Maryland Death Fest has become the premiere festival for extreme music in the United States. And there is a reason: it’s fucking fun.
|with Danny of Malignancy|
There is an air of lunacy, frivolity, and fraternity at MDF. Even the security (whom I’m sure others have stories of being too brutal) were friendly to the many crowd surfers, cradling them like babies and guiding them back to the crowd while spraying them with refreshing water. It was hot as blazes in Baltimore, but the fest was as cool as ever.
One of the biggest highlights for me was finally, FINALLY getting to see Haemorrhage. I’ve been pen pals with Luisma for near as long as I’ve been in a band. Impaled has done a split CD with them. We’ve hung out in Madrid while Impaled was on tour, but never played together. We cancelled a festival appearance in 2003 in Europe when our guitar player quit that they were also playing. They cancelled an appearance at MDF years later that we were playing. But finally, I got to be right up front and head-bang with these Spanish maniaxe.
Some other highlights included Infernal Stronghold, The Devil’s Blood, Cough, and Bethlehem. Of course, I saw much more than that and loved a ton of it. The organizers Evan and Ryan do an excellent job of picking bands and putting on a varied show in terms of metal and punk music, but homogenous in terms of high quality. Then to have so many friends gathered in one place year after year enjoying music together; that’s the real highlight.
After two days off of enjoying MDF, it was time to move on. We were joining up again with Occultist in Richmond, VA at Strange Matter for a Monday show. Our van’s AC must be top notch, because we didn’t notice the heat until it punched us in the face upon arrival. This was going to be a long day.
The show had something like 10 or 11 bands, many finding their way back on tour after MDF. I lost count on account of my heat fever. We enjoyed a lot of punk like Marrow, doomers Cough, grinders in Nashgul, the excellent blackness of Dragged Into Sunlight, and our buddies in Occultist. If you ever wanted to enjoy the benefits of a sauna while listening to good tunes, Strange Matter was the place to be. Even some of our friends in GWAR came out to join in the fun, albeit in their human disguises like some kind of Transformers: Pretenders.
Earlier, though, I had set up shop in the prep kitchen in an attempt to fix my amp by replacing the internal fuse. I was sweating like a pig as I prayed this was all I’d have to do to get my monster breathing again.
It turned out to be hard work. The internal fuse needed to be soldered in. Guess what kind of metal doesn’t like to stick to solder? Yup, the metal on a fuse. Fuck my life, it took forever with what I had to finally get a couple blobs to stick to either side of the fuse and then bond that to the leads. I was ever so proud of myself.
It was all for naught. My amp made a tiny buzzing noise and then that was it. It never lit up, it never did anything. There was something else wrong with it. I am so SAD!!!!! The repair seems to be beyond my meager skills and this makeshift workbench. Fuuuuuudge. No more V4B on this tour.
We played a very rough set, but plowed through in the 115° club. When we finished, I poured water all over myself and laid down on the concrete outside. One of our friends in GWAR walked by and called us pussies. I do love those guys so.
The next day we headed to a local Richmond stage shop, Backstage LLC. I still needed a speaker for my cabinet and Guitar Center and Sam Ash chain stores are garbage holes that don’t carry things like… speakers. What the fuck? Backstage came through with the speaker in stock, a 15″ Eminence Delta.
Backstage also had an OEM antenna replacement for Sean’s Sennheiser ew 172 G3 wireless unit. Sean had misplaced one of the antennae and them shits didn’t work anymore. He’d been wired for the last two shows. Sennheiser suggested a work around via their Twitter account with a scanner antenna from Radio Shat that had the necessary BNC Male connector (thanks, guys!). Instead, we lucked out and got the real replacement part.
Raleigh was next on the tour with a show at King’s. I got to set up my next workbench to replace the blown-out speaker in my cab.
Classy. The speaker had originally been soldered to the input leads, but I attached some blade-style female connectors to the leads for easy, solder-less connection. The speakers are two 8Ω attached in parallel, meaning each speaker terminal has a direct connection to the jack. Wired this way, it makes for a 4Ω total load, pretty standard for bass cabs. In series, the signal would go through each speaker to the next, and this would make for a 16Ω load, not something much desired for the power you want pushing a bass speaker. Is there mnemonic? I’m gonna make one up now: the Ohms fell in parallel, and in series… do the opposite. Shit. That turdy mnemonic needs some polishing.
The show in Raleigh was somewhat unfortunate in that our show was booked opposite another with our new friends in Cough and Dragged Into the Sunlight. This would go on for the next three fucking days. That sucks! If only we’d known or a promoter had checked, maybe we could have done some combining. Ah well… they were so close, people could walk to both shows if they wanted. We still had a fun show in Raleigh with a good local grind band, Priapus, opening. It was followed by two-piece power violence upstarts Backslider, then Occultist, then us. These two guys in the club didn’t like our set much, though.
All the bands from both shows were invited to the house of the Primitive Ways folks, the promoters of this event. It was bit of a cluster with a big party of folks, three vans at the end of a dead-end street, some neighborhood domestic violence, and then an impromptu bluegrass crusty train-hoppin’ band jam.
Our show in Atlanta had been a little fucked. The venue we were supposed to play had been shut down and the show got moved to a basement. This was going to be some ol’ school punk-off, something we haven’t done in awhile. Our show had grown quite a bit in terms of extraneous theatrics; would we pull it off?
Mangled started the evening nicely with some medical-style grind and death. Next up was Hot Graves from Florida, who excelled at grind with a good amount of humor. Occultist nailed it, as always. Next up was us, and it was insane. People rushing at us, hanging from the beams, being covered in blood… mad, I tell you, MAD! A cop helmet went flying and undid the hastily taped together extension cord that was powering everything, and greatest American hero Scott Bryan saved the day… by plugging us back in. After a furious set, Dino called last song as he was about to pass out from the heat.
We ended up all staying at the palatial new abode of the guitar player from Mangled. It was like a McMansion that was a victim of the housing bubble, with three or four bathrooms, tons of bedrooms, a huge kitchen island, and a closet with a cage door on it for the gimp. When he told us what he paid, moving to Atlanta seemed like a good idea. Except for all those other reasons to not move to Atlanta. We stayed the night, and the next morning Occultist, Hot Graves, and us all met at a Waffle House to enjoy the finer things in life… together.
Mobile, Alabama cancelled our show just a week or two prior to the show date. Hot Graves was taking care of these two last shows on our tour with Occultist, and they’d managed to secure us a venue inside a vegan restaurant in Pensacola called Sluggo’s. With time and everything else against this show would it be a success?
Sorry, this is no M. Night Shyalamabanana twist story; the show was pretty lame. I hate to complain, but we were asked to not to do blood or anything messy. There goes half our fun. I believe there were 15 paying customers. They were 15 of the coolest mother fuckers ever, don’t get me wrong. They even moshed as much as one could in the back lounge of a hippy restaurant. Alas, the anemia of the evening was felt across the board.
We still had fun with Hot Graves and Occultist. It was time to bid them adieu as we were driving all night to Austin for the first of our two dates at Chaos in Tejas. Occultist were great, and I’m sure they’ll be kicking ass on longer tours and making some excellent releases. In the meantime, poor vocalist Kerry needs to find some better razors for tour.
Onward through the night we went towards Tejas. Sometime in the middle of the day after passing through Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana, Jim pulled over to a rest-stop for a quick piss. We headed into this “Texas Welcome Center.” What the fuck. It was some kind of massive community outreach thing going on. They were giving away pizza, sodas, cupcakes… there were about eight old timey cowboys showing off real guns (and real bullets, I think)… there was a guy with a live owl perched on him… cops giving talks about drugs… a dude who let me hold a young alligator… all this free shit made me realize Texas wasn’t as afraid of socialism as I thought. I used to have a problem with Texas’ corporate welfare, dominance of religion over science, and corrupt gerrymandering politics, but I think a free slice of pizza and a cupcake has really made me change my mind.
We arrived at the Mohawk in Austin, Texas, approximately five minutes before doors opened. We loaded in, and a band was playing 10 minutes later. We were on in an hour, and we hadn’t even parked the car yet. It was fast and furious. I think that translated into our set. After a rousing jam by Mauser, we crammed onto stage and did our full show for the early evening audience to much warm reception. A quick load out followed and then finding parking in a horribly disorganized and overwhelming downtown Austin. And then… we got drunk. Very drunk. It was awesome. Our buds in Municipal Waste capping off the evening made it even more awesome, along with seeing a grip of old friends from Texas and elsewhere.
The bulk of our group convened at the hotel, drunken a little by booze, but more so by weariness. A late night discussion evolved into a three-way yelling match. About what? Good question. We are still scratching our heads, trying to figure out what we were fighting about. Sometimes these things happen. And sometimes I storm out of a hotel room with all my shit into the hot Austin evening and call my friend Kim Rae pissed off and taxi to her apartment and stay up all night drinking champagne and talking shit with her and her fiancee and then crashing out on her futon. Sometimes. 14 or so hours later, I woke up, much more refreshed and relaxed than I had been in days.
It’s not always rosy on the road. Later that day: “I think we were too drunk and tired to discuss anything.” “Yeah, I don’t even know what that was about.” “Sorry.” “Yeah, sorry.” And that’s how childish musicians can act like grown ups once in awhile when they’ve been friends this long.
Doktor Ross Sewage