(Live Review) MARYLAND DOOMFEST - Day 2, June 24/22

Review by Mark McQueen


For Day #2, the plan was to just stay planted in Café 611 where the main acts were playing. I did lose Little Johnny early in the day. I think he was with those Black Sabbitch ladies, so I am flying solo, initially at least.


ATOMIC MOTEL Decent opener. Kind of Earthride-meets-a-heavy-Smashing Pumpkins. Unique sort of prog/alt/stoner/doom. I am giving a higher-than-normal opener grade.

79/100

COMA HOLE

Female lead. Basic stoner doom. Solid voice, but not noticeably big. Often the music played over her, rather than her singing over the music. Decent backing sound, but not spectacular. Doom, but a little too gruff vocally and a bit all-over-the-road musically. Perhaps, I just did not get what they were doing, but I can only grade on how I felt, and this band needed tightening. 74/100

STRANGE HIGHWAYS

With that band name, they sound like they should be a Doors cover band. They ARE kind of a funkified stoner jam band. Not doomy. Lots of percussion. Weird vocals, but different, and they keep to a hopping beat.

Ultimately if you jam out stoner riffs, you are generally going to get my approval, and yes, the jams won me over. I never felt the urge to yell “Needs more Cowbell.” 80/100


DEE CALHOUN

Fourth up was supposed to be Ole Time Moonshine. But they had Visa issues. Standing in, was an acoustic set from Dee Calhoun.

Dee was the former lead singer for both Iron Man and Spiral Grave, so he has got a pedigree. For a quick sub-in that is a good catch. Screaming Dee threw out a nice set of clean powerful vocals and strong acoustic songs. 80/100 (for pure vocal talent with just acoustic guitar accompaniment)

Johnny just showed up, looked at Dee with his acoustic guitar and biker beard, then looked at me and asked, “Did this become a biker coffee shop and poetry slam?” “Little respect dude. That biker has been doom almost as long as you have been alive.”

MYTHOSPHEE

Oooh. The guy from Pale Divine and the guy from Beelzefuzz. This is going to be okay. Rock on. During previous years, both bands have scored 90+ for Doomfest sets. So, this being some kind of doom supergroup. I am hopeful.


The voice makes me long for Beelzefuzz who in 2019 cut the set of the festival. The uniqueness of that voice resonates with me. This, however, is LESS than that fullness. I miss the original Beelzefuzz bass player and his funky giant hat.

Now, I will concede the merged style of that vocal with the Pale Divine sound does work. That is some nice doom, but it is a case of the two parts not living up to the whole of either original. Johnny walked by with another IPA, looked at the stage, then me and gave a nod of acceptance. Johnny has not ever seen Beelzefuzz or Pale Divine though, which means to someone new this was probably better to their ears than mine.

“Uh Johnny….is that a Black Sabbitch t-shirt? Of course it is. Why is it a small? Wait a minute….SON-OF-A-BITCH!!!


As it later turned out, the Beard was talking to the bass player in Mythosphere who graciously accepted my compliment of a nice set and responded with, "That was our first live set together as this new band.” Okay then, little higher grade. 85/100

SHADOW WITCH

The very unique and irrepressible singer of Shadow Witch remains the robe-wearing barefoot-stage-hopping odd Wizard that I have come to know over many viewings. It’s like Gandalf started a doom metal band. Seriously check out the videos.


This current incarnation is less Soundgarden like the earlier versions of Shadow Witch, and now doomier, at least in the opening few numbers. We will see where this goes.


As usual he is barefoot and hopping around on that disgusting stage. How does he never get tetanus? He does truly seem to have discovered a mad preacher persona and speaks “The Word” between songs. Think “When I was back in seminary Sschool…” ala Jim Morrison in his Lizard King incarnation. Very engaging…almost hypnotic.


Uh oh…. I see Johnny nodding along. Wait… Johnny? Where are your shoes?


Oh boy. Johnny - he’s not a REAL preacher. Put your wallet back in your pocket!

Shadow Witch always entertains, but I need to watch Johnny now. 88/100

ORODRUIN Ultra clean vocals. Heavy slab of doom. The Beard is buying their CD.

Talented musicians. Professional timing. This set I feel something. These guys are finally taking the Beard on the journey. Johnny…THIS IS DOOM!!!

This is the leading set for today. Just watch that bass player. 91/100

COVEN

72 years old and although she uses low lighting, gloves, and shadow to hide within, she still has that voice, and her act IS a show. THIS is a headliner.


Jinx is Lilith, full of rebellion and attitude as she led us through a heavy dose of Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls tracks from that 1968 seminal occult rock release. Newer tracks like “Black Swan” were less known, but still well received.

Jinx is older yes, but still imposing. The voice is less majestic after 54 years, but she is still the Black Queen for as long as she chooses to keep going. Even Johnny gave her space after she came out of that coffin.


Not the set she gave us a few years ago in Chicago when she whipped a Jesus nailed to a cross on the stage, but still solid, and when she says evil sounding things, you kind of believe she believes them.


Offstage, she is somewhat short and perfunctory. No pictures, but she may quickly sign something if you bought one of the pricier items. The Beard did indeed and got an autographed poster for the collection. 87/100


This wraps it up for Doomfest Day/Night #2. A better day than night one, and at least there was a headliner, but still…this is NOT the 2017-19 version of this festival.