THIS IS BAT COUNTRY: my review of Maryland Deathfest XI http://www.marylanddeathfest.com/
Maryland Deathfest (aka MDF) has been something I have been hearing about for a few years now. I have been a fan of metal since the I could walk to the 8 track player and pop in Sabbath; somehow this festival passed right under my radar, however since its inception in 2002. At first it was a very underground festival hosting only the most underground and obscure acts from the dark places of the earth (Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc.) Started as a black metal festival early on, the show in recent years has included thrash, doom, stoner, southern metal acts as well. (see link for history and the band list of former performers: http://www.marylanddeathfest.com/history.html)
So finally, I was able to attend this year. Here are my thoughts on the show goers, the merch, the bands, the food and the overall the festival, and "vibe" of MDF. (I was there for both Saturday and Sunday. I am not sure I could handle the crowds for all 4 days of the full festival.)
The show goers were generally good-natured metal heads and music nerds. The battle vests http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=battle%20jacket were everywhere from the simple black metal style (very few patches,spartan black and white unlegible logos, carefully sewn onto a black plain vest) to full on late 80's style (blue jean vest completely covered in colorful patches, usually sporting a larger full back patch, often from a band the fan only sort of likes but has a brutal or just "awesome" image. thematically these patches feature: has a mythical beast (dragons, hydra, zombies, goblins, trolls, etc), a half nude woman, a man either barechested or heavily armored (holding one/two or all of the following- a gun, sword, axe or mace), a wizard/witch, decomposing/desicated corpse, gas masked figure, nuclear mushroom cloud, a Tolkien/norse religious/dungeons and dragons reference, a reclaimed peice of grim artwork with a band logo just placed onto the art (as if the band had this grim artwork made solely for themselves, etc.
The crowd was generous, friendly and fun. Most people were able to laugh, and talk to each other (they all had the same hobby/common taste) However, there were some people that were miserable dicks(there to start fights, steal, harass women, etc) These people, though greatly out numbered did tend to form glots and become a nuisance, dancing into concert goers looking to just stand and watch, headbanging into other people, pushing, splashing beer etc.) Overall, the people were great, but if you are going to attend be forewarned, have patience of be willing to fight your way through a wall of DB to see bands you like, occasionally. The promotors, I feel, over sold the show for the venue size and therefore the crowds got out of hand more than a few times, and the crowd size was daunting.Overall grade:B-
The merch was great, colorful (and not so colorful) displayes in both outdoor tents and indoor spaces were repleat with logos and shirts and patches, some of which I have not seen ever/or in over a decade. The price for an average t-shirt is $15-$25 patches (small ones) were $5 on average, with the larger patches usually selling for $20-$25. Stickers, cd's, videos all were far less than I first thought. The cd's ranged from $1(!)-$10 with only a few special editions (wooden box set $120) fetching more. Great merch. Overall grade:A
The variety of bands this year was great. List . Bands I didn't expect to be great were- Manilla Road- think early Overkill with a very aged guitarist and high pitched vocals, and Sacred Reich a band I have seen before but were great and also funny between songs, often making fun of how "fat, old and no fun they were anymore" and how "you should have seen us back when we were awesome".
Weedeater, The Melvins and Sleep were the standouts for me, with each band really finding themselves and sounding great. Each of these three bands made the weekend for me. I am sad to say but, I was dissappointed with Ishahan's set, Pentagram's sound, and the crowd for Venom. Overall grade: B
food- Barbeque, thai food, mexican. So much great food! Vegan snacks, Beer everywhere (did I mention once inside you can drink everywhere?) Overall grade: A-
Overall grade for fest: B/B- The bands were great as was the merch and food, however the sound during some of the most legendary bands, and the crowd size took away from the festival. I feel that the festival has outgrown the present venue and they should move it to a larger area, reduce ticket sales (or get a place big enough for the crowd to be more comfortable)I will note, I did not attend the secondary shows at The Baltimore Soundstage. I do feel that perhaps the second stage take over the spot they have been using and did use for the main shows this year and the promoters find a new larger venue for the main stage. It is also important to note, the show was shut down early due to volume and a city ordinance (the promoters are claiming it changed, the ordaninace, that weekend and they didn't know that they would have to stop early. Riiiiight. .I had the thrill of later meeting Venom in person and they all stated that it was a surprise to even them. They were polite and allowed us to get pictures with Cronos. I'll be attending next year...