Baltimore recording engineer Mike Franklin thinks that Baltimore is essentially one big family that just hasn’t met yet. He hopes his festival, Ratscape, a celebration of underground local music which he organized with his friend Josh Schleupner, could be one way for all those talented “family” members to get to know one another.
Held July 19-21 at The Hour Haus studios at the corner of North Ave. and Howard St., Ratscape is only on its second year — festival infancy by Baltimore standards. Ratscape occurs the same weekend as the city’s infamous Artscape, which is billed at the America’s largest free arts festival. And while folks at Artscape will be jamming to the sounds of more well known national performers, Ratscape festival goers can listen to music from more than a dozen different and obscure subgenres, representing just a just a tiny slice of the artistic depth of the region. For $5 per day, Ratscape features 47 bands. In keeping with the DIY spirit of the day, the event is also BYOB. So other than the extra cash you’ll want to bring for band merch and one of those exclusive Ratscape t-shirts, Ratscape is a musical bargain.
I spoke with Mike and Josh the other night about their philosophy behind the fest, who is playing, and what to expect. So pop on some headphones and click play on the link below. Set times for the bands for each day are listed below. Watch this space in the coming days for links to music samples from every group performing.
RATSCAPE 2013 running order and set times
2pm – 2:30pm———- Eze Jackson
2:45 – 3:15pm———- Something Complex
3:30 – 4:00pm———- Seaglass
4:15 – 4:45pm———- Expert Alterations
5:00 – 5:30pm———- Matrimonials
5:45 – 6:15———- Choke Motel
6:30 – 7pm ———-Hot God
7:15 – 7:45pm———-Nice Guys
8:00 – 8:30 ———-Pleasant livers
8:45 – 9:15 ———-USSA Pleasuredome
9:30 – 10:00pm———- Special People
10:15 – 10:45pm ———-Shining Mirrors
11:00 – 11:30pm ———-Raindeer
11:45 – 12:15am ———-Arboretum
12:30 – 1:00am ———-Flying Eyes
1:15 – 1:45am ———-Sterling Sisters
Saturday, July 20th
2pm – 2:30pm———- Dead Whale Ramblers
2:45 – 3:15pm———- Blood Horses
3:30 – 4pm ———-Et Al
4:15 – 4:45pm ———-Voodoo Pharmacology
5:00 – 5:30pm ———-Gutterhooks
5:45 – 6:15pm———- Foghound
6:30 – 7pm ———-Lazlo Lee
7:15 – 7:45pm———- Bobby E. Lee & The Sympathizers
8:00 – 8:30pm ———-Wet Brain
8:45 – 9:15pm ———-Hollywood
9:30 – 10:00pm ———-Ravagers
10:15 – 10:45rpm ———-Advlts
11:00 – 11:30 ———-Christopher Nobody & The Nothing
11:45 – 12:15———- Slow Jerks
12:30 – 1:00am ———-Hard Dads
1:15am – 1:45am ———-Baklavaa
Sunday, July 21st
2:pm – 2:30pm ———-Neverthought
2:45 – 3:15pm———- Last of the Vallorians
3:30 – 4:00pm———- Disorder
4:15 – 4:45pm———- Pallid
5:00 – 5:30pm ———-Phantom Lanterns
5:45 – 6:15pm———- Mountainwolf
6:30 – 7:00pm———-Big Mouth
7:15 – 7:45pm ———-Nude Massacre
8:00 – 8:30pm———- Urine
8:45 – 9:15pm ———-Sexgender
9:30 – 10:00pm ———-Barbelith
10:15 – 10:45pm ———-Melungeon
11:00 – 11:30pm ———-Cemetery Piss
11:45 – 12:15pm ———-Rukut
12:30 – 1:00pm———- Noisem
Old Lines is Mitch Roemer, Jake Berry, Matt Taylor and Pat Martin. Pat and Matt thoughtfully answered my standard MDF questions.
What will be the official lineup for Maryland Deathfest?
Pat: I’m not sure, we haven’t really discussed doing any special merch for the fest yet. We have beer koozies, that not a normal piece of merch, or maybe it is now, but whatever, haha. Gotta keep those beers chilly!
Coke Bust describe themselves as a straightedge hardcore punk band. And being from the Washington, DC area I would say they have some big shoes to fill in that arena, the nation’s capital being the birthplace of such iconic punks bands as Fugazi, Government Issue and Minor Threat. They seem to be doing pretty well though. And, no they don’t always play in basements.
Since 2006, when they put out their first demo, the group has released a little something –a cassette, a 7 inch split, an EP–every single year. They play consistently and are ready to go to Europe to play the Obscene Extreme Fest in the Czech Republic this summer.
Coke Bust is Nicktape (vocals), James (guitar), Jubert ( bass) and Chris (drums). They play the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Sunday afternoon, May 27.
Founded in the mid 80s, Hellbastard set out from the beginning to merge the lyrical, integrity of 70s era punk with the balls-to-the-wall aggression of non-industry-approved heavy metal. Their earliest demo, Ripper Crust, possesses that deliciously fuzzy heavy metal guitar distortion, the frenetic drumming, some occasional feedback, and that forgivably low-fidelity audio production. The vocals, unlike black metal or “traditional” punk, are much more clear and shouted in your face. They are pissed off, and they want you to know why.
Later albums, such as the unbelievably Slayer-esque EP They Brought Death, reveal the fact that someone has thrown more cash into production, but the punk and metal spirits never wane. Hellbastard stay true to their prime directive: to rock you into submission. One source even described their sound as Crass’s political lyrics plus Slayer’s music, and I would say that’s spot on. Unlike a typical punk tune, which might be over and done with in about a minute, Hellbastard take their time with each song, enjoying the riff, building the rage, and letting the listeners experience full-on, head banging catharsis.
The current members of Hellbastard include founder Malcolm “Scruff” Lewty (Vocals/Guitars) with Tom McCombe (Guitars), Paul O’Shea (Bass), and Josh “Buda” Harris (Drums). The group’s history is bi-modal with one active era from about 1985 to about 1992 and then another from 2008 until now. Interest in Hellbastard was sustained in the interim by their inclusion on numerous complications representing the crust and grindcore genres.
Hellbastard has produced a 12″ vinyl split with American crust band Dresden and are slated to have a new EP, Sons of Bitches, out sometime by the end of 2012 or early 2013. The song, “Arcadia,” below, appears on both. Hellbastard plays the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on Saturday afternoon, May 26. I’ll be up front, weeping and apologizing.
Staying true to all that is crusty and brutal, this British band that started off in the mid 1980s, has barely changed their sound in 28 years. If you liked the nihilistic songs from their first recording, Welcome to the Orgy, you won’t be disappointed by what they have to offer on the their later recordings. They enjoyed underground success until they broke up in 1991.
During the interim, interest in Deviated Instinct was maintained when songs appeared on compilations and also through guitarist Rob Middleton’s short-lived industrial Spine Wrench project. Reuniting in 2007, the current line-up includes original members Leggo (vocals), Rob “Mid” Middleton (guitar/vocals), and Snapa (bass guitar), as well as drummer Tony who started playing sometime in the 90s.
Deviated Instinct plays Saturday afternoon, May 26, at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest. In June, they release a 12″ vinyl EP, Liberty Crawls to the Santuary of Slaves. Hopefully they will have some on hand for sale. The newest songs might be a little darker and doomier than the fast tempo songs they have played in the past. I have included a live set video from 2011 that includes one of the songs from the new EP, “Blunt Instrument.”
Remember punk rock? Bloody Phoenix does. This grindcore, punk, ensemble hails from Los Angeles, California. They have been churning out screaming chunks of punk-flavored goodness since the fall of 2001. Their songs are long enough to get the mosh pit going but short enough to make sure no one gets killed.
Bloody Phoenix might be the band The Ramones would have become, had they taken the left hand path. There is no denying the punk rock roots in a song such as “Marching Into A Bottomless Well,” but the eerie vibe and death growl vocals reveal the true motivations here. Some reviewers describe this band as thrash core. That’s an interesting term. They just seem like balls-out punk rock to me. In researching this article, I really liked the 20-track album Death to Everyone from 2010.
Members include Jerry Flores (guitars), Michael Karubin (drums), Vito Tagliente (bass), and Molly Scarpine (vocals). Saira Huff from Question/RØSENKØPF/x-Detestation will be contributing guest vocals.
In an email, Flores said much of their setlist will come from Death to Everyone.
“Songs will vary… Mostly from our Death To Everyone LP as well as our split 7″ with Question and some new songs made for a 4-way split LP that will be coming out later this year. Possibly a couple of older songs sprinkled here and there,” Flores wrote.
As for the merch available from the band during the festival, Flores said to expect the usual. “Shirts, CDs, some vinyl, and possibly some pint glasses,” he said. Wait a minute… PINT GLASSES? WANT!!
So prepare for a raucous start to a long, long list of bands crushing through Saturday at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest. Get there by noon, as Bloody Phoenix takes the stage first.
Presently on tour with The Melvins, Unsane is credited as being one of the pioneers of noise rock, infusing elements of punk, hardcore and even rock-a-billy and blues into their songs. The unrelenting backbeat, in your face vocals, and often times twangy and distorted guitar riffs will set them apart from most acts at MDF X. No corpse paint and spiked gauntlets here.
Unsane swaggers through each song with impressive violence and grace. Their sound has barely changed over time. They have maintained their brutal punkish roots for nearly 25 years, unbowed to the trends in music around them. This is a good thing. They are like a rough roll in the hay* with a familiar lover, you know exactly what to expect, but you won’t be bored and you’ll leave thoroughly satisfied.
*that is, fuck 🙂
Here’s something brand new from Unsane….
And something from their first self-title recording….