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Highlights from Ratscape 2013 day 1

The first day of Ratscape is in the books. I was only able to stay for four bands, but what I did catch was an impressive and diverse array of some of the unique talent Baltimore has to offer. Truth be told I should have just stayed there the whole night and not left for another less satisfying show. But hindsight is 20/20.

Choke Motel offered up a rocking instrumental set featuring Ratscape organizer Mike Franklin on drums. I would like to hear more from them. I think they are named for the Motel 6(66) across the street from The Hour Haus, but there is nothing sinister or creepy about their sound.

Then came Nice Guys from Boston (although apparently originally they started out in Baltimore). Nice Guys use a lot of familiar punk riffs but then put their own spin on them with original songs. Something about this band really activated a part of my punk brain that has been dormant for sometime. Really good.

The next band, Pleasant Livers, had a slightly delayed start but still played four “songs” (I think). How can one describe them? Two asynchronous drummers, guitar, bass, saxophone and vocalist Fred Collins running rampant on stage. He birthed himself from a children’s play tunnel and few times and had improper relations with an EasyBake Oven. Highly entertaining.

The last band I caught was USSA Pleasuredome. Instrumental and lush, this band now has a drummer (and not a drum machine) for live performances. They presented some powerful soundscapes and killer riffs.

I am sure the remainder of the evening went well and look forward to the rest of the weekend. All photos by Mary Spiro.


Ratscape: an interview with the founders

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.

Josh Schleupner and Mike Franklin, founders of Baltimore's Ratscape Festival. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

Josh Schleupner and Mike Franklin, founders of Baltimore’s Ratscape Festival. (Photo by Mary Spiro)

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

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