Desertfest 2014 – english review

click for german review

2 years have passed since the first edition of Desertfest Berlin. The multicultural meeting for desert freaks, music-passionates and fellows of the underground type is now entering the third round and as always it is a great pleasure to us being part of this spectacle.
Two weeks earlier mother Roadburn in Holland already opened its portals and had started the most doomy season of the year. So those travel-loving fans who were commonly present in Berlin this year got well attuned to three days Stoner, Metal, Psychedelic and Blues Rock.

The beer was as always tasted on Wednesday evening and approved and the neck muscles were scattered during the warm -up in the local Jägerklause thanks to Conan and The Graviators.
So let the games begin:


Jump to Day 2 (Friday)
Jump to Day 3 (Saturday)

Day 1 – Thursday, 24/4/2014

Desertfest 2014 - CojonesThe weather couldn’t be better and teased the rancid sweetness out of Berlin Friedrichshain. In regard to light allergics and night owls who have had a drop too much the evening earlier the Desertfest as always starts at 6pm and opens with the energetic Cojones more than perfectly. Exactly during the prologue Clearing Potion singer Bojan’s guitar string breaks but thanks to helping hands, sympathetic shame and humor it gets overlooked with a chuckle. The bumblebees burn in their butts chasing them across the foyer stage – a visitor can’t imagine of any better musical aperitif.

After that a stylistically completely different sheet is placed in the main hall – Anciiencts from Vancouver, currently on tour with ASG, present their debut album Heart of Oak that especially promises a lot of Progressive Rock and Stoner Metal in hairy- posh style. Although the hall fills only moderately the band still seems satisfied.

Desertfest 2014 - Midnight Ghost TrainAnd since the rough spanking-rind of Anciients was not enough The Midnight Ghost Train pours another gallon of methylated spirit into the fire. Hard Rock meets Southern Sludge and both dig directly into the guts. Their powerful guitarist and singer Steve Moss resembles a dancing Buddha, his quivering vocal organ announces angry lore… but after dark the Astra is still intact although my ears are in another state.
The dizzy spirit longs for more chill. How adequate that Siena Root just hit the stage and maneuver the summer of ‘69 to Berlin. The permanent exchange of their singing leader after all these years is just as usual as their fantastic live performances. But the Swedes make it from time to time painting wonder and joy onto people’s faces and Joe Nash practices his job as a singer absolutely great. The „Dreams Of Tomorrow“ are already present and you don’t need to wait for the sun any longer since it’s already on stage.

For many visitors the following band is THE surprising highlight of the day: Sleepy Sun from San Francisco. Guitars that creak like doors, Shoegaze -Psychedelic, a dreamy and almost apathetic acting singer, exotic and danceable rhythms – that’s an atmosphere otherwise known only from bands like The Black Angels or Black Mountain. Something you had at the Desertfest very rare so far but perhaps it’s precisely this distinction that appeals the audience magically.

Desertfest 2014 - ASGHeavier and more directly to the face you get to hear and feel it from ASG. And somehow the sound even fits to the in-band look: cool and tough Stoner Metal that even the guitars should wear a skater cap. The new album Blood Drive is promoted diligently for weeks and at the Desertfest it seems they have gained some more fans in order to fulfill this mission.
Although the festival itself is on the right track to achieve cult status, some of its bands have it already for many years. Spirit Caravan by Scott „Wino“ Weinrich are actually dead for a long time but this year they were brought off the grave for an exclusive tour. Wino and all his creative works – whether Saint Vitus, The Obsessed etc. – must be liked to not to be found too monotonous over time. Admittedly the show rocks uncompromisingly, honestly and worthy of cults and in the end a real party is even celebrated on and beside the stage. Powertime!

Day 2 – Friday, 25/4/2014

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The head is heavy, the neck is bruised and the eyes are small – but the joy for another day of Rock ‘n Roll, sun, beer and bratwurst is impetuous.

Berlin-based trio Red Stoner Sun adequately sprinkle with light Psychedelic Stoner including Fu Manchu-impact without overwhelming the brain or appearing false. Beautiful road music that skillfully reflects the mood and atmosphere of this afternoon.
With The Moth from Hamburg the next national act welcomes us on the Foyer Stage. Admittedly, the vocals first make me somewhat suspicious and leaves traces of confusion but over time the taste for the band is growing. In style of Kylesa they exercise vocal collaboration between bassist Cécile and guitarist Freden. Riff -heavy and especially crafty Stoner Metal so you smoothly needed a cold shower afterwards.

Desertfest 2014 - Black RainbowsHowever, this still needs to be retained. Because if you don’t know yet how supermothafuzzalicious Italy’s Black Rainbows are, you’ll be sure at least after this show. Rabid, legs aparted and playful cowbells get penetrated, cymbals get shattered and the bass guitar is swinging around. When the day now starts this ultra- cool, you can be assured of more good things to come.

Huata had canceled due to personal reasons but Desertfest’s friends and associates Grandloom are available as substitutes. Instead of furious Doom Metal so there’s sprawled jam sessions in a Heavy Rock mantle. In addition to Larry Fairy and Orbit Wobbler also the rest of the setlist leaves no more desire and Huata – retreat one cries hardly a tear. Good song selection, great show!

Desertfest 2014 - Prisma CircusAfter a short break and energy- reloading the road leads again to the foyer where the young Spanish guys of Prisma Circus look a bit rushed after a long arrival but they strangle and kill their instruments if there was no tomorrow. Is that Stefan Koglek on stage? No – but guitarist Oscar truly wallows in great talent and makes some mouths open. Additionally their performance involves such a playful ease, professionalism and ability to play wonderfully uncomplicated and ingenious music that I am simply speechless.

Church of Misery are not just for easy listening and I’ve already seen better shows of them. Furthermore the great tumult in the photo pit and in the audience more reminds on a Satan’s service to worship the masters of the serial killer theme, the propagating Space Doom Metal counts less than music, more than one kind of mind statement. Before you become a victim yourself you should go on the run…

Desertfest 2014 - Causa SuiHow many years had to be counted finally watching Causa Sui live? Felt thousands but the next solar eclipse seems closer in time than another concert experience with the shy Danish. But it’s worth waiting and you can’t be angry on them anymore. The Astra feels as if it is mixed with sand dunes and flooded with warm sunshine. Sensitive guitar interludes dominate before crunchy riffs foil the silence. Controlled chaos you could say that is really dominated by any instrument. The collective itself is shrouded in deep yellow light and subtle shades of purple as if even the light technician wants to ensure the perfect mood of this moment before the dream is over again. After all, who knows when you’re going to see Causa Sui for next time.

When Elder then also strike up Dead Roots Stirring, one’s really aware that Day 2 of Desertfest is as good as over. Thanks mile-long jam solos that occur as one walks through rocky desert landscapes and herb overgrowing meadows, the brain switches partout on stand-by and enjoys the moments that are created by musicians and audience.
Desertfest 2014 - KvelertakI wipe the imaginary sand off the face and gallop full of pleasant anticipation to Kvelertak, which of course could irritate some people with the more kind-hearted musical mind, especially rabid Black Metal-Punk n Roll in an owls fur doesn’t belong to the main repertoire of the Desertfest curators. Those completely insane Norwegians with the almost unpronounceable name are spitting, scratching and hissing over the Astra’s stage, sore-screaming their vocals until it seems that some veins burst. Next to Fossegrim and Ulvetid songs like Bruane Brenn and Apenbaringare leading – whatever these wondrous names have to mean. It’s always ridiculously mad how much fun sheer insanity can be.

Day 3 – Saturday, 26/4/2014

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Tired? Not a bit! But the aftermath of last night is still sticking so I first gotta chill in the beer garden inhaling the sun – rain mixture.

Desertfest 2014 - CastleBut for Castle body and mind are almost fit again. You can either fear or respect their very self-confident singer who vastly swings her bass ax and her brutal Doom Metal coughed up from the inside of her whiskey spiked organs – but the music is consistently terrific, evil, fast and Motörhead-heavily.
In contrast to the program-folder Stoned Jesus get to play first on the big stage today. The presence of young Ukrainians also reflects their music being leisurely trotting, light like a feather, sometimes impressed hastily and agile. This vast and interesting constellation from various rhythms, tempos and vocal changes truly gives it cold and hot, leaving you a short time in limbo before you are again pushed down deep into the ground.
SardoniS make it different. They don’t even try to convey a feeling of lightness but kick the ground-cowering worm again in the butt so he crawls up to the earth’s core and dares not to come forth anymore. The drummer as the first half of the reigning Belgian duo diabolically sits on his throbbing throne while the riff- master on guitar disgorges his apocalyptic tones.

Testosterone-impregnated Sasquatch bludgeoning their beasty instruments to be ready. Not quite as bad as their previous players at least the Californian trio is just miles away of shyness and sensitivity. The heavy bone What have you done? and the rapid burner Chemical Lady are only examples of a short and sound -making appearance but smoothly becomes a small highlight of the day.

Currently Radar Men From The Moon are probably the most unusual discovery of Space Rock area. Especially it’s remarkable how mysterious and mystical their sound is: Instrumental Psychedelic only builds the outline having thousands of layers behind – be it noisy Indie or post- modern Krautrock, at the end everything is thrown together pulling out a colorful stringency.
To not to be trapped in the chromatic light carpet of the foyer forever, the way leads me once again to the main hall experiencing the next musical feature. Ed Mundell, former Monster Magnet guitarist and founding member of The Atomic Bitchwax, has launched a new project called The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic. This is not only very great but far different than his previous careers. Super Mega Space Jam (just to keep the anglistic adjectives) would be the appropriate titling and I think everyone at Desertfest already could imagine roughly in advance what is on offer here. In what dimension the „Wow“ is declared after this concert, each one gotta decide for himself – but I was definitely blown away.

Who has missed The Graviators at the warm-up show at Jägerklause now gets to see the Swedish Stoner bullies in action. What makes the band is probably the affinity to relatively nice and clean vocals while having the balls on the right place. Two controversies that might be hard to find in this very genre and are even more difficult to master, especially in direct comparison between record and live performance. Good for us that The Graviators don’t disappoint.

Desertfest 2014 - Radio MoscowIt’s time to experience a less great concert but that’s to run into difficulties.
If then Radio Moscow have their turn it is already challenging. The contemporaneous hype is at least justified, even for years it seemed as if they would constantly stay away from the European stages. Very young boys who were breastfed with 60’s and 70’s Blues Rock in their infancy and then even sound and look like that – oh, the heart can only beat higher.

Looking for a wet towel I’m already stumbling over the next band. The Machine are more inventory than guests but you don’t want to do it without them.
The lead foot already puts its weight on the fuzz pedal, Hans mimics the alien in pyjama pants and in addition to a more than beautiful tribute to all our friends of Sungrazer the trio vomits a brutal guitar rainbow which involves more mind fuck than rationality.

Desertfest 2014 - ClutchThat Clutch now occupies the position of the worthy final headliner is not only delighting every visitor but also the entire team of Desertfest. People rush into the main hall like doing marathons and each microbe takes its place. Neil Fallon and Co. don’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore, the rock zenith is written on their bellies undoubtedly. With Earth Rocker the cauldron has opened, attendees mutually smashes their heads, breaks apart barriers and emaciate vocal cords – it’s unbelievable what’s going on here. Just as the opener the rest of the song selection is mainly based on the eponymous latest album but is also refined by classics such as The Mob Goes Wild or Spacegrass. Although Electric Worry gets to cope without harmonica, the encore-third wallows in cheers and curtsy.

The fact that the end is so incredibly close first surprises but thanks to impressive music, crazy art and unique moments one accepts it gratefully. Thanks also to Sound of Liberation, the whole Desertfest crew, all participants and friends. I had a blast!

Ruth for stonerrock.eu

for further pictures: Desertfest Gallery
for further information: Desertfest.de