DesertFest Festivals are becoming an institution in the Heavy music scene. First London & Berlin, then Belgium, and this year Athens, which country will be next ?! And I must admit I’m quite a rookie here, I only did my first London edition this year, but I really started the DesertFest addiction in 2015, with the Belgium edition.
Last year as a pure fan was an amazing experience, and this year covering the festival for the blog was a bit different but as much fun as last year 🙂 Even if it doesn’t have the charm of an open-air festival, I must say the Trix Muziekcentrum is still a very good place to welcome all those fuzzers coming from all over the world to reunite and headbang together. So yeah, nothing was really new on the site, but I think space is kinda limited and it’s still awesome like that.
But what about music you’ll tell me ? Well, with such a lineup, it was hard to complain : More than 40 great bands in 3 days, covering all the Heavy scene, Stoner, Doom, Psych, Retro, Drone, Experimental, everything to satisfy each and every fuzzers ! Unfortunately, that many concerts in such a short period of time meant we sometimes had to make choices and skip a concert in order to fully appreciate a full set… That’s why you won’t see a write-up on each band that played during the festival.
I also want to close this introduction by saying this DesertFest Belgium was certainly the last festival of 2016 for me, and it was certainly the one where I encountered the most old and new friends, readers of the blog, bands members, photographers, complete strangers… And even if I’d have loved to talk a bit more to some of them, it feels truly good to be part of a gigantic family of music lovers 🙂
Enjoy & Keep Fuzzin’,
This report is a joint effort between all the More Fuzz team members (and some guests) who were at the festival :
Writing : Mrs. RandomJess, Mrs. Freaksandgigs, Mrs.Marble, Mr. Haze, Mr. Stone, Mr. Jones, Mr. Fatso4Giorgio & Mr. Fuzz
Photos & Videos : Mostly Mr. Fuzz and some from Mrs. Freaksandgigs
Words by Mr. Fatso4Giorgio
DesertFest Belgium has finally begun, month and month waiting for this amazing fest, and this year they shocked a lot of people with this killer line-up ! Is it enough to say that Torche is opening the Main Stage this first day ? For me, it’s more than enough ! People are still arriving and the room isn’t packed yet, but it has to start.
Torche go up on stage, no talking, no loss of time, they play, heavy and funny, with this reverberated deep sound mixed with harmonic stuff that always reminds me music I don’t really like… But the way they do it, is unique. Their songs compositions are so personal, and to me, they don’t have opponents in the stoner scene… Some can hate them, but the most love them for this pop sound both so happy and elegant, always overthought, in a way that fits perfectly.
They will play 3? Maybe 4 songs in a row? Yeah, Hard Core attitude, these guys exploit all the time available, love that! New album sounds great live, songs are much better than in studio. Old songs, needless to say, it’ll be a continuous headbanging, with a guitar change that brings the sound to an impossible heaviness.. they go over 11!!
The second half of the show is a heavy delight for the ears, you can hear all Steve Brooks’ influences deriving from Floor, with a Melvins’ math approach. The show is intense, well played, fast and super heavy, thanks to Torche for the amazing show, and it was just the first band on the Main Stage!
Words by Mr. Fuzz
First real gig of the weekend for me in the little Vulture stage, yep we arrived a bit late for Black Wizard who opened the festival on that same stage and only saw 1 or 2 songs… I must say Subrosa isn’t particularly a band I’m following, but I was happily surprised by their 50 minutes set, mostly by the unique melancholic atmosphere we experienced.
Subrosa will clearly appeal more to the fuzzers who enjoy dark, doomy music. But instead of crushing your head like bands like Conan for example, they have something really touching and heartfelt. Is this because there are more women than men in the band ? Maybe so. In any case, the 2 violins wonderfully played by Sarah Pendleton & Kim Pack also play a role in adding that airy, psychedelic, and dramatic touch to their sound. The 3rd woman, Rebecca Vernon, the main singer & guitarist also participate a lot in this atmosphere, with her voice melting anger and distress in a beautiful way.
Nuancing from vocals-only parts to some which are way heavier, I was absorbed by Subrosa’s music during all their performance and even more in this closeup scene configuration. Here is a band with a unique identity in the metal world, so kudos to them !
Words by Mrs. Freaksandgigs
YOB was THE highlight of this Day One of Desertfest 2016 as most of the attendees were rejoicing about the comeback of the legendary doom band. Mike Scheidt and his pals slew the Desert Scene for over an hour, mostly playing songs from their milestone album ‘The Great Cessation’.
Obviously, we would have enjoyed a couple more from ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’ – only ‘Marrow’ was played from that record that night – but the joy of starting the gig with ‘Ball of Molten Lead’ and seeing the crowd heavily headbanging through the deadly blasts of drummer Travis Foster compensates everything.
The sound was really loud, though, probably a bit too much even with proper earplugs, however, everything during the set was enjoyable. As heavy and straightforward as YOB can be on stage, the set was a pure delight for all the doomsters of the Trix and beyond.
Many non-doom aficionados said during the weekend that they had a blast, and it is truly understandable after this Friday 14th October performance. If it can help rising a bit more the popularity of such an amazing band like YOB, well, I’ll take it. Now, all we can do is waiting patiently for a new record to be released and enjoy in the meantime the rest of their discography. Neurot Recordings, it’s all in your hands…
Words by Mr. Stone
It’s not that often that a band dare to mix our kind of music with more festive genres, and instruments such as trombone or sax, and usually, when they do, we don’t hear it enough… I expected a lot from Coogan’s Bluff, even if I just heard a few songs before, to keep the live discovery intact, and I wasn’t let down, at all !
The horn section was perfectly balanced, and each instrument could be heard clearly, that’s one thing that’s amazing about DesertFest, no matter the gig, all had a wonderful sound and as a demanding listener (and sax enthusiast), I couldn’t have been treated better.
But enough of this, how is the sound do you ask me ? Like I said, kinda festive, but more in the way of the old blues rock bands, except this blues rock band will get you pretty high on swirling melodies, fuzzy riffs and solos, blasting grooves strongly delivered by the rhythm section, the whole thing enveloped in psychedelic layers of organs and the sometimes gritty sometimes melodic vocals.
With so much in it, you could worry about how it all sounds together ? Damn just right and feels soooo good too, like you’ve always known it, but it was just waiting for you to realize it, embarking you to a jazzy trip amongst the stars.
Did someone say CowBoy BeBop ? I surely felt at the wheel of the Swordfish at times ! And that energy on stage, only surpassed by the complicity between the guys, this gig was surely something to witness on that Friday, and I hope you did !
Words by Mrs. RandomJess
Headlining the main stage Red Fang had the crowd waiting in anticipation following Torche and Yob, the vibe was pumped and ready to rock out with the Portland, Oregon rockers. It was a perfect platform to announce the release of the brand new album that day ‘Only Ghosts’. It made the whole set feel extra special and you could see the guys were super proud to share with everyone.
The flow of the show was a perfect mix of heavy and loud vibes with the new material received with open arms. The sound was still the Red Fang we all know and love but with a nice heavy psychedelic twist. Horns in the air and the deafening roar of the crowd with ‘Prehistoric Dog’ instills in you the fact some bands can’t and won’t be forgotten easily. In the Stoner rock scene, that song is on most people’s favorite lists.
Nothing better than listening to the epic riffs, heavy drums and both Aaron and Bryans fantastic vocals. The energy, skill and non-stop professionalism to rocking out these dudes display show how it should be done. A pleasure to watch and simply put, super cool.
Words by Mr. Stone
Oh, Joy… it was a hard choice to miss Red Fang, but as their name implies, I didn’t regret it, and I knew I wouldn’t. Everybody knows the energy, the groove and the thundering rhythm bands like Radio Moscow or Earthless can deliver on stage. If you’ve already seen Joy, you probably rank them with these other two.
Sure it feels alike live, a strong neverending flood of riffage and solos in your face, subtly intertwined with pounding grooves from the rythm section, with that old 70s sound we all love. The DesertFest Belgium certainly got something right by descriping Joy as kaleidoscopic, because it’s really the impression Joy prints in your mind when you’re in front of them : Being in a big tube with colors and shapes of all sorts pouring on you from everywhere, so what’re you waiting for ? Ride along with JOY !
Words & Pictures by Mrs. Freaksandgigs
The Black Cobra set at the Canyon stage was not the one I expected to be and putting aside random acts of harassment committed by some drunken festival-goers, it was a truly good set. The sludge-punks from California gave us an impressive and powerful show.
No need for basses when ex-Cavity Jason Landrian slays his riffs with such violence and groove (yes, I said it and I mean it!) and if Rafa Martinez, who used to be a member of Acid King, is around drumming like a madman, it can’t possibly go wrong and it didn’t. The show was incredible, everyone was either moshing, headbanging or saving their lives by avoiding the aforementioned moshers and fierce headbangers. It was insane. It was awfully good.
See, Black Cobra is from the hardcore scene where everything is as straightforward as a kick in the teeth, they don’t play bullshit, they don’t go into randomly odd concepts or ideologies they don’t go like “Hhello Cleveland, you are the best crowd ever!”, they just play fast and loud. Period. This is all we needed after a long trip and that closing gig for Day One was a hell of a ride!