Maryland Deathfest 2013 Day 3
Day 3 of MDF rolled around and Saturday was the longest day with 13 hours of bands! I figured I’d need some fuel so I scoffed a decent egg, bacon and cheese sanga from the deli downstairs. While eating I happened to see a constipation medication ad on tv and also a pain relief ad where the list of side effects (including suicide) was way longer than the ad. I love US tv ads and also happened to see drug rehab centre and catheter ads during my stay. I strolled down the blasted hill and was in a good mood until I saw the lengthy queue snaking through the carpark. I had a 4 day pass so you’d have thought I could just waltz straight in but today they were searching everyone and knocking back people with studded jackets or bullet belts. I heard varying rumours over the weekend including that a guy had been badly beaten by someone with a studded belt wrapped around their fist and also that a guy had bought/tried to bring a knife in on Friday. The real reason was due to Down having preset security requirements for their gigs which were supposed to be relaxed for MDF. Organiser Ryan talks rather frankly about the issues with security and bands being cutoff here. I had no problems with security (it’s so much easier to smile and be friendly) but seems plenty of people did and ranted on the Facebook event page and the official MDF forum. People sure do like to whinge so I just want to thank Ryan and Evan for all their hard work and for putting on another kick arse festival.
Once I got in I went immediately to watch black metal band Kommandant who had impressed me in NYC in 2012. They had the same militaristic stage getup although the singer’s outfit looked a bit different and his podium was not the same. At any rate they had quite a good sound and put on a great performance of blasting black metal. Not sure if the 2 percussionist dudes on stage did anything as I didn’t see the whole set but they did look cool. Once again the drummer blew me away with a super tight and fast performance all while wearing a gas mask. Nice work mate.
Between bands I saw a guy in a Willow movie shirt which was a strong contender for best non-metal shirt worn. Inside the DJ was playing Primus was an odd choice for a metal festival but fine by me. Death doom maniacs Anhedonist were next and I made sure I had a good position to fully appeciate their set. They had been a highlight when I saw them in NYC in 2010 and their killer album Netherwards has been spun many times on my stereo. Today they were in the tent but managed a great sound and the extra bottom end worked well in their favour. Damn singer Vince has a great growl! Their sound is obviously heavily influenced by Disembowelment but also has an early Bethlehem feel to it in parts too which is a wonderful combination in my book. They played most of Netherwards and also squeezed a new song in which was a ripper and the speed changes reminded me of The Tree Of Life And Death (not a bad thing at all). The chook guy was near me and tried to start a small pit whenever they played fast bits but that wasn’t very often so it fizzled out each time.
The doom assault continued in the tent with Loss on next. I’d seen them in NYC in 2012 however they’d had the unenviable task of following Pallbearer so that combined with my drunkenness (curse you Captain Morgan!) meant I only watched a few songs before wandering off. This time I was mostly sober and they sounded great! I think they had possibly the best sound in the tent all weekend which was great as you could hear the melodies.
Danish technical death metallers Iniquity were on next on one of the big stages and as I wandered over I grabbed my first piece of pizza for the day (probably not my last). I only own one EP of theirs and even if they played a song off it I wouldn’t have recognised it. Oops I just looked up their setlist and they did play 2 songs off that EP!! They played songs from their first album Serenadium and The Hidden Lore EP and only one song from Five Across The Eyes so if you were a fan of Grime then stiff shit. I was mightily impressed by his deep vocals and the songs sounded great too which is a quite a task to make tech death songs that work live that you don’t need to have heard hundreds of times. They only recently reformed and there was still a bit of rust with a few stuff ups here and there but oh well. I knew my mate Paolo from NYC was coming to MDF just to see them and I hadn’t seen him before they played so I was very pleased to catch up with him after as he’d had a brilliant time up the front. Below is a crappy pic of the band and then a very stupid pic of me and mates and Paolo is the guy in the middle barely able to contain his childlike glee.
Up next were one of my surprise highlights of the whole fest, Weedeater (Bolt Thrower was my main highlight but that’s no surprise to anyone). They had a huge crowd watching them and plenty of crowd surfers including the guy in the stylish banana suit. Bassist Dixie started with 2 bottles of booze, one of which looked like a 1 litre bottle of Jack Daniels, and I’m fairly certain both were empty by the end of their 45 minute set and he was still standing and playing. Not sure if any of it was cough syrup (see the video below) but looking through photos on Return To The Pit it looks like he is also handed a third bottle of Jameson. I had actually met Dixie in 2011 when Buzzov*en played as we were sitting next to each other in the bar and got chatting and he was a nice bloke even after I revealed I had no idea who he was. The drummer was set up side on at the front of the stage and had a great loose style that I labelled drunken praying mantis style drumming. Their weed metal led to plenty of a certain smell in the air which nearly rivalled the smells for Sleep on Sunday and Electric Wizard the year before. I could even see Buzz from the Melvins watching them from side stage (that hair is hard to miss). I knew their music a bit and their albums had only recently really clicked for me but live they were amazing and just had the perfect sludge and speed combination. If you ever get the chance to see Weedeater then take it as I can imagine they’d be even better in a smaller venue.
I’d been told by a friend that Swedes Massgrav were great live and she wasn’t wrong (thanks Vanessa). I hotfooted it to Soundstage as soon as Weedeater finished only to find they were running behind time so I was glad to catch the whole set. They play rock and roll crossed with fastcore although they described it as “Swedish hardcore erotica”. The guitarist was very hilarious between songs with a rather dry and self depreciating sense of humour and some good back and forths with the bassplayer. No idea what songs they played but it was all fast and very furious. They did cover Police Bastard by Doom but it was barely decipherable at double the usual speed. The other cover they did was the Kreator classic Under The Guillotine that was totally undecipherable at about triple speed. Excellent set full of fun and fury.
Now we came to the main clash of bands for the festival, Weekend Nachos at Soundstage and Broken Hope and Aosoth at Sonar, all at exactly the same time. I ended up skipping Weekend Nachos as I reasoned that they were the most likely band to come to Australia at some point in the future. Knowing my luck they’ll now split up and I’ll never see them which would be a shame as I’ve been listening to them a bit of late and reckon they would be awesome live. I started with Broken Hope who were heavy as hell and sounded great. I was only vaguely familiar with Swamped In Gore but it didn’t really matter as their brand of brutalish death metal translated perfectly live. I took the opportunity to consume my first ever corn dog and was delighted to find it wasn’t too far removed from one of my favourite fairground foods, the dagwood dog! (although the batter is different). I watched with some of my Aussie mates who were (somehow) dancing to Broken Hope which was bloody hilarious and some random guy filmed them for a while. After half their set I wandered over to watch Aosoth.
Aosoth are a French black metal band who I was somewhat familiar with and was eager to see. Sadly I don’t know their stuff well enough to use the old trick of using memory to fill in gaps with the sound and today that skill was sorely needed as they sounded like shit. I even moved to outside the tent and watched from the side which was closer but sounded just as woeful. I like black metal with prominent bass but not when that’s all you can hear. While watching on the side I caught a bloke in a Depeche Mode shirt taking a photo of me for some reason. A protip for you mate – don’t use a flash when trying to take secret photos of people! Hmm I wonder if my photo is now at the centre of a shrine…. At any rate I now wish I’d run over to watch Weekend Nachos after a bit of Broken Hope.
Up next on the main stage was the Melvins who had bought their Big Business lineup which has 2 drummers and the place was totally packed for them. I like when bands use multiple drummers although I’ve seen a few such as Kylesa where both drummers seem to be playing the same thing and it seems like a waste. Thankfully the Melvins like to mix it up and their dual drumming was bloody excellent and the sound was killer too. I was actually really happy to see a proper Melvins set as the last time I saw them was a Soundwave festival in Australia where I had horrible gastro that made me feel like death and part way through their set I stumbled into the medical tent next to the stage and lay on a stretcher just listening. Funnily enough I somehow fell asleep without realising and woke up when the next band were on and was wondering why the Melvins suddenly sounded like a hardcore band. Anyway back to MDF and they played a pretty heavy set with mostly songs off Houdini, Bullhead and Stoner Witch which certainly made me and the crowd happy. It was great to see Hooch and Honey Bucket live. Buzz was quite amusing between songs and I was pleased to see them so well received as they were one of the slightly out of place bands on the bill.
In complete contrast Revenge followed in the tent and basically blew me away! Their recorded output has never really grabbed me but live they were totally shredding and thankfully obtained a great sound where, despite the chaos of the music, everything could be heard. I was expecting them to just be a blasting blur and while there was plenty of intense blasting (J Read is a maniac!) they also had plenty of variety and reminded me of when I first saw Destruktor at a Bloodlust festival and they tore my face off with really sharp riffing and instense speed. The lighting was mostly strobe which added to the intensity and sadly I was too far back to see what was invariably a nasty moshpit. I only stuck around for about half their set as I was very weary and unfortunately I missed their cover of Bathory’s Equimanthorn which is a bummer as I love that song. One of the surprise highlights for me.
I managed to completely avoid Down which was fine by me and I returned to my hotel for some much needed feet elevation time. I think I even set my alarm to wake me for Antaeus as the beds are a little too comfortable there. I made it back down to watch a decent chunk of Antaeus and they were as fast and intense as I suspected. I heard the vocalist was a pretty crazy bloke onstage but I couldn’t really get close enough to tell however he sounded great and the drummer was a demon! After a time I wandered over to Soundstage to catch the final band of the night Infest.
After some rather sparse crowd sizes at Soundstage it was great to see the place packed for legendary California power violence blokes Infest. I had expected it to get pretty wild so I wisely joined some friends on the slightly higher section so we could have a good view of the festivities. The second they started the place erupted with stage diving galore and a big pit and what looked to be all the support bands on the side of the stage. We saw some hilarious stuff with stage divers colliding both on stage and in mid air. Large plastic garbage cans were thrown into the crowd and retrieving them was about the only time the security actually did anything other than roll out a non slip mat on the stage to stop divers slipping. In fact the huge security guard on stage was helping throw divers further into the crowd including Kromosom singer Yeap. The guard looked to be really enjoying it and I had noticed over the weekend that the stage security (ie. the guys who grab the crowdsurfers) were very careful with people and did a great job. I have no idea how the band continued to play with so many people on stage. At one point some dickhead charged the singer which was a poor idea for several reasons, one the crowd would have lynched him, two the singer is bloody huge and three because he was recently released from prison (it’s about 3.38 into the below video). Joe looked like he was about to explode but thankfully nothing came of it and the fun continued with many stage invasions to sing along. Shenanagins aside the band played great and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Great show.
Once Infest finished and the place cleared out my beer loving posse and I regrouped and arranged to meet at the Cloud Club in the Brookshire Suites hotel for a big beer tasting session. I wisely jumped in a cab that delivered me to my hotel where I ran upstairs, grabbed my Aussie beers and then we drove to the Brookshire. I got my confident face on and tried to stroll nonchallantly through the foyer of the hotel I wasn’t staying in however the door needed a swipe card so I shuffled off and called my mate who was staying there to let me in. Eventually we all hooked up in the Cloud Club which is basically a conference room on the top floor with lots of chairs and tables and thankfully no staff. I’m assuming the floor must be soundproofed as we partied loudly until nearly 5am with no complaints or anything. I had bought about 8 beers from Australia that somehow survived several flights (yay for bubble wrap) so we cracked open some of them and they all seemed to be very well received including my favourite Aussie stout Ace of Spades and the ridiculously strong 14.9% Aurora Borealis quad. I was more interested in trying some fancy US beers and I was not disappointed with a stunning local Maryland beer DuClaw Divine Retribution, a Cigar City beer from Florida called Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout which is only released one day a year, and beer called Ninja vs Unicorn from a small Chicago brewery called Pipeworks. Although the real treat was having some of a Westvleteren 12 which is one of the best quads in the world and pretty tricky to obtain. It was sublime! I’m actually surprised I can remember anything as this day had begun a long time ago and many beers had been drunk before we even started! Just before 5am we called it a night and I trundled off on the cold Baltimore streets and staggered back to the Tremont which was only 10 minutes walk. Fear not intrepid readers as I was part of a group for most of the way and only had to walk a few hundred metres by myself. Thankfully I remembered to drink some water and then collapsed into bed. Thanks to Shelley and Chad, Justin, and Michael for the quality US brews!!
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