I Just Want To Be Charmed: The Best Shows I Saw In Baltimore In 2013
by Jesse Morgan
While I remain an inveterate list maker and cataloger, I found myself winding down on my show-going in 2013. Whether it was more due to a desire of wanting to play than observe, or just preferring the company of a beautiful lady and cute dog at home, or, HELL, just not wanting to go out, I found myself attending less shows in 2013 than I had at any time since I was 16.
It's shitty, because the city's music scene is at its most vibrant today. There's a million places to go and play, there seem to be innumerable zersons supporting the various scenes, everything's still relatively inexpensive, and there's still tons of crossover.
Anyway, here's some cool stuff I saw, or did, or want to pretend I made it through before going home to watch Archer on Netflix.
1/20/13 - A389 Aftershow, Charm City Art Space
Every year, Dom throws a severe fest in January in celebration of his label, A389 Recordings. This year was mental, because the almighty Left For Dead was reuniting for a one-off show at the Ottobar. Well, holiday cash woes always prevent me from attending A389 Fest, but this year, someone got the bright idea to throw a Sunday matinee at CCAS with Left For Dead, Iron Reagan, God's America and Eddie Brock. And it was a total thrashgasm. Circle pitting, stage diving, angry Canadians… this show had it all.
6/1/13 - South Carey, Erik Petersen, Advlts., Pure Junk, Night Moves, Charm City Art Space
My band broke up this summer. We went out with a bang, playing with friends at a space we had all helped run at one point or another. All our friends came out. It was a great time.
7/29/13 - Sonny Vincent, Hard Dads, Sick Thoughts, Metro Gallery
I had just gotten back from San Diego from work, and felt beat to shit. But I had skipped Sonny Vincent once before, and I really didn't want to miss him again. And I'd really been digging these weird basement tracks this kid Drew had been making; he was playing his second show ever. It was worth the lost sleep and the bleary eyes the next days. Sick Thoughts played for about 25 minutes and made the kind of racket that makes you want to break plate glass windows. Hard Dads put on one of the best sets I've seen them play in the past year. And Sonny, anchored by Baltimore boy Matt Gabs, played ALL the hits. A fine night of scumbag rock that reminded me of Davis Street.
9/13/13 - The Cro-Mags, Charm City Art Space
This was just a weird night. This show was initially supposed to be at the Ottobar with Eyehategod. Then EHG's drummer died. Then someone made a call to John Joseph and said, "You should still play Baltimore, and do it at the Art Space." So they did. And it was pretty damned great. There were a lot of old heads bringing their kids out to the show, and a lot of hipsters coming out for a hard mosh. Great, positive crowd; great, raging jams.
9/14/13 - Hampdenfest 013, The Avenue
My 36th birthday. A day of street drunkeness and surly behavior. It remains the best day of the year for me; I get to see a fuckton of rad bands for free. Plus, Benn talked Chester Stacey into a singular reunion. I'd buy that for a dollar.
10/19/13 - U+NFest 2 daytime show, Wind Up Space
I'd like to see more in the way of weekend matinees in Baltimore, especially in spaces like the Wind Up Space. This show was about as good an example as comes along; two touring bands (in the form of NYC's In School and Richmond's Lost Tribe) and three locals (D.O.C., Cult Control and War On Women) for dirt cheap ($5). Dana Murphy deserves a ton of credit for booking a lot of great, progressive music here in Baltimore; this is but one example of her superior work in 2013.
10/26/13 - Cross My Heart, J. Robbins, Metro Gallery
I heard rumor of a possible XMH reunion back in the spring, but chalked it up to an ether binge I went on around that time. Yet here it was, October, and one of my favorite bands ever (Baltimore or otherwise) was getting back together for a local show. AND J. Robbins, he of Jawbox, Burning Airlines, et al, was opening! FUCK! SWOON! It was a great show. J., along with Brooks from War On Women, did a killer 50 minute set, comprised of the best of about 20 years worth of music. XMH didn't disappoint either. Every song was a sing-a-long. Chris Camden & Evan Tanner reminded everyone why they are the local standard for rhythm sections. S. Dwayne was a wild man, pulling off sick Simonon-eque stage moves. And Shelkett sounded better than he did 15 years ago. A great night all around.
10/28/13 - Sick Sick Birds, Like Bats, Blackwolf Beach, Charm City Art Space
A couple nights later, I got to watch another longtime hero, Mike Hall, play with his long running band, Sick Sick Birds. I feel like SSB is a band that never really gets their due; they write fantastic pop punk songs that put to shame anything Green Day ever wrote. I was also real lucky to catch the opener, Blackwolf Beach. They've been playing out over the past year, and have a real Measure [SA] thing going in their tunes. I definitely approve of this Jersey-flavored quartet; expect to hear more from them in 2014
10/29/13 - Old Lines, Dopecopper, Ottobar
Hey, kids, it's a good ol' fashioned free crust show at the Ottobar! Throw on your studs and spikes, put yer dog on a rope leash and get ready to bang your fucking head. This stands out because I spent every free moment the five days before the show dubbing tapes for Old Lines ("If You See Something, Say Something", available at Celebrated Summer and from the band!). So I had a good dose of sleep depravation going on. Dopecopper were pretty intense; I'll have to start going to more shows at Barclay House to check them out. And, as I mentioned in this space last year, Old Lines are just incredible. One of our best heavy exports.
12/17/13 - Coward Shoe make-up show, Ottobar
I "sang" four Dio songs that me and three pals learned in two practices. It was stupid and fun and stressful and drunken and please let's never do it again. Adam Lempel & the Heartbeats doing Devo was fucking sublime. Adam Savage does a convincing Glenn Danzig. I couldn't tell if the Uplift Mofos shave or are naturally hairless. It was another good example how music in Baltimore covers both the ridiculous and the sublime.
Jess Morgan sang for South Carey & the Silver Mountain Boys (just the one time). He lives in New Northwood. He plans on ripping off the New Flesh for his new band.