Anything for a Weird Life

Spring Break Scene Report

I recently met with some old friends at the Peabody Heights Brewery Record Bazaar, comparing notes on our non-overlapping spring breaks, crate finds, and other matters.

Naturally, talk turned to what has been going on in the Baltimore underground.

Recently, there have been pauses for reflection, as this March marks four years since the world shut down, along with the music scene.

Horse LordsHorse Lords

Horse Lords provided an easy reminder, returning to town to play a sold-out show at the Ottobar, four years having passed since their proposed tour in support of their 2020 album, The Common Task, which was to begin at that venue, was scrapped. They have since (mostly) relocated to Germany, finding great success with their brand of Avant rock among the regular readers of The Wire. The Big Ears Music Festival was in their immediate future following their Thursday set.

One band that I caught wind of for the first time during the pandemic thanks to the pirate television station Quaran.tv, Tomato Flower, have just returned from their first leg of touring in support of the their debut album No (Ramp Local) Their tour kick-off at The Compound went off without a hitch, and touring in support of their new release continues soon.

Music MouseMusic Mouse

Music Mouse has, for me, been as hard to catch live as their (partial) namesake which inhabits the rowhomes of Baltimore. They have been playing shows around the release of a S/T cassette (Canadian Duck Tapes). I wish them well and hope to catch the Mouse soon.

Another band I caught wind of during the pandemic, again thanks to Quaran.tv, Turd Merlin, have coalesced into a powerful five piece. I caught their rocking good time of a set at Holy Frijoles this past Saturday night.

Turd MerlinTurd Merlin

If I seem focused on the newer folks on the scene, let me not forget to mention the recent performance at the Ottobar by Tramuntanas and Writ Industries (I praised another of that evening’s performer, Phantomime, in an earlier column). Both have been doing the continual work of musical artists and refining their sound, leading to new territory to refine and explore for these fellow travelers. My first musical underground experiences in Baltimore happened around members of both acts, and I am happy to see them continuing on.

If we are doing the tired old and new” bit, age ultimately being nothing but a number, who is in the middle”? Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, back to a duo, have been touring, returning to town this Thursday for a show at The Compound. I look forward to hearing and seeing what is next in the band’s ongoing evolution.

There has been some activity in the Hamilton neck of the Baltimore woods, noise shows going down with regularity at Wax Atlas, a record store when it is not a performance space. They are celebrating their 7th year this weekend at The Crown with a free event headlined by P111ar, a live act not to be missed.

If I were to have continued on in my report to my old friends, there was much more to mention, which is a great problem to have. I am glad that we are where we are in Baltimore, the creative soil cultivated and now blooming once again with shows, albums, and bands on tour.

As my old friends returned to crate digging and I returned home to compose this column, I reflected on how these movements and moments make up a thriving whole. It is my great pleasure and privilege to spend time each week telling this story as it happens. I look forward to telling you where it will go next.

Until then…

Tim Kabara

IG: @kim_tabara

Photos by Mark Wadley

IG: @markplasma

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