Recap of January 2013 Concerts

Welcome to part two of this three part series attempting to catch up on my concert reviews of all the shows I’ve been going to this winter. For this installment I’ll be covering all the metal shows I went to in January. You can read part one, which covers late November and December 2012, by clicking here. And remember, if you’d like to see more of any of the bands in the photos below, just click the image.

The first concert I went to in 2013 was when I saw Swaath on Sunday, January 6th at a new venue in Baltimore called Club K. The venue seems to normally host DJ dance nights. It is attached to a small Korean restaurant and while the space isn’t fancy, it doesn’t even have a stage, it works fine for the DIY punk, hardcore and metal shows they have started to book there. The walls are painted with neon patterns and random zebra images and there are four TVs hanging from the center of the room in the shape of a square that are tuned to some Korean TV channel. There’s a dance party style spinning ball that projects different color lights hanging from that and it never seems to turn off. The beer at the bar is pretty cheap, but nothing a beer snob would want to drink. It’s basically a dive bar mixed with an Asian dance club. Anyways, I drove up to Baltimore to Swaath play. They’re a new sludge band that is from Portland, Maine, but they weren’t the first band of the night. That was Baltimore locals Barbelith. They’re a black metal band and while they didn’t have a bass player and could be a bit tighter they had some cool songs and were pretty good overall. The second band was some hardcore band from Philadelphia named Congenital Death. I wasn’t very interested in them as I’m not much of a hardcore fan, While there are some exceptions they just weren’t unique enough for me to really get into. After they played it was time for Swaath and they didn’t disappoint. They play a sort of atmospheric sludge metal with some stoner and doom aspects thrown in too. I really enjoyed their set and it was def worth the drive up. The final band of the night was another Baltimore local, Ophidian. They weren’t bad though going on after such a strong set can be tough. Plus being a local and going on after the touring band meant a lot of people left after Swaath played. I hope I get to see them in a better setting next time.

Barbelith:

Swaath:

Ophidian:

Two nights later, Tuesday the 8th, I headed over to the Black Cat in Washington DC to check out Jucifer on the venue’s smaller back stage. I missed local openers LTW but I’m sure I’ll catch them again as they open a lot of shows these days. Jucifer is a duo made up of husband and wife Edgar Livengood and Amber Valentine. They tour around the country in their RV with no permanent address. They’re basically always on tour. They’re known for having extremely loud shows due to the wall of speakers they bring with them, which were stacked to the ceiling at the Black Cat this night. I’ve seen them play before but this set went on longer than usual, lasting around 90 minutes! Their fuzzy set went through hazy highs and rumbling lows and even had some quiet parts. You get sucked in early and after a while you just find yourself absorbed into their show as though you’re staring into the obelisk in A Space Odyssey. As a side note, I actually met my girlfriend for the first time at a Jucifer show at the Black Cat a few years back and while that wasn’t a date or something, we sort of see their annual early January shows as something of an anniversary. Because of that I decided to relax a bit at this show and I didn’t bring my camera, so I don’t have any photos of Jucifer from this show, however I’ve posted a shot I took of them at a previous show below.

Jucifer:

The following weekend I saw a DIY show at The Lab in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday the 12th. The Lab is basically a rec room for some church but it has a nice stage and it holds a decent amount of people. I missed the opening band but to my understanding they aren’t a metal band at all but play some sort of electronic loops and such. The first band I caught was Grethor, a Northern Virginia based melodic death metal band. I had seen their drummer, Anthony Rouse, play with the now defunct Orgy Of The Damned. They had some cool songs but you could tell their frontman, Marcus Lawrence, was pretty new to this as he didn’t engage the audience much spoke in almost a whisper between songs. Still, that’s something that can be worked on. The next band to play was Cammo Shorts, a grind band from Manassas, Virginia that doesn’t have a drummer. The three piece was pretty damn entertaining with lots of funny song titles such as My Cammo Shorts, Your Girlfriend’s Floor and LSD Cures Cancer. They covered the Pantera song Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills which was probably the catchiest song of their set. They were good though a real drummer instead of just programmed beats from a laptop would probably fill their sound out more. Still, they were my second favorite of the five bands I saw that night. The next band to play was Acrid, a three piece death/grind band from Hagerstown, Maryland. While they had an actual drummer these guys lacked a bass player and honestly I think it really made their sound suffer. I’d heard their music online and I actually thought that sounded a lot better than they did live. Maybe it was just an off night? I dunno. The fourth band I saw that night, tentatively named Lucid Dream (until the band members agree on something better, apparently) was more of a rock band than anything. I liked what I heard but unfortunately their set was marred with several technical difficulties, including one of their amp heads crapping out. They asked if anybody in one of the other bands had one they could borrow, but apparently everyone from the other bands was outside. This lead to an increased delay as they looked to find someone that could help them. They finally played another song then abruptly ended their disjointed set. The final band of the night, and the main reason I came out to this show, was Fortress, a doom metal band from Hagerstown, Maryland. Let me just say that these guys were very fucking impressive live. Absolutely epic, crushing, heavy doom. Very loud, very intense, at times very slow but they knew just when to pick up the pace to keep it from getting boring. They put one one of the best performances I’ve seen from a DMV area metal band in quite some time. I was literally blown away and I know I wasn’t the only person in attendance who thought so. I cannot stress this enough: if you ever get the chance, GO SEE THIS BAND PLAY LIVE!

Grethor:

Cammo Shorts:

Acrid:

Lucid Dream:

Fortress:

I didn’t get to another metal show until 12 days later, on Tuesday the 24th of January. That night I went to DC9 in the U Street corridor of Washington DC and saw the so called super group Corrections House play. The band is Scott Kelly of Neurosis fame on guitar, Bruce Lamont of Chicago’s jazz influenced metal band Yakuza, Sanford Parker who plays keyboards in Nachtmystium, and Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod is the frontman. The opening act was Tone, a DC based instrumental rock band. They not really very metal but they’re not bad if you like instrumental bands. Corrections House has a sort of weird live set up and the band doesn’t just come out and start playing. Instead each member gets a segment to do a bit of solo material, and various other members come in and duck out at various points. They also all wear the same black button down shirts with the Corrections House logo embroidered on the sleeves. Their entire set was about 80 minutes long, although the first 20 minutes were just Sanford Parker looping drum beats and playing samples. A such, I didn’t particularly enjoy the start of the set. It did get better when Bruce Lamont came in with his sax though that only lasted five minutes or so before Mike IX Williams started reading some of his poetry. The high point of the show was definitely when the entire band was performing together. Their sound had a very improvy feel to it but they all seemed to work pretty well together for the most part. Corrections House was unpolished though and Mike IX Williams had to read the lyrics because I guess he hadn’t memorized them yet. About an hour into the set Scott Kelly broke a guitar string and ended up borrowing one from someone in Tone. I didn’t know what I was getting into with this show, and it did take a bit to start rolling, however once they all got in synch together I thought the show was really entertaining and I certainly don’t regret going. I’m curious how they will sound in the studio if they ever record anything.

Corrections House:

Corrections House:

Corrections House:

Two nights later, on Saturday, January 26th, I was at Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia for the long awaited return of local southern metal masters King Giant. Due to an injury in the band they hadn’t played since early 2012. They had a show scheduled in November to be a return to the stage but due to another injury to someone else in the band that date was pushed back until this night in January. King Giant always draws well, and this night wasn’t any different, though I know the fact that Graveyard was playing at the Black Cat the same night had to have affected the attendance at both shows somewhat. I’d have liked to have seen both but since I saw Graveyard at DC9 last year and I always like to support locals I decided to go to see King Giant. When I got there Richmond’s Fire Faithful was setting up. They’re a southern/stoner band but I wasn’t very impressed with their show. The crowd was still pretty thin when they hit the stage and perhaps that had something to do with it but they didn’t have much energy on stage at all. Their songs weren’t interesting enough be able to pull me in while hearing them the first time so some stage presence really would have helped. I liked the vocalist’s Windhand shirt though. Next up was Kingsnake from Philadelphia. I had seen them about a year prior at the Velvet Lounge and so I decided to hang back a bit and I didn’t get photos of them this time. Kingsnake is a very solid blue-collar metal band with some cool licks. Aside from their coincidentally similar names, they’re actually really a great opening act for King Giant as they have a very similar style without sounding redundant. Finally King Giant made the stage. There was a lot of fog this time and I was glad to finally see them playing live again. The place was pretty crowded by this point and you could tell all the members of King Giant were having fun playing in front of so many friends and family. At one point a bunch of people in the crowd all came out with fake handlebar mustachios in parody of King Giant’s bass player Floyd Walters and his iconic ‘stache. It really was a fun show and although King Giant’s sophomore album, Dismal Hollow, came out in early 2012 the songs from it still sounded pretty fresh since they hadn’t been played in a while. The show was a great welcome back to the stage for these guys. If you’re a fan of southern sounding bands like Down, Clutch and Alabama Thunderpussy then do yourself a favor and check this band out. They’ve got some great riffs you’ll get stuck in your head and songs that will stand the test of time. This isn’t some throwback band, they’re doing their thing and doing it damn well. King Giant is certainly one of the DC area’s best local metal bands and if you’re in this area and you’re sleeping on them then you’re fucking up big time.

Fire Faithful:

King Giant:

The sixth and final metal show that I went to in January 2013 was on the the last day of the month, Thursday the 31st. I traveled up to Baltimore to see Enslaved play at the Ottobar. When I got there the band Royal Thunder was playing, who, as stated in my previous post, I had just seen at DC9 the month prior. However this time they were missing their second guitarist and their sound was a bit thin because of it. Still, they put on a decent show and I thought they were a good prelude to the band I wanted to see the most this night, Pallbearer. Pallbearer is the hottest band in doom metal right now. Their debut album, Sorrow And Extinction, was released in February 2012 and is nothing short of excellent. The Arkansas based quartet plays some very downtuned, very slow songs with clean vocals. Unlike the clean vocals you hear from power metal bands that soar over the songs (think Dio and Iron Maiden), vocalist Brett Campbell has a very solemn and pain filled tone to his voice. These songs are often very slow and they take some patience to absorb, but there’s a reason that their album ended up in the top spot on many critics’ year end lists for 2012. This night they were very loud, even for a metal band. So loud that they were actually vibrating my camera’s lens enough to make it lose focus while I was trying to shoot them! The singer seemed to be having trouble hearing himself though and that made his voice sound a bit off. The audience was rewarded with a brand new song at the end of their set however and it crushed! I hear this song will be on an upcoming split from the band. After they played it was time for Enslaved, one of the old second wave black metal bands from Norway that has now turned into a progressive metal band. Personally, I liked the band the most when they were in that sort of transitional phase between being a black metal band and a prog band. They were unique then. They were this second wave band that actually learned how to play and wrote unique songs that were a blend of black and prog metals. Now they’re basically a progressive metal band and while they don’t write bad songs they just aren’t as interesting to me anymore. There’s other prog bands out there that are more interesting to me I guess. Enslaved’s live show was alright but having seen the set list I knew they’d play for about two hours, which was a bit long for me. Their set was plagued by technical difficulties which drained my patience and about an hour or so in I decided to start the long drive home. Unfortunately I got stuck in construction traffic which closed 95 South for a good 45 minutes so I should have just stayed longer! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll see Enslaved again, hopefully a bit closer to home if it’s on a week night.

Pallbearer:

Enslaved:

Well, thanks for reading this big recap of the metal shows I saw in January 2013. I hope to have my post covering February 2013 up next week, then I should be about caught up. Stay metal everyone and remember to support the scene you’re a part of!

Review Of Iron Maiden at Jiffy Lube Live in 2012

Iron Maiden is one of the world’s most famous metal bands and it’s always a big deal when they come to town. They played at Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan Pavilion) on Saturday June 30th as the DC area stop on the Maiden England Tour and of course I was there. It was a scorching hot day and it stayed hot even after dark. There was a massive storm that swept through the night before and many people still didn’t have power so this show was a bit of an escape for people who were getting cabin fever. Iron Maiden draws a bunch of metal heads from across the genre lines and this show was no different. Since they’re one of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands they’re old school enough that parents bring their kids and everyone enjoys the show. There was also a big draw from places like Richmond and Virginia Beach since the tour wasn’t stopping anywhere closer to those areas.

The parking lot opened at 4pm and the gates at 6pm but opening act Alice Cooper didn’t start til almost 7:30pm. In other words, there was plenty of time to grill and drink a few before in the hot sun before the show. I saw Alice Cooper in 2010 opening for Rob Zombie at Merriweather Post Pavilion and I was really blown away by his live show then (check out my review of that show here). However this performance wasn’t even close to as good as that one. They didn’t have nearly as elaborate of a stage set up and other than Alice’s trademark decapitation by guillotine they didn’t really do any of the entertaining stunts on stage. This left a heavy focus on the music which, let’s be honest here, is a bit dated. I liked his 2010 show so much that I had high hopes for this one but it was a total let down. At least he played Feed My Frankenstein, the song everyone knows of his after being in the movie Wayne’s World, which always gets me to chuckle a little.

OK so surely Iron Maiden wouldn’t disappoint right? Long time readers of the site will remember my review of their last concert in the area (read it here) back in July of 2010 wasn’t exactly glowing. Back then the set list wasn’t great and the weather was awful on top of it all. This year’s tour is a sort of throwback theme to the Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son era of the band and the set list was probably the best thing about this show. They played five songs off of Seventh Son, including the title track which they hadn’t played in over 20 years before this tour. They also played a ton of crowd pleasing classic tracks like The Trooper, Run To The Hills and Number Of The Beast. They also played some more obscure songs for the old school fans such as The Prisoner and Afraid To Shoot Strangers. There were a couple hits I’d have liked to have heard that weren’t played, Hallowed Be Thy Name is a personal favorite of mine they chose not to perform, however they did play a 14 song set with a three song encore and really nothing they played wasn’t worth including in the set. You can check out the set list for yourself below, keep in mind the covers and Churchill thing were recordings.

Iron Maiden Setlist Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, VA, USA, Maiden England - North American Tour 2012

So aside from the set list, the show itself was fun as hell. There were lots of back drops and Bruce Dickinson costume changes (I always jokingly hope he’ll come out in a gold plated diaper just once for the lulz!). Of course there were strategic pyrotechnics and a few Eddie appearances as well. Basically it was the action packed show you’d expect from Iron Maiden. Bruce Dickinson was running around the stage, well, mostly on the big raised up stuff on stage. My only problem with his performance was his voice seemed a bit off in a few places. He seemed very conscious of this though and while his voice kept up on most of those classic chorus lines it was on some of the verses that his voice seemed to waver a bit. Still, he handled it like a pro and kept his best moments for when everyone was really paying attention to his lines the most. Maiden’s triple guitarist shred fest was in full effect as well, switching seamlessly between leads and solos, even when they shifted to different band members. Aside from some of the nuances of the set list, there wasn’t much at this show you wouldn’t expect to see if you’ve seen Iron Maiden a few times before, but that isn’t a bad thing with a band that is known for consistently having great performances. For newer fans this was a great show to catch for a first Iron Maiden concert. Sorry I don’t have any photos, the band wouldn’t give me a photo pass because they have some policy about not giving them to online only publications. That kind of sucks doubly because I haven’t seen a live review of this show with photos from any of the local newspapers either, so I guess everyone loses on quality photos at this concert. Before the show I ran into one of the DC Brau guys, a local brewery in Washington DC, and it’s great to know some of them are metal heads. This also might explain why some of their beers have metal names like On The Wings Of Armageddon and Burial At Sea. I ran in to a lot of friends at the show and it’s always nice to see so many of the area’s metal heads all out like this. After the concert I drunkenly handed out a bunch of stickers to people stuck in traffic in the parking lot. In all, it was a hell of a lot of fun and totally worth the hang over the next day. If you’ve got some cool pics or videos feel free to post links to them in the comments below, or even if you’ve got a fun story about your experience there. Sorry it took so long to get up but my internet still hasn’t been restored since the storm which makes running a website kind of hard to do. Until next time, keep it metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Another Mega Sized Concert Recap

Well, I haven’t posted any concert reviews lately, but as usual I’ve still been going to lots of concerts. Things have slowed down a bit here in late December concert wise but this is normal since bands don’t usually like touring during the holidays. I’ve been to some great shows since my first mega sized concert recap. I’ve set each show as a separate paragraph so if you don’t care about a particular gig you can easily skip to the next one. And of course all the band names will link you to a place you can stream that band’s music. Click on any picture to see more of my photos of that band as well. Now, on to the awesomeness that is going to see metal shows in the DC area.

On Saturday the 12th of November 2011 I headed out to the Velvet Lounge on U Street in the District. Warchild was headlining a show and I had heard they were good live, though I hadn’t gotten a chance to see them yet. I got there right when their set was starting and the upstairs of the Velvet Lounge was absolutely packed! I’ve never seen it that full before and it’s cool so many people came out to see a local metal band play there. Warchild is a thrash metal act who likes to party hard. Everyone in the band was shirtless and sporting lots of tattoos. The vocalist, also from the 80s throwback rock band Rattler, told everyone in attendance to not hold back and stage dive and crowd surf as much as they wanted. The audience complied and people were even hanging from the fan in the middle of the room, just going nuts. They brought some people on stage to pound beers in a beer bong and even had two guys race to see who could smash the a can of beer open on their head and then drink it the fastest. And you thought Municipal Waste was a party thrash band, this show was crazy. They played a solid thrash set and ended it with a kick ass cover, with plenty of crowd participation, of Metallica‘s old school classic The Four Horsemen. Such a great show, I can’t wait to see them live again. Highly recommended!
Warchild

Beer Eating Contest

The following Thursday, the 18th of November, I went to the Black Cat in Washington DC to see Fu Manchu play. The opening act was the Austin, Texas based three piece Honky. Somewhere between hellbilly and stoner, they were a pretty solid opener. Their bass player is JD Pinkus who is better known for having played in the Butthole Surfers. They had some hilarious song titles and subjects, which you’d expect more from a humorous grind band. My favorite was their song about masturbating at work called Gittin’ It. They were fun and obviously didn’t take themselves too seriously and they made for a good opener for Fu Manchu. On the final song of Honky’s set Fu Manchu guitar player Bob Balch came out to play a tune with the band. Fu Manchu is one of the main influences in stoner rock and metal, and most of their songs deal with modes of transportation like souped up cars and skateboarding. They had played the upstairs main stage at the Black Cat in September of 2010 but this concert was in the smaller back stage downstairs. The place was pretty crowded when Fu Manchu hit the stage, but the crowd wasn’t too rowdy. They started the set off with a few of their 90s classics before launching into this tour’s main draw, performing their entire 1996 album In Search Of… straight through. They walked off stage for the encore thing and came back to play a couple more songs, finally ending the set with King Of The Road which was still stuck in my head as I drove home. King of the road says you move too slow!
Honky with Bob Balch

Scott Hill of Fu Manchu

On Tuesday the 29th of November I found myself at the Cellar Door in Annandale, Virginia to see the Chapel Hill, North Carolina based band Black Skies play. There were four bands playing that night but I only caught two of them. The first band that I saw was Admiral Browning, a Frederick, Maryland band that was formerly an instrumental band with four members. To my surprise, at this show they had vocals and only three members. A bit of a change, and although I have a fondness for instrumental metal bands, the vocals fit in to place with the rest of the music. They were entertaining but the main reason I came to this show was to see Black Skies again. I saw them play back in September and they blew me away. This show was no less exciting. Even in the tight basement of the Cellar Door they just burst with energy. They’re the only band I’ve seen someone play a guitar solo with their teeth in a basement, and I’ve seen them do it twice now! I ended up buying a poster and it came with a free download of their debut album, On The Wings Of Time. This is a band worth checking out and I can’t wait to see them play in the area again.
Admiral Browning

Michelle Temple of Black Skies

Skip ahead to Sunday the 11th of December and I was at Jaxx to see the notorious Norwegian black metal band Mayhem again. I had seen them on the first show of their tour in Baltimore on November 2nd, but now they were back in the area playing the final show of their tour. The set list was the same as the first show, however vocalist Attila Csihar had a different costume on (he is known for having a wide range of stage costumes). This time he did not have any fake blood, and he held a skull in his left hand for the entire set. The audience seemed much more dead than the crazy pits that happened in Baltimore a month before, and the band didn’t seem to get into the show as much either. Being the final show of the tour they were probably a bit worn out. The audio mix at Jaxx wasn’t as good either. Overall I wouldn’t say the show was bad, it just wasn’t great, and the Baltimore show definitely felt more like a real Mayhem show. The fog machine was on thick all night though, and camera conditions weren’t optimal, however I still got a few decent shots and Mayhem even posted one of my photos from this show on their Facebook wall.

Mayhem

The following Thursday, the 15th of December, I found myself at the Black Cat once again, this time to see the killer line up of The Body, Zoroaster and Black Cobra. The first band to play was The Body, a two man doom band from Rhode Island (though I hear they are relocating). They set their gear up in the middle of the flood of the Black Cat’s back stage area and just played there on the ground, with the audience around them. They were very loud, a theme that would recur throughout the night. After they played Zoroaster took the stage. They’re a psychedelic sludge metal band from Atlanta, Georgia. They have a really trippy vibe while being heavy as well. They had a bunch of lasers shooting around not just the stage but the entire room and it looked pretty cool. Midway through my favorite song of theirs, Odyssey, the power abruptly cut out and the lights came back on for a few minutes before the band finished their set. Then came the headliner, Los Angeles, California based Black Cobra. They’re a sludge metal duo and their latest album, Invernal, is heavy as all hell. They ended up playing every song off of it, though not in order, as well as some of their older songs mixed in. A truly crushing set, it’s amazing how much heavy just two people can make. Take note all you folk bands with like a dozen members, these three bands on this tour had just seven total members between them, and they kicked major ass. Sometimes less really is more.
The Body

Zoroaster

Black Cobra

The next night, Friday the 16th of December, I went to the Velvet Lounge to catch a show I spent a good deal of effort promoting here on DCHM. Borracho was headlining an album release show, the official launch of their LP Splitting Sky. However, there were other bands who played before them. First was a band from Glen Echo, Maryland called Rezin. The guys seemed nice and all but I have to say they weren’t very good. Most of the crowd who had assembled had left by the time their set was over, and honestly I can’t really blame them. The band was very monotonous and they just didn’t do it for me, or apparently that many other in attendance. They didn’t seem to fit with the two other acts on this bill either. However, the next band to play, Kingsnake from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was simply outstanding on stage. They played a style of stoner that was almost southern, though rather dark as well. They had fine tuned their songs and obviously put a lot of effort into practicing them as well. It was a great performance by a band I didn’t really know anything about going in. After they played I got up on stage and swore at the audience about giving out free shit, and then Borracho started their set. The guys were on point this night, really putting on a great show. I’ve seen them a few times this year and this was definitely my favorite of their performances. Before I’d always seen them open for someone so it was great getting to see them play a full length set live for once. Also, it was a good turn out for the second metal show in a row at the Velvet Lounge, which is awesome. Hopefully they’ll continue to let us metal heads take over their spot on U Street more often on the weekends.
Rezin

Kingsnake

Borracho

On Saturday the 17th of December I went to my third metal show in as many days, this time to see locals Ilsa and Midnight Eye play with two Harrisonburg, Virginia bands, Earthling and Orthrus. They were playing at a small Ethiopian bar, named Asefu’s, that is just a few doors down from DC9 and the U Street corridor. I got there as Midnight Eye was setting up though I really only saw their first song. However, it was a brand new song and it was pretty sweet! I went a few doors down to eat dinner (I was starving) and came back while Orthrus was playing. The thin venue was packed and so I watched the show from the doorway and didn’t take any pictures (the band wasn’t facing my direction anyways). Regardless, they were pretty awesome. They play a sort of catchy black/thrash with death metal style deep vocals. Next up was Earthling, a band I had seen before at the now defunct Corpse Fortress back in March. They were just as fun to see live and I had forgotten how catchy I their tunes are. The final band of the night was DC’s own masters of doom/death metal, Ilsa. They have a dirty and crushing sound, very raw and primal and yet still very listenable. Some of their songs slow almost to a halt but the intensity never wanes. Ilsa is always fun to see live and this show was no different. However, at the end of their set they also played a new song for the first time, titled Man Made Monsters. Lucky for you who missed it, I’ve posted video of both Midnight Eye’s new song and Ilsa’s new song below. You might not be able to see much but you can at least hear them well enough.
Earthling

Ilsa

Well that wraps up another mega sized concert recap. I have a couple more shows to see before the year is done. You might be wondering why I didn’t cover the Mastodon show at the 9:30 Club in late November, and that’s because I’m not a Mastodon fan. I wanted to see Obscura and Abysmal Dawn play on December 7th but the weather was horrible that night and I didn’t want to drive to Baltimore in it as I knew traffic would be bad (Kyuss played the same night in Balti as well). Also, my camera’s lens was damaged during this time period and I had to wait a few weeks for it to be fixed (wasn’t cheap either!). And no, it wasn’t damaged at a show. Next week I plan on posting a big recap of 2011, from the local scene to the biggest metal stories of the year and it will include a preview of 2012 as well. Until then be sure to check the upcoming metal concert calendar and remember, support the scene you’re a part of!

Recap of Clutch and Suplecs gigs

On Sunday the 18th of September I had two shows I was trying to catch live. The first was a special free show that the Frederick, Maryland based band Clutch was holding at the Red Palace. This show was listed as a special five song acoustic set that was part of a promotional “release party” for their own beer, Clutch Dark Sour Ale, from New Belgium Brewing. The show was originally scheduled for Monday August 29th but it was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. This night everything seemed to work out ok though. The people from the Colorado based craft brewery, most famous for their Fat Tire Amber Ale, were mingling in the audience who had gathered. I have bought a few of the Clutch beers already, and they’re actually pretty damn good. They’re dark but with a sour taste that builds up the further you get into the 22 oz bottle, sort of like how some spicy foods’ heat builds up with the more of it you eat. It’s not a fruity sour though and is not actually very sweet at all (which I think is a good thing). I recommend trying it if you can find yourself a bottle. At this concert however, they were selling the bottles for $20! I still had a bottle in my fridge at home that I bought for $7.99 at Total Wine so there was no way I was going to fork out that much cash just to drink one at the Red Palace. Hell, even Clutch’s Neil Fallon said on stage that he was drinking a competitor’s beer.

Clutch at the Red Palace

The show started with the one of the guys from New Belgium Brewing taking the mic on stage and introducing the band as well as presenting them with the bottle that had serial number 10001110101. That’s the name of one of the songs on Clutch’s 2005 album Robot Hive/Exodus. The guys then went into their setlist, starting off with and “acoustic” version of The Regulator. While guitarist Tim Sult played an acoustic guitar, they were all using pick ups, pedals and amps, so don’t think this performance was something like those old MTV Unplugged specials. What made the show cool was that the Red Palace only holds about 200 people, and Clutch is a band that usually plays much larger venues, they had just played at the HFStival the day before at Merriweather Post Pavilion. However this night the band played their five song set and pleased the crowd by having Tim plug in his regular guitar before playing a new song, apparently titled Newt. They played a few more songs, sort of a best hits style thing with songs covering their back catalog and ending with Elephant Riders. In all they played for about an hour and it was a fun show and a great chance to catch Clutch up close.

Clutch at the Red Palace

When Clutch had finished I didn’t linger around for too long since I had another show to catch at the Velvet Lounge. I made a stop at the 9:30 Club‘s basement bar for a quick bite to eat just before they closed their kitchen. Apparently they had some Mexican band playing upstairs named Molotov, but luckily the 9:30 Club has a separate door on the side of the building you can enter the bar at if you don’t want watch the show. The bartender down there was wearing a Clutch shirt and he said he was pissed he had to work that night because he had wanted to see the show at the Red Palace. Anyways, I had a nice panini and an organic oatmeal stout and then I walked around the corner to the Velvet Lounge.

The Velvet Lounge had a pretty sweet line up this evening. They haven’t been getting a lot of metal shows of note lately but this one definitely stood out on their calendar. The headliner was the New Orleans based sludge band Suplecs and they were touring with the Columbus, Ohio band Lo-Pan. Shows at the Velvet Lounge tend to run late but even so I missed the first band on the bill, Weed Is Weed from Maryland. The band has two former Spirit Caravan members in its ranks, Dave Sherman and Gary Isom. I hope to catch them another time. The first band I saw play at the Velvet Lounge that evening was Lo-Pan. I’ve never seen a band’s lead singer stand all the way to the back of the stage before. I mean way back, he was even behind the drummer. Despite their strange stage positions, they were pretty good live. They made for a good opener act on this kind of tour. They wrote their set list on pages torn out of some porno magazine, certainly the most graphic set list stationary of the night.

Lo-Pan at the Velvet Lounge

After Lo-Pan finished their set local act Nitroseed performed. Typically an instrumental band, they played several of their songs with lyrics at this show. I’d never seen them live before but I was very impressed, certainly worth checking out if you see them listed as an opener at an upcoming show. Also, it turns out their drummer, Phil Adler, also plays in the local doom band Wooly Mammoth. Their music had some good energy and they kept the momentum rolling forward throughout their set. They finished up and the last band of the night was next, Suplecs.

Nitroseed at the Velvet Lounge

Suplecs is from New Orleans and they mentioned many times between songs that they were excited to be playing in front of a DC audience as they were big fans of the DC doom metal scene. The band was good live, they had some high energy parts but also slowed it down for a few songs. Their songs really had a dynamic range to them that many sludge bands simply don’t have. This kept the show interesting and fresh throughout their set, which is a really good thing after watching three bands with a similar sound earlier in the evening. They mentioned that this was the first time they played their song Pissing In The Wind on the East Coast. They closed their set with a cover. After all their praise for DC’s metal scene I thought for sure they’d play a Pentagram or Spirit Caravan song, or something similar at least. Nope, they played Working Man by Rush. Totally out of left field if you ask me. It was ok but really didn’t seem to fit into their set that well. Regardless, I will definitely go see them again if they come through the area another time, and you should too!

Suplecs at the Velvet Lounge

If you’d like to see more images from the bands I saw that night you can see them on my Flickr page here. And be sure to check out all the videos below of Clutch, Nitroseed and Suplecs. The first four are Clutch. The first one is acoustic and the second is their new song. The last two videos are of Suplecs, the last of which is their Rush cover. Thanks to the guys in King Giant for the beers and thanks to you for reading all of this. Stay metal everyone!

Clutch acoustic:

Clutch’s new song:

Clutch with extended drum solo:

Clutch with guitar solo:

Nitroseed:

Suplecs:

Suplecs covering Rush:

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.

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.

Review of Cannibal Corpse gig at the Rock And Roll Hotel

This tour had, without a doubt, the best death metal line up of any North American tour this year. Devourment opening for Vital Remains, local favorites Dying Fetus and the kings of death metal themselves, Cannibal Corpse. On Sunday the 21st of November they all brought their combined brutality to the Rock And Roll Hotel in Washington, DC (you thought I was going to say Jaxx, didn’t you?) and aurally assaulted this venue like never before. Now I’ve seen a few metal shows at the Rock & Roll Hotel before, but they have not had any death metal, and what a great tour to bring in for their first extreme metal show at the venue! They didn’t have any local support, but luckily I’d just gone to see a great set of local death metal the night before at Jaxx, (my review of that show is here) so it was sort of like the openers played the night before.

When I first got to the venue, Devourment was already playing. I’m not sure how long they played but I saw them play four songs. There was already a good size crowd amassing so I stayed to the back of the room near the soundboard so that I wouldn’t damage my nice camera (they wouldn’t let me use it so I had to store it during the other bands’ sets). Because of all this I wasn’t in a great place to get video or still shots of these guys. They had the crowd already going though when I got there, and between every song I saw, and also in the middle of half of their songs, the lead singer, Mike Majewski, would instruct the crowd to mosh in a circle pit. The set seemed to focus on older material, I remember them playing Choking On Bile as well as closing with Babykiller. This was kind of odd though, since the band is hardly the band it used to be. Choking On Bile is from the band’s first full length, Molesting The Decapitated. That album totally rules, don’t get me wrong, and if you want to hear some of the best underground death metal there is, check that album out. But the band playing this night only had one member remaining from back then, the bass player, and he was now on vocals! This and the fact that Devourment will also be playing again in May at Maryland Deathfest (much more info about that on my calendar here) made me not so upset about missing some of their set this night. Also, their guitarist put on a white horse head mask for the final song, I have no idea why.

The next band to play was Vital Remains. No, Deicide‘s Glen Benton was not playing with them, though their bass player was wearing a Stench Of Redemption shirt. I’d put my DSLR away and had my point and shoot camera ready and was standing in the front by the time they took the stage. The vocalist, Scott Wily, had on these spiked Immortal-esque bracers and was again telling people to keep a circle pit going. Ok, really? I remember thinking how dumb it was watching hardcore kids do laps in circle pits, why are these death metal bands encouraging this instead of straight up brutal mosh pits? Whatever, it was all to my back for the most part anyways. They did play a great set made up mostly of material from their two most recent albums, Icons Of Evil and Dechristianize. That’s fine by me, even though I often want bands to play older songs I’ve always enjoyed their more recent material as I think they really refined and defined their sound. Plus it’s fucking faster than their old stuff, and trust me they don’t slow it down live. Most of the people near me seemed to know most of the words to Dechristianize and were screaming along with it, which goes to show the power of getting an iconic vocalist like Benton on those studio albums. Of course with their long songs, their set seemed to fly by and since there were still two more bands to play their set was shorter than I’d have liked. They also didn’t play the song Shrapnel Embedded Flesh (a personal favorite of mine) but other than those two minor gripes they really did a kick ass job of taking the brutality up a notch.

The next band set to play was Dying Fetus. Now, before I make my next statement here, let me first say that I haven’t seen them in quite a few years and that might have something to do with my opinion on the matter. That said, Dying Fetus fucking killed it this show and really, I think they showed up Cannibal Corpse. Their setlist was great from start to finish, and while their stage time was shorter they didn’t talk a lot between songs. For the most part they just played some brutal fucking death metal, of course with all those grind elements and breakdowns their sound is known for. Dying Fetus is from the DC suburbs of Maryland and I don’t know if that was the reason why, but they did play a lot of older material, including two songs off of the Killing On Adrenaline album, which was awesome. Some of these songs I hadn’t even listened to in years and I really enjoyed remembering them as they played songs from their entire back catalog. They even played the song Eviscerated Offspring from their 1994 demo! The mosh pit went crazy, combining brutal death metal with catchy breakdowns will do that, haha. There are a lot of bands who do that now of course, to the point it can get really annoying really quickly, but after seeing this gig there is no question in my mind that Dying Fetus are still the best at it. They opened with Praise The Lord (Opium Of The Masses) which really set the tone of the show from the start, and the intensity didn’t let up until they finished their set with Kill Your Mother, Rape Your Dog. In all, it was a great performance by one of the leaders in death metal.

Finally it was time for the headliner, Cannibal Corpse. They played the area not too long ago, when they came to Jaxx back in April (my review of that is here) and this concert wasn’t a whole lot different really. There are some things you can expect at a Cannibal Corpse show these days, brutal music is one of them of course. But you also know that when their vocalist, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher says the next song goes out to all the women in the audience, they’re going to play Preacher Of Sodom (used to be Fucked With A Knife but that song doesn’t seem to be part of their set list any more) and you know when he says Hammer Smashed Face is their last song of the night, after it’s done he’s going to say he lied about it being the final song as they start playing Stripped, Raped And Strangled. This show had all that of course, but there were a few surprises. For one, they played the song Gutted off of Butchered At Birth, and Corpsegrinder said that he grew up in Baltimore so the show was a sort of coming home and he reminisced about coming to see concerts at the 9:30 Club and the like and he said the Rock N Roll Hotel had a similar feeling to those places back then. He also challenged the audience to keep up with his extreme headbanging during the song I Cum Blood, and I’ve got video of that below you can watch. A few touches like those aside, the show was fairly typical for Cannibal Corpse, and while I’ve seen them play a hell of a lot of times, you could tell by all the X’s I saw on people’s hands that many of those in attendance probably hadn’t seen them before and the aspects of the show I see as becoming a pattern were all new to them. The venue was pretty packed and I saw the guy in the full body chicken suit in the mosh pit (hadn’t seen him around in a couple years!) as well as a guy in a V For Vendetta style Guy Fawkes mask. Yeah, Cannibal Corpse draws an odd crowd. Their set was intense and sweaty and brutal as always, and it was a lot of fun. And I know I’ve seen them play at least 10 times before, but I’ll never get tired of watching Cannibal Corpse play Hammer Smashed Face and Stripped Raped And Strangled back to back while standing two feet in front of me. Those are two of the most iconic death metal songs ever written and essentially define the band, if not the death metal genre itself.

At this concert I could tell the District is hungry for more metal and several people asked me about my site after seeing the logo on my shirt, all basically saying the city needed something like that. Even the manager of the venue told me he’d be interested in having a regular metal night there. I sure as hell would like to see something like that happen. Even though the bands were crammed on the stage, this was a great show to bring death metal back into the city with. I know a lot of the people there won’t head out to places in the suburbs like Jaxx for concerts a lot due to transportation and other issues. It was another good turn out, reinforcing the fact that heavy metal is on the rise in the entire area, not just the suburbs. It was also my second great death metal concert in a row, what more can you ask for? Now check out the videos I shot of the final three bands below.