Maryland Deathfest 2014 Day 2
MDF proper started on day 2 with the big new Edison Lot compound being used for the 2 main stages and merchandise and food stalls. But before the screeching music could begin I embarked on another party bus adventure with my American mates where we toured delightful Baltimore in an air conditioned bus drinking booze and listening to Lil Boosie. As with the previous party bus, we had to start early as people actually wanted to see bands so we all rendezvoused at some shonky strip club near the big MDF lot. It was hilarious watching mates arrive badly hungover from the previous night. I didn’t get too smashed although I was pretty tipsy by the end. We toured around and managed to see some areas that were scummier than last time that were quite reminiscent of Hamsterdam from The Wire so I was happy. We also had a great laugh watching a woman in a car next us picking her nose and eating it! Another killer BBQ at Chad and Shelley’s place was scoffed and we had a fun play with their dog Teddy and then back in the bus for the return trip. Once again I managed to avoid being conned into dancing on the bus. Sadly there was no gorgeous Playboy model in a gold mesh body suit this time but I still managed to get a few kisses.
This year I’d had the brilliant (or stupid) idea to make a battle Hawaiian shirt as I had plenty of patches and wanted something stupid to stitch them onto. I bought the gaudiest cheap yellow Hawaiian shirt I could find and hastily sewed a smattering of patches on just prior to the festival. In fact it turned out to be awesome as it deflected the heat well and kept me cooler than just wearing a black shirt in full sun. Plus it was priceless seeing the perplexed looks on tough metallers who probably liked the Left Hand Path backpatch but not what it was sewn onto. I received quite a few requests for photos and below are a few pics I found on Instagram of the shirt as well as a mention on a more popular metal website than this one.
The bus dumped us back at the Edison Lot area and thankfully it only took 5 minutes to get in which was a relief after the debacles in 2013. The new main stages setup was pretty decent (for a carpark) and was easier to move between bands and the merch and food stalls. I rapidly sussed out several important factors and was pleased to find a small shaded seating area which was handy for someone of my vintage, as well as the fact my favourite food vendor from 2013 was back again serving BBQ items. However I was not pleased to discover that the beer menu was exactly the same as 2013 and consisted of very average choices even though I recall the MDF guys specifically mentioning getting a better range for 2014. I may have had 1 or 2 beers for the whole weekend from Edison Lot and just drank water or Gatorade. Don’t worry intrepid readers as I more than made up for it at the other 2 venues as they had awesome beer!
First band up were Castevet who had a decent live sound but didn’t do too much for me at all. I decided to save my poor feet, found a table and was pleased that the sound was pretty good from there. I grew to like these benches as they were generally in shade and the sound for both stages was quite decent from there. I’ve seen so many bands that I really don’t need to stare at another bunch of hairy blokes and am more than happy to just listen.
Polish black metal blokes Mgla were on next and boy those fellas must have been hot in all that denim, leather, hoods and black masks in full sun at 3.45pm! The sunlight was a problem for several bands as they lost a lot of potential atmosphere and mystique being on a huge outdoor stage. I completely understand why the promoters would like the fest to become bigger but I prefer less sunlight and more indoor stages. I wonder how a band like Skepticism will go on the outdoor stage at MDF 2015. Anyway back to Mgla who despite the heat put on a great performance to a large crowd. I really enjoy their With Hearts Toward None album and they played quite a bit off it including my favourite song (first track). While watching them I noticed several toddlers with huge ear muffs being held by their parents and I mentally congratulated them for exposing their kids to quality black metal that early in their life. Enjoy my poorly focussed photo below.
Ruins of Beverast followed and I wasn’t that familiar with their albums and thought they were slower but I was mightily impressed. The song Daemon was a highlight although they too suffered from the lack of atmosphere from the blazing sun. I commenced my merchandise browsing as you have to be careful at MDF as bands only usually have a few hours to sell stuff. Tshirt hoarding is a curse I know all too well although it’s worse when you see people wearing shirts that you missed (tragic I know).
Fellow Germans Necros Christos followed and were bloody awesome! A couple of Aussie mates and I stood right in front of the mixing desk and the sound was perfect which was great as the stage near the merch had patchy sound throughout the festival. Vocalist Mors Dalos Ra had a spiffy top on and their chunky death metal went down a treat. I later talked to a die hard fan in Chicago who whinged about all the old songs they didn’t play but I was more than happy. Surprisingly they only played one mellow interlude as I was expecting them throughout the set. Unfortunately Necros Christos heralded the beginning of an issue that pissed me off mightily about the main stages – the continual invasion of the side stage by self important hangers on. For most of their set there were about 3 people on the left side of the stage including the below lady who seemed to think she was a backup dancer but just embarrassed herself. I labelled her Necros Distractos which was a nice title compared to some I heard. I later saw her at a gig in Chicago and she did the same “ooh look at me getting into it” moves on the stage. For other bands I saw more people up there and it was like when a stage diver loiters too long and you just want the band to violently boot them off the stage. I paid to see the band and not some self-aggrandising knob trying to be cool. OK rant over and Necros Christos were excellent.
I left after Necros Christos and heard a bit of Solstafir who sounded really good. Oops probably should have stuck around but I cabbed back to the hotel for some food and a rest. I managed to miss Mesrine and most of Capitalist Casualties due to nearly falling asleep (curse those comfy beds). Capitalist Casualties are older than me so they probably understood. They were killer for the last 15 minutes of their set although not quite as intense as a few years ago when their singer had just had leg surgery but still played.
I scooted back up to Edison Lot hoping to catch a song or two of Cancer. I found some mates in the crowd and then stood there rather puzzled for a while thinking that Cancer must be playing some newer material I wasn’t familiar with. I finally discovered that it was actually Agalloch I was watching which made a hell of a lot more sense! D’oh! Despite the lack of death metal that I was expecting Agalloch sounded great although I did note on my phone the expression a band probably doesn’t want – ‘good background music’. It didn’t help that I mostly saw new songs I didn’t know and nothing off The Mantle.
At The Gates headlined that night and I expected them to be good but they were great! I’ve always enjoyed them but never been a die hard fan so I was surprised how many songs I knew. They predominantly played songs off Slaughter of the Soul (duh) but had a couple from each album, although they hadn’t released the new album so nothing off that. I saw the bulk of their set but had to leave early to catch Bölzer so I missed what I figured would be the last 3 songs, All Life Ends, Blinded By Fear and Kingdom fucking Gone. I did enjoy songs like World Of Lies, The Swarm and Cold which sounded tough as hell.
I jumped into a taxi and sped down to Rams Head to catch Swiss duo Bölzer who were replacing Aeturnus. I was bloody eager to check them out as I love their Aura EP and I wasn’t disappointed at all. The sound was a bit shitty but they still sounded kick arse for a 2 piece. The setlist was Roman Acupuncture and Zeus.. from the demo, CME and Entranced By The Wolfshook (my highlight) from Aura and new song Labyrinthian Graves. They have such a strange style but it worked well and I was very pleased that he did the wailing vocals well. Great set that you can enjoy below.
I’d knocked off 2 stouts rather rapidly which got me nicely warm and keen for Impaled who were on next at Soundstage. While exiting Rams Head the security made me take my hoody off from around my waist to walk outside which I found bizarre. They are happy for me to walk around in horrible metal shirt and shorts but I can’t have something tied around my waist? Maybe it was so I couldn’t conceal a weapon but as with most security they weren’t overly verbose in their directions.
Impaled were the final band at Soundstage that night and they went down a treat with the crowd who were moshing and stage diving galore. The party brigade had a grand time too with more blow up toys and glow stick shenanigans. Tonight they only played the first album The Dead Shall Dead Remain and had old vocalist and top chap Leon del Muerte out front. I was very happy as I finally got to see the song Trocar live after hassling Leon to play it every time I’ve seen any of his many bands. The whole album rules but Flesh & Blood was the other highlight for me although I did miss seeing newer songs like Operating Theatre or Raise The Stakes. There was a really great energy in the crowd and it was one of the most fun sets I saw all weekend. I also enjoyed the beers at Soundstage and had a tasty local Du Claw Nut Brown Ale or two while watching.
Final band of the night was Incantation and due to Impaled starting late I managed to miss some of their set but there was no way I was skipping any Impaled. I went upstairs to grab a stout and watch and rapidly came to sensible conclusion that Incantation are a great band but definitely music I can sit to so I watched from lounge area and it sounded great so I didn’t feel guilty. To quote Danny Glover “I’m too old for this shit” although when they played The Ibex Moon I somehow managed to stagger over to the railing and thrash. Shame I missed the Onwards.. songs but I’ll survive as it was my 4th time seeing them. It’s a little hazy but I believe I piked early and miss the last couple of songs to instead stumble back to the hotel and commence snoring.
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