It is Thursday night and I’m slowly recovering from the weekend. Having a couple snow days off of work has helped. Having a couple snow days hit AFTER the bash instead of during is even better. I don’t even know where to start. This was hands down the best show I’ve seen let alone been a part of in my entire life. I realize this doesn’t apply to everyone but for me it was just the perfect mix of legends and contemporaries that I wanted to see play together.
Thursday’s pre-show at the Sidebar kicked things off with a bang. AMPALLANG INFECTION challenged the audience with their brand of electo-grindcore and the ETERNAL SLEEP got people moving. PHARAOH droned everyone into a coma and then OCCULTIST snapped them out of it. But icing on the cake was getting to see RINGWORM play for 200 people in a 100 capacity venue where everyone was stoked and/or drunk. Perfect set / perfect night.
Friday saw the ‘Systems Overload’ lineup of INTEGRITY meet for the first time in my living room which was a total nerd moment for me. (Yes, I had them sign my OG systems on clear) and I got to see them run through a few songs in Tony Hare’s practice space before I had to go handle some stuff at the warehouse. I’ll never forget Konopka asking ‘well…whos gonna say MICHA?’ and them just kicking into the song. (of course it was Duffy who said it haha) Just perfect.
Got to the BALTIIMORE SOUNDSTAGE and was happy to find everyone there was really cool and accommodating. JARHEAD FERTILIZER and SEX PRISONER played first to a few hundred excited people. Both bands rip hard and I was excited to see them get a good response. I tried to have a few words with Dave Bland but didn’t feel like fighting through the mob of chicks and hanger-ons that constantly surround him. IRON REAGAN came next and Tony Foresta had some good jokes while the band tore through songs from the LP and split with EXHUMED plus a CANNIBAL CORPSE cover. FULL OF HELL came next and leveled the place with their power-electonics infused brand of hardcore/grind/metal. Band is ahead of it’s time and I’m glad to see people getting it.
IN COLD BLOOD was next and this was one of the sets I was most excited for as I haven’t seen them in about 15 years. They did not disappoint, as soon as they broke into BOWEL’s ‘Construction Boot Stomp’ it was on. I haven’t had that much fun in a long time. HAYMAKER was next and they upped the ante with Beckman performing on the floor. Tons of fireworks and violence that makes HAYMAKER performances so great. Maybe people will finally stop talking about the guy who ate pizza during their set in 2011. INFEST topped the night off perfectly. Denunzio is the most intense/scariest frontman of all time hands down and the band delivered a perfect set after traveling all day from California.
Ran some more errands Saturday morning arriving at the SIDEBAR TAVERN just in time to see SOKUSHINBUTSU about to play to a sold out room. I loved EDDIE BROCK but their new band destroys. Can’t wait to hear more stuff. Chicago’s SICK/TIRED were next and they blasted through a frantic set which was followed by a brutal riff-barrage provided by LIKE RATS. ILSA closed the afternoon with a crushing set featuring old, current and new songs from their new LP they are recording this spring.
Grabbed LAND OF KUSH for what felt like the hundredth time that weekend and headed back to BALTIMORE SOUNDSTAGE for the main event. As with the night before I was happy to see EMPIRE OF RATS and HOMEWRECKER play to large crowds and get great responses. Still tried to have a word with Dave Bland but his entourage of chicks and hanger-ons seemed to multiply since then. PICK YOUR SIDE played next and sounded better than I’ve ever seen them before. Beckman is an animal. POWER TRIP played next and really got the room moving. Love that band.
NOISEM played next and blew minds, lots of thrashing/shredding/hair whipping going on..and new songs too! WEEKEND NACHOS delivered one of my favorite sets of the weekend next. So many Skellingtons and a dude even got his pony-tail cut off before stagediving to the soundtrack of one of the meanest sounding bands to play all weekend. The moment many were anticipating came next:
BLOODLET took the stage after more than a decade of inactivity. It was like they never stopped playing. It was absolutely perfect, even when Scott had to shake the previous dude’s ponytail hair out of the mic. The show could have ended there and everyone would have been happy. BUT there was more! ALL OUT WAR played next and brought the energy level up playing songs from their early LPs. Such a great set, which led to the final set of the night: INTEGRITY. I cant even begin to describe the feeling everyone got from watching the set. They played perfectly picking songs from the first 7” all the way to ‘Seasons In The Size Of Days’ and at one point invited Rob Orr onstage for a 3-guitar attack which I believe was the first time ‘Armenian Persecution’ was played live in it’s entirety.
And then it was over. Four shows full of perfect sets and no fights/disruptions. We all packed up and went our separate ways and I’ve been left to reflect on the weekend ever since. Asides from seeing my favorite current and past bands perform there was something really Disney-like about seeing people who haven’t been friends in 10-20 years hanging out and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. Plus I got to watch all the sets with different friends I’ve met over years of touring or just previous editions of the show. The ‘usual suspects’ vibe of the bash, every year just feels like a big family reunion and that’s what I like best of all.
(This is Tomas, he drove Pulling Teeth in Europe in 2008, havent seen him since…until this weekend!!!)
I’ve always been proud of A389’s accomplishments whether it’s the bands we work with, records we release or shows we put on. For a dude like me who finds a band here-or-there I like on current festivals it made me really happy to create a world within a world that caters to exactly what I want to hear/see…and that so many people share/enjoy the same vision. So first and foremost thanks to all of YOU for being part of the ride.
Also the show could not have run so perfectly if Mitch (whom if you’ve seen any OLD LINES fliers may know that was in Pulling Teeth/Ruiner) didn’t handle the gear and stage manager duties. Baron, Michelle, Jenn and Jay making sure the merch areas were operational. Sunny, SteFAN Sonic, Frank for filming,. Sisk, Kate and Redcheeks for shooting. Emma, Brooke and Dan The Cannibal making sure we had shirts, zines, stickers and other goods ready for the fest…and Brian Paska, Lucas Lee and the Phillips family for lending a hand when needed and going above and beyond.
Also big thanks to our friends that either set up a table or put an ad in our zine (20 Buck Spin, Black Mess, Celebrated Summer, Crime Scene, Deep Six, Easy Rider, Grave Mistake, Halo Of Flies, Hell’s Headbangers, Imprint, Last Anthem, Magic Bullet, Nuclear Blast, Pirates Press, Pizza Party, Relapse, Reptilian RSR, Scion AV, Sidebar, Stereokiller, Tank Crimes, To Live A Lie and Unholy Anarchy) I cannot say it enough, support these people and their endeavors.
So yeah. Ten years strong and still going. Lots of releases planned for 2014 and beyond. Thanks again to all of you for all your support, maybe someday we’ll all be celebrating 20. Maybe not though…10 is gonna be a hard one to top. We’ll have to wait and see.
PS: 15% off all week at A389 when you enter the discount code: HAPPYBIRTHDAYA389
PPS: LAND OF KUSH.
Catch photos/videos here: