Festival season is in full swing! Last weekend I had the privilege of attending both FarmFest in Manchester, Maryland and Punx Picnix in Baltimore’s beloved Wyman Park. They were vastly different experiences, but served to build and celebrate community in similar ways.

If you missed these, but want to stay in the loop of whats coming up next, be sure to check out our schedule of Upcoming Baltimore Festivals!

Farm Fest 2012: Farmageddon

Photos by Kari Kadalec and Ashley Pawlak

Psychedelia’s not dead. Anyone who attended Farm Fest 2012: Farmageddon can attest to that.  Beginning at 1 pm this past Saturday, July 7th, the festival featured a full day and night of rock music that ranged from swayable to danceable to moshable, as well as dancers and flame throwing performers. Food and drinks were provided by local vendors such as sponsorers Flying Dog Brewery (who was giving out beer for free by the end of the night), as were unique crafts and clothing for those who forgot their hemp and tie-dye at home. Hundreds of people partook in the festivities, which were all held on a family farm in Manchester, MD.

Despite the hundred-plus temperature of the earlier parts of the day, the farm was covered in tents and blankets by mid-afternoon. Whether one chose to chill by these temporary digs, check out the bands and vendors, or both, the huge farm literally and figuratively seemed to offer space for everyone.

The lineup, curated by performers and festival founders The Flying Eyes, spoke to that notion with its varied yet cohesive collection. The psych-blues sound of the curators themselves paired well with other heavy psych-rock bands like White Hill, The Pilgrim, and Max Pain and the Groovies. Things got heavier with stoner metal band Serpent Throne, but spacier sounds were also featured, courtesy of local favorites Celebration and, earlier, Bad Liquor Pond and sitarist Ryan McBride. Festival headliners Black Moth Super Rainbow both stood apart from the rest of the acts and glued them together with their blend of cerebral melodies, visceral synth noise, danceable techno, and jammy rock ‘n’ roll. A light show by Save vs Poison Productions, fire spinning by Pyrophilia, and seduction by Rude Girls Burlesque complimented the acts, and while the stage was free, DJ Nick Hope ensured that things never got too quiet.

All day and all night, Farm Fest was chock full of good natured fun. By striking up a friendly conversation with a nearby tent, friends could be made, but those who wanted to keep to their groups could do so in peace. The extreme heat of the festival’s early hours was redeemed by the cool temperature and beautiful sunset that followed, and it’s safe to say that most went home happy.

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 Punx Picnic 2012

Photos by Chelsea Harman

Baltimore has a thriving punk scene, whose interest in doing-it-yourself matches that of many of the artists we often feature.  This past weekend, this aesthetic and mindset was displayed in a wonder that was the Baltimore Punx Picnic.

Punx Picnics, hosted by punks for punks, are held annually all across the country. This year, Baltimore’s was a weekend-long affair that was preceded by a show at the Ottobar (a “pre-fest” show). The picnic itself began with a gathering in Wyman Dell Park, across from the Baltimore Museum of Art near the Remington area. The temperature was through-the-roof-degrees, Fahrenheit, but that didn’t prevent a group of all ages from gathering to watch some punk bands, sit around, eat, drink, and even play kickball (especially impressive if one considers the number of all-black outfits donned). Local bands Burning Axe, Crimes, and Mandriods created an afternoon ruckus with their abrasive yet movable sounds, providing a perfect soundtrack to the wholly casual affair. “This was the first year we had bands playing in the Dell,” said a coordinator who chooses to remain nameless. “It was brief, but a great way to kick off the picnic.”

Saturday was what this coordinator called “the best day” of the weekend. “It was packed with 9 bands, 100 ft. slip n’ slide, a moon bounce, the Heavy Metal Hotdog Cart providing vegan hotdogs and Baltimore Free Farm providing not so vegan bacon cheeseburgers.” He explained that the great atmosphere was mostly due to the super-avid interest of those who showed up. “People don’t really come for one band. It’s more the atmosphere, the people and the multitude of bands.”

Sunday, Punx Picnic was meant to host a block party. Due to an unfortunate last minute license revocation, however, the show was moved to the more conventional basement of the Ottobar. “[The Ottobar] were a great help on Sunday after [our] permit got pulled for the block party.” Despite the forced change of plans, the local Endless Bummer and Providence, Rhode Island’s Idiot Vehicle started the night off strong. Moonshine followed with a much-anticipated reunion show, and Black Rose, a local Thin Lizzy cover band (who, rumor has it, was made up of members of celebrated local punk/metal Heaviness of the Load), dirtied up some classic rock tunes as the night came to a close.

It’s said that these picnics have been hosted across America since at least the early nineties. Each year, Baltimore’s has expanded. Last year, for instance, the event was just two days long. When asked how bands are chosen to perform, the Baltimorite in question explained that local bands often ask, touring bands are often added to the bill, and people will ask their friends to head in and perform. “We also are working towards a exchange band thing were a different city will send us a couple bands and we send a couple to them,” which sounds like a win-win for everyone involved.  If Baltimore punk rock’s your thing, be sure to get in on next year’s Punx Picnic.