Only turning 25 is real or how to properly celebrate your birthday

My friend Hasan turned 25 this past week, and to celebrate, he organized a show at The Sidebar Tavern. Being a complex man, Hasan wisely assembled a group of bands into a birthday show that reflected his diverse taste in music. He also served up some killer vegan chocolate cake with peanut butter icing from Sweet Dukes vegan bakery and brought in some of his home-made vegan mac-n-cheez.

I took a few photos, met up with some old friends and had a great time. I appreciated the spectrum of musical genres represented, even though they were not all my favorite styles of music. Even so, these are all bands you should check out. Here are some highlights.

Dweller in the Valley play thoughtful black metal where the drummer sings. Also, they bring a lot of bones. I dig ’em.

Dweller in the Valley
Dweller in the Valley

Hasan loves Celtic Frost. He’s even met Tom G. Warrior. But since getting Celtic Frost to play his gig was not going to happen, he got the next best (and possibly better) option of the band “Celtic Frosting”, comprised of friend Alex Martin on vocals, Garrett Underwood (formerly of Ilsa) on guitars; Logan Terkelsen (from Curse) on drums and Nolan (from D.O.C) on bass. I hope they keep doing this, if only from time to time, because this was the best “cover/tribute” band I have seen in a while.  The homage was perfect. So many “ughs” and bullet belts. Brilliant name.

Celtic Frosting
Celtic Frosting

Next was Multicult, a band I had never heard of. Hasan described them as noise similar to Unsane. Another friend thought they sounded more post-punk. They were fun, energetic, and very tight. Would love to see them out again.

For some reason after Multicult, I never took out my “good” camera and so the only photos I have are from my iPhone. However, there was a legit photographer there (the lovely and talented Brendan Foster Fieldhouse) so when he later posts pics, I might update this post with links to some of his shots.


The band called Nothing took the stage next. I have seen this band once before, upstairs at The Ottobar. What they play is described as shoegaze. It’s a bit more aggressive than that, in my opinion. If you are a fan of  this genre then you should check them out, because they are good at what they do. They didn’t do it for me live, but I will give them a listen on BandCamp and see how that goes. Shoegaze is just not my favorite genre.

Satan’s Satyrs is a band I have been wanting to see for a while. Doom punk might describe them, with maybe a little surf rock thrown in. They definitely had the doom metal guitar tone. They sounded good and were fun to watch.

Satan's Satyrs
Satan’s Satyrs

I’ve seen Ilsa a bunch of times, but never with their new guitarist Dom Romeo (A389 Records‘ fearless leader and formerly of hardcore outfit Pulling Teeth). Their doom-infused crusty hardcore was on-point, and Orion sounded angrier than ever.   A massive mosh pit erupted as soon as they struck their first chord and persisted throughout their set, almost nonstop. I don’t know why I always forget that this happens when Ilsa plays. By their climax, the crowd had been whipped into such a frenzy that the moshing entity had pretty much consumed all but the fringes of The Sidebar. At least one guy was ejected for improper technique (i.e., karate kicks).  No photos this time. Too dangerous. I wondered if the audience was going to have any energy left for the closing act.

Horrendous ripped through their set with aplomb. I have listened to this group since Hasan told me about them about a year ago, but never seen them live. They did not disappoint, despite the late hour and the thinning crowd. Horrendous plays on the melodic side of traditional death metal, if maybe a bit thrashy. It was nice to see Hasan get up and sing a few tunes with them (as he also did with Celtic Frosting).

Turning 25 can make you feel like you are an “adult,” and you have to put away “childish” things. But a birthday show like this should remind everyone that with each passing year, you ought to focus more and more on the things that matter to you. What matters to Hasan is sharing a variety of great music with his friends and also giving to worthy causes. Proceeds from this show ($400 was raised) went to support some of our most vulnerable human and animal populations: RAINN and the Maryland SPCA.

Here’s to another 25 years Hasan! (All photos by me, Mary Spiro)

Hasan joins "Celtic Frosting" on stage for his birhtday!
Hasan joins “Celtic Frosting” on stage for his birthday!

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