** Every year, we travel to Baltimore, Maryland for Maryland Deathfest, easily the best run festival for underground metal to grace America. Every Memorial Day weekend, we flockto see hordes of bands, meet up with friends, buy stuff, usually in the sweltering heat against a backdrop of a highway and a storage building. It's a love-love event. But every year, there's always something that arches the eyebrows, raises curiosity, or is just flat-out awesome. Here are five (5) of my memorable moments at MDF 2016. Music-related missives are forthcoming in the August 2016 issue of Decibel.
As reported by Maryland Deathfest attendee, William Gamble. German blackened thrashers Desaster finished their set with one song to spare. Drummer Stefan Hüskens threw out his sticks to the audience, with much glee from pitmongers eager to hold a slice of MDF history. Turns out the Germans had time for one more song. Oddly enough, Hüskens didn’t have another pair of sticks. This prompted Germany’s most devilish act to plead with the audience to return the previously tossed sticks so they could close out their set. Cue “Cups and Cakes” or “Break Like the Wind”.
When in Baltimore, the chances of seeing something bizarre are high and frequent. Every MDF has a Balti-weird moment (or three). Charm City didn’t disappoint in 2016, either. While walking back to the hotel, we were passing by Strip Club Row (on Baltimore St.) and out of the blue, a woman yanked down her shirt, breasts exposed, and started yelling unintelligible things at the police officers who were tasked with monitoring Baltimore St. insanity. The officers didn’t even flinch. Or, look beyond a quick glance. Seconds after, she spotted us and yelled something in Jawa, shook her tits violently, to which we looked at one another knowing we had Balti-weird Moment One in the books.
While readying to consume a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, new Hail of Bullets singer Dave Ingram said, “I’m about to pop my cherry.” Minutes later, not a lick remained, to which Ingram said, “Cherry well popped”, with a hearty laugh. But what made the moment wasn’t Ingram’s first BBQ pulled pork sandwich ever—hence, the popping bit—but the fact that while discussing the finer points of the quaintly named Fuck Sauce, I spotted death metal cover art icon Dan Seagrave waltzing over to the portable sanitation banks. Ingram said, “THE Dan Seagrave?!” I said, “Yup, the same dude who is responsible for the cover art for Transcend the Rubicon.” Polite as a Brit sporting a tucked in shirt and vest can be at a parking lot metalfest, he said, “Excuse me one moment, please.” Ingram trotted off quickly to head Seagrave off at the pass. My teenage self would’ve never believed I had the ex-Benediction/ex-Bolt Thrower singer chasing after a death metal cover art icon.
Want a vintage Mercyful Fate t-shirt? You can get one at one of the many t-shirt vendors at MDF. Want a Hellhammer Satanic Rites demo shirt that hasn’t been produced since 1983? No problem. You too can get one, in brand-new condition no less, at MDF, often at a discount, if you buy another improbably old t-shirt from a band that hasn’t existed in two decades. Want a Bolt Thrower long-sleeve from the Warmaster tour. Too bad, can’t get those. But a Kreator Endless Pain shirt, replete with lineup photos on the back and “Total Death” scrawled across it? What size, sir? Bootleg vendors are both plentiful and funny. They proclaim they have rights to sell band merch, but ask them deeper questions and they look like they want to kill you. Unless you’re Tom G Warrior, who last year had his fellow Triptykon bandmates walking around to vendors picking up bootleg Hellhammer and Celtic Frost everything. For free! Some vendors even spotted them in, and in a mad rush, pulled down t-shirts, hid patches, and other Warrior-related merch so as to avoid awkward questions (and giving away free merch), with the potential for the man himself to show up asking for his rightful cut. This year… even more bootleggers, cult as the night is long and ready to vend with fleamarket-like fervor. Next year, I’m hoping for that Bolt Thrower long-sleeve.
Watching Craft from the upstairs lounge on TV. Hyped beyond compare, the Swedes were supposed to be the event of MDF 2016. Unfortunately, two things happened. A) They followed UK volume dealers and short-hair Satanic overlords Dragged into Sunlight. B) Frontman Mikael Nox had as much interest in being on stage as did the yawning marketing girls in the Swisher Sweets booth. He walked around the stage looking for loose change while the rest of his bandmates were, for the most part, electrified in black. Without the volume of Craft live, Nox’s toddler antics were both ridiculous and hilarious. New album title prediction, Tantrum Temper.