It’s established that Desertfest gets the best bands right? The line-ups are always great and tonight was no exception, a varied mix from dirty sludge metal to hard rock and even with a bit of acoustic thrown in for good measure.
Opening the day were one of the greatest bands the UK has produced recently, Puppy. I adore Puppy and have been a big supporter of them since discovering them two years ago. Opening with modern anthem ‘Entombed’, the band set the day off on the right foot. While they are not a stoner band, they clearly worship the genre with guitarist Will Michael walking out on stage with a Sleep shirt. The band played a short, brief set but it was one of the best of the weekend. Fun, engaging and simply a pleasure to watch.
After the power riffs of Puppy, it was time for something a bit slower. Wino himself had rammed The Underworld for an early afternoon acoustic set. His tales of sorrow were captivating, powerful and raw. You could see the honesty on Wino’s face a mile off, an absolute treasure of a vocalist who cannot just hold his own against other singers, but pummel them into submission.
On the flip side, Cattle were absolutely mental. The two drummer, experimental math rock group had been making a name for themselves in the underground and this performance was enough to see why. At one point a member launched into a hypnotic trance, yelling “buy me Bonestorm or go to hell” from The Simpsons. I couldn’t see all of the set due to heading to the main stage, but from what I saw I loved it.
Church of Misery were on fire, an absolute monster of a set that would require a S.W.A.T team to take down if it was an escaped convict. Their macabre serial killer metal was the perfect trip after the madness of Cattle. Opening with a stomping ‘El Padrino’ and ‘Make Them Die Slowly’, the masters of their craft knew they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. That grip tightened when the band smashed out their hits ‘Born to Raise Hell’ and ‘Brother Bishop’ which had the Ballroom singing. One of Japan’s best exports, this set was absolute murder.
Weedeater are the irresponsible uncle of the stoner metal scene. They’re rude and crude but they know how to put on a good party. Whatever Dixie Dave does is coated with green gold and the set today packed a weedy punch. Drawing mainly from God Luck and Good Speed, there was no stopping this three-man freight train. The bass toned oozed with ‘filth’, Dixie’s vocals were disgusting and as usual the drumming was out of this world. They played to an audience and with the gravitas of a headline act, if there was no band after, it would have been a more than satisfying end to the festival. But there was more to come…
Matt Pike proved once again that High on Fire should be playing arenas. The sludge Motörhead deserve respect and love from all areas of the metal scene, but at Desertfest they were at the right place at the right time. After unleashing the ‘Sons of Thunder’, they launched into ‘The Black Plot’ and from this point there was just no stopping them. When Matt Pike shredded during ‘Fertile Green’ there was just no stopping him, he looked like a god amongst mankind. The band are a well-oiled machine who have no signs of slowing down. ‘Slave the Hive,’ and ‘Bastard Samurai’ were singalong delights while modern day masterpiece ‘Snakes for the Divine’ was a perfect finale. High on Fire deserved every horn in the air, every clap and every cheer. As close to perfection as you can get.