Tuesday, May 15, 2012

M3 Fest (Day 2) - May 12, 2012 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

Wait, what happened? I went to M3 Fest, a big hair band festival, because S. was going. It was actually pretty fun. I didn't really know any of the bands well, and some not at all. The two bands that I wanted to see most were the ones that were least - perhaps not at all - hair band-like: Loudness and Queensryche. It might have been more fun if I knew the bands better, but I would also have gotten more hot and tired from jumping around if that were the case. For a relaxed day off when I didn't want to do much, it was a good choice.

When we got there, L.A. Guns were on. They were all right; they didn't especially stand out in my mind. After they finished we commenced a constant running back and forth between the main stage and the second stage, since the bands went on one right after the other, even overlapping sometimes. Bang Tango, on the second stage, was a little more energetic, loud and heavy enough to get me bobbing my head. Then it was back to the main stage for Dokken. The songs sounded decent but the singer was not into it at all. After that, Loudness was great - loud, fast and heavy. I didn't know any of the songs but they were heavy enough that I took my hair down to headbang. Warrant, back on the main stage, sounded really good too. In sharp contrast to Dokken, the singer was very into it, delivering the lyrics emphatically and waving the mic stand around. He wasn't the original singer of the band, though, as apparently that guy is no longer with us. During their set, S's pal T. kept telling me to sing along, but I didn't know the words. S. did manage to teach me the chorus to "Heaven." Last band I heard before having to leave to do work was Lynch Mob who were also pretty good. I can't remember if it was their singer who jumped down into the crowd or if that was Bang Tango. 

After I left, I later heard a bit of Queensryche and Skid Row while making copies at a place across the street. thought to myself, dangit they must be having so much fun. Indeed they were - when I picked up S and T later, S was completely hoarse from singing along to Skid Row.

Next concert - Sabaton and A Sound of Thunder!!! 5/21/12

S. wrote a more detailed review and setlists.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Behemoth, Watain, The Devil's Blood, In Solitude, Evoken - 5/5/12 at Ram's Head Live, Baltimore, MD

Actually, we missed Evoken, In Solitude, and The Devil's Blood entirely, due to travel time, slow service at a restaurant and the need for corpse paint.

Our excuse for arriving late. From left, K., S. and I in corpse paint.

We got there just as a band was leaving the stage, which we figured was The Devil's Blood. I wasn't too disappointed, because I'm not that into the whole resurgence of 70's-esque slow and gloomy metal, of which they are an example. I might have changed my mind about them after seeing them live (just a glimpse of Ghost at Tuska Festival improved my opinion of that band immensely) but oh well.

As the next band set up, we guessed from the array of candles that it was Watain, setting up for their Satanic ritual. (As far as I know, they could have sold all our souls to Satan and we have no idea..) Their set had a great atmosphere - the candles and minimal lighting creating a spooky feeling that enhanced the music. They were not very heavy, but had a bewitching sound - sad melodies or melancholy riffs over pummeling bass and drums, alternating with slow and dark segments, the vocalist conducting it all with his growled incantations. I was not sure if there would be moshing, since it was black metal, but there was. "Total Funeral" was a crowd favorite - it starts with rocking riffs that got everyone jumping, and then a huge pit appeared. They ended with "Waters of Ain," a masterpiece of black metal - you could just about feel the cold dripping of evil.

Behemoth also evoked the ultimate evil but in a different way - whereas Watain was dark and gloomy, Behemoth was powerful and dominating. They lived up to my expectations - that they would be amazing. As with Watain, lighting and staging added to the effect. They began with lights directly behind them, which was painful if you were at an angle but pretty dramatic. They didn't move much - only switching between center, left and right positions a few times - but seemed to tower over audience like some sort of evil statues. Nergal looked even more sinister with short hair, and the other guys looked a bit like Klingons. Their sound was my favorite kind - the thunderous kind that shakes the building. It was like some sort dark god rising roaring out of hell..except that for Behemoth that god is probably humanity itself.

The crowd was energetic, and the pit was pretty crazy. At some point (perhaps during "Conquer All"?) a huge wave of moshers knocked down the people in front of us and pushed us back to the back corner of the floor. A guy in a wheel chair was spotted in the pit and crowdsurfing. I suspect it was the same guy we saw at Arch Enemy (I talked to him afterward but didn't get a chance to ask about that show).

Nergal, recovered from the brink of death, seemed to be doing fine. Some vocals appeared to be recorded but that may have been for effects - the lower, more ominous vocals. S thought the set was a litte short though. Neither band talked very much, they just played their songs with a few dramatic proclamations here and there.

Overall it was a great show, recommended for anyone who's into the darker side of metal, or into heavy music.

Next concert: Sabaton, 5/20 or 5/21