Scrolling through my events calendar and thinking about some of the great shows that I attended this year in Baltimore and nearby areas, it turns out that 2013 was extremely busy. Here, I present the top 12 concerts for the year, or roughly one show per month.
1 - Corrections House with Black Clouds at Metro Gallery, January 25: Industrial meets doom meets experimental meets spoken word. I didn't know what to expect from Corrections House but I got more than I bargained for with this unusual collaboration between Scott Kelly of Neurosis, Mike IX Williams of EYEHATEGOD, Bruce Lamont of Yakuza and Sanford Parker of everywhere.
2 - Enslaved with Pallbearer, Ancient VVisdom and Royal Thunder at The Ottobar, January 31: I have waited a long time to see my all time favorite band, Enslaved, and they did not disappoint with their diverse set list and "Immigrant Song" cover. Pallbearer were so heavy it made me feel like my organs were dissolving. I guess that meant they did their job
3, 4 - Gojira, Devin Townsend, The Atlas Moth at Rams Head Live on February 7 and then again at the Palladium in Worcester, Mass on February 15: That's right, I saw Gojira twice on this tour. Gojira is another band I have waited a long time to see. Openers DT and TAM were fun and amazing too, but once Gojira took the stage, you might as well forget everything you just witnessed. Intense and inspired performance from start to finish.
5 - Pilgrim, Iron Man, Witch Hazel at The Depot (York, Pa.), March 6: Pilgrim played two shows in the area, this one and then one on March 3 at The Sidebar. I went to both. I preferred the one at The Depot because the venue was a little bigger and the crowd more collegial and laid back. I shared a pizza and drinks with Pilgrim. That's a memory.
6 - Lich King with Possessor, Sacrificial Blood at Sergio's Place, March 30: Lich King is a fun thrash band with many tongue-in-cheek lyrics. They play a song called "Black Metal Sucks." You should go see them.
7 - Absu with Ilsa and Triac at The Wind Up Space, April 8: Last time I tried to see Absu it was at Maryland Deathfest in a hot crowed room. I was at the back and could not see anything. This time I was up front of the stage to see all of the groups antics, and afterward, got to chat with the band. Absu's vocalist/drummer Proscriptor McGovern is a show all by himself. If you can see them up close, do it.
8 - Dendritic Arbor, Dweller in the Valley, Wrought Iron and Xeukatre at Dishaus (a private DIY house), June 30: I don't go to a lot of house shows but the line-up here drew me in. Dendritic Arbor and Dweller in the Valley both play angry, slightly disturbing and somewhat experimental blackened grind. If you are willing to brave the cigarette smoke and cram yourself into a room slightly larger than a closet to watch some really cool underground bands, by all means check out Baltimore's many house show venues.
9 - Ghost B.C. and Skeletonwitch at Rams Head Live, July 29: Everyone I know knows that I don't really like Ghost B.C., but in all seriousness this was a super fun show. First, it seemed to be a weird one-off kind of tour stop with just two, oddly paired band. That allowed each band to have a nice long set and for the whole thing to be over pretty early. Second, Skeletonwitch delivers so much energy with their blacked thrash it more than makes up for the overblown hype that is Ghost. Still, watching the crowd sing along in Latin with Papa Emeritus was more than amusing.
10 - Esoteric, Saturnalia Temple, Velnias and Oak at Metro Gallery, October 4: I had actually seen the first three bands on this bill at Stella Natura, a camping festival in California's Tahoe National Forest in September. Seeing them inside a warm building with modern plumbing facilities was a delight. Esoteric's brand of death metal is mind bending. That's the only way I can describe it.
11 - Watain with In Solitude and Tribulation at Baltimore Soundstage, November 3: Three strong performances from three superlative Swedish metal groups. Watching Watain live is like going to a dark religious ceremony, but in a good way. And both Tribulation and In Solitude put their own unique spins on the death/black metal genre, the former with a psychedelic blend and the latter with a more bluesy feel.
12 - Iron Man's performance at the Rise Above Records 25th Anniversary show, December 28 in London, England: OK, I know this is not a local show, but it was by far the best way to close out the year. It was completely worth the plane ticket price to see my husband, Jason Waldmann, drum for this legendary Maryland doom metal band at their UK debut. Hopefully there will be many more overseas travels in our future.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!