Maryland Deathfest 2014: Day 1

MDF XII: Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hellbound is at MDF once again (well, some of us at least). So far, our experiences of Maryland Deathfest 2014 and of Baltimore have been rather varied – more on this to come. For now, here a couple of thoughts on my first day back at MDF.

shipmuseum

Musuem: USS Constellation

The weather

So, I’ve been hearing about crazy weather in some surrounding areas. But here in Baltimore, last night’s potential severe thunderstorm never materialized, and it’s so nice to again be somewhere where I don’t need a jacket.

The sights

Thanks, Urban Cellar (local liquor store), for the warm welcome! But boo to the grocery next door – that is, the grocery that was next door. Oh well. Eddie’s of Mt. Vernon, prepare for our business.

From the water, to the ship museum and fire baton twirler, it’s hard not to enjoy visiting the Baltimore inner harbour.

seamonsters

Why would anyone take out an ordinary pedal boat when you could go out in a sea monster?

Plus, there’s some pretty tasty sushi by the water. And sea monster boats! (I wonder if I can find time to ride in one…)

Okay, by now you might be wondering, ‘where’s the metal?’ In a section of a great big warehouse-turned-nightclub-plaza!

The music

Wandering back from dinner we encountered a horde of black clad wanting-to-be-revellers looking for MDF. Once we headed to the venue ourselves, which was on the other side of the strip club strip and in the belly of a mall of not-so-metal clubs, I had some sympathy for the somewhat lost pilgrims, but also much optimism that they had eventually found their mecca. (Follow the trail of metalheads!)

Torche

Torche (photo by Adam Wills)

I liked the venue. The high ceilings made things feel less like a club show and more like a festival, and it seemed like no matter where you stood, if you had a sightline to the stage you were never that far from the action. Video screens located around the bar also made it possible to view the performances indirectly. And the $3 local seasonal brew wasn’t half bad while it lasted.

I have to admit, before last night I had never seen or listened to Torche. I’m still not convinced I’d feel like sitting down with a Torche album, but man, they know how to do heavy live, and they do it very persuasively. They ended climactically, explosively, even inviting some of the audience to contribute to the noise as the one member passed off his guitar to the crowd for a few short final moments.

During Torche’s set we noticed one of the sound crew (I believe he was with Crowbar) was enjoying some Netflix – The Real Story: Amityville Horror, in fact. I found it both amusing and slightly distracting how he’d intensely survey the balconies over his head every time something (a cup, some water…) flew through the air, especially since it was usually coming from in front of him rather than above.

Coffins

Coffins

Having listened to Japan’s Coffins a fair amount I was still surprised – pleasantly – by how high energy their performance was. (I especially liked the occasional leaps in the air.) They were very charming, in a death-doom rock’n’roll kind of way. Their set passed by quickly, and the chants when they ended made it clear they left their fans wanting much more.

As much as I enjoyed Torche and Coffins, after Triptykon’s cancellation I was most interested in seeing Crowbar. Actually, even before that is was true, since I’ve seen Triptykon a couple of times already. I have lost track of Crowbar over the years but was very much absorbed by Obedience Thru Suffering and their self-titled album many years ago, and very much looking forward to the experience of revisiting those sounds in a live context. I think I was hoping for a bit more of the agonized brooding and a little less of the testosterone-fuelled aggression, though I can’t say I was actually disappointed. Crowbar unsurprisingly heavy, intensely loud, stirred up the crowd more (physically and literally, any way) than I’d seen so far that night.

Crowbar

Crowbar

And Day 2 begins…

… with coffee, complimentary breakfast, and At the Gates (the people in this case, not the music).

Stay tuned for my semi-coherent thoughts on today’s entertainment as well as some proper reviews from other members of the Hellbound team.

Laura Wiebe

Laura is associate editor of Hellbound.ca and co-host of weekly metal show Kill Eat Exploit the Weak on CFMU 93.3 FM. She loves doom, prog, cats and basketball, believes in equity and social justice and is not cool with any form of discrimination, marginalization, harassment or oppression.