photo by Grace Hollaender, check out more from MDF
Much like wearing jorts to a formal wedding or, more relevantly, trying to find a goddamn Bathory baseball tee, wearing anything other than a black shirt to Maryland Deathfest is one of those things sure to garner looks of confusion from strangers and sighs of relief from friends as you're easy as hell to find in a crowd, even from across the parking lot. Perhaps most rare of all is the collared shirt wearer at MDF. This person is like the Honus Wagner of festivalgoers; except instead of being worth a fortune, she or he is typically just as poor as you and grimaces just like you every time they pay $7 for a beer, too.
It's important not to assume that The Collared are any less into metal than the dude wearing a battle jacket with the enormous Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult patch surrounded by band patches of what could only be this or perhaps last year's Nuclear War Now! Fest lineup. In fact, The Collared may very well be the next evolutionary step for the metal fan—too kvlt even for the metal fashion standby. If that's the case, the majority of us in attendance were blessed, even if briefly so, by the shooting stars that were The Collared making us the ones who looked like squares.
In the hopes of a Collared sighting, I made my way to the entrance of Ram's Head on the first night as I knew the Festival Effect would undoubtedly find the Collared quickly converted by the merch table priests and their three for $40 bargain (seriously, if you didn't get on that, you missed out). Despite the insinuation that they were total weirdos for being at a metal festival in a collared shirt and my asking if I could take their pic to document, the only person genuinely insulted turned out to be headed to the EDM event that was happening next door to the Ram's Head all weekend. I was able to catch up with just a handful of The Collared as, I expected, by Friday afternoon the masses had been turned full #metalswag with the only exception being the occasional sighting of Death Speedo dude or Hippie pimp.
David gave exactly zero fucks about his blue plaid shirt rebellion or, according to him, about seeing any other band than Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats at MDF.
Then there's Dave and Josh whose kinship in Collared-om was matched only by the fact they also shared a love for At the Gates and Uncle Acid.
TJ had apparently already been claimed an MDF confusion casualty. Despite being a Baltimore native and sporting a satchel that was surely filled with maps of various cities and festivals, TJ just shook his head and muttered "I don't know" over and over again after I asked him who he wanted to see most.
AJ from Midland, Texas, also sported blue plaid and despite looking completely harmless was, in fact, there to "see Ulcerate rip shit up." By the time Ulcerate played on Sunday night, AJ was nowhere to be seen as he'd more than likely blended into the crowd.
Then there's Reda from New Jersey. In the realm of The Collared, Reda would be considered a duke or a lord as he donned a suit or formal attire for the duration of the festival. Reda was quick to spout of bands like Unleashed, Crowbar, At the Gates, Candlemass, and Dark Angel as ones he was most excited to be in the crowd for, and as such, promptly make everyone around him uncomfortable and envious at the same time.
Scott from California made it obvious that blue plaid was obviously all the rage in Collardedom. Scott smiled for this pic and then never changed his expression for the rest of the festival. When asked what band he wanted to see most, Scott appropriately took five minutes for a slow setup while grinning and nodding before forming the words: "Any doom band, man."
By Sunday even I had reached for the darker end of the suitcase, going "full MDF" as they call it*, but I never forgot the first night of blue plaid solidarity or Reda who may or may not be a pimp or the confusion of TJ who's more than likely still wandering around Baltimore looking for the white Teitanblood t-shirt in Medium. Good luck, my dude. Good luck.