Archive for May, 2011

Maryland Deathfest IX (2011) round-up

Monday, May 30th, 2011

A full May 2011 concert wrap-up is on the way (I’ve still got another show to go to tonight!), but Maryland DeathFest IX deserves its own post. I attended every day except Saturday, and here are some of the highs and lows:

Most worth the wait: Neurosis. Now, you might think I’m talking about the wait since the band’s last area appearance, which was ages ago, but I’m talking about the wait through a torrential thunderstorm that passed through Baltimore just before the band hit the stage. We weren’t about to lose the front-row spots we’d staked out for this show, so we waited it out, getting drenched and making all kinds of new friends through the experience– the tuba Ph.D. student, the two Americans majoring in German, and the Australian who’d travelled over here just for this festival. Oh, and Neurosis’s set itself was the highlight of the festival, hands-down.

Second-best set of the festival: Orange Goblin. Seriously, who knew they’d be so damn great live?

Best last words: “Don’t listen to shitty music!” These were the final words of the final Skinless show.

Best farewell: Cathedral‘s final show.

Most disappointing set: Ghost, who closed out the festival on Sunday night. (Note: not to be confused with the Japanese experimental band Ghost— although I’m betting most MDF attendees are not exactly Ghost or Damon & Naomi fans). I wrote about their album Opus Eponymous for the Post (my review is here), and I was looking forward to their first-ever US show, but a super-long setup/soundcheck and a really short set (35-40 minutes, tops) made this a fairly disappointing show overall. Admittedly, the show was also hampered by some things that weren’t the band’s fault– an overwhelmingly aggressive audience (a fight broke out next to me over a place to stand) and ridiculously loud/unnecessary sing-alongs. Still, it was great to see the band play even for just a short set, and their costumes were pretty damn cool too.

Best circle pit involving costumed fans, inflatable animals, and glow-sticks: You might not think that there would be too much competition for this category, but there were two bands in the running: New Orleans’s Flesh Parade (Thursday night) and the Dutch Last Days of Humanity (Sunday night). I think Flesh Parade’s fans had a better execution, but LDoH’s music was (slightly) more enjoyable, so I guess you could call this category a tie.

Best Cover: Coroner‘s tribute to ‘the first thrasher’, playing Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”.

Best Death Metal that I wish I’d been less tired for: Spain’s Wormed. They were great, but it’s always tough to re-focus to the indoor stage after spending the last few hours out in the hot sun. (Also, they had to follow Coroner, which is not an easy task.)

Most enjoyable band I’ve already seen twice this year: Kylesa. Didn’t get to see their whole set (yeah, it’s not like I was going to leave Neurosis early), but they sure sounded great in that main room at Sonar– a far cry from the compressed thunder of their set at the Black Cat’s Backstage this January.

Other highlights: Marduk, Exhumed, Tragedy, Buzzov*en, Corrosion of Conformity, and Aura Noir.

Saw a handful of other bands as well, but that’s about enough of my walk down MDF memory lane….

April 2011 Concert round-up

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Another month, another concert round-up. Didn’t quite hit my March high of 17 shows, but I did make it to 15 shows in April. Here’s what I thought:

Best crowd: the sold-out Black Cat for Titus Andronicus. Ordinarily, I bristle at sold-out shows, but this crowd was full of a good energy: everyone was jumping so much, I thought the whole club was going to levitate. And covers of X-Ray Spex’s “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” and Sham 69’s “If the Kids are United” certainly didn’t hurt. 27 April @ the Black Cat.

Best house show: Ilsa + Amarok + Spirals. Also wins the award for “loudest house show”. 13 April @ the Corpse Fortress.

Best local a cappella debut: the Agency at the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweeps. It’s always fun to see friends from multiple projects all come together and form something new. It’s also fun when an a cappella interpretation can make me enjoy a song I ordinarily can’t tolerate (in this case: “We Built This City”). 2 April @ the Birchmere.

Best mosh pit: I bet you’re expecting me to cite some metal show here, right? Wrong! Best mosh pit goes to the kids at an a cappella show in a school auditorium on a Friday afternoon: Cartoon Johnny + Vox Pop + the UVA Sil’hooettes + Capital Blend. The sound was a bit off, but man, those kids were having the time of their lives. Future rockstars, perhaps? 1 April @ Williamsburg Middle School.

Best roadtrip: I hadn’t gotten out of town for a show in ages, so it was great to hit the road with one of my favorite people from my Austin days to go see So Percussion up in Philadelphia. Even the snarky sighs from the dude sitting behind us (in a Flyers jersey and a do-rag (no, I didn’t make that up)) couldn’t ruin this show. 23 April @ the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Best spontaneously pre-planned conga line: Danielson, who could’ve won for “Best costumes”, but that’s too predictable for them at this point. 16 April @ the Red Palace.

Best use of flute: Bardo Pond. See also: “Best stoner rock band” and “Best way to end a great weekend”. 10 April @ the Black Cat backstage.

Best local band: the Chance, with their Cure-influenced pop songs. 15 April @ the Black Cat.

Smallest crowd: Fittingly, Low‘s “Tiny Desk” concert at the NPR offices. It brought back memories of watching them film an in-studio performance at the Yahoo studios in Dallas back in 2001. Great to see them performing really sparse (guitar + 2 voices) versions of songs from their newest album– “Try To Sleep”, “Nightingale”, and “Something’s Turning Over”. 25 April @ NPR.

Best request: “Starfire” by Low. ’nuff said. 26 April @ the Black Cat.

Worst band name: Hammer No More the Fingers. Yes, they’re good at what they do– a North Carolina indie-rock vibe a la Superchunk or Archers of Loaf– but sheesh, the name! 6 April @ the Red Palace.

Weirdest venue for a metal show: Don’t get me wrong, I love that Jammin’ Java hosted a metal show this month — Iris Divine + Division + TimeLord + Death Penalty— but it was certainly bizarre to see those bands on the same stage that my old a cappella group graced many times. 12 April @ Jammin’ Java.

Rudest heckle: “Better off solo anyway!” at Sharon van Etten, as she was joking with her bandmates. Read the full story here. 17 April @ the Red Palace.

Weirdest crowd dissipation: Krallice and Withered. I totally get that sometimes people are more into an opening band and choose to leave before the headliner takes the stage. But I was really surprised to see about 2/3rds of the (fairly small) crowd pouring for the exits during Krallice’s set– especially because they freakin’ ruled! And it’s not like the show was that late, either: the band was done by 1:30 AM, and it was a Friday night anyway. Really odd. 29 April @ Sonar.

Fewest memories: I definitely remember being at the Corpse Fortress to see Torch Runner + Artillery Breath + Fisthammer, and I also remember that the singer dude from one of those bands had an outrageous ‘fro. But this was also the peak of my monthlong tango with the flu, so all I really remember from this show is feeling like crap. A shame. 9 April @ the Corpse Fortress.