For the third and final day of Desertfest 2013, we hand over review duties to Rob McAuslan, and see how the bearded stoners gathered in London handle a third day of booze, riffs, and Camden hospitality.
Six Things we learned on Day 3 of Desertfest 2013:
1) Contrary to popular perception stoner fans don’t seem to mind a fairly early start, so by the time I made my way to The Underworld to catch Sea Bastard’s set there were already plenty of bearded figures staggering slightly aimlessly around Camden with cans of beer or cider in their hands. The Brighton four-piece gave a bloody good account of themselves, dense nastiness spilling forth from the stage as I trotted down the stairs. Sea Bastard lace their ponderous grooves with enough sneaky melody and rhythmic suss to lift them out of the morass of similar bands, and dreadlocked frontman Monty leads the line authoritatively with a sterling set of shredded pipes.
2) Karl Middleton’s vocals will always draw Earthtone9 comparisons to whatever he does, but Blackstorm are a different enough proposition to his more famous band to be worthwhile endeavour. With more of a hardcore-styled aggression on show and it was hard to tell whether Middleton himself or the assembled headbangers down the front were having the better time during this set. Less prog than his “day job”, and way more good old-fashioned riffing = good fun for everyone.
3) Your first Conan live experience is a thing you’ll remember for a long time. Whilst the records hint at the sound you can expect from the Liverpudlian trio, they can never adequately prepare you for the sheer physical force these songs are delivered with. Every so often I’d fuzzily look around to see a packed Underworld full of others in the same kind of riff-drunk meditative state as I’d just lifted myself out of – with barely any room to move, the entire venue seemed to be swaying and nodding as one. Oh, and there was at least one new track aired too, which was nice*.
*not at all nice, but you know what I mean.
4) You can never get enough Witch Mountain. Having seen them utterly rule in a converted church just last week (Roadburn is sometimes at least as weird as you imagine, yes), I was keen to get another look at them on more familiar turf. Weirdly, this was the first band at The Underworld to get anything resembling bad sound all weekend, and even then they sounded pretty great – the guitar was a little quiet and Uta Plotkin’s vocals were way too loud, but neither of these issues really detracted from a confident showing.
5) Cough have written a new song and it’s absolutely horrific, in the most wonderfully-bleak way. A most pleasing hour or so of feeling like all joy and light in the world was being compressed into a tiny ball and swallowed by a hideous monster made entirely of hate.
Watch some of Pentgram’s set from Desertfest 2013:
6) The Electric Ballroom has shot straight to the top of my shit-awful-places-to-see-bands list. Only Turbowolf sounded remotely decent in here all weekend, and Pentagram were so badly-ruined by the muddiest, weakest mix I’ve heard since the bad old days of The Forum just up the road that I left halfway through ‘Treat Me Right’ (the third song of the set) to go and worship at Bongripper’s bass-temple instead.