The return of the DesertFest Antwerp, the favorite gathering of the European Fuzzers!
Like most festivals, DF Antwerp didn’t happen last year, and even though a few fests happened here and there since August, the return of this mighty festival was probably the most anticipated moment of all the European Fuzzy scene. This kind of return to life after two years down in the hole was a three-day weekend full of Fuzz, good vibes, friends, and all sorts of fun.
We were a few members of your fuzzy team to attend, and we brought you some nice memories of it, to bring you back there, as it’s already been a month, or to help you picture what kind of wholesome it was if you missed it. We decided to split it into three articles, so you can expect the two others to come in the next few days.
Since it took us a while to get to the third day, maybe you’d like to check out our reports from Day 1 and Day 2 to refresh your memory. I’d like to use this space to thank again Dimitri and the whole Desertfest Belgium team for putting together such an amazing festival, and managing to make it happen in such circumstances. It was a glorious edition once again, and we’re all looking forward to the next one already! 😉
Words by Mr. Fuzz, Mr. Momo, Mr. Stone & Mr. Witchfinder
Pics by Mr. Witchfinder & Mr. Fuzz
Videos by Mr. Stone
Mr. Stone – First of all, a few pics from Mr. Witchfinder showing you a bit of the atmosphere on the festival grounds, because a great festival can only be as great as its audience 😉
Mr. Momo – You know it’s going to be a good day when it begins with SLIFT. Sure, 4:15 pm might be a little early to be taken on an intergalactic trip, but SLIFT delivered nonetheless. A beautiful set, mainly from their latest album Ummon, ever-increasing in power, with the absolute beast of a song that is ‘Lions, Tigers, and Bears’ to close the set.
Their progressive heavy-psych works wonders on the mind, the energy on stage is incredible, you can feel the band is 200% invested in their music. They are always spot on, the rhythmics are flawless, the projections helped get the crowd in the right state of mind to just be diluted in the music, move, enjoy, just live the music.
What a time to be alive! And never mind you, the sound was top-notch, no bass problem, just magnificent.
Velvet Two Stripes
Mr. Fuzz – Another Vulture stage discovery, I gotta say this is becoming my favorite stage, even if it’s hard to access if you are late, it’s the one with that punkish and small club energy I really dig.
So Velvet Two Stripes is an all-female Swiss trio (even if on stage there’s a guy as the 4th member playing drums) playing a rock’n’roll with a really cool Deap Vally/The Kills touch. Between some slow-burn blues-based songs and some more catchy riffs, they found an interesting blend between old-school and more modern vibes.
They also had good energy on stage and it reflected in the audience with a lot of people who seemed to greatly enjoy their time, I did too, a lot!
Mr. Stone – After a proper takeoff assured by Slift, I was especially curious to check out this Belgian Quatuor set to pour distorted and experimental melodies over the Canyon Stage. And I wasn’t disappointed, their tortured noise gripped me by the guts right away, and didn’t let go until the last note.
Their show was captivating and intense, working on simple rhythms and patterns to build tension, progressively complexifying the structure and turning up the heaviness while keeping this trance-inducing redundancy to make sure to keep us hooked. Their vocals are quite interesting, using a wide range of styles, distorted shrieks or spoken lines from the frontman, as well as mantra-like unison from the whole band, always here to reinforce or nuance the music, and give it some more depth, and impact.
I needed a while after their show to come back down, as it was a really powerful and emotional performance they offered us, and there were still lots of killer names to check out in the hours to come.
Regarde Les Hommes Tomber
Mr. Momo – I went to see Regarde Les Hommes Tomber a bit by default, but what a good decision it was! The French blackened doom band really took me by surprise with a crushing set, so loud, so heavy, there was no possible avoidance, I could just stand there, mesmerized by the weight of the sound delivered.
It was truly a black mass of some sort, with torches, dark rituals, sacrifices and it still astonishes me that no evil being was actually summoned!
Mr. Witchfinder – Yet another rising talent hit the Vulture Stage and blessed the crowd with some raw sonic force, this time it was Splinter who hail from The Netherlands. It’s one of those bands that I’ve been casually listening to months before the festival so seeing them live was pretty high on the checklist.
Equipped with one guitar, vintage Hammond organs, a tight drum set, and plenty of class, the band swiftly took off to preach their tales of rock and roll. The party was lit not only because of the sharp tone the guys managed to conjure but also the pure charisma of Douwe who was perhaps having the most fun of all people present in the room. Sexy moves, powerful voice, and laughter constantly written on his face made for a convincing leading role in this spectacle which I was thankful for experiencing.
Mr. Stone – After a quick Caïpirinha break in the courtyard, I headed back to the Canyon Stage to get my ass kicked and my neck broken by the Belgian four riders of the Apocalypse and their merciless blackened doom.
With the precision of a surgeon, Alkedeel delivered one of the most aggressive sets I’ve seen this weekend. Their oppressive darkness flowed inexorably to fill the room, backed by evil red lights and strobes, turning us all into a crowd of headbanging living dead. I’m always amazed by such extreme bands, committed to summoning the heaviest, meanest, fastest avalanche of riffs, while still finding a way to make it make sense and hypnotize their audience by the sheer brutality of their sound. This is exactly what Alkerdeel did, and what a scorching blast it was!
Mr. Witchfinder – Belgium holds plenty of secrets, one of which is Wolvennest. This band has been around for some 6 years now but especially in a recent couple of years did they manage to expand on their formula and lift the psychedelic occult bar to new heights. Having played Desertfest Antwerp in 2019 as well, this was their second consecutive gig at the festival, and no wonder as they totally killed it last time.
Words can hardly describe the atmosphere Wolvennest brought about at the Desert Stage. The performance was hypnotic, ethereal and in all that menacingly powerful. Incense, skulls, and mysterious visuals in the background amplified this enchanting ritual to critical extents where one totally lost track of time and space. It was seriously an unholy experience as no other gig during the festival made me zone out so much and question whether it was all a delusion, a dream, or actual reality.
Playing a selection of tracks from their 3 albums, Wolvennest made sure that music flowed free and bent to their will. Instruments were in an addictive symbiosis with the vocals that reached pretty deep into the soul. Even thinking back to it brings me chills now!
Mr. Fuzz – I never really paid attention to the Italians of 1782 until the DesertFest, and when I saw they were going to play, I thought “why not let’s see what these guys have in the guts!”. And while they don’t play anything really original, their Electric Wizard-worship stoner-doom is greasy and full of FUUUZZZZZ!
It wasn’t my most memorable concert on the weekend, but I definitely enjoyed headbanging along with those thick hazy riffs… 😈
Mr. Fuzz – Always a pleasure to see the Swiss on stage, and this time again they delivered an epic show as they are renowned for. Though the first time for me to see their new bassist, he did really good and I guess he fits perfectly with the other members. They all seemed happy to be back at DesertFest and we all felt it too in the audience.
Another heavy and psychedelic trip from the masters of the genre: the atmosphere created is always grandiose, with those magnificent instrumental build-ups, until attaining the point of no return, you’ve already been sent to outer space and there’s no way to come back, grande classe!
Mr. Witchfinder – I’m pretty sure it’s not an exaggeration to say that Slomosa was THE most anticipated concert of this year’s Desertfest in Antwerp. Their debut record from last year shook the stoner underground with a blast that is rarely seen. Therefore answering the call, Slomosa arrived in Belgium to play their first gig outside of Norway where the crowd welcomed them with open arms and much curiosity.
The Vulture Stage was packed to the brim and beyond with people occupying every possible inch of the room to witness the madness with their own eyes and ears. Needless to say, Slomosa tore the place apart and made it look so easy and effortless! Songs like ‘Horses’, ‘Kevin’ or ‘There is Nothing New Under the Sun’ are absolute bangers live, so much so that people started moshing and crowd surfing thus putting the tiniest of stages to the ultimate test of endurance.
Hands down the best gig of the festival for me. It doesn’t happen often that a band taps into the spirit so well, especially with so little live experience. Be sure to check Slomosa out next year where they’ll be supporting STÖNER on their European tour. It’s a must!
Mr. Momo – One cannot overstate how good the Machine are on stage. They are very rare outside of the Netherlands and Belgium, so there was no way I was missing even one minute of their set. I managed to get very close to the stage, which is always great on the Canyon as there’s no distanciation with the band, they’re playing right in front of you. For those who don’t know them, the Machine play a fairly aggressive stoner rock, while still heavily influenced by 70s psych. Their 2015 album Offblast! is considered a classic amongst fuzz enjoyers.
The last time I saw the band was back in 2017 and I had a really great memory of it, so I was anxious to see them again. And what a blast. If on their albums there are some pauses, there’s no such luxury on stage, it was one hour of furious, fast riffing, the kind that grabs you and doesn’t let go until the music stops and leaves you exhausted. I craved more. I would have danced until the sunrise. Next time can’t be too soon.
Mr. Stone – Trusting one of the best slots of the weekend, the greek riffmasters quickly set the Desert Stage on FIRE, as anyone would have expected from them. The crowd was insane, moshing and crowdsurfing without end to the thick riffage of the Quatuor. Even yours truly took more than his part in this fuzzgasmic endeavor, as you might see on one of Mr. Witchfinder’s pic 😉
The sound was a bit too bassy, but I guess most of the crowd, presumably quite drunk given the time of the show, didn’t care too much. It’s been a while I hadn’t seen such a big room jumping and partying like that, which helped to accept the approaching closure of this wonderful weekend. Their music is pure joy made riff, you just can’t help yourself but go with the flow while they blow up the Temperature gauge, for our greatest pleasure.
So it’s with a smile on every face that we went on those straight-forward riff-highways, headbanging together one last time in front of this kickass Desert Stage.
Mr. Momo – The last concert of the festival on the Vulture stage, I wouldn’t have missed Acid Mammoth for the world. Their album Under Acid Hoof out in 2020 caught everyone by surprise and ended up on many fuzzy doom enjoyers top for the year.
The Greeks delivered a crushing set, you can see they are very close to each other (the guitarists are father and son) and they enjoyed themselves. A lot. Their music might be doom, but the spirit was festive, it was quite a good way to end the festival!
Mr. Fuzz – PUNK! Yep good ol’ raging punk to finish this weekend of festivities! As any punk band, this Belgian trio had that no fucks given attitude you’d expect them to be, blazing-fast songs, and actually finished their set way earlier than the one hour they were supposed to play 😅 But that was some proper fun, with a lot of dancing and mosh-pitting with the people that had the courage to come front stage and brave the pure madness!
The party wasn’t over though, as for the most audacious there was still the famous afterparty. A time to dig into your last reserves of energy and show your moves on the dancefloor 💃🕺
I was one of the last to leave the Trix with a bunch of friends, we finished in a kebab that was still open at 5 am in the city center, that’s how you end a proper weekend full of fuzz, beers, and friends!
Till next time DesertFest Belgium ✌️⚡🥳