Even if you're a newcomer to the city, the odds are pretty good you've heard something about the music scene here. A few years ago, it was a bit more defined as to what exactly that thing might be: Beach House, Dan Deacon, Wham City, club music. Of course, all of these are still the large-font names in Baltimore, but the city's musical culture hasn't stopped growing-quite the opposite-and, by now stuff like Fan Death Records, Roomrunner, Dope Body, Phoebe Jean, and Lower Dens may have erupted on your cultural radar. Perhaps Baltimore's role as an incubator for some of the brightest avant-garde jazz minds in the country will finally get some recognition out in the world. Well, the fun is just now beginning for you the listener, because everything that you might already know about and dig is a signpost to the city's vast and often underground musical culture. It doesn't matter if your taste is country or hardcore, rap or ambient-hopefully, it's some combination-you will never be bored.
It gets easy to forget that most locales don't have it nearly as good as we do. You just have to look down the road to Washington D.C., which may attract more high-dollar touring artists, but doesn't have nearly the local music culture as its working-class neighbor to the north. Credit in some part the steady influx of music-making newcomers to Baltimore and excellent music programs at the Peabody Institute and Towson University, but also a landscape built to support DIY culture. Largely this means a cheaper cost of living than many places, making it not just easier to live-shudder to think what kind of living situation you could get in Brooklyn, NY for $250 a month-but easier/less expensive to put on shows, if that means a rock club, dance venue, or warehouse flat. It all comes together nicely into a highly productive and rarely dull culture.
Every week, City Paper tries to give you the best overview possible of what's going on in Baltimore musically, but let's start with a primer.