Desertfest 2017 in Camden (UK) is setting up to be an amazing weekend in London for fans of stoner, sludge, doom and psychedelic music. For this article I have previewed the Roundhouse stage on the Sunday as well as five quality bands from the other stages.
Bongzilla are playing two sets at Desertfest. No that is not a typo on the poster, they are playing twice. On the Saturday they are playing a set that focuses on the earlier material, while on Sunday they are playing a career spanning set. Bongzilla at Desertfest will be playing London for the first time in 14 years, a performance that is long overdue. Bongzilla are legends, stoner/sludge pioneers who have influenced most of the line up and their disgusting music will be an early afternoon treat for Camden.
Saint Vitus are seasoned veterans, cut from the same cloth as Black Sabbath and should be as big as them. They’ve been going for 36 years strong and show no signs of slowing down. When my editor/whip Spencer saw them in the States last year, he wrote “During ‘White Stallions,’ I was thinking “wow, they sound exactly like they did nearly 40 years ago with almost the same line-up.” How many other bands can say that?” Saint Vitus clearly still have the power and strength they’ve always had and will be filling the Roundhouse with premiere riffs.
You can read Spencer’s interview with the band here
An odd inclusion to the Desertfest line-up, but a rare appearance by New York’s atmospheric black metal collective Wolves in the Throne Room. After laying low for a while, the Weaver brothers are returning to London for the first time since 2012 to lay havoc. When the set is over, I guarantee you’ll be howling for more.
Candlemass are pioneers, they helped build the foundation of doom and set up much of the scene. Without them, the scene and Desertfest would be very different as a result. Candlemass will be bringing a wealth of experience, class and riffs to the stage as they are set to bewitch Camden. Arguably one of Sweden’s finest exports, Candlemass will be making their first London performance since 2007. This is one not to miss.
You can read Spencer’s interview with Mats Levén here
If you are a stoner metal fan and are reading this, you should know who Sleep are. They’re absolute legends, three monolithic titans on the stage who have created some of the best music of all time. When Matt Pike, Al Cisneros and Jason Roeder walk on stage, they make weed infused magic happen. Three men who are just excellent at what they do, and what they do is nice. Sleep playing London is always an event, and Desertfest is no different.
At The Black Heart, Wizard Fight will be kicking off the day. As shown by their set opening for Dopethrone last year, Wizard Fight are an excellent band to start the day with. A reliable, heavy band that make excellent music, it’s best to play it safe to get down early to see Wizard Fight.
Hark are one of Britain’s best exports, having just released their brilliant second album in Machinations. The time for Hark to strike is now. Having played the main stage of Bloodstock and supported the likes of Clutch, Red Fang and Prong on tour, Hark will one day be playing venues of the size those bands play. Hark are a perfect fit for Desertfest; heavy as a boulder, with riffs as juicy as a freshly picked fruit and the swagger of a professional hitman. Give Hark a shot, you won’t regret it.
The Black Heart will no doubt be rammed for an appearance by Boss Keloid, a titanic riff making four piece from Wigan. Their latest album Herb Your Enthusiasm is an absolute juggernaut, featuring monolithic stoner odysseys, strong Conan vibes from vocalist Alex Hurst and delicious bass lines. Boss Keloid are a band that are making their mark on the scene, if you are lucky enough to get into the venue to the 140 capacity venue to see them, you’re in for a treat.
Wear Your Wounds is the project of Converge’s Jacob Bannon but the project is a very different beast to Converge. This isn’t manic hardcore punk, this is very stripped back, beautiful music. It’s very hard to categorise, part ambient, part post-rock, part acoustic. It’s an absolute joy to hear and knowing the talent of Bannon, it will translate will live.
As with all festivals, there are horrible clashes and Desertfest is no different. Yuri Gagarin are a must see band that drew the short straw of clashing with Candlemass, but Yuri Gagarin are able to hold their own against the seasoned warriors of Candlemass. Yuri Gagarin are one of the most promising acts in space rock, after one listen to their excellent At The Center Of All Infinity album I was hooked and could not escape. This is a band that creates music that is literally out of this world and some of the best spacey riffs this side of Ufomammut.