(Live Review) MARYLAND DOOMFEST 2023 (Day 1) - Maryland (6/22/23)
By The Beard & Little Johnny
Today begins a veritable odyssey for your reviewing hosts and all-around stud-monkeys (The Beard and, of course, our own clown prince of metal, you know him, you love him, Little Johnny), as we begin four days/nights at The Maryland Doomfest in Frederick, Maryland.
Day one will mark event #28, and bands #130-136 on our yearlongThe Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023.
This festival runs in two venues, (fortunately located across the street from one another), historic Cafe 611 & Olde Mother Brewery. Today, we will be sampling bands from both locations, and we will be covering:
Faith in Jane
As the first four bands are all playing in the Brewery venue, Little Johnny is very excited. The Beard senses a lot of IPAs are getting billed to his account. Unfortunately, our boss at The Mighty Decibel made it clear that despite our cleverly turning our borderline alcoholism into a “hobby job”, that they would most definitely NOT be helping to pay for it. (Ed: Not if I'm not there with ya!) Probably a smart decision.
Still, we must keep the lad happy as doom is not his favorite sub-genre. Johnny, as our followers know, likes to “pit it up” at a show and doom doesn’t always lend itself to that sort of visceral response. So, with beers in hand, we sit at our table and await the opening bell.
First up tonight and beginning the entire festival are instrumental stoner doom artists from Washington DC ...
First thought was that’s an appropriate name. They are definitely fuzzy. Low lights, low end, bass heavy sound, kind of like hearing a band like Beelzabong doing their sound check for a half hour. It was the fest opener, and it did grow on me (like a weed plant in fertile soil.) Johnny watched and then said, “They aren’t all gonna be that way, right?” “Strap in little dude, Doomfest has begun. As an opener to the festival, I am giving Fuzz Voyage
Second up today were Philadelphia’s stoner grunge band ...
Touring behind their debut release Vision Quest, High Leaf offered their audience an early start which immediately got them two bonus points from The Beard.
Musically, they sounded a bit like King Buffalo with that stoner/prog sound and then vocalist Corey Presner ramped his voice into that Chris Cornell grunge world, which was a little less melodic and clean, but still translated into a good stoner sound. The rhythm section had a “Camel of Doom” kind of vibe going on as well. Hmmm, Buffalo & Camels lol maybe this was Zoo Doom.
One thing noticeable thus far, apparently front lighting was not seen as necessary. That does detract a couple points although that isn’t the band’s fault. The second half of the set was more grunge heavy and as a whole, The Beard is thinking 77/100. Johnny was digging these guys though and as he rated them higher, we’ll do the overall number at
Third on stage tonight was the desert doom of Albuquerque in the form of ...
Despite some technical difficulties early, (to this fests credit, bands switch out inside of twenty minutes, so it’s all asses and elbows when it is change-out time and sometimes something gets missed.), Red Mesa presented with awesome clear vocals. There was something a little Earthride Vampire Circus-era feel vocally by Brad Frye. The Beard liked this music though. Songs were mostly from their Path to the Deathless release. Red Mesa were the first band to tempt me towards the merchandise table. Johnny also liked them. He said they were “gritty”. I never really understand him though after the 5th IPA.
I’m giving Red Mesa a solid 85/100.
Fourth up tonight were Long Islands psychedelic stoner space rock band.
These guys presented as kind of a Karma to Burn type act. Instrumental, slightly trippy and the kind of music best listened to in an altered state of being. Decent for what it was.
For bands 5-7 tonight we are moving to the main stage venue located across the street at Cafe 611.
Stepping up fifth this evening was Houston’s own traditional doom band ...
DOOMSTRESS Solid traditional doom metal. Singer Alexis Hollada might visually present as the thin, long lanky rock goddess type front woman, but don’t expect the overly feminine voice. Alexis sounds like a metal singer, and she let Café 611 hear it as the band ran through new and old numbers.
The Beard had seen Doomstress before back in 2017 with Disenchanter and already knew they were good then. They are even better now. The rest of the band are solid. Drummer Thomasz Scull keeps a good beat to hold the timing on every number. The lyrics are clean and semi-clear. Best overall band so far on day one. Afterwards Alexis was even polite enough to pose for a picture with the Beard and, (of course), the Beard was smart enough to buy a shirt from her. Johnny gave an approving nod and said, “That chick can sing good.” A fun set.
Coming into the sixth slot tonight was another Washington DC act ...
These guys drew their influences from the 70’s giants like KISS, Zeppelin and Hendrix, but then stoner washed that sound to create what is the Borracho sound, with clean clear vocals, infectious hooks, and a low end so heavy you could feel the fuzz dripping off of it. Stoner music so funky you could smell it.
Johnny said, “you are right. I smell something but I don’t think it’s the music. I think it’s…” “Never you mind little dude.” We are both calling it a win and grading an 87/100
Headlining night one were Maryland’s own groove metal stoner doom band ...
FAITH IN JANE
Touring behind their last release Axe to Oak, this trio brings clear vocals and a most excellent sound with nice guitar leads. Johnny just looked at me and said, “What? We’re Bill & Ted now?”
Faith in Jane has been doing this out here on the east coast for the last decade and they have undoubtedly been getting better and better. Having seen them at previous Doomfest outings, they used to play early in the bill, now they are headlining night one. Cheers to what hard work and perseverance will bring. Faith in Jane earned top billing tonight and therefore The Beard will accord them the “top” act of day one and crack a cold one for a rare 90+
Well fans and readers, that wraps up night one of Maryland Doomfest. With still three more full days of doom to come, we will head back to the hotel for some sleep and be back at this once again tomorrow.
Keep reading & watching The Mighty Decibel, and of course check out thebeard0728 on TikTok for videos of all the bands we cover.
From rainy doomy Maryland, this is the Beard and Little Johnny saying...