The MDF Experience (Part 1 of 3)

June 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

Every Memorial Day weekend for four sweat-drenched days, metalheads take over the city of Baltimore.

Every Baltimore location I had visited leading up to the festival had at least one or two (frequently many more) heavy metal fans present with their leather, band shirts and long hair.

At the National Aquarium. At Brewer’s Art restaurant. Sound Garden record store (of course). Max’s Taphouse (over 100 beers on draft, also of course). Thames Street Oyster House. Camden Yards. Poe’s gravesite. On the street, every other block. I even walked by an outdoor restaurant in the Inner Harbor that had an acoustic trio going with no percussion…doing a Crosby, Stills and Nash style version of “Run to The Hills” by Iron Maiden (and doing it well).

So “takeover” is an apt description. Everybody had to know we were in town.

Like this guy…


MDF’s 12th edition was headlined by Candlemass (my biggest reason for attending), along with Gorguts, At the Gates, Tryptikon, Agalloch, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, My Dying Bride, and many others. By the time HOM showed up on Day 4 (Sunday) of the festival, I was hoping the festival hadn’t burned itself out. But it was an experience so large for me that I’m splitting my writeup of it into 3 parts.

Here in part 1, I’ll talk about the logistics of how MDF worked while I was there. In Part 2 I’ll discuss Sunday’s live highlights and performances I took in, and in Part 3 I’ll talk about the vendors, merch, and the truckload of stuff I brought home before wrapping up with a few final thoughts.

MDF’s main event is held at a parking lot called Edison Lot at 545 N High St with an overpass running through it. With a few warehouses standing on one end of the lot, it’s like a miniature Camden Yards. And the overpass is appropriate because, well, it feels underground, if that makes any sense.

Many confused drivers overhead must have wondered, “WTF is going on down there?”


Edison Lot was split into the performers’ area and the vendors’ area. The vendors’ area was tented and consisted of a glorious bazaar of all things metal (but more on that in Part 3).

The performers’ area consisted of 2 stages, on opposite ends of the blacktop. As one band performed it’s set on the one stage, another would quietly set up on the other, leaving intervals of only a few minutes between sets. Every 30-45 minutes a gradually swelling crowd of up to a few thousand would rush from one end of the blacktop to the other, the stages like flippers on a pinball machine thwacking energetic human pinballs.

You could come and go as you pleased as long as you had your ticket and wristband (which was good because I eventually had a lug a huge shopping bag full of merch back out to my car for the 15-minute drive back to my hotel). The weather was fine too, even though it got hot at midday. HOM got enough color from the sun to match a good day at the beach.

But enough of this setting the scene and establishing what it all looked like. In part 2, I’ll get into the meat of MDF Day 4: the bands that played that day and how much ass they kicked.

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