Maryland Deathfest. The first U.S. fest that brought doom, thrash, black metal and other heavy generas together for a Memorial Day weekend filled with beer and metal. Since its inception in 2003 it has expanded to other places like Quebec and the Netherlands, but Maryland was the first. Many consider this the kickoff to summer, an excuse to hang with friends, and see some underground bands that they otherwise might not get a chance to see. It has become a tradition for many and is considered a hot, sweaty good time.
I’ve attended a few of these and I have always been well aware at what a sausage fest it is. Some might say that metal in general is male dominated, but after becoming aware of so many amazing female musicians in the underground world, I am no longer giving MDF a pass. Yes, there have been a few women in the past that have played the fest (Coven, Gruesome, Fuck the Facts, ect) but a “few” isn’t good enough and when I saw the lineup for this year, it was almost embarrassing. I went through the lineups for every band playing this weekend that I could find and came up with TWO women. Out of 70 plus bands, there are TWO women gracing the stages. The first is punk band Asylum that features singer Kasey Simcoe. They play Friday at 2:30pm. The second is Texas grindcore band Vault Dweller who feature vocalist Emma Lyle. They are playing on Sunday at 1:30 in the afternoon. This is the number of women for the ENTIRE WEEKEND. Not just front women, but this also includes all musicians. What the actual fuck.
The MDF organizers won’t pay any attention to what I or anyone else has to say about this. They can’t use the excuse that there aren’t any good women in bands. Underground punk and metal is flowing with talented women/trans drummers, bass players, vocalist and guitarists. Take a listen to legendary bands like Derketa, Acrostichon and Nuclear Death - all who are active. Take a listen to more recent artist like Lingua Ignota, Nervosa, Venom Prison or Cauldron Burial. I could write pages worth or bands that feature female/Trans members that deserve to get exposure.
As excited as most people are to see the Tormentor reunion or get their quarterly fulfillment of Immolation, they need to stop and look at what is really going on. Great bands and great musicians are being ignored. It is no surprise that festivals like Roadburn or Psycho Las Vegas are doing way better with ticket sales and hype. They have a better-rounded blend of heavy artist. If you are going to spend vacation days, money on hotels, tickets, and food - this is seriously the most outdated and sad excuse for a fest. At one point in time it was “cool” but now it is really just a pathetic excuse for dudes to show off their battle vests and drink overpriced beer. I’ll spend my money else ware and I know I am not the only one these days that feels the same. Women like heavy music too. Oh yeah - WE ALSO PLAY IT!