With the fall semester just getting underway, there’s numerous shows worth seeing coming soon to Baltimore. Here’s a preview of some of the best, covering a wide breadth of genres from heavy metal to indie pop to rap.
However, before getting into the shows, something should be stated about the venues that these shows are occurring at as well as the accessibility of the venues, especially for underclassmen who may have difficulties in getting around the city.
The main five venues this article will focus on are Rams Head Live!, Baltimore Soundstage, Metro Gallery, the Ottobar and the Windup Space. Those latter three venues are all within a ten minute drive — or twenty minute walk — and the other two are easy to get to with the help of the many transit options the city offers or a $12 Uber drive.
A quarter of the way through September, there’s already an appearance by one of the most creative rap groups of the 2010s in Baltimore. Shabazz Palaces plays at the Ottobar this Saturday, Sept. 9 (with great locals like JPEGMAFIA and Bobbi Rush) as part of their new tour for their double album, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines.
Shabazz Palaces is a duo fronted by Ishmael Butler (formerly of seminal hip-hop trio Digable Planets) with support from multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire.
The project could be seen as further development of Butler’s effortless flow that broke out with his early 90’s work with the Digable Planets, now ironing over much weirder and harder hitting beats with lyricism that feels more contemporary.
On Oct. 10, often controversial MC and dance artist Azealia Banks is coming to Rams Head Live!. Known for songs like “212” and her online presence, Banks’ live performance will no doubt be as eccentric and entertaining as her music.
On Sept. 22, progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me hit the Baltimore Soundstage. As a big fan of the first half of the band’s discography, it brings me a great amount of joy to know they’re doing a 10th anniversary tour for their best album (and one of my favorite metal albums of all time) Colors.
Colors emerged at the height of the melodic death metal and metalcore craze that changed the landscape of punk, post hardcore and metal. It was about an hour of the perfect mix of clean and guttural vocals, with the breakdowns and fast-paced riffs that I look for in my metal music. Colors is probably the peak of progressive metal (besides maybe The Sound of Perseverance). You should go just to see the song “White Walls” live.
To round out September, check out together PANGEA at the Metro Gallery on Sept. 28. together PANGEA crafts catchy choruses with lush melodies that embody sunny California days.
Their newest full-length album, Bulls and Roosters, has a number of great songs (“Money On It”, “Peach Mirror” and “Gold Moon”) that further the California surf-punk sound with whimsical melodies and rhythms. together PANGEA reminds me of a more technically sound FIDLAR, or maybe what Fun. would sound like if the lead singer didn’t sound like an industry plant.
Denzel Curry and NYC punk band Show Me The Body will come to the Soundstage on Oct. 4th. Denzel Curry broke onto the scene with his viral hit “Ultimate” and is well on his way to stardom with his latest EP 13 (which features his best post “Ultimate” song, “Hate Government”).
Curry is joined by Show Me The Body who crafted one of the best punk releases of the past five years with 2015’s S M T B. The band is scuzzy, and there’s a certain rap-like style to the vocals that doesn’t drift too far into rap-rock or rap-metal.
On Oct. 10, Deerhoof comes to the Ottobar with local opener Wing Dam. Deerhoof is known for their unique brand of experimental noise pop, and they’re returning this Friday with their second album in two years, Mountain Moves.
The album’s initial singles have been danceable parties condensed — four minute tracks such as “Come Down Here and Say That” and the Jenn Wasner (of Wye Oak) featured “I Will Spite Survive,” which is grounded by a catchy chorus and 80’s arena rock-esque guitar riff.
Deerhoof are a good time contained in a 90 minute set, and for anyone looking for a show made for the crowd to move, then Deerhoof’s October show at the Ottobar is the one to see.
Some other shows to note past October include the Converge show at the Baltimore Soundstage on Dec. 11, which features Pile as an opener. I can’t speak much for Converge as I’m not the biggest metalcore fan (even though they’re one of the better bands in the genre by far), but Pile is one of Boston’s greatest offerings.
The indie rock band features the crooning of vocalist Rick Maguire as he sings over hard-hitting and sometimes meandering riffs. There’s a certain vacancy to Pile songs that still feels full if that makes any sense, like a more boombastic collection of Microphones or Mount Eerie songs.
Baroque pop band San Fermin will playing at the Ottobar on Oct. 19 as part of their fall tour promoting their sophomore album Belong. The band is known for their unique style, hence they are difficilt to classify into just one genre. They make use of an array of instruments and choral-esque harmonies. This experimentation stems from band-leader Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s background in classical composition.
That said, don’t let your distaste for Bach dissuade you from checking them out as their sound has been influenced by a variety of alt-rock groups as well.
Seminal shoegaze band Slowdive comes to Rams Head Live! on Nov. 16 in support of their first album since their reformation, Slowdive. If you’re into shoegaze, Slowdive need no introduction, as the band’s 1993 album Souvlaki is the most associated album with the genre next to Loveless. This is part of the band’s second leg for the tour and I’d buy tickets sooner rather than later if you’re interested in seeing this show, as this is the band’s first tour in sometime.
Finally on Nov. 3-4, the Ottobar is going to be home to the sixth edition of the Unregistered Nurses Festival, which serves as both a showcase of local DMV talent as well as headliners from around the world.
This year’s headliners include post-punk band Ought, Girlpool and Waxahatchee, yet the full final lineup hasn’t been revealed yet. Keep an eye out for the final lineup as this festival is always a treat.
Additionally, smaller local acts can always be found in any of the venues discussed in this article, as well other places throughout the city.