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Metal meets punk at the first Shadow Frost Music and Arts Festival in Frederick

Members of the Baltimore-based metal band Alms will perform in the Shadow Frost Music and Arts Festival coming up on February 21 and 22 in Frederick, Md.

Some of the city, state and country’s top metal, punk, industrial and other hard rock acts descend on Frederick, Maryland on Friday and Saturday for a brand new gathering: the Shadow Frost Music and Arts Festival. For those about to rock, or at least considering rocking, we salute you and have some answers to your most hellfire-burning questions:

What is Shadow Frost?

Shadow Frost Music and Arts Festival is a two-day gathering, featuring concerts and a vendors’ marketplace, out in the Western Maryland city of Frederick. The festival focuses on metal, industrial, punk and other forms of heavy rock and electronic music.

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Wait, you said it’s the first year, but haven’t I heard of this festival before?

Sort of. Shadow Frost was created by Mary Spiro, who promotes metal and other heavy rock music shows in Baltimore (at venues like The Ottobar, Rituals and Metro Gallery), Washington D.C. and the surrounding regions through Shadow Woods Productions. Under this banner, she also produces the Shadow Woods Metal Fest, an annual camping festival in the woods of Harford County. She’s pretty well-known among heavy music fans and musicians in the area.

“Mary cares a whole lot about the local scene and local bands, and she’s always been really great to us,” said Jess Kamen, singer and keyboardist of Baltimore-area band Alms.

Jess Kamen, keyboard player of the Baltimore-based metal band Alms rehearses for the Shadow Frost Music and Arts Festival.
Jess Kamen, keyboard player of the Baltimore-based metal band Alms rehearses for the Shadow Frost Music and Arts Festival. (Kenneth K. Lam)

So Maryland has an active heavy music scene?

Absolutely. Events like Maryland Deathfest, which has taken place in Baltimore for nearly two decades, put Baltimore on the map as an extreme music (a catch-all term for different aesthetically severe subgenres of rock, like death metal and hardcore punk) destination. D.C. boasted its own influential hardcore scene throughout the ’80s and ’90s, owing to bands like Fugazi and Government Issue, that spilled over into Baltimore. Frederick also hosts the Maryland Doomfest, a multi-day series focusing on the molasses-like slow subgenre of doom metal, every spring; the 2020 festival takes place in June.

“There’s a little Bermuda triangle of music: Frederick seems to be the hub for the Maryland doom scene...and I think that’s maybe because some of those folks are from western Maryland or northern Virginia, so they have kind of that old head feel,” Spiro said. “Washington D.C., I’ve gone to some shows down there and I don’t recognize a single person...so it has its own thing going on, and definitely with the punk influence that’s been there for decades. And Baltimore’s weird and experimental, all kinds of stuff going on.”

These scenes spill out into other genres like industrial, a more electronics-based genre, that also share the stage at Shadow Frost.

With all those shows, why do Shadow Frost?

Not everybody likes camping, and partying in the woods before driving home can be unsafe.

“Some people just don’t like the outdoor environment, so I decided [to] try this in a location where people can just park their car once, have a great time and party,” Spiro said. “There’s a pool, and it’s all indoors. The performance space is in the ballroom, and that’s connected to the hotel...I tried to find something that could create the same community vibe that we have during the camping fest.”

Wait, a pool?

And yoga on Saturday morning.

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What else besides the music?

For one, a huge gallery of vendors that runs through both festival days. Offerings range from Pizza Party Printing, which screen prints horror movie-themed shirts, to Frederick Candle Company, a local candle distributor. Ceramicist Kaity Gmitter, known for making what Spiro called “anatomically accurate” bone sculptures, will also be on hand.

Right, but who’s actually playing this festival?

20 bands perform at Shadow Frost, ranging from nationally renowned acts to underground favorites. That includes local acts like Darsombra, a Baltimore band specializing in drone-esque dirges like the 41-minute-long “Transmission.”

Another local act, the aforementioned Alms, plays a more upbeat and hook-driven form of metal that calls early Black Sabbath records to mind.

One of the best-known acts to play the festival is Deceased, a thrash/death metal band from Arlington, Virginia with several decades in the game.

The remaining bands come from all corners of the country, except for one: Canadian ambient doom act Völur. While set times are still in flux, you can find a full lineup for each day at shadowwoodsproductions.com.

When and where does it take place?

Shadow Frost rocks the Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center in Frederick from Friday, Feb. 21 to Saturday, Feb. 22. Friday’s program lasts between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m., while Saturday’s goes from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. the next morning.

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How much are tickets?

$89 for the whole weekend, $30 for Friday and $60 for Saturday. But if you don’t want to see the bands, you can enter the vendor gallery for free. Tickets are available online via Eventbrite.

How do I get to Frederick from Baltimore?

Head west along I-70, which starts in Leakin Park and links up with I-695 in Woodlawn. You can also connect with I-70 if you head west along Rts. 40 and 144. I-70 brings you straight to Frederick; you can jump off at exit 54 and head south along MD-335 for about two miles before reaching the Clarion Inn.

Can I bring my kids?

Shadow Frost is all-ages, although tickets for those under 17 will only be sold at the door to those with ticket-buying parents or guardians around. Children under five can attend for free with their adult family.

What else can I do in Frederick?

Whether shrouded in distortion or not, Frederick is an adorable town with plenty to do. For food, consider dining scene mainstay Volt (228 N. Market St.), just a short ride north into the center of town. For beer fans, consider any of the region’s fantastic breweries, from major distributor Flying Dog’s flagship (4607 Wedgewood Blvd.) to smaller ones like Olde Mother Brewing Co. (also a Maryland Doomfest venue, 526 N. Market St.).

But there’s nothing more metal than war and early medicine. Visit the National Museum of Civil War Medicine (48 E. Market St.) and learn about how this dark chapter of our nation’s history led to medical innovations we enjoy today. Admission is $7-$9.50 for adults and free for children aged nine and under.

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