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September 17, 2008

Ian Astbury trashes Baltimore

ian astburyIs it humanly possible for Ian Astbury to keep his mouth shut?

The Cult's lead singer loves to rant between songs, and last week's show at the 9:30 Club was no exception. The group passed through Baltimore on their way to the gig, and Astbury said Charm City looked bombed out.*

According to one concert-goer, this is what he said: 

"Is [Baltimore] even in the U.S.? Geez. It looks like Sarajevo."

The Middle East was also on Astbury's mind. At one point, he tossed a bunch of tambourines into the crowd and said:

"These are made by the Taliban," another fan recalls.

Tickets to see the hard rock band cost about $40, and the show lasted about roughly 90 minutes. 

OK, Astbury, you took your shots at Baltimore.

Now it's our turn ...

(Stock photo) 

You think we look like Sarajevo? Yeah, well, at least we don't jump on every trend in rock and try to imitate it.

We remember a festival gig in the early '90s when you were wearing flannel and talking about how hot Nirvana and Pearl Jam were and trying to make your music as grungy as possible.

Just a couple years earlier, you were rocking out in a leather jacket and jeans a la Guns N' Roses. Pick a sound/look and stick with it. And quit running your mouth.**

*Yes, some parts of Baltimore look bombed out. But I'll bet you didn't drive through those parts. 

**I was only being half-serious there. I actually kind of like how ridiculous some of your remarks are.

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:10 PM | | Comments (42)
Categories: Local music


Ian Astbury and Chris Singh should do a duet.

I can't even muster the energy to give half a crap about what this washed-up never-has-been says about Bmore.

Ian, just concentrate on getting your next meal and racing blindingly toward irrelevance and your next trip to the meth clinic. Right now, "Fire Woman" is playing in the background while Cletus beats his wife and drives his IROC-Z simulaneously, heading to the bowling alley for a little tenpin and "Big Buck Hunter". The Cult is likely best known for being the soundtrack to the conception of hunchbacked scrapyard workers and mouthbreathing laundromat attendants everywhere.

Astbury, no one cares what you think, possibly because no one knows who you are, but more than likely, it's because you are a poseur burnout.


Their still around?

Lash out at your anonymity, Ian...lash out...

Sam, did you get my email?

Sue, I did not. Send it again! My address is

Ian Astbury looks like he still has axl rose as a a role model. does he take his shrink on tour too? who is chris singh?

"At one point, he tossed a bunch of tambourines into the crowd..."
That's original, T. Rex was doing that in 1972*. At less Marc Bolan knew how to endear himself to his fans. Would Astbury's fans keep his records in print after he died?

To paraphrase comedian Dennis Wolfberg's quote,
Some people are born with charisma, he was born with the antidote.

* Check out Ringo's movie on T. Rex, "Born To Boogie".

you guys and the reporter are hilarious and have no clue about The Cult. First of all, I am sure Mr. Astbury was trying to make Washington fans cheer because of a Baltimore/Washington rivalry. (by the way I have never been to Baltimore, but people tell me the waterfront is great, but at the same time they were scared walking certain neighbourhoods)
Second, Ian loves to say things to the crowd which may or may not make sense just to get you thinking and to make uneducated music reporters/media people write things.
Third, Ian Astbury was around way before GnR or the grunge music scene. Forth, The Cult and Ian Astbury are amazing in that their albums are all different, yet they all sound like THE CULT! Not many bands can claim that. And finally Ian wears what he wants, when he wants and is not a slave to society.
Thanks. P.S. And Yes I do have a Tambourine that Ian threw from years ago!

Who is Ian Astbury?

I think Woods is Ian.


"woods" says some people were scared to walk in some parts of Baltimore? uh, perhaps they should check out the Washington DC outside of Georgetown.... then they'd be VERY afraid!!!


1) Wikipedia bears out that The Southern Death Cult/The Death Cult/The Cult influenced Guns 'n' Roses.

2) I guess each of their albums would sound different as Wikipedia list 21 former members and having broken up and reformed 2 times, which seems to indicate that Ian Astbury needs Billy Duffy and The Cult name to sell.

3) The second breakup was to play Jim Morrison in The Doors of the 21st Century.

4) It isn't a "band", it's Ian & Billy have regular revolving door of expendible employees.

5) I think Ian doesn't care what anyone will think, he just wants to be a Jim Morrison type provocateur.

does anyone care who Ian Astbury is, aside from woods.

He's right that it looks bombed out, but he's wrong on the Sarajevo comparison. It looks much, much, much worse, more like Liberia. I live here and I still can't belive that this city is in the US. Charm city? Oh please! more like Thug city, or VD Disease City, Drug City, or you pick your most disgusting and vile description, Bmore fits it and thensome. I dream of the day I can get out of here and hope that I'm not shot by then.

"does anyone care who Ian Astbury is,aside from woods?"
Yes! whole world does! He is very talanted musician! And does anyone care about Baltimore aside from people who live there? NO! Stop acting like angry children and just enjoy good music.

madest max, you must live a very small world.

He may be a very talented musician, but I'd be hard press to find someone who is aware of this "band's" existence, much less him personally.

Anyway, enjoying the music, good or otherwise, isn't exactly enhanced by also paying to hear having your hometown schlagged.
Apparently, he is not very talented at tact or consideration of his public.

Ars longa, spectatores fugaces (art is long lived, the audience transitory)


You may want to get back to DC sometime soon. When I attended high school in DC, outside of Georgetown and certain parts of NW, you could find quite a few slums.

Redevelopment and proper city planning has changed DC, much the way Philly has changed.

When I opened a nightclub in Penn Quarter (the area that now encompasses Chinatown and extends past National Archives), it, too, was a slum.

By the time I left the business, the entire neighborhood changed. From restaurants and cafes to retail shops, theaters and condos This change has occured in neighborhoods throughout SE, SW and NE as well.

The introduction of "The Loop" bus service has enhanced DC's public transport system (which has never been too good). More people are traveling to neighborhoods outside of their own, neighborhoods that don't have metro stops (Georgetown, Adams Morgan, etc...)

Lack of quality public transportation in Baltimore has to be addressed for Baltimore to compete on a national level. Thankfully, this has been a core issue for the Dixon administration, and they are making progress.

DC is almost unrecognizable from the way it looked and functioned just four years ago. Some residents like the change, some don't. But, DC, being a transient city has undoubtedly benefited.

The Dixon administration along with some council members have been studying the transformation that has taken place in Washington, DC and Philly. And, using the results from their studies to affect change here in Baltimore.

It will be extremely difficult for Baltimore to ever be on par with DC when it comes to arts, culture, entertainment, environment, etc... But that isn't necessarily a bad thing, Baltimore offers [or has the potential to offer] quite a bit that DC doesn't.

The tax code in this city really hurts progress. If you look at Harbor East, all of the dining options are either chains or franchises (usually owned by a parent with many locations). It still isn't economically feasible for many independent operators to take part in progress.

Couple this with lack of corporate incentives for businesses to relocate and call Baltimore home, leaves this city standing still, not moving forward.

By no means do I think DC is a great city. It's a good city, a city that works. I really hope Baltimore can become a city that works too.

I haven't spent any time in Baltimore, but I can agree that it is not impressive from the highway (which is likely where Astbury viewed the city on the recent trip). They have played there, though, so I know they have seen more than that. I don't blame you for defending your city. But your attacks on Astbury are shallow.

First, The Cult are a British band, albeit US residents. They have been around since 1983, and while many times their sound has been influenced by great bands (New Order, AC/DC, The Doors, Metallica) as well as the current times and fashions...what bands aren't? OK, maybe there are a few who can, but that is very rare. But for as many influences The Cult have had, they equally have created their own. They were one of the (if not the) first to mix punk/goth/rock/dance. They also have always had their own sound, and on top of that they are still making new music - not just making money from re-releasing old hits.

Blue Jeans and Leather Jacket? I don't exactly think GNR were the first to come up with that look! That is a timeless rock-n-roll look taken by many. I believe it dates back to the 50's, if I'm not mistaken.

Flannel shirt? Yep, that was a blatent appeal to the current grunge trend in 1990 when all the 80's bands were struggling with the dramatic change in music.

Tambourines made by the Taliban? Yep, they are all made in Pakistan these days. I have one too, labeled "Made in Pakistan".

$40 for a show? Yep, that's pretty much the going rate these days. But most times that's for a lawn seat - not a Gen Adm show where you have a good chance to get right up front.

Yes, through the times, The Cult have been Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy - the way they started. The current lineup, however, have been on the road for almost three years and released a new album. Their shows are full of energy and they are dedicated to producing nothing less than the best in sound and music.

If you get a chance to see The Cult, you shouldn't miss it - you will be glad you spent the $40.

I wonder how could you write something a show you probably didn't go and based your dull stingy article on the total lack of knowledge of the essence of THE CULT and the spirit of IAN ASTBURY who is a very witty, entertaining performer. Notorious is his humor, wicked some may say but that's it. If you don't know who he is it's a shame as Ian Astbury is one of the latest great rock performers/ songwriters, a pure walking force of nature. The Cult is like that, or you hate them or love them. Just like the men behind the great music and sound. No compromise. They always were an influence for other bands, never jumped on any trend/bandwagon. And don't give us that wikipedia [crap] ...
If you wanna know who is IAN ASTBURY read Sacred Soul Magazine, FREE PDF emags on my portal.
Thank you.


can`t take a little wise crack here huh guys - ...maybe you all should dust the chips off your shoulders and move ....

Well, whether the comments are true or not, it probably wasn't the nicest way to greet an audience from the town the comments were about. That being said, who can say they've never made a comment that maybe they wish they hadn't, or had something they've said taken out of context or misinterpreted. The Cult may not be as hugely popular as some others, but they have definitely been ahead of their time in the early part of their career and they're still making great music. Ian Astbury is an amazing performer and probably a fairly decent person judging by some of the Cult's lyrics. I just prefer giving people the benefit of the doubt.

CFFC/Sacred Soul,

Do you think our host shouldn't have posted this as a topic?
Obliviously he didn't attend this particular event.

Still sounds like Ian should have kept his mouth shut on criticizing the city he was playing in, like someone invited to dinner shouldn’t pick apart the hostess’ home décor, and just played.

Is this guy is worth all this?
How about 4 or 5 tracks to check out, starting with something new.

omg, someone took time to googled this? blow it off and forget it.

Just a few favorites, as requested. IMO, the guy probably shouldn't have said what he said, but like the rest of us, he's only human. We've all said things we wish we hadn't. We've all said things that were taken in a way they weren't meant to be taken. Then again, maybe the local government could take some pride in their city and work at getting it cleaned up.

It took all of 5 minutes to put up these links. I know you're curious. Hope you enjoy! :)

I didn't Google THIS link, it just popped up and I thought it was funny. So I passed it on. Ian really ripped into Boston a few years ago. When you're in a band and you go to cities that don't have a lot of culture or the culture is very self centered and lame, things start to stick out and it's easy to fling such darts. So it's easy to say things like that. BUT - that is typical of Ian to say something. But it did get people thinking. And that's what it's about. Baltimore?

Last time I checked it was a free society to say whatever you want. For those of us who KNOW who Ian is and the CULT's music KNOW that he does just that! He is an extremely influential and intelligent musician who FREQUENTLY says whatever is on his mind to provoke people to think and perhaps take action to change mostly. This man has traveled the world several times over, and has been to Baltimore numerous times. He's a humanitarian, philosophical, analytical, opinionated, articulate, well versed, self-educated, cognizant, pensive, spiritual, humble, charismatic, confident and most of all extremely well CULTured, far beyond any of our understanding. He’s witnessed and experienced moral decay throughout the world, the depredation of poverty, pollution, media sensationalism, famine, genocides, and degradation of sexual deviance; being a victim of perversion himself as a teenage boy. However, unlike most of us has not idly stood by, but has had the guts to try to do something about the disparities in the world. Furthermore, he could probably teach us all a lesson or two about becoming better humans and being in tune with the things in life that truly matter such as: staying true to who you are, nourishing both mind and body, replenishing the soul, being honorable, gracious and charitable, ensuring that you leave the earth having contributed to it, not the quest of man’s insatiable narcissistic greed for celebrity, materialism or capitalism. Sure sometimes he’s made mistakes and at times can be a bit pretentious and egocentric. After all, no one is perfect. I think those traits lie within us all at times. However, he is profoundly aware that what we say and do has the influence to affect those around us, and uses his presence to rouse social awareness as well as the collective, not to simply put down. Unfortunately most of us pay attention to those who tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. Listen to some of his lyrics; you might learn a few things.
Furthermore, why don’t you get your facts straight? You really sound foolish and to be quite honest blatantly ignorant. He is a true fan of music himself and is equally admired by famous musicians as everyday fans alike. It was he who influenced the "greats" like GNR and Metallica. Within the music industry he is well respected by many legends, contemporary and obscure artists alike. The CULT's music is constantly evolving, nothing ever sounds the same, but is still distinctively theirs. They've been around for about 25 years and are STILL making great music and putting on incredible live shows. He's refused to be a “media whore”, a slave to the industry, and for the most part makes his music on his terms. He is extremely versatile and has developed into an extremely gifted and diverse musician. Although his roots will always be with the CULT he has collaborated with well known artists like Deborah Harry, Tommi Iomi, UNKLE, Doors, to name a few, and has made contributions to less known artists as well. He CHOSE anonymity most likely because he knew early on he had something to say, and still wanted to have a soul after being in the business for so long. He has had several opportunities to be famous and walked away probably more than once.

The CULT's longstanding history, plethora of classics and broad catalog speak for itself. Like someone else said, "either you love them or hate them." They are a great live band and are still as energetic, creative and relative as they were when they started their careers. Ian is definitely his OWN man and is not influenced by the fashion or fads of others. He doesn't have to mimic the style of others. Over the years he has and an eclectic style which has made him an original. He wears what he wants, from sarongs to bandanas and doesn't give a damn what others think.

He's right. Baltimore is a ...hole!....murders, child abuse, extensive drug problems, deplorable education standards, poverty, and other crimes are all as prevalent as ever. Ian Astbury has made great contributions to societies all over the world through his voice. He is not a hypocrite or a copy cat. What contributions have you made to society behind your little computer in your little cubical with your little mind? Knowledge is acquired through research and experience. You should try it before attacking someone who is truly and original in this modern world of money hungry celebrities who could care less about anyone but their own personal gain. It is easy to judge and criticize someone when you can hide behind the computer. He has the guts to lay it all out there for the world. That’s something one should identify with, admire and aspire to emulate.

DirtyLittleRockStar... hey brother or sister behind that nickname, your post is really impressive. You should write for my magazine! I'm not english mother tongue so I couldn't have said what you said this way but you definitely gave words to my thoughts and feelings about the essence of Ian Astbury and truly expressed what he means for us, faithful long time fans who grew up with his music. I defintely will publish this diatribe about Ian spreadings awareness in Baltimore... waking up the deads somethings can be a big scandals like more than 2000 yrs ago appened to a master with long hair, now ascended ;) Nice to meet such a fan like you DirtyLittleRockstar, hope you'll get in touch with Sacred Soul!


Guys, seriously, DirtyLittleRockStar is right...

Ian Astbury has made great contributions to societies all over the world through his voice.

hahaha, and I thought I had too much time on my hands....

DirtyLittleRockStar &
Sacred Soul,

Your both preaching to a choir of true believers. Using a comparsion to The Christ is your way of selling him and what has to say to people, it will probably be met with great resistence, if not hostility.

When his truth and honest gets in the way of his ENTERTAINING people and offends, he's failed.
If it was meant as humour, it apparently wasn't received that way.

Anyway, his back story as inspirational as two find it doesn't mean much if his being on stage gets people offended and hypercritical of what they paid to see, at that point they probably don't much care if the only thing on his mind is his hat. If he can pull off winning them over after that he is indeed a great and resourceful artist.

His calling card is his music and ability as a performer. all else for most people is a poor running second after that.

People are most likely to appreciate his opinions and views listening to his recordings where they go back and revisit in a more relaxed atomsphere and in smaller doses.

It's amazing that this topic is still generating continued comment. Most people have moved on awhile ago or at least back burnered it.

I lose brain cells everytime I read this thread.

Anonymous - why do you read this
go to brewer's art and lose them there

Hey GDA, seriously, I was being ironic and not comparing him to CHRIST, I think also DIRTYLITTLEROCKSTAR user didn't want to bring that, I guess he or she wanted just to express Ian is oen of the few great rock personalities and living legends having a soul, a conscience and awareness and still a will to shake ppl's consciences too....
I have sweetly ironically compared to CHRIST to say that whoever wants to bring ppl to action and does something apparently shocking to those who sleep and wanna believe everything surrounding them it's all right, is very often criticized and the fact becomes a reason for scandal, object of mocking and misunderstanding.
Of course Ian Astbury isn't "the only thing on his mind is his hat" type of guy. If you have had a little knowledge of what THE CULT express and deliver as message and deep essence since the beginnings, you wouldn't have wrote such a gratuitous banality...
Even in the "lost" years, Ian Astbury, though portrayed by some low profile medias as one of the many rock stars cliches personified, he's never been superficial, loosing his soul in one night stands and such but always trying to expand his spiritual side, diving deeply in the realms of the dark side but with a reason for it and not just to "get stoned and have fun", facing his demonds, reading, studying, experimenting, living for real and not having a cyber life like many of our "great minds" in this media whore society, living deep and serious personal relationships with friends and the women in his life, being an innovator having introduced in the 90s with THE GATHERING OF THE TRIBES, a multi cultural music festival, he organized gathering different artists from different genres and having his idea stole by P.F. and his Loollapallooza festival... having the courage to tell everything about his own demonds to the world, talking always straight and honestly in interviews (you could learn a lot reading those, if you only would have like us, real fans, a collection of mags interviews from his beginnings with Southern Death Cult to nowadays, 1982 to 2008), and being a real trooper working hard on stage for infinite nights in his entire life, handling the crowds of the whole world. I think the man should be respected for more than one reason then.
I guess all clever ppl living in Baltimore don't like to have in their own city "murders, child abuse, extensive drug problems, deplorable education standards, poverty, and other crimes" . I think they would love to take action and change. Personally I do it in my city, Rome, I take action for important issues, I'm not the kind of person who says "fuck it, I won't do this and do that, nothing will ever change, society is corrupt and politicians don't give a damn about what we do or say or manifestate for..."... Life is action, life is being alive and not sleeping! (except deserved rest at night :P)

Not to forget he only recently publically revealed his native american origins, his mother was Metis, she was part Cree and by this we understand how humble and private this man is. During all these years he never revealed it despite medias and different Astbury haters in many countries mocked him for the native american connection he showed in lyrics, spiritual beliefs and clothings... Judge yourself before judging someone you don't even know in a superficial way because at least knowing him from the surface it's pretty evident Ian Astbury isn't a leather pants-cool hats-brainless type of guy... CFFC or IAFFIA! lol

1- You can learn something about THE REAL an Astbury here, interview 100% honest:

2- The amazing article HE wrote:

3 - His native american origins:

I was looking for info on Astbury after hearing an UNKLE song to which he contributed/sang, and found this article.
As I was not familiar with him or The Cult before, upon reading this article and the comments I was at first ready to dismiss him and his music as worthwhile to pursue. Then, fortunately, I read the comments by DirtyLittleRockStar (especially) and Sacred Soul, and was deeply interested. And I checked out a little bit of his/their music and am fairly impressed with that so far as well. So I'd have to say I really think I am going to be a fan. So, thank you for writing those comments (you two) and setting the record straight and detailing why Astbury is an admirable person and musician. It's great to learn of a musician who is so concerned with morality, philosophy, and human suffering, etc.
Also, I live in Baltimore and have been in the area for 3 years. His comment may have been lacking in tact a bit, but most of you guys are completely overreacting. Besides, as far as a large part of the city is concerned, he's absolutely right anyway. It is a shame and it is sad, but to a large extent it is true.

Okay i agree with the them going grunge, alternative ever since that crap came out, but they become hard rock a bit before gnr, and leather jackets were always synonimous (is that how its spelt) with real rockstars, Gnr didn't invent that either buddy...

come on guys, don't be so sensitive. this is rock and roll, this is what they do. maybe he's a nobody because he doesn't want to be a politically correct bitch. appreciate that some people can still say what's on their minds. by the way, their music is actually pretty good. god, if people in baltimore are that sensitive, those people deserve to to be made fun of.

Shades of Springs1

Its true, back ij the deakth cult days they were original, since then its copy everyone else.
These guys once had the world by the balls and could have been the next big thing, unfortunately they blew it , now just another second rate club act.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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