What a difference a week makes.
Baltimore City was on the edge of pandemonium on the afternoon of Sunday, January 28th. And I had to get down close to the epicenter for the second day of a music festival scheduled long before the collision was clear.
As I drove down to the edge of the maelstrom, planning to park and then walk 30 minutes, I encountered some of the most insane driving I have ever witnessed in a city infamous for it. A driver cut me off from my right, pausing to open their door and scream at me, berserker-rage infuriate, to then make a left turn towards where the manholes had all exploded. I’m sure that’s all going to turn out great, pal. Good luck!
Close calls aside, I parked, walked, and made it by showtime.
The good news for me was that the venue was decidedly less crowded from the prior day. I am always seeking a place to sit down, but those seats are only available at Soundstage Baltimore in a “VIP” area for an additional fee. However, there is a metal bannister about mid-venue where the sightline rises, highly coveted by show attendees. I took my spot and stood my ground, leaning shamelessly against the bannister, using it to stretch, still sore from yesterday.
I am a big advocate for arriving at shows by doors and seeing the opening bands, even if I have no idea who they are. I was rewarded once again for this habit with a set by Redeye, a band fronted by Paris from Truth Cult. A one off? A new thing? Time will tell, but a blistering start to Day Two was achieved.
That made eleven sets in two days. Even with the metal bannister to lean on, I could tell where things were heading for me. Saturday night is not Sunday afternoon. Thoughts of my “sad adult” obligations were creeping in. I made a vow: “No sleep ’till Raw Brigade.”
Why? I had seen them before and they were so amazing and energizing, their music and energy reminding me of my first encounters with Los Crudos in the early 1990s, proof of the reality of a larger punk world. By the time of the conclusion of their frenzied set, the venue was filling up, the sun was going down, and the dishes at home? Not yet done.
So, I bailed.
Therefore I cannot tell you whether Gut Instinct was as good reuniting in 2024 as they were reuniting in 1996. I cannot report back on Biohazard, the band playing the fest that every 1990s peer of mine recognized and remembered. Did they bring out Onyx to perform “Judgement Night”? I don’t know. Ask another punk.
Anyways, the big game was almost over, the most-watched in the history of the AFC Championship. Many had assured me that the home team win was a sure thing and that I would be walking back to my car amidst honking horns and jubilant folks, a memorable moment, before things got a lil’ too wild for me.
As I walked back to my car through a stony city silence, streets sparse, all quiet, Baltimore let me know the outcome of the game. For me, the only big victory I needed to savor was the one achieved for the growth of the hardcore punk scene in Baltimore. Here’s to next year’s DTP with a hearty shout-out to Flatspot Records for making this all happen!