MARC My Words: Baltimore’s Local Music at a Glance
by Sullivan Haine
D.C.’S DIY dive bars and music cafes not doing it for you? Hop on a MARC train and spend an evening in Baltimore. A city with a gritty history in industry where sit blocks of abandoned houses being auctioned off by banks who foreclosed on them, Baltimore’s arts scene is flourishing and diversifying, according to an article by the Baltimore Magazine.
Station North is the neighborhood around Penn Station, where the commuter trains between Baltimore and D.C. let out. Joe Squared is a local bar and music venue only a short walk from the station, in the Station North.
Last Friday, I made the trip to my hometown to see four bands play the basement bar at Joe Squared and had a blast.
The setting was intimate. Members of all four bands were intermingling with guests, manning their merch tables, or just hanging out and drinking a beer while the other groups were playing.
Steph Knipe originally started Adult Mom as a solo project in their dorm room in 2012. Now, Knipe tours with their friends, some of whom also play in other bands.
On April 5, Adult Mom is releasing a limited-edition EP of covers, available only on a physical CD.
Knipe is still mixing and making music in their bedroom. They put the five acoustic songs together on their phone, Knipe said.
“Streaming is very accessible, and money stuff is annoying,” said Knipe about the limited-edition cover EP. “So, I feel like it’s like a good in between.”
Knipe said they are “stoked as fuck” to be touring with Bad Moves, who put out one of their favorite records of last year. The two bands, Adult Mom and Bad Moves, have been on the road for a weekend President’s Day Tour.
Bad Moves, a band hailing from D.C. did not take the MARC train to get to Baltimore, as singer and guitarist Katie Park told me before the show.
The group joked with the crowd about head colds and climate change.
“Y’all are literally cheering for sinus infections and global warming,” one of them called out over the crowd before jumping into another song.
Their set for the night included songs from their recent debut EP, “Tell No One,” released in 2018 on Don Giovanni Records. They played “Cool Generator” and “Out of Reach.”
Besides Adult Mom and Bad Moves, two local bands from Baltimore opened — Dreambush and Spooled Up.
Dreambush consists of Shanti Flagg, Moran Spaner and Emily Wagner. They have been playing together for three or four years, according to Spaner. Flagg learned drums playing with the band, and Wanger and Spaner met on the Internet.
Spaner said she had been in a band three years ago with a “shitty dude,” and they had opened for Adult Mom then.
“To be able to play on this bill is really cool, ‘cause we could fucking do it without some like shitty dude,” said Spaner.
Dreambush’s bandcamp describes their group as “magical Jewish and Indian lesbians with an agynda [sic],” and as such the three women played a kick-ass set without any men.
“It’s like pretty important to us to play shows that are like more multi-racial,” said Spaner.
And as mentioned above, some members of the band are people of color. Spaner noted the importance of people like Flagg and non-white concert-goers feel comfortable at gigs and events.
“It’s like hard, but it’s something that we’re pretty dedicated to,” Spaner continued. “The more people do it, the more fun shows would be.”
In terms of upcoming projects, Dreambush will be going to New York to record a new album in July. Though they’re going to a professional to get their album mixed up north, Wagner mixed their previous releases, Pamela and Butch Magic.
Spaner said that they plan to do a tour later in the year. I for one will be watching for the dates and hope you will too.