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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….