(Concert Review) MARYLAND DOOMFEST 2019 - Night 1
Written by: Mark McQueen
Doomfest pre-show, the SHOD (Stoner.Hands.Of.Doom) Event
Band #1 After the Sun: 84/100
This was a solid opening act and the sound, which can sometimes be sketchy on a fest opener, was on the money, so credit to the sound guy. After the Sun was talented in both sound and vocals, coming off to me as a cross between Wasted Theory and Demon Eye. This is a good thing, as I like both bands. They did copy liberally from Sabbath-style riffs and their last song had a section that could have been a clean musical lift from “Children of the Grave”. That said, if you are going to copy/emulate, at least pick one of the masters of the genre to do it from ... and they did.
Anywhere else in the event, they would have merited a low 80’s score, but I bumped it a couple for having the task of opening the whole fest and therefore having nothing to compare them to.
Band #2 Freedom Hawk: 85/100
Third time seeing Freedom Hawk and I am familiar with their stoners-in-space approach to the music. Although they played much earlier than I might have expected, already there was a pretty good crowd to receive them and they delivered a solid 30 minute set. As long as they play “Blood Red Sky” I am happy. They delivered that and several more. Off on my first trip to the merch table for a CD.
Band #3 Weed is Weed: 84/100
I did not know their vocalist was the same guy from Earthride, because if he wasn’t, then he’s got a case for gimmick infringement. This was yet another solid set. (I will probably use that word to death, but it speaks to the high level most acts brought to this fest). Little bits of Sabbath-ian doom sprinkled in among the heavy stoner music. Big bonus for the song title…”The Bong Remains the Same”. Classic.
Band #4 Deer Creek: 80/100
Deer Creek, which sounds like either a red wine or an Alabama tick repellent, was a slower paced doom band with a “chanty” type of vocalist. They weren’t bad, but with that voice and that music I felt like maybe the “Witchsorrow” band got wasted, ate some Cheetos and sped up a bit without telling the singer. Never really connected with me, but it’s been a good night so far so what the Hell. Order up another Bury the Sun, the official doom beer of 2019 and rock on.
Band #5 Devil to Pay: 83/100
Seen these guys a few times and I really want to like them more than I do. I probably should buy a CD and hear the studio sound, as I’ve been told that is better. My problem is always thinking, “upper 80’s band…upper 70’s singer”. This always lowers their grade, but again…everything else about them is cool. Album covers, t-shirts, sound…so….next time I’m going to try buying their stuff to see if it’s just the “live” singing and not the “general” singing that I end up not liking.
Band #6 Wasted Theory: 90/100
These guys mix stoner and southern, (actually saying those two words together is kind of like peanut butter and jelly, or cousin and marriage). I’m kidding…(Crap…now an ass kicking’s coming my way next fest. Keep angry rhetoric to yourselves please).
Anyway, I actually love these guys each time I see them and look forward to their sets. Music is good, voice is clear and strong, and the jams rock. To the merch table for 2-Cd’s and a shirt. Wasted Theory always gets a strong number and they were best of show on night one.
Band #7 Solace: 85/100
Another stoner doom band with strong music and a decent vocalist. Slotting position hurt them tonight as they had to follow Wasted Theory. Chances are if they had followed Deer Creek, their score would be higher. That’s why I always say these rankings are very subjective and not based on any better facts than my having seen around 1000 sets over the last seven or so years and knowing what I like and don’t like. I like Solace, but I found them a bit commercial sounding. A little polished and with stoner that always sounds off. Not gritty enough maybe. Still, I’m giving them a decent number.
Band #8 Warhorse: 85/100
The band most anticipated by the Doomfest crowd on night #1 were these guys who reportedly had not played a live set together in 15 years. With the hype jacked up, I was initially a bit disappointed with the screamy-style vocals. Songs were long and heavy. Almost methodical in their pacing. I really think I need another set from them to get an accurate idea what’s really going on in their music. Fortunately, I believe they will be in Vegas for Psychofest in August, so I’ll be sure to catch another set there. For tonight, I have to be persuaded by the reaction of a crowd full of people who love doom/stoner music and they were loudly supportive, so I’ll go music 88 vocals 75, crowd reaction 92 and therefore 85.
Band #9 Earthride: 87/100
Given the amount of times I have seen these guys, they are now in the category where I know what they can do, therefore there is a degree of expectation. Tonight, in a headline role, I felt they delivered. Unfortunately due to it being a work night, a lot of the crowd vanished after the Warhorse set ended. Too bad because the second half of the Earthride set delivered great work on “Loss” “Vampire Circus” and “Fighting the Devils inside of You” wrapping up a really strong opening night. I left wondering if we could possibly sustain that pace of quality for three more days.
Reviews for the following nights of the Maryland Doomfest 2019 to follow ...