(Concert Review) MARYLAND DOOMFEST 2019 - Day #2
Written by: Mark McQueen
Friday: Doomfest Night #2 (6/21/19)
Band #1 False Gods: 73/100
The opener for night #2 had some good doomy sound, but the vocals were screamy and off-putting to me. With nothing to compare them to, (except all the bands from the night before), even a point extra for being the opening band didn’t help their score much. First band where I started checking my watch to see how fast 30 minutes was going by over the first two days of the festival.
Band #2 The Druids: 82/100
The Druids actually benefit from slotting because compared to False Gods their vocal style, though too quiet and still not that great, was an improvement. I enjoyed their speedier stoner numbers, especially the instrumentals. Their slower doomy stuff was just okay. This is one of those bands that could have moved the needle a few different ways. Playing directly after a better band, their number drops. If they did all instrumental, their number rises. As it was, this seemed pretty fair.
Band #3 Kingsnake: 84/100
Kingsnake throws down as more heavy rock than doom metal. Reminding me some of “Superheavy Goat Ass”, vocally they have clarity, but also a lot of aggression. That said, I did enjoy the set, but at this point we are not living up to night number one. So, I decided to try some bands at the second club site a block down the street. Guidos was small. I’m talking about 60-70 people wall to wall front to back. There was no “stage” to speak of. Bands loaded in through a side door from the street, set up on the floor with very little space, and played to audience members “literally” two feet from them. Questionable sound, questionable safety issues. My thought was that Guidos should not be hosting bands for this event. Hopefully next year, the new Brewery across the street… Old Mother Brewery will finish their remodeling and make a serious bid as the second venue. They have ample space, access for load in, and are building a Green Room for the bands already. Having spent some time the first day speaking with Nick Wilson, one of the two owners about their future, I was impressed by his desire to be a part of this fest and hope it works out. Hell, back room equals great bands and front room equals great brewery. Sounds like a win-win to me.
In the meantime, I have now squeezed into Guido’s very full space and am listening to the next bands on the schedule including;
Band #4 Spiral Grave: 87/100
Tight room and bad sound notwithstanding, Spiral Grave was a last minute addition when Funeral Horse dropped out. The irony of Funeral Horse dropping and Spiral Grave taking their place is NOT lost here. That’s kind of funny.
Anyway, these guys were a throwback to some epic 80’s style metal. I got traces of Grim Reaper and early Paul Di’anno-era Iron Maiden in their stuff. Straight ahead fun thrashy sort of set that was an enjoyable pallet cleanser on the day and the full crowd seemed to greatly enjoy it. As did I. Really fun set.
Band #5 Dead Sisters: 82/100
After Spiral Grave finished and the crowds headed back to Café 611 for the next band, I used the opportunity to move to the front of Guido’s so I could hang out with my friend Mike for the next few bands. We were truly front row, less than a couple of feet from the musicians. As it turns out, audio wise that might have been a mistake. Remember, this “room” (a loose definition of the term) was REALLY small and had little to absorb the sound.
Dead Sisters were three guys who came on as Dead Nuns. I’m talking full “habits” and corpse paint. To add to this, they were a black metal/drone type of mix. Sort of like Bell Witch with costumes, or Ghost with no melody whatsoever. Once they started it was DEAFENING!!!.
They were so loud, they blew the room power twice in their 30 minute set. All that being said though, they never stopped or broke character. They remained fully committed to what they were doing and THAT effort I admire. Not enough to buy their stuff mind you…or really even seek them out again, BUT…you made a bold unusual choice and you went forward 100% so I am giving them the number based almost purely on committed effort.
Band #6 Benthic Realm: 90/100
Best band in the Guido’s “room”. Again, that term is loosely defined. I will start by saying these guys should have been main room material. A three-piece Sabbath-style doom band consisting of female singer/guitarist, female bassist, and male drummer. Being front row, I was able to appreciate the talented guitar work (even with the room’s bad sound), just by watching the great hand work during the songs. I have heard the studio version of these guys/gals before and the room did NOT do them proper justice. In Café 611’s main room, you probably tack on a few more points to this grade. They have a real singer/songwriter style about them and I am certain I will see them more times in the future when the room and opportunities presented to them will allow me a full appreciation of their talents. Unfortunately, that night was not this one. To still get me to throw out a 90+ score given the circumstances was quite an achievement and “hats off” to their very impressive and cool doomy set.
Band #7 Clouds Taste Satanic 88/incomplete/100
I was really looking forward to this New York based instrumental band that uses a lot of cool sounds and effects to add to their already unique stoner-meets-Pink Floyd musical numbers, unfortunately this was when my only bad period of the fest occurred.
As I had mentioned, I was front row for the last two bands at Guido’s and remained there throughout the set-up of Clouds Taste Satanic. I chatted briefly with the singer from Shadow Witch during the set up, and was having a pleasant time. Once Satanic started, I figured, “Cool, I am truly 2-feet from this guy and can record some of his guitar work”.
It was at this point that suddenly I was body checked by someone behind me on my right side. For those of you who don’t know, the vision on the right side of my right eye is pretty much gone and I didn’t see exactly who slammed into me but I lost my balance and when I regained it, some woman was standing directly in front of me. Although I was taller than her, I sure as hell was nowhere near as wide and my excellent view was gone.
Now, within 30 seconds, here is what goes through my mind:
· What the Fuck!!
· Okay, now I’m pissed but what do I do?
· If I start something while this guy is playing guitar 2-feet in front of us, I interrupt the bands 40 minutes of time on stage. They came from New York for “THIS” 40 minutes and a fight or at least screaming match right in front of them ruins shit for them and the audience around us.
· Plus depending on who hip checked me, a fight could end up with me getting my ass kicked or a trip to Fredericks fine Police Station and being kicked out of the fest.
So, I swallow my pride and try to keep watching the set but I AM FUCKING STEAMING!! By the end of the next song I know I am going to say something if I don’t get out of there right now, so I headed back to Café 611 to try and grab a seat for the Pale Divine set coming up next.
I know many people read that and think, “Fuck that! I’d have kicked somebody’s ass if they did that to me.” I feel you but the “right” decision isn’t always the one that makes your ego feel good. I wanted to NOT show disrespect to the Band and their set who had nothing to do with the incident, nor to the crowd nearby who also had nothing to do with it. I clearly am still debating whether I made the right choice but there you go. 4-years going to Doomfest and that is the first and really only time anyone has pissed me off. Therefore, my grade on Clouds Taste Satanic, through no fault of theirs, is semi-incomplete.
Band #8 Pale Divine: 93/100
After the previous episode, I needed a great set and fortunately one of my “on paper” top five acts at the fest was up. Pale Divine has clear, clean vocals and great guitar work. I have loved them ever since my first time hearing them at Days of The Doomed…(Thank you Mike Smith), and I have rated them a top fest band several times in the years since then. They finished the set with “Angel of Mercy” and “Serpents Path” which were both outstanding and earned themselves the best act of day #2 and the bar setter thus far in the festival. Thank you Pale Divine for putting me back in a rocking frame of mind.
Band #9 Mothership: 87/100
Mothership is always a bit hit and miss for me. They are headliners at small fests and openers at the larger touring events. I kind of think I like them better as openers. Their stoner style is talented and fun, but I need them in a smaller size. Example, I enjoy onion rings. They’re greasy, fatty fun. However, I do not want an entire plate of onion rings as my main meal. Therein lies my metaphor for Mothership. I need them to be the side, not the main course. That said, it’s not like I “won’t’ eat the onion rings, and I certainly enjoyed the set.
Hmmm, I must be hungry. Good thing that wraps it up for night #2 of Doomfest.