It was the final day of Desertfest and I was gutted it was almost over, the weekend just flew by. Fortunately though the best was saved till last for the fest’s biggest show to date.
Before I went to the Roundhouse, I made sure to go down to the Underworld to catch up with Hark. After being impressed with their slot at Bloodstock last year, I was keen to hear their new material. Similarly, they were the perfect start to the Sunday. A heavy, energetic riff fest that blew away the Saturday hangover. The new material from Machinations sounded superb, while the band performed like a well-oiled machine. Finale ‘Palendromeda’, was a great end to a set by one of Britain’s greatest hopes. Also what made the set memorable was someone showing memes on their phones to people. A harking good time.
I firmly planted myself at the Roundhouse for the rest of the day as the main stage was too good to miss. After sprinting from The Underworld to Roundhouse, I made my way to the front to catch the mighty Bongzilla. With the stage swamped in green lighting, the weedy warriors did not show any signs of tiredness despite playing a set last night.
Despite the 3pm start, Bongzilla were simply phenomenal and were one of the best bands of the weekend. A sheer force of bong-powered sludge music, masters at the peak of their powers and a force to be reckoned with after all these years. ‘Greenthumb’ is still one of the best stoner anthems and the new material sounded perfect. After their set I would happily have jumped through a flaming hoop to hear the new album, they’re back and better than ever.
Saint Vitus were superb, the doom legends performance was proof that the four piece show no signs of slowing down. They really should have been as big as Black Sabbath but unlike them, Vitus will be on tour forever (as referenced on their tour shirt). Scott Reagers did a fine job fronting the band while Dave Chandler proved he was a modern day wizard with his guitar skills. Ending with ‘Born Too Late’ which had the Roundhouse singing along, Saint Vitus proved they are still ahead of the pack.
After a few minutes of false starts and the band arguing with the sound engineer, there was no stopping Wolves in the Throne Room once they got going. Their first UK show for five years, WITTR had the most unique atmosphere of the day, the only black metal band on the line-up. Evil black metal riffs and blackened screams dominated the Roundhouse as the incense burned on stage and filled the venue. Their set did drag on, but after the disastrous start they pulled it back and earned their howls from the crowd.
Candlemass are legends, there’s no denying it. They’ve been at it since 1984 and have earned their stripes. It’s safe to say they have influenced or indirectly influenced the majority of the line-up. With a set mostly based on the album Nightfall, the band played a solid hour of doom. I was surprised they played ‘Bewitched’ second and not as their encore, but the band ploughed through without breaking a sweat. Candlemass were epic, but were easily eclipsed by what was to come.
“When you get the opportunity to book Sleep you have to book them, I don’t care how often they play the festival, they are always welcome,” was what Desertfest organiser Reece Tee told me in our pre-Desertfest interview. Sleep were monolithic, heavier than an AT-AT stomping across Hoth. Songs which we had all heard before many times, but live they are on another level. ‘Dragonaut’, ‘Holy Mountain’, ‘The Clarity’ and parts of ‘Dopesmoker’ were all played with earth-shattering power that caused the venue shaking at their majesty. When the band walked off stage and bowed, I had tears in my eyes as I did not know when I would witness something that amazing again.
Desertfest was one of the best festival experiences of all time. Everyone was amazing, the bands and promoters hung out at the bars and watched others in the crowd, posing for photos with fans and chatting to them. I met and spoke to so many amazing people over the weekend and this made the festival so much better. I can’t wait to return.