Friday holds that special place in civilisation as the start of the weekend festivities and April 28th is not going to be an exception to this tacit rule. Boasting a glorious line-up of huge names and up-and-coming acts, the opening day of Desertfest 2017 is not going to be one you will want to miss, and all stages have something to offer everybody: Whether cruisin’ the American desert highways is your thing or you are looking for rollickin’ rock’n’roll ball-busters, Friday has it all and then some.
The Quietus Stage offers up some tremendous slabs of psychedelic textures to tweak your consciousness to a cosmic redshift. With a new album currently doing the works among heavy psych/doom fans, North Carolina’s Bask concoct their luscious sounds with a dash of Americana to melt crisp soundscapes down into colours to paint the sky with; building on their foundations set in 2014’s American Hollow, Ramble Beyond is an impressive sophomore that could easily see its way on end of year lists. It’s been a long wait to see these guys on our shores so this is definitely not an act to miss out on.
As far as live shows go, few are as legendary as the UK’s very own Terminal Cheesecake, who stormed back onto the music scene with 2016’s Dandelion Sauce of the Ancients. With enough sonic carnage to make most industrial acts jealous, these psych-noise wizards will bring The Black Heart down to its knees into a state of dysphoria.
Ready to bring an end to the psychedelic frivolities here are American synthwave duo Zombi. Appealing to fans of Italian maestro Goblin, the likes of Steve Moore and Antony Paterra will carve through the rubble left by the night’s predecessors with their inter-dimensional space-rock meddling. 2015 saw their first album in four years, and Space Shift was nothing short of a dark and heavy masterpiece. The performance will no doubt serve as a wormhole to a whole new state of galactic existence.
Over at The Underworld, things can only get heavier as the electric boogie of Dutch maestros Death Alley takes the crowd for a ride through rocking soundscapes traversing ‘60s psychedelia and the best of ‘70s hard rock. Their 2015 debut, Black Magick Boogieland, was an all-out blast through time and space, and their live energy matches exactly that. It doesn’t take a genius to know these supernatural predators are worth every second of your mortal time. If you are not convinced, check out their recent live album capsuling their performance at Roadburn last year.
To sweeten the appeal of the HDP WPC stage is the voodoo sorcery of London’s very own Vodun, who are a power trio like no other. The word ‘soulful´ is an understatement when it comes to describing Oya’s vocals and the sheer power behind Ghede (guitars) and Ogoun (drums) is beyond ferocious. Since the release of 2016’s Possession this group have scaled the summits and will no doubt set your soul on fire on the night. After rising stars Steak take to the stage, comes Germany’s answer to the heaviest blues across the land: duo The Picturebooks will thump the stage to oblivion with their raw and ultra-stripped back approach to denim-crazed rock and roll. If bands like Graveyard and Buffalo Fuzz are your thing then this tumultuous headline set will raise your spirits far beyond the capacity of the venue, making for a fun and decibel-breaking close to the stage.
Of course, the main stage is full of tricks on the Friday. Opening act Pontiak are brothers who wield a power that supersedes their blood ties. These meditative noise-mongers blend the best of psych rock with transcendental sonic-scapes transporting the listener to mind-expanding oases, their new album Dialectic of Ignorance continues this trend and will be sure to blind The Electric Ballroom with the band’s trippy aura. Though the lightest to take the main stage, they are by far the most hallucinogenic presence to open the portals to the heaviness that will come later.
That heaviness comes in the form of Ukraine’s Stoned Jesus, who are guaranteed to set the crowds ablaze with their uproarious stoner groves. If you’re familiar with their latest effort – 2015’s Harvest – or their immensely powerful Seven Thunders Roar, which will be played in full on the night, you will know just how glorious the riffs will be flowing (and bombarding your every senses).
All this does not compare to the mighty return of desert cruisers, Slo Burn, who have been revived for selected performances. With the amazing Amusing the Amazing album John Garcia and co. perfected the stoner groove set out by other desert rock pioneers and now, twenty years after its release, Slo Burn snag a headline spot that only a fool would miss…well, unless they were piloting the dunes.