sound you just sort of experience and their mastery of mood manipulation was in peak form during this rare performance. It’s hard to describe but luckily I’ve posted about 70 minutes of footage of them performing, check it out below.

Neurosis at Maryland Deathfest IX

Although Neurosis headlined the day there were still a few bands left to play inside after Neurosis. Their set ran later than expected because of the rain so I didn’t get to see a lot of Kylesa‘s set, who was already playing indoors. I’ve already seen them twice this year so that wasn’t the end of the world for me. The spiraling lights they have on during their show looked really good on the black walls at Sonar. Next up was Exhumed, a gore grind/death metal band from San Jose, California. This was their first US show in six years! To start their show they held up the backs of their guitars with each having one word of “Gore Fuckin’ Metal” on the back of it. Their set was brutal, as to be expected. Quite a fun show really. They brought out a real chain saw on stage at one point and I laughed as the guy swung it low in the photographer’s pit, making them all duck to avoid the whirring saw! At the end of the set Matt Harvey decapitated some dummy Gwar style on stage that sprayed blood all over himself. A nice way to end the set!

Exhumed at Maryland Deathfest IX

The final band to play on day two of Maryland Deathfest IX was the Swedish black metal band Marduk. The stage was very dark and I wasn’t close enough to get any decent photos of them but I did shoot some video. They played mostly newer material (read: slower) and as usual they didn’t play my favorite song of theirs, Infernal Eternal. Their new stuff isn’t bad, I really liked their Rom 5:12 album, and they did play a song off Panzer Division Marduk, but the band has lost a lot of it’s raw energy and aggression over the years. Still, they’re pretty tight live and since their set started late they ended up playing right up to 2am! The venue even put on their last call lights while they played their final song, which you can see video of below.

Day 4 – Sunday

I got to Maryland Deathfest on Sunday just in time to see Anaheim, California’s Gravehill playing on one of the outdoor stages. These guys love fake blood! They’d eat random fake blood capsules throughout the show and it got all over them. Matt Harvey was back on stage with these guys (he also played with Exhumed and Cretin at the fest) but he broke a string midway through the set and didn’t come back for a few songs. And although he dumped blood all over himself at the end of Exhumed’s set, he was the only member of Gravehill who wasn’t covered in it at the end of the set. Anyways, their songs were black and thrashy with a bit of a punk attitude thrown in and the vocalist’s self deprecating banter between songs was entertaining too.

Gravehill at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I saw perform was the Texas based death/thrash three piece act Nokturnel. They were alright though they didn’t really do much that stood out to me. Their lead singer/guitarist was saying he felt particularly inspired after seeing his favorite band, Voivod, play the fest the night before but still they didn’t really do that much for me. It was death/thrash alright but I didn’t really find much interesting about it. Maybe I’d have liked it more if I knew some of their material.

Nokturnel at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next I caught some of the Czech punkish thrash band Malignant Tumour playing, again with the party patrol people in the mosh pit. These guys looked right at home with the party patrol, wearing ridiculous costumes, fake beards and wigs that seemed like they were taken from the set of a Cheech And Chong movie. Their bass player was running all over the stage and it was such a spectacle to see that it was hard to take your eyes off them when they were on the stage. These guys were really a lot of fun live!

Malignant Tumour at Maryland Deathfest IX

Next I had a problem, there were two bands I wanted to see playing at exactly the same time. I decided to try to catch some of both of their sets, and I started by watching Orange Goblin play on one of the outdoor stages. They’re from London, England and I’m pretty sure this was their first US concert. They’re a doom metal/stoner band and I’ll tell you they were totally awesome live! The vocalist, Ben Ward, had a great charisma on stage and got everyone pumped when he jumped off the stage and ran up to the crowd yelling “Let’s start a fucking riot!” at the beginning of their set. They really blew me away live and I didn’t want to leave their set early but I did because I wanted to catch another band indoors.

Orange Goblin at Maryland Deathfest IX

That other band playing at the same time was the brutal death metal act Skinless from upstate New York. This was the band’s last concert ever and they were breaking up once the show was over. For this special show they had the original line up play. I missed the early part of the set to see Orange Goblin but I wanted to make sure I saw the end of their last set. They kept the intensity turned up to the max while I there and the lead singer even did a stage dive into the crowd, chorded microphone still in hand, and continued to grunt lyrics until he was pushed back to the stage. They finished up their last brutal set and then they thanked the audience for the fun over years and then they all left the stage for the last time.

Skinless at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band I saw was the reformed hardcore punk band Citizens Arrest. I really only saw a bit of their set because I needed to head out and get some food so I could make it back in time to get a good spot for the night’s headliner, Coroner. They were ok but I didn’t really know much of their material but I could tell the punk fans were enjoying the chance to see them live.

Citizens Arrest at Maryland Deathfest IX

When I got back from eating I the 80s thrash band Nuclear Assault was starting their set on one of the outdoor stages as the sun was setting. They played some of their old classic songs mixed with newer material. Their bass player Dan Lilker mentioned he remembered playing in the exact same spot last year, though he was performing with Autopsy then. The set was good but I left early because I wanted to be in the front row for the night’s headliner, who was up next.

Nuclear Assault at Maryland Deathfest IX

The last night’s headliner was the Swiss technical thrash band Coroner. They had broken up 15 years before and though they had recently played a festival in Europe this was their first US concert in 20 years! The trio was the original line up, though they also had a guy playing keyboads on the stage but I don’t know what his name is as the band doesn’t list him as an official or even live only member. They were on the same stage Neurosis had been two nights before but they had all the cool lighting rigs working as well as fog machines. That stuff all helped set the mood for an awesome set by one of the legends of underground metal. Their set was never boring and they really killed it live. They performed two encores at the end of their set, one of which was a cover of the Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze. I shot a lot of video of them live from up front, over 80 minutes worth actually, all of which you can see below.

Coroner at Maryland Deathfest IX





After Coroner finished their headlining set outdoors there were still a few bands left to play indoors. The first of these last three bands was the one I was most excited to see, the technical death metal band from Spain, Wormed. I never thought I’d have the chance to see these guys play live so this was pretty cool for me. They played what was the heaviest set I saw all weekend. Nonstop brutality from start to finish and just a crazy amount of energy. I’m really glad I got to see these guys tear up the stage, totally awesome!

Wormed at Maryland Deathfest IX

The next band was the Dutch grind act Last Days Of Humanity. They were pretty damn intense but by this point I was starting to get a bit tired (it had been a long four days!). I shot a bit of video before I went and hung back a bit during their set in the hopes that I could rest my feet and get up closer later for the last band of the night.

Last Days Of Humanity at Maryland Deathfest IX

The final band of Maryland Deathfest IX was the mysterious band Ghost from Sweden. Unlike pretty much any of the bands at Maryland Deathfest they sing all their songs with clean vocals. They aren’t very brutal and their sound lies somewhere between Mercyful Fate and 70s Ghost at Maryland Deathfest IXrock. The band stays anonymous though you could see members of In Solitude and Repugnant (both bands who played the fest this year) on the stage during sound check which would lead one to believe Ghost is made up of members of those also Swedish bands. Anyways, I thought the crowd for Ghost would be a bit more laid back due to their type of music as well as it being the end of the fest and people just being tired but I was wrong. The crowd was really psyched to witness the band’s first US concert and they became really rough, while at the same time singing along to every word. It was all a bit ridiculous really, and the costumes on stage just sort of added to that. Apparently Ghost has a rather ravenous fan base and I simply don’t care enough about them to deal with that just to see them up close so I ended up hanging a bit farther back by this guy in an elaborate Cthulhu costume. That’s right, hanging out with Cthuhlu was safer for all my cameras than getting fairly close to Ghost performing live, wtf? I was hoping the set would be more impressive but with the audience singing along so loud it was drowning out not only the singer, Papa Emeritus, but the rest of the band as well. The set was short too, lasting only around 40 minutes. They have released just one album and I was hoping they’d play maybe some covers or something to fill out the set list some but they didn’t (though they did play a Beatles cover two nights later in New York). For a band with so much hype I was hoping for a better show, but it was just OK.

After the show was over I quickly left the venue and got to my car. Apparently after Ghost played there was an incident with security guards beating someone and then pepper spraying innocent bystanders for whatever reason. I luckily avoided that and only read about it online the next day. A shame that the fest had to end on a sour note like that, perhaps they’ll have better security next year. In all the fest was fun as usual and while I missed seeing some of the bands on Saturday I still had a great time at this year’s Deathfest. I got some cool merch, drank some beers, got some good footage and ran into a bunch of friends all over the place. They’re saying that they are planning something really special for next year since it will be the 10th anniversary of the festival and I can’t wait to see what that entails (and don’t worry, I’ll pass on the info to you all too as soon as I find out). Sorry this post has taken so long to get up but I had thousands of pictures and videos to sort through to put this together. Thanks for reading it and stay tuned for more going on in the local metal scene from DCHeavyMetal.com

Maryland Deathfest IX Survival Guide

Maryland Deathfest IX is almost upon us, and for those of you coming to this year’s event in Baltimore, Maryland on any or all of the days from Thursday, May 26th through Sunday, May 29th, 2011, there are some things you’ll want to be aware of and this survival guide is to help you have the most fun and least amount confusion at MDF this year. Please note that I’m not an official representative of either Maryland Deathfest nor Sonar, but this is my advice after having attended the previous three. Please note that Sonar is open and has their liquor license. By the way, I’ve posted quick reference schedules for each day that will load fast on a phone. Bookmark the following links to use at the fest: http://bit.ly/mdfthursday and http://bit.ly/mdffriday and http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday and http://bit.ly/mdfsunday

First off, the free parking lot fills up fast! If you want to park in the free parking across the street from Sonar, you’ll have to get there early. Sonar will shut down Saratoga Street in front of the venue to put the outdoor stages and such, and you will have to enter the parking lot from the rear. Last year there were a bunch of local homeless junkies that started hanging out in the parking lot during the fest so it’s probably not somewhere you want to pre-game or tailgate at before you go into the show. When the lot is full there are several local pay lots, or metered street parking you can use also. In Baltimore the meters run until midnight, but you don’t have to bring quarters as they will accept credit cards to pay. I think they’ll let you pay for 5 hours at a time. You will be able to leave and re-enter the venue to feed the meters or whatever, as long as you keep your wrist band on. Depending on what kind of ticket you paid for, 4 day, 3 day or single day, you will have different colored wrist bands on. Those of you with multiple day wrist bands be careful! I saw some of the junkies roaming around inside Deathfest last year wearing wrist bands that had surely been stolen from people, these guys certainly are pick pockets and thieves so I really cannot stress enough that you should avoid them. Also, when all the bands are done playing at the end of each night, the staff will herd everyone out and you will find the parking lot area swarmed with police also telling you to get the hell out. Don’t get so drunk that you’ll argue with, fight, vomit on or otherwise annoy the police, just be ready to leave when the show is over.

Ok, so you showed up early and got a parking spot, now what? Get in line! There was a very long and time consuming line to get in on the first day of Deathfest last year. The first problem was they needed to issue all the wrist bands on this day, so everyone was in line giving their tickets to the door guys. They were also carding people to see who could drink. On top of that they also went through everyone’s bags, including purses, backpacks and camera equipment bags. This meant the time to get in the door was a good 45 minutes for me, and the doors were already open for a couple hours when I got there! Now on the next couple of days the line wasn’t as bad because people with their wristbands could just skip the line and walk up to security. This year is a bit different, and I’m not sure how it will play out exactly. Since the Thursday pre-fest is considered part of the rest of the fest, and you can get a 4 day pass this year, the wrist band line might not be as long, since some will be entering for the first time on Thursday, and 3 day pass holders will be coming in on Friday. On Thursday and Friday I recommend arriving at the venue a good 45 minutes to an hour before the first band you want to see plays. You may get in quicker than that but it’s better to check out a few random bands than miss part of the set of one you wanted to see. Also, I’m not totally sure what you can and can’t bring in, but I’d guess bringing food, drinks or alcohol, or weapons of any kind will be banned. They will allow any kind of still image camera, including SLRs and DSLRs. Keep in mind that Maryland Deathfest allows both moshing and crowd surfing, and audience members will be doing this most of the day. There are no photo passes this year so if you want to bring your expensive camera gear you’re allowed to, but be warned that there will be crowd surfers ready to destroy your cameras for most bands, so I recommend keeping your distance from the front, especially towards the center. Also, on Friday through Sunday there will be 3 stages all going, often with two bands playing at a time, so if you want to get to see your favorite band up close (for taking pictures or not), you’re going to have to miss watching part or all of other bands’ sets to get there early enough to get close to the front.

Note that Thursday is sold out! This day of the fest is inside Sonar only, there are no outdoor stages in use on Thursday. Originally it was supposed to be the pre-fest again, but they decided to make it part of the rest of the fest and started selling 4 day passes as well. All single day Thursday passes are sold out, as well as 4 day passes. You can still purchase 3 day passes (for Friday, Saturday and Sunday), or any other single day tickets here. They will be held at will call (pick them up at the door when you arrive). You can order online and there are no fees, so the price they list is the actual ticket price. There are also official Maryland Deathfest t-shirts and hoodies (at very reasonable prices) that you can buy here and pick up at Deathfest, or buy when you are there. There will be an official Maryland Deathfest merch booth, and they will have these as well as copies of the Maryland Deathfest: The Movie II on DVD there. MDF: The Movie II is is a DVD by Handshake Inc that has live footage from lots of the bands while performing at last year’s Deathfest. You can pre-order those here if you’d like and pick it up at the show. You can also get this year’s official screen print poster (the picture of the demon guy with the knife things in his hands) from Warlord Clothing, though presales are done now. They’re limited to 250 so get one early if you want one! Aside from all this, many of the bands who are playing the fest will have their merch for sale here, and I recommend checking back each day as different bands come to the fest on different days (depending on what day they are playing) and will often have their merch available only in small quantities and for one day only here. This year there is also an official Maryland Deathfest program, which will have a listing of the running order of the bands as well as interviews with 19 of the bands playing this year’s fest and really has a nice layout and some great photographs. You can buy a digital version (in either PDF or iPad format) for $1 or get a paper copy for $12.50 that includes the digital download also. However, if you pre-order (here) it you cannot pick it up at the fest, it will be mailed to you. If you’d like it in hand there you should bring cash to buy it at MDF. There will also be tons of vendors setting up shop there to sell their wares, mostly vinyl, CDs, tapes, rare demos and band merch from tons of bands, including those playing the fest and those not. There is a lot of bootleg merch here so if that pisses you off be aware of that. They will probably have the smaller indoor stage area (not the main stage) set up for vendors too, and sometimes you’ll see artists doing signings at various booths. Bring cash! Some might take credit cards but I’m betting most will want cash.

UPDATE: I shot some pictures of some of the exclusive merch for sale. There’s an In Solitude shirt you can see the front of here and the back of here. There’s also an exclusive Ghost shirt you can see the front of here and the back of here. There was a limited edition Marduk CD you can see here. And sorry, I forgot to ask about the prices of the shirts! Oh, they also had a place where you could get your face painted corpse paint style for $5, and you can see that here.

As far as food is concerned, last year there was only one food vendor inside the fest gates. I got a cold burger and bag of chips from them for around $10 the first evening and I never ordered from them again. They were selling bottles of water for the same price the bar inside (about 10 feet away) was selling PBR cans! Total rip off. Two years ago they had several food vendors, so maybe they’ll have more options this year. If not, then I recommend venturing outside the venue for lunch and dinner breaks. UPDATE: There is only one food vendor inside the Deathfest gates. Their menu is kinda pricey but it does have more items than last year, including several vegetarian options. I shot pictures of the two part menu and you can see them here and here.
The little diner on the corner of Saratoga was open last year during Deathfest and they had decent breakfast and lunch food, as far as diners go. There is also a convenience store that is, if you are facing the front door of Sonar, to the right of the venue on the corner. It has a smaller sandwhich shop in the back of it, I had them make me a gyro that was ok last year. My favorite place that I found, the South Beach Sandwicherie, is about 1.5 blocks past the convenience store, also on Saratoga. It’s pretty cheap, around $10 to eat, and they make excellent sandwiches, hot or cold, with cold cuts and your choice of bread or croissant. The staff loves the MDF crowd and they usually have Maryland Deathfest specials as well as extended hours. The wait can be a bit long sometimes, particularly during peak eating hours as each sandwich is made to order by hand, and they don’t sell alcohol, but really this is my favorite place to eat that is within walking distance of Sonar.

UPDATE: I shot a picture of the alcohol prices the bartenders are using at Maryland Deathfest IX and you can see it here: http://flic.kr/p/9MjWk6 It’s cash only, though they do have ATMs in the venue.

Another thing to notice is that the headliners DO NOT play last each night. The outdoor stages close before the indoor stage, and the headliners close out the outdoor stages. Unlike a lot of metal concerts and festivals, MDF is run very closely to schedule. They don’t let bands stay longer than their scheduled time very often, even if their set was started late due to no fault of the bands (such as technical difficulties). I’ve posted easy to remember links to a schedule for each day with the bands in the order they are playing. They’re just HTML and should load quickly on any phone with internet access, so you may want to add them to you bookmarks now. The addresses are: http://bit.ly/mdfthursday and http://bit.ly/mdffriday and http://bit.ly/mdfsaturday and http://bit.ly/mdfsunday with all letters in lower case. Keep in mind there are always some problems the day of that adjust the schedules some, such as bands not being let into the country, showing up late, missing flights/gear, etc… and I’ll do what I can to keep them up to date as best I can.

Here are a few sets I think are of note. This is apparently the final US concert for doom metal legends Cathedral as the band has announced they are breaking up after they put out one more album, around the end of the year. They have no US tours scheduled so this is probably it for US concerts. The grind band playing early Saturday named Creative Waste is from Saudi Arabia. I’ve become quite a fan of middle eastern metal in general so hey, it’s cool to me at least. Who knows when you’ll get another chance to see them. The line up for Corrosion Of Conformity is the Animosity era line up of Mike Dean, Reed Mullen and Woody Weatherman. Sunday will be the final show ever for death metal band Skinless and they will have their original line up in place for this show. Apparently Coroner played a recent show in Switzerland consisting mostly of newer material, but the guys running MDF have said the band will play a show with more older classics at Deathfest.

There are several bands that were supposed to play that have had to back out for one reason or another. Those bands are: Death Breath, Deströyer 666, Devourment, Goatsnake, Hatred Surge and Lock Up and Regurgitate. Again, this list may grow when bands can’t show up as planned for one reason or another.

If this isn’t enough metal for you, there are a few prefest shows going on. Most notably Anhedonist, High Priest, Oak, Ilsa and Midnight Eye playing at the Corpse Fortress in Silver Spring, Maryland on Wednesday 25 May 2011. It’s just $6 and starts at 7pm. You will need a car to get there if you are staying in Baltimore as Silver Spring is a suburb of Washington DC. More info on the bands and this show on the event’s Facebook page here.

There is also a MDF prefest show in Brooklyn, New York featuring several of the MDF bands as well as DC’s own Magrudergrind. It’s also on Wednesday 25 May 2011 and is at the Public Assembly. The bands playing are Cripple Bastards, Magrudergrind, The Kill, Noisear and Shitstorm. It’s $15, ages 18+ and starts at 8pm. More info on the event’s Facebook page here.

Saturday the Hexagon is having what they’re calling a Ghetto Deathfest in Baltimore, basically a metal show for people unwilling to shell out for an expensive MDF ticket. This show is on a sliding scale of $6 to $10 and you can bring your own beer and also food to throw on the grill cause this is also a bbq! There’s 9 local bands playing, including a personal favorite of mine, Balor’s Eye. The venue says it starts at 2pm but the flyer I saw says 3pm. I doubt they’ll turn ya away either way.
UPDATE: Since Hexagon has been abruptly shut down, the Ghetto Deathfest has been moved to the Baltimore Free Farm. Website is here and the address is 3510 Ash St, Baltimore, MD 21211. I’ve gotten word the doors are at 3pm and the first band is at 5pm. It’s still BYOB at the new location.

I’m really excited for this year’s fest, it’s always a blast so if you see me walking around feel free to say hi. Please don’t damage my camera in the pit and stay tuned for lots of pics and videos after the fest is done. You can check out my extensive recap of last year’s fest here. I won’t be there Saturday because a good friend of mine is getting married, but I’ll be there Thursday, Friday and Sunday. I’ll see you there!

Club Sonar In Baltimore Is Shut Down

UPDATE: It appears Sonar is going to re-open and both Maryland Deathfest and the sold out Deftones shows will still be happening there and go on according to plan. What a PR nightmare and awful mess. I’m glad Sonar is still open but I have a feeling the next time I go there it will feel a bit different.


MAJOR UPDATE: Sonar is apparently reopening, or at least trying to. It appears they won’t be able to get a liquor license for about two weeks. It has been announced that the Deftones will definitely be playing in Baltimore, though the venue is still to be determined. As of this update, Friday the 6th around 7:30pm, Maryland Deathfest has not announced where it is moving. It may stay at Sonar or it may move to Bourbon Street, or another venue. They have been given the go ahead by Bourbon Street, but their management is waiting for a final decision by the guys at MDF. The two posts (here and here) on Sonar’s Facebook page that say the venue will be re-opening read:

Today was a good one. I think Sonar will be able to open within 2 weeks and many if not of the all of shows scheduled from that point on should be able to occur as originally planned. Its definitely a fight but we are still in it! Sorry I have not been online more but I’m running my ass off to try and fix this!

Hey everybody we are working as hard as possible over here! We don’t want to post any information until we know that it is 100% accurate. Please bear with us and keep checking our posts for the most up to date info. We appreciate your patience and support!


Today is a sad day for not just the metal scene but also the greater music scene in Baltimore. The popular concert venue Sonar is shutting down, immediately. They posted this on their Facebook page today:

We here at Sonar regret to inform you that we are no longer able to operate as a venue. Mr. Lonnie Fisher, corporate owner of Sonar, has shut the building down. He has refused to renew the liquor license and the corporate charter for 407 Saratoga Inc. All of the money in our account went into paying our taxes with the promise of the license being renewed and transferred to the new owners.

Which was followed by this statement, the closest thing I’ve seen to something about concert refunds:

Now that we do not have a license and can not obtain one, Lonnie Fisher has given us no means to continue. It is with great despair and frustration that we must announce this to all of our friends, employees, and customers, but we have been given absolutely no choice. If you are owed money by 407 Saratoga Inc, we will do everything in our power to help you recover it.

Not good news at all! The first thing that went through my head was, what about Maryland Deathfest IX which is scheduled to be at Sonar from Thursday May 26th through Sunday May 29th? They had just announced the set times for the running order this morning. Turns out that the guys at MDF have a backup plan in effect, and shortly after Sonar’s announcement they posted this:

Yes, we know about Sonar. It was just brought to our attention. Please DO NOT panic. The festival will still go on as planned. If Sonar does not end up working, we already have a alternative site in the same area that would have a similar set up, so you do not need to worry, and you do not need to consider changing plans. More info about this is expected to be posted on Friday.

They later posted this statement, with a bit more info:

In just a few hours, we’ve managed to get some positive news regarding a new fest location. Everything should be wrapped up in the next couple of days. If the plan stays as is, you will not need to change your hotel plans, etc.

A bit ambiguous but I think it means they’re trying to move it to Bourbon Street, which is about one block away from Sonar. Bourbon Street has even been holding a few metal shows, you may remember I saw Cradle Of Filth there as part of my Metal Marathon in March (my recap of that is here) and they’ve also got concerts for Danzig and Joey Belladonna and Destruction on their schedule currently. I’ll be sure to update this post when the new venue has been confirmed, apparently on Friday.

UPDATE: Maryland Deathfest has issued another statement on their Facebook page here which reads:

Thank you for your patience while we sort through this mess. We’re doing everything in our power to deliver another memorable MDF, and in 3 1/2 weeks, the party will commence. As of now, we expect to post new venue information either tomorrow night (Thursday), or on Friday.

UPDATE: Maryland Deathfest has posted another update here at around 11:15am Thursday May 5th which reads:

We have a meeting tonight that should clear up a lot regarding the new fest site. We’ll most likely be updating you on the new location tonight or tomorrow morning. Don’t panic, and don’t freak out about your hotel reservations. The location change will not be a huge difference at all.

Around 10am May 6th the Maryland Deathfest Facebook page posted this:

OK, so here it the latest. We have a couple of options on the table now for a venue, and we need to sort through the details today before deciding on one of them. Long story short, we aren’t in a position to lose money by moving the fest, so please be patient a bit longer. In either scenario, it will be downtown, and your hotel reservations do not need to be changed.

I have no idea what is going to happen to other upcoming Sonar concerts, including the two already sold out dates the Deftones were scheduled to play on the 16th and 17th of May. Hopefully there will be a venue change for that as well, but I haven’t seen anything yet. (Sonar is apparently working on it, according to their post here). If you’re a promoter for any of the upcoming concerts at Sonar, the Charm City Arts Space has posted this on their Twitter account:

We’re sad to hear that @Sonar_Baltimore has been shut down. Sonar promoters, send us an email charmcityartspace@gmail.com.

If you’d just like to troll the Lonnie Fisher guy, the good folks at Maryland Deathfest have posted some private contact info of his here (taken down but a screen shot is here) and he apparently has a Facebook profile here.

RIP Sonar, I’m going to miss you. Hopefully something else awesome, that also books metal concerts of course, will move in there but who knows.

If you’d like updates on where all the non-metal concerts are being moved to, check out ShowlistDC.com for up to the minute updates on those concerts, as I will only be tracking the metal concerts and Deathfest here on DCHeavyMetal.com

UPDATE: Sonar posted this on their Twitter page about tonight’s Talib Kweli concert:

BALTIMORE: TONIGHT’S TALIB KWELI SHOW HAS BEEN MOVED TO BOURBON STREET http://www.bourbonstreetbaltimore.com PLEASE RT

UPDATE: Sonar has posted another venue change, this time for the Across Tundras, The Pilgrim, Putrid Servant, Legion Lost and Admiral Browning concert on Saturday 21 May has been moved to Hexagon as stated on their Twitter feed here.


UPDATE: OK there’s a lot to update here… First, the Baltimore Business Journal has an interesting article with some of the background on who owns the club, which you can read here. There is also an article on the Baltimore Sun’s site with more details here. In these articles there seems to be a lot of confusion as to who owes money for the liquor license, is it Lonnie Fisher, or is it Daniel McIntosh who is responsible for getting Sonar closed? I’m really not sure myself. A little before 10am Thursday May 5th, Sonar made a new post on their Facebook page here which reads:

We are trying to do all we can for the shows and the customers but Owner Lonnie Fisher was well aware of what was going on and he demanded that all the taxes where paid and then did not renew the business or the liquor license. With hope of getting out of any responsibilities Lonnie has caused everyone involved to suffer needlessly.

It starts getting interesting in the comments though, where the person running the site, allegedly Daniel McIntosh, starts posting comments on this same post and is debating people’s comments. The following are all comments on the above post by Sonar in the order they were made:

i am just trying to get out there what happened in hope that someone can make him do the right thing. LONNIE HAS THE POWER TO STOP THIS NOW! lonnie please stop this look at what is happening to all these people!

above is an email from lonnie to a lawyer please notice the date and notice that is an owner giving a lawyer direction

There was no “email” posted above, though there is what appears to be a copy/paste job of it a few comments later.

and just to be clear we would do whatever it took to stop this madness. will Lonnie? and that is what it takes.

Subject: Liquor License

Eric

This email is to inform you that I would like you to represent 407 Saratoga
…Inc in ongoing matters pertaining to the continued operation of the
business, with regards to the Liquor Board, Stage agencies, etc…

Lonnie

this happened on 9/14/10

The only one running is Lonnie Fisher I Daniel McIntosh am one of the owners. I too will be paying back all this money that people have had in my opinion STOLEN from them. By a very dishonest business move by Sonar and as a direct result of what lonnie did and did not do.

they aren’t what they seem it is a very complex situation

it should be clear that we (all of the owners are responsible to some degree. But Lonnie Fisher is the only one that can stop it!

even if all the other partners sucked he still had the power to do this in a differently

no he is not foreign, lived in Bmore his whole life

This next comment is the first thing I’ve seen that seems it might be positive, a hint that there is a possibility that Sonar could re-open:

we are working on the deftones and have not at all given up hope of figuring all this out

I want to point out the we are not removing any comments everyone has a right to be heard. Other people should do the same

UPDATE: The Hate Eternal, Origin, Vital Remains and Abysmal Dawn show scheduled to be at Sonar on Monday 11 July has been moved to the Ottobar.


Well if you wanted to hear Lonnie’s side of the story, this appears to be it. Apparently this was written to a Baltimore promoter but DCHeavyMetal.com reader James Byrne saw it posted on the Maryland Deathfest message board here and alerted me to it. It’s a long one but a really interesting read and if it’s true, the guys running Sonar should be ashamed of themselves.

I, Lonnie Fisher, am writing this statement to inform any interested parties of the true course of events that have led to Sonar’s decision to close its doors. As many in the music industry and many in the Baltimore area know, I co-founded Sonar in 2000 at a small spot in Canton, then moved the business to 407 East Saratoga Street, with the dream of creating Baltimore’s most vibrant and vital music venue. As fate would have it, although the dream was a great one, the reality of business was such that from the day those doors opened, that business was a continuous stream of lost revenue, headache, and heartache. By mid 2003, the business had to take on an outside investor, and everyone’s interest in the company (shares) were diluted. I retained 51% ownership through this period. By 2005, this investor had lost such an exorbitant amount of money that his wife finally said enough. The business was still losing money almost every single month, so we took on another investor who believed in the dream enough to pick up the torch and carry it: Daniel McIntosh, owner of the then Talking Head club. He began a string of investments in the club which almost quarterly saved the business from going out of business. With every new investment came a new dilution, and by 2007, I was no longer a majority shareholder in the company. I remember vividly the board meeting in which Dan stated that to continue investing in Sonar, he had to be the majority shareholder. By the time January 2009 rolled around, a date that will have significance later, I was down to 18%. However, important events in the business history occurred 1.5 years before then.

In April 2007, I was offered a “day job” with a commercial development company, which I started on June 1, 2007. I announced to my beloved Sonar staff and friends that I was out of the business and everyone who knew the music industry in Baltimore in those days knew that to be the case. Owner and founder of Sonar leaves = BIG BALTIMORE NEWS. Within the week of taking the job, Dan and I walked over to Sonar’s bank, and I signed every single bank account over to him. From that date on, Sonar was fully under the control and direction of Daniel McIntosh. Since May 2007, I have not had one iota of involvement, let alone control, of one single aspect of Sonar’s business or its business decisions. I sent all remaining partners notice that I was resigning the presidency, my seat on the board of directors, and all responsibilities in the company.

Fast forward to late 2008. After a period of time in which I was showing leniency and a lack of urgency to get my name fully out of the business I no longer interested in and had a very small share in, I realized I had to finalize this era of my life and move on. Dan and I agreed that he would buy my final shares (18% of the company), and he made two payments to complete that transaction, one on December 16, 2008, then the final payment on January 21, 2009. I quote from the contract “On Wednesday December 16, 2008, Lonnie Fisher agrees to sell Dan McIntosh his remaining shares in 407 Saratoga Inc” and further on “On Wednesday January 21, 209, the balance ….was paid in full”. Signed of course, by both parties and two witnesses.

As of that date, I was out, officially. The last pieces of the puzzle were to get my name off of the corporate charter, and to transfer the liquor license into someone else’s name, which unfortunately for me, I would find out, would require a lot of cooperation from Dan. To sum it up, he has refused to live up to his responsibilities to get me off the license. For 2.5 years, I have been imploring, pleading, sometimes threatening the business to complete its list of requirements to make that happen. Year after year, Dan has refused to complete the process.

I should explain how this works. All of this comes to a head annually in the months of March and April, which is when anyone holding a Baltimore City liquor license has to renew it. In order to renew it the holder of the license has to sign the form, but more than that, the majority shareholder of the company CANNOT CHANGE, or the license is no longer valid. In March of 2009, to put it plainly, I should not have signed the form because not only had majority ownership changed, I simply didn’t own even one share of the company anymore. I signed it because Dan and the other Sonar owners asked for a brief period of time to get their affairs in order, find someone to take the license, and do what they were supposed to do. He also gave me an iPad (full disclosure). I couldn’t bring myself to shut them down, and I also still felt an attachment emotionally to the thing I created for this city. I didn’t want to be the nail in the coffin, and I had faith that they would do what they needed to do right after the renewal as they promised. They didn’t.

2009 progressed and I continued to implore Dan to get me off the license. By then the transfer had been approved for the person to take the license, but in order for that piece of paper with my name on it to be torn up, and a new piece of paper printed with the new license holder, Dan had to do three basic things: Get the taxes up to date, complete a very minor checklist of business documents, and get the property re-inspected. He would do none of it. We had knock down drag out arguments about it. I would threaten to simply nullify the license, he would somehow talk me out of it, and convince me that he would do what he needed to do after this show or that show, or this month or that month.

2009 dragged into 2010. Again March was looming, and again we’re faced with the same form that needs to be signed. I told Dan I wasn’t signing, but then found out the business had a tax liability of at least $50,000.00! And guess who the state could collect from if Dan walked away… me. Not that they couldn’t try to collect from everyone involved, but I had no idea what could happen. So, I signed again. This time with a demand that if he didn’t get me off the license by June, I really was cancelling it. June was significant, because for two years now he promised that after “Deathfest”, he’d be bursting out of the seams with cash and could pay for any repairs, licenses, etc… Deathfest happened that May. Two weeks later, Dan hadn’t even picked up the phone to call me! At this point, I hired a lawyer to try to force some action.

The attorney put Dan on notice of what needed to be done. I offered to help in every way I could. I even told Dan I’d come fix something myself in the building if I had to. He responded to none of it. Finally I had no choice, I told him on a certain date, we were nullifying the license. Literally on the day before we were going to do it, we got a communication from an attorney he had retained. “Don’t do it, we’re going to work it out”. We wrestled with this attorney for several weeks, and we finally got THEM to produce a timeline. They stated that this document would be done by this date, this inspection would happen on this date, this tax would be paid on this date, etc… Note: This was THEIR timeline, and trust me, it wasn’t short. If I asked you to guess how many things on the checklist they completed, I bet you could guess by now: NONE. Literally, not one. Not even the most simple one page document could they produce.

So we again threatened a shut down. Then all of the sudden the ORIGINAL money guy showed back up on the scene, claiming he had assigned someone to deal with this and promised action. I actually had faith it would occur since this guy was a corporate type of guy, and had no involvement in the music scene to speak of. Well, once again, nothing happened. Now it was 2011. Due to me getting busy with other things, I just kind of let it slide, and then Dan approached me pre-March to ask me to sign the form once again. All this time, he was telling me how Sonar was getting on a path to profitability and the corner was turning, and things were going to be rosy in 2011. I wanted to believe. All this time, I never held him any malice, and Sonar was still the entity I created for this city. I told him I’d sign, one last time, but this really was the time he’d have to put up, or shut down… He gave me an iPad2.

Here is where our story takes an unfortunate turn. In mid March I was questioned by the IRS about my involvement with Sonar. How or why this came to be is not for this discussion, nor is the nature of that questioning anyone’s business but mine. Suffice it to say, that the gig was up. They were aware that I had turned the finances of the business over to Dan in 2007, and they were aware that I no longer held any stock in the company whatsoever, let alone a controlling interest. If I had any intention of helping Sonar stay in business one more time, it was now an impossibility. This is the FEDS people… no F***IN joke! My choice was clear: Sign the form and be at risk for fines and jail time from an agency that already told me they had my number, or not sign. The ultimatum I was given by Sonar: Break the law for us, or we’re going to go to war with you. Not really much of a choice in the end.

Now we come to the current unpleasantness. Due to the inability to face their own incompetence, Sonar’s majority owner Dan McIntosh, and his staff, have gone on a full court press to slander my name, distort the truth, and otherwise harass me by any means they can. I truly feel bad for all of the bands, patrons, and fans who are being misled, whose shows are now being cancelled, and who are otherwise being confused by this ridiculous ruse. The simple truth is, HE is the one to blame for the mess he’s in. I have had a 24 year career in music and everyone who has ever known me knows exactly what an honorable and even courageous life I’ve led in the music industry toward both the patrons and the people in the business. Everyone in Baltimore knows the difference in our professionalism.

Just one example, one rumor they are circulating about me, is that I have stolen the ticket money for the upcoming shows, and thus they cannot give people refunds. I haven’t had access to a penny of Sonar’s money since June of 2007. 2007! If you have a ticket to a Sonar show, you’re a band that is now not getting paid, or a promoter whose show isn’t going to happen, the truth is, Sonar’s current owner has spent your ticket money on expenses of the business. This is why they started their own ticket company, so they could spend your ticket money as it came in and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, Sonar’s operators are still in a phase of their lives where they think all the rules of the world should bend to their needs, simply because they own a music venue. Well there’s a way to do it right, and there’s a way to do it wrong; and the way they are doing it is wrong.

And by the way, I’ve mailed Dan’s iPad back.