This past weekend I had the pleasure of checking out the second installment of the Maryland Doom Fest, which took place Friday-Sunday, June 24-26, at Cafe 611 in Frederick, Md. Before this fest, my knowledge of Frederick pretty much began and ended with the Ken Burns Civil War documentary, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find an incredibly charming town with delicious restaurants, cute shops and amazingly friendly people who made us feel welcome wherever we went. Seriously, my friend and I walked into this fest knowing one other person, and left feeling like we'd made a hundred friends.
This post isn't meant to be an exhaustive run-down of the fest. The Obelisk covered all three nights completely here, here and here. You should also check out some killer photos of day three from Rock and Roll Socialite.
My main objective for the weekend was to have fun, hear some great doom and take a few pictures. I think I achieved that. There were also times when we got to the club too late or left the club too early to see certain bands, and by Sunday evening I could barely hold my head up, so if I didn't include a band, it's not an indication of whether or not they were good. I liked everything I saw. See more photos on Flickr.
Night one was like diving into the deep end of doom. There were a couple of bands that were ultra familiar (The Obsessed, who closed out the evening, Ruby the Hatchet, Castle and Raleigh's Demon Eye), and a whole lot that I'd never heard of. My favorite band of the evening was probably Pale Divine, who I somehow managed not to photograph. It was great seeing Demon Eye outside of Raleigh. Because they're local, I probably take them for granted. Seeing them rule the room and feed off the crowd's incredible energy gave me a new appreciation for them.
When Chicago's Spillage hit the stage, they announced that their singer was a guy they'd picked up, hung out with once and thrown on-stage. As it turns out, that was pretty much true! My understanding, from speaking with guitarist Tony Spillman afterward, was that they had been working with new singer Elvin Rodriguez, and had sent him the music so he could learn the songs, but that they hadn't actually met him until the day before. You would never have known it by watching them. Rodriguez had a powerful delivery and seemed a natural fit for the band.
On Saturday, there was also a heavy show at Guido's, a bar across the street from Cafe 611 that became a bit of a chill out spot for us (we also managed to eat tater tots for dinner there three nights in a row). Having two great shows so close together on the same night was both good and bad: I liked having more options, but hated making choices. Guido's was packed for Beelzefuzz, who went up against War Injun over at Cafe 611. I managed to catch good portions of both sets. Hollow Leg, from Jacksonville, Fla., also put on a killer set.
The evening was Bang's to rule, though, and rule they did. This was my first time seeing them, and even though multiple people had told me how good their live set is, I was still blown away.
Our friend Steve cautioned us not to miss Mangog, who started the day off right with steamrolling traditional doom, and frontman Myke Wells' powerful vocals. Afterward I headed back to the hotel to collect my companion, and unfortunately missed Flummox, who apparently put on the ragingest set of the fest, and distinguished themselves by wearing costumes onstage. Steve sent me the following text, and we headed back right away, but got to the club just as they were leaving the stage.
My highlight of the day -- and possibly the entire festival -- was Wilmington's Toke, who pummeled the crowd with caustic Cape Fear sludge. I've seen these guys a couple of times (notably in January at School Kids), and each time they ruled the room. Bang's set is the only other one that might have been better for me. I've been listening to Toke's self-titled release since it came out last year, and I'm looking forward to hearing the new album that they're about to record.
The rest of Sunday was really a blur for me. Foghound and Karma to Burn were highlights, but I was pretty much wiped out by the time Mos Generator took the stage. Still, I'm already looking forward to going back to Frederick next year with a plan to pace myself and seeing what the third installment of the Doom Fest has to offer.
On Friday, I had the opportunity to catch Cough at their album release show at Hardywood Park Brewery in Richmond. It's been six years since they released a full album, and quite a few years since I last saw them live. I've been playing their latest, Still They Pray, pretty much non-stop, and I gave it a good review over on Metal Bandcamp.
I also got some video of one of my favorite songs on the album, "Haunter of the Dark." Hoping they'll tour and make it back down to Raleigh soon.