Yes, here we are again on the brink of another Desertfest, where Camden stops pretending to be anything other than the metal capital of London and all the stoners, doomers, weird loners and psych-droners take over the town for the weekend. It’s almost customary to say ‘Blimey! Is it that time already?’ but balls to that, I’ve been marking the days down to this for weeks now. And why wouldn’t you, when there are so many bands to catch, friends to catch up with and intoxicating liquors to imbibe?
At most Desertfests you could probably throw a bong into a crowded venue and hit an ex-member of Kyuss, and this year’s event is no different, with John Garcia’s Slo-Burn the top-lining act on Friday. With only one EP to their name it will be interesting to see how they handle a headline slot, but you can’t think of many acts likely to garner more good will and good vibes than Garcia’s seminal stoner dudes. Also on at the Electric Ballroom are Lowrider and Ukrainian underground legends Stoned Jesus and below them two very experienced and reliable acts; the groovy Greeks 1,000 Mods and the brooding brothers Pontiak, whose trance-like new album is very popular round these parts.
Away from the main venue and often sticking less to the basic denim and dope template there are a host of fine and interesting acts appearing at The Underworld, The Black Heart and The Devonshire Arms.
Proving that Desertfest isn’t entirely a sausage-fest we have some welcome female presence among the acts elsewhere, including the wonderful Vodun, bringing their primal, tribal thump, Gill Dread’s punk insurrectionists Bruxa Maria and the Death Valley post punk cool of Dystopian Future Movies, not to mention the brutal drumming of Julia Owen in Grave Lines, whose sludgy racket kicks things off on Friday at The Underworld.
If you don’t care who’s playing as long as it’s a fitting soundtrack to your ‘Camden carrot’ then of course all your stoner needs can be met by the likes of boogie monsters Death Alley, ringmasters Steak or maybe even the bluesy grooves of Ledfoot.
Yep, whatever your preference, commercial or cult, there is something for everyone on Friday as you can catch the strangely radio-friendly prospect of two German bikers playing gritty caveman blues with The Picturebooks (again at The Underworld) or instead over at the Quietus stage at The Black Heart you can catch day-glo psych legends Terminal Cheesecake (now with Gnod’s Neil Francis on vocals) get epically weird, followed by synth-prog duo Zombi who do everything from spacerock to 70’s horror soundtrack creepiness a la Goblin.
See ya there Space Lords!