(Live Review) MARYLAND DOOMFEST - Day 1, June 23/22
Review by Mark McQueen
Festivals are a great part of a reviewer’s life. We get to see a vast number of bands in one place, experience big crowds, hear remarkable stories and meet interesting people over a three-or-four
day period. It can also be exhausting and when you are going into hour 20, 25, 30 over the multi-day period, it can be difficult to remain even and fair on the reviews.
This four day/night journey was no different. There were moments of bliss, moments of excitement, moments of disappointment, and even a few moments of “What the Fuck was That?”. Over the next four postings, I will try to give you all a flavor of what four days of doom was like through the eyes of both myself and of course my sidekick “Little Johnny”.
As always remember a few of the “Fest” review rules: • This only reviews the set-in front of me. This is not an indication of the band as a whole. • Slotting can affect the grade. Did you follow a dud, or an amazing set? • Technical difficulties, (although often not the fault of the band), can affect the grade. • If I know what you can do, you must measure up. Therefore, often it is harder to get a good grade if I have seen you before than if this is my first time seeing you. • Most importantly, this is an OPINION. It does not mean it is fact and it may NOT be YOUR opinion. If you think I am an idiot, that is fine. Calm down. It is NOT personal. Again, it is an OPINION.
And Away We Go ...
On day one of the yearly pilgrimage to Frederick, Maryland for the annual doomfest event, your intrepid reviewer, (The Beard) and sidekick Little Johnny, (making his debut appearance at this event) wandered into venue #2 of the fest Olde Mother Brewery. The set up was in the back warehouse area near the brew kettles. There were picnic tables to sit at and the stage was just the floor. An okay set up, but minimal. Plus, it was hot in there. Still, we got our seats and excitedly awaited the start of the first band.
After being excessive with beers Wednesday, I was having “No Beer Thursday” while Johnny was sipping on an IPA.
This was traditional doom music with an early 90’s dirty grunge vocal sound. Clean lyrical quality, meaning I understood the words. The room was pretty empty this early in the day (especially on a Thursday), so sound was not balanced yet.
Really nothing that original. Kind of “bar band makes good”. We figured okay fest opener; after all, it wasn’t going to be Iron Maiden. 65/100
The Stone Eye Well, they play in their underwear. That’s different. Not attractive mind you but certainly different.
Baseball caps, sunglasses, underwear socks and shoes. All of them. I suppose there might be some sort of Red-Hot Chili Peppers tie in here, but at a doomfest?
"No Beer Thursday" has just become “Immediate Beer Now Thursday.”
Music was sort of a jammy, light stoner sort of thing. Overall, the music was okay, the visuals however were a little hard to watch. Little Johnny stared open mouthed like Beavis or Butthead watching an ABBA video, then called me an F’N Asshat and went out the door. “It gets better little Dude. At least I hope so.”
If you do not look directly at them, the music is not horrible. It is not doom, and they may be at the wrong festival, but I guess pseudo stoner sort of works. I thought they had a good last number. I also laughed when they said, “After the set, you can buy our underwear at the merch booth.” Good comedy stuff. 75/100
“Johnny, come back in, this band has a chick in it.” Clear vocals initially reminded me some of Reverend Bizarre, but then it got way more all over the place. This one was doom, maybe a little death, and stoner in a fusion. Good low-end bass by the chick though.
It is hot in here. Maybe The Stone Eye was onto something.
Johnny peeked in, heard the guy do a metal sounding scream, came back in and is at least watching this one. My overall impression, okay, but again, underwhelming. Lyrically it is like he wants death doom but with a clear sound. It is a weird fusion thing going on here. I ultimately stuck it out for the full set, but just cannot give them the bearded nod of approval. 74/100
Okay somebody just turned up the “Heavy” button. Johnny finally smiled.
Horseburner is traditional doom. Heavier than the first three bands put together. Now it FINALLY feels like “Welcome to DOOMFEST.” Semi clean vocals, (I understood some of the words), but beautifully heavy and rhythmic sound. A crowd has gathered for Horseburner.
Even with some technical difficulties, THIS is a doom band playing doom music. Cracked into the 80’s. 83/100
Moving to the main room at Cafe 611 for the last three bands. Larger room, actual stage, better effects and air conditioning. Praise be the horned one. (Well, actually, he probably prefers it hot, so strike that praise).
Featuring the former vocalist from Lightning Born. Big girl. Big voice. Now we are experiencing the stronger bands.
Stoner and doom with a powerful vocal delivery. One damaging factor though was having a guest drummer and relatively new guitarist, so too often the numbers stumbled instead of flowing. Remember, I must grade the set in-front of me.
Still, they were a fun act and enjoyable to watch. The guitar solo on the last song of their set was the best of the day so far. Not going to rank them higher than Horseburner though because Horseburner were tighter and had a far worse sound in that other room. 81/100
Great Electric Quest Out of the gate a fuzzy stoner version of “in the flesh” by Pink Floyd is their intro, and then BAM! Right into stoner jam time. Impressive. The Beard is pleased.
Little Johnny is in the crowd looking for a mosh pit. It’s stoner music little dude. Throw some Doritos into the crowd, that might work.
The vocals are a little down for me, but the jam parts are great. As an instrumental band, they would be 90+. With lyrics well, we will see how it goes. Went well. Very energetic set and very crowd receptive. 89/100 Black Sabbitch
Now, here was one of my problems with 2022 Doomfest. This was a female Black Sabbath tribute band. I am sorry but THAT is NOT a fest headliner.
I was not a fan in Vegas, but at least there they played on the “Lounge” stage which is about where they belong. Before the pitchforks come out, this is NOT a slam against girls.
The Beard was a part of a popular Zeppelin tribute band for almost 17 years. We played some big bar crowds and even the House of Blues in Chicago once. We did play festivals, but we did not headline them. Seriously, for a night one headliner they chose a tribute act. This was weak.
Again, I am not slagging the ladies. Clearly, they had rehearsed their schtick but still.
Lacking anywhere close to the real punch of Black Sabbath, at best they were sort of fun to watch. On a scale of 1-10 I would call their Bill Ward an 8, Their Geezer Butler a 6 Their Toni Iommi a 4 and their Ozzy a 2.
Johnny on the other hand is incredibly happy and is somewhere in the crowd bouncing around like the maniac he is because they are girls playing metal and frankly Johnny likes boobs. 82/100 (and that is being generous)
Not the best first day, and the theme of Doomfest was already emerging. UNDERWHELMING.