Like pulling out weapons from a secret arsenal you’d completely forgotten about, an EBM project from the island of Crete whom cleverly blend the hooks and euphoric synths of trance’s greatest, with the pounding drums of industrial, the scathing growls of the extreme metal minds yet unafraid to dabble and collaborate with the finest bands in metal also. They operate like their namesake, maintaining radio silence before unleashing massive EBM anthems without prior warning. Robotic Disintegrator, from 2010’s The Kosmokrator remains one of their finest works, inundated with samples but with such impeccable production skills, the dance becomes more than just you on the dancefloor, it becomes a journey in every sense of the word. Ritualistic, in a sense.
It occurred to me recently that I haven’t actually raved and ranted about these guys on my blog yet, despite endorsing them through sneak inclusions on playlists, soon-to-be DJ sets, through social networking, and even going as so far to ask the band directly to upload their entire first album to YouTube, which I did and they were happy to allow. If you can’t tell, I simply adore FOSSILS. Their frantic, sludge-driven bass ‘n’ drum duo combination creates such intense bursts of energy, you’ll miss them if you blink and will eviscerate any edge-of-the seat you may hope to cling onto. I describe them as a leaner, angrier Scandinavian DFA 1979, which I still think is fairly accurate, but they have come so much further since that and their newest album Flesh Hammer is possibly one of the best releases this year for no-BS, jaw-breaking, dancefloor projectiles, guaranteed to either have you leaping around your allocated floor space or wrestling everyone in plain sight.
The night’s sleep was much better, I didn’t dream about much, or in fact anything at all, unless the endless depths of complete black count for something. But at least I didn’t keep waking up during the night constantly. I’d decided to wake up earlier today, in hope of actually trying to get to Camden to catch the majority of bands I wanted to watch today. Today of all days was full of bands that I had heard of and actually listened to music by. However, if you know me by any stretch of the imagination, early isn’t a word in my vocabulary. So naturally, I left when I left. Later than I fully intended to. The last two days had exactly the same time schedule so I arrived at the train station expecting to pick up the train to Waterloo, fast enough so I could wave at the elderly and the bemused as I shot by at 80mph. Not today. On a day with a real haul of fantastic bands, South West Trains had decided to make the fastest train the slowest one, leaving me no other option than to sit and stop at every station and see the elderly and the bemused wave back to me, if I wanted to see most of them. Why today of all days South West Trains you bastards?
I would like to point out that although it was entirely an option to wake up earlier and it is completely my fault, I am not willing to accept that kind of blame for the purpose of this story.
So after sulking the whole way yet secretly knowing we can get there and not miss the first band, gallivanting back through Waterloo, and emerging from Camden tube station one last time, as a matter of urgency I went straight to the Black Heart. As hoped, I’d just caught the tail end of London’s own Bright Curse, although by just being the last fifteen minutes of their set, made me kick myself for what I’d already probably missed. They sounded like a jam based Led Zeppelin, if Robert Plant focused more on channelling warnings about the impending apocalypse. I’d listened to them previously, maybe more asleep than I realised the first time, but they were incredible and made the small room holding 100 people, sound like a foreboding cavern, miles underground from civilisation. Their dark psychedelia was true bliss, one that I sincerely hoped I could’ve seen more of.
Please tell me I’m not the only one that can hear shades of Layla too in the beginning of this tune.
As a kind of additional dagger to my heart, staying to watch the culmination of Bright Curse’s set meant that I had to sacrifice time with another band I was familiar with. The good news though, I’d already seen them live before and knew the kind of live set they were capable of. A bloody good one. Upon wandering back to the Ballroom, I took to the upstairs balcony to get a good view of Oslo’s Lonely Kamel, the band whom I’d seen supporting The Sword and took to the stage of the Underworld to rapturous applause on that occasion. And I’m not surprised. They were excellent. Despite again only being around for the final 15 minutes of their set, their loving detail and care for the roadhouse blues spirit went down fantastically, in addition to some speeding-down-100-miles-of-tarmac-on-a-chopper-bike bursts too. They were as wonderful as I remember them being the first time and long may they continue to be.
Good quality live versions make me smile a lot. This song brings out more of their clear stoner influence, but their more bluesy stuff is also amazing.
After they’d finished, I had to visit the gentlemen’s bathroom once again, and encounter the now-standard issue toilet black gentleman once again. As soon as I got in to have a piss though, he started bitching about personal hygiene and not washing hands, me knowing full well that rant was a clear dig at me for not washing my hands every time I’d been in there. Listen here, I’ve washed my hands at every other place I’d been to over this weekend, you ever think that I don’t wash my hands here because I don’t want to talk to you?
Not particularly bothered about either of the two bands on after Lonely Kamel, I was getting kinda hungry so I went to a courtyard by Camden Arts and Crafts Market that has a world fast food market or bazaar, or whatever the fuck its called. I perused at first, and came across the exotic game burger stand, advertising the prospect of a crocodile burger. However, I had hoped that the sign was upside down because he was celebrating Topsy-Turvy Day, and not because he’d ran out of crocodile. Quite disappointed, he affirmed to me that he would have some next time I visited after describing the texture and taste of crocodile (fish, but like chicken apparently, who’d have thought?), I wandered on and finally settled on an Argentine steak stand. I found somewhere to sit down after a short wait for a steak sandwich, and settled for under a stairwell by the lock, in case it started raining all of the sudden. Now, you know that ancient tradition of anything that has little weight will blow away in the wind, so nail it down with whatever you have lying around? I forgot that tradition, and the plate I was eating on, dropped to the ground after a moderate gust. Luckily I still had serviettes, but I was going to make a last ditch attempt to grab the plate before it blew any further away. I made my move. I stood up, walked a little distance, but the inevitable happened. It blew away before I could reach it and landed on top of the Lock and floated away into the distance. Being made of card, it’d probably absorb the water eventually and sink to the depths of the Thames estuary never to be seen again. On a more important note however, this sandwich was incredible. Sure, it may have been a little pricey for a fiver, but bloody hell, if this wonderful meal of a medium steak with a little salt, balanced between delicious chipotle sauce, mayonnaise, non-bitter salad leaves and tomatoes, on grilled ciabatta was any indication of how good Argentinean cooking was, I may consider the expense of Cau one day. Ladies I hope you like steak.
Also I got ripped off for a belt. Normally you so much as stop in Camden to look at something, your personal airspace will be invaded by several dodgy market dealers wanting to crawl inside your lungs and taste your fragrant carbon dioxide. I however knew what I wanted and he didn’t fight me about it because he was guaranteed a sale whatever. Don’t ask how much it cost, but it has piano keys on it, I’ve always wanted one and it’s an absolute dream to wear unlike my other belts. BECAUSE IT ACTUALLY FUCKING WORKS.
After I’d eaten, and by default, I went back to the Ballroom for Radio Moscow, who probably took a time machine from the 70s to play this festival, as their sound was so immaculate to the likes of Hendrix and Deep Purple, even down to the trippy ass waistcoats. They too were brilliant, the exhibitionism in guitar solos not too flashy, but with wonderful riffs flowing effortlessly too. However, whilst they were playing, I was somewhat distracted by the three admittedly pretty girls in front of me, and the arrival of an overly friendly Spanish pair of gentlemen in front of them. The one with caterpillars for eyebrows and in glasses, who for this purpose I will name Manuel, was getting towards twice these ladies’ age, but still seemed like he was going to try his luck by introducing himself and just talking to them. He introduced himself to one girl dressed in black, but once this first girl introduced her other friend in black, he focused his attention purely on her. I was standing behind, but I could already see that they were uncomfortable and just humouring him. Him and his friend did look like they were having a good time, but every glance Manuel took backwards was towards the two ladies to my right, dressed in black. The overly friendly nature seemed to make him a bit touchy-feely. He wasn’t even looking at me, but he gave me the creeps too, like insects writhing inside my skin. I could feel centipedes wriggling their way up to my shoulders. Every time he talked to them, his self-believed silver tongue waggling near their ears, bellows underneath a fire pressed down, getting closer to a blaze, urging me to interject and tell him to stop. But once Radio Moscow stopped playing, he left before they did. Sure, he seemed like he wanted them to come with him, but he couldn’t have been that interested to not pursue them. If I wasn’t so much of an introvert, or just generally afraid of talking to complete strangers, I would’ve said, ‘Sorry about him, I too wanted to kick him in the balls.’ I’ve probably made a big deal out of nothing, but a lot of men are repulsive creatures and I feel embarrassed to be male at times, because of specimens such as Manuel.
Fuck you Manuel, the ghost of Hendrix I hope frowns upon you forever.
That episode over and dealt with, had now left me with a decision to wander to either the Underworld or the Black Heart, in which today was the only day that allowed me to do so. My choice was somewhat easy for me personally so I went and sated my curiosity of the band named after the city Hull. I’d thought they actually were from Hull. But no. They were from Brooklyn. Sad smiley face. However this quirky little disappointment of mine was the most short-lived thing that’d ever happened to me. My favourite way of describing this band is the basic equivalent of a sludge walrus. A behemoth of a large, hairy mass of men, belching black tar into the crowd, with unfathomable heaviness. Oh, and riffs. My goodness so, so many riffs. They also had a few thrash influences, a sure fire way to win me over when bands play hard and fast. Quite simply, this band was jaw-dropping and may well be my favourite band of the entire weekend.
If the phrase ‘sludge walrus’ isn’t legitimately trademarked, I may consider doing so.
That incredible experience now over, and not particularly enthralled by the possibility of 45 minutes of doom metal at the Ballroom, I thought I’d try my luck again with my mysterious benefactor. Somewhat sceptical at this point, with time rapidly running out to catch him, it was either now or never.
And somebody had hit the now button.
To my surprise he was around, savouring a meal from McDonalds (although who in their right minds would do that?) in what must have been the rarest of breaks. He asked me where I was and said he would come to meet me after he’d finished his plastic burger, of which I sat outside The World’s End, the pub on top of the Underworld, for 5 or so minutes to wait for him. Tell a lie, I had to piss before I met him, of which we were confused about each other’s whereabouts, despite standing directly 20 feet away from one another, after I’d went back outside. We wandered inside and he kindly bought me a beer, despite my fairly strict no beer at gigs without friends policy. I just don’t like that risk of not being familiar with my surroundings or having to walk anywhere in a compromised position. I don’t need alcohol to have a good time anyway, I’m only a social drinker. So he wanted to know more about me and what I was doing right now, and what I planned to do after university. I’d said that I was thinking of going into promotions myself, as one option of what I genuinely would like to do with my life, but only if I can get the financial backing for it. He then mentioned that it is a tough business, and that he had actually lost money on this year’s festival. As someone who had waltzed in for free, that did make me feel bad. In fact, I had said to him as we walked in, I was starting to feel bad that if I didn’t get to meet him, I’d taken advantage of his generous hospitality. He laughed it off, and said not to be silly. We in turn talked about life and music, clearly what unites so many of us here at this festival, and on this planet. The subject did eventually arise, that he told me he couldn’t give me any work, where it previously was available, but he would be on the lookout for something if anything came up with any other promoters or companies, for work experience sake. Throughout this meeting however, a dilemma had occurred in which more staff was needed to man the merch stall and he was wracking his brains to try and solve the problem. It was actually painful to watch. I said to him to take his time so he could concentrate, then thinking how I’d been in a similar situation as a promoter several months ago. I never found out if he did solve the problem. I did think to volunteer myself, but I felt I really would be taking advantage if I did. Opportunist, maybe, but my conscience said it was wrong to do it. We talked for a little bit longer, Jake saying that he wanted to stay in touch but he had matters he needed to attend to. We finished our beers, shook hands and he shot off. I told him to take care, hopefully he got the rest he deserved. A genuinely nice guy, ridiculously overworked bless him, but he’s organised a cracking weekend of music here, so massive kudos to him for doing what he has done. Long may Desertscene continue.
Before I left the World’s End for the next band, a message caught my eye. Dotted around the bar where myself and Jake were seated were several pots, each displaying the same message on paper. It stated:
‘Every time you leave a tip, Justin Bieber dies a little.’
I smirked. How could you not? The sheer cheek and concept of a voodoo tip jar to harm Justin Bieber was pure brilliance. I’m probably a terrible tipper, but I dropped a 50 pence piece in the pot for the laugh I got. If that’s enough to inflict a gash on his arm or something, that works for me.
Walking through one set of doors more or less directly back into the Black Heart, I got a good spot for Kansas’ The Midnight Ghost Train. Although one minor detail I’d forgotten about. That beer had kicked in almost immediately. I AM NOT A LIGHTWEIGHT. JUST ON A NEAR EMPTY STOMACH. So… as you can imagine, I moved the most violently I did all weekend, but the harsh southern country demeanour of the riffs output over this three quarters of an hour were fantastic and so difficult not to enjoy, I had to. No mosh pits, but I was close to full on headbanging at points. I also have to make a special mention for the end of their set. Hands down, they won the award for best (read: only) mostly acapella gospel sing-along, also sung at a father’s funeral. Some people like to share. Sharing is caring.
Their singer reminded me of someone I know so much. I don’t believe he was American, or could play guitar. But I accidentally headbutted him once in the face and gave him a black eye. Sorry Steve.
As much as The Midnight Ghost Train were good, and boy were they good, I wouldn’t have also minded seeing North Carolina’s Sourvein, because of dat name. I think they made these clashes deliberate. But anyway, back to the Ballroom for Japanese Sabbath worshippers Church of Misery. I was told by Jake that they were a fun band. I had done a little research and watching them, they were indeed a fun band, and although doom is their profession, it wasn’t overbearing, let alone depressing. They do sing a lot about serial killers though. Because. I enjoyed their set, despite propping my head on the ledge I had on the balcony, perched on the tiniest bar stool to hand. The alcohol had worn off at this rate, just so you know. Several passers by I think were concerned that I had that look where I was about to die, but really I was just uncomfortable. Serves me right for putting my head on the ledge really. Towards the end of their set though, I received a phone call from my brother, which no day seems complete without, about a potential business proposition, which for this story, I’m not going to disclose the details of, for nothing has actually happened, but were anything to, you will hear about it at a later date, maybe…
Utterly, utterly delicious riffs and such respect for its source material too. Church Of Misery have more groove than a llama in royal vestments at a disco.
By the end of the phone call, Church of Misery had finished and my bladder senses were tingling once more. I couldn’t go back downstairs to the toilet, just so the toilet attendant could belittle my apparent lack of hygiene again. So it was a toss-up between pissing in a puddle or pissing in a puddle. I chose the first puddle, only because there was plenty of band stickers and things to read adorning the walls of the Underworld gents’ lavatory. I’d found an awesome clothing brand called Octomuffin by perusing the day before. Let me repeat that. Octo. Muffin. Their logo is a muffin with tentacles. It’s fucking adorable. Off topic, ahem.
I couldn’t resist. I had to show you.
Being that there was a band on at the time, it only then seemed polite that I stayed to listen to them for a while. They were Utah’s Eagle Twin and again, there was two of them, playing some kind of doom/sludge hybrid, maybe with a little a post rock influence here and there too. I’m curious about this whole power duo thing, for reals, I want to know why this is a more common thing than I realised. I didn’t empathically enjoy them but they weren’t not too bad, I only caught the tail end of their set because of Church of Misery and phonecalls. They had more riffs than The Body did, but at times verged into their borderline unlistenable noise torture. Again, maybe for another time, but I can only seem to stand growling when it’s done in the right context, and here, it only worked 50-50. They didn’t want to end either. I stood waiting, looking at the clock, tapping my foot impatiently for them to stop, giving them the common courtesy to finish and they kept going. Considering I wasn’t that enthralled anyway, I left like a lot of people for what would be my final trip to the Ballroom of the weekend.
Well this is dark. In a sort of, I need a flashlight because I’m fairly unnerved at what the hell I’m hearing kind of way. Still enjoyable though.
So to the final headliner of the festival, Boris. The other prominent Japanese band at this festival. I did some research prior, mind you only one song interplaying between some kind of pop song and heavy ass riffs, and I wanted to hear more of that. It was either that or Kongh a little while later, in which a pure Swedish post-rock band really did appeal to me. I’ve always thought there was crossover between the stoner and post-rock scene anyways. But what Boris delivered blew me away. Holy shit they were amazing. The Japanese don’t do anything conventional anyways, hell, their drummer wouldn’t stop wooping in songs, but the sheer amount of influences and sounds thrown into their set was awe-inspiring, deeply and truthfully. The band are real experimentalists, simply impossible to pigeonhole. But one song they played, lengthy, that went from ambient into post-rock, was what I considered the perfect ending for this festival. It wasn’t their last song no, but it was devastatingly emotive. I almost cried, and I have only ever cried to four songs in my whole life. It made my soul shiver, in the best way possible. It was almost a pity then I decided to leave early so I could catch a train at 11 again. Because I could’ve watched the rest of their set without the worry of missing the train thanks to South West Trains deciding to dick around with the train times AGAIN on a Sunday, so I had to endure every bloody train station back home AGAIN.
The Boris song in question. There is no studio version of this as of right now… WHY?!?!?! It’s phenomenal!
Never mind that shit anyway. This was a true experience in every sense of the word, one I’m glad I had the chance to participate in. Sure it would’ve been nice to have a couple of friends to talk to and enjoy this with, but for what I got to discover and see for myself was worth it every step of the way, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. OK, I didn’t get any work from it, but I have a link in Jake, something that could end up being valuable in the long term, and from what this whole, if you can call it a business meeting, industry treasures in order to get anywhere nowadays. So I am grateful. So, so grateful that I was given this opportunity and for just the price of coming back and forth each day. Maybe I’ll come back next year, and next time, I’ll pay for it. Anyone who does anything off their own back needs our support. And I care so much about that.
Much love and thanks for reading if you got this far xx
The plate floated into the North Atlantic Ocean, sank an oil rig and now resides in a beach hut in Jamaica.
Despite it being Saturday, which if there is a God or whatever I consider the most sacred of all days, I’d had a fairly horrible night’s sleep. I’d woken up multiple times in the night, not to mention had dreams about people I formerly knew at high school bullying and harassing me, somehow culminating in me hitting a close friend of mine round the head with my laptop, which I definitely didn’t do, in a quaint Polish village. Just to be clear, I seriously didn’t hit them, I don’t know why this happened and why everyone started hating me. I’m so sorry if I did unconscious embodiment of my friend Cassi! My dreams are vivid and apparently out of control.
Still, my bed was comfy doe.
I think roughly around quarter to two (in the afternoon), I was able to bring myself to move from the mattress. During the night, I’m sure I’d hallucinated two missed calls, in waking up at one point and ignored them. Turns out by the time I checked my phone once more, those missed calls were very real. I’d left my phone on silent for the purpose of not being disturbed during my slumber, but what if it had been Jake? Cursing my dozy self and preparing for the worst, I went to the call log, only to find that the calls were from my brother instead. I wondered what he had wanted, fully remembering we once had a discussion during the week about maybe meeting up in Camden because he was going to a gig in Kentish Town. Well, if he’d wanted to meet up, I hadn’t left my room yet. Eventually after making myself look a degree of presentable, I left Guildford and got back into Camden for the second day.
Upon exiting Camden Town tube station, I reached for my phone and tried to reach Jake again. No response after three or so calls. Still busy then. So I rang my brother instead, seeing if he was around to meet up. He was, but at Kentish Town already, having met two of three members of the band he was going to see. Beats who I was trying to meet at the moment. I politely declined meeting him at Kentish Town, due to being completely the other side of Camden, and me wanting to make the most of the bands on today. The cost of my somewhat shameful awakening had already cost me to miss two bands I was really interested in seeing. Those bands being Croydon sludge doom outfit Slabdragger and Cardiff’s slightly psychy quintet The Witches Drum, especially as it was the last Witches Drum show together, but I was barely conscious at the time and was struggling to wake up. Can’t say I wasn’t disappointed, but at least both their tunes still exist on the internet, where so many other songs by unsigned bands never get recorded or see the light of day.
For my incompetence in not seeing and therefore having content about these two bands, have these tunes as an apology. My bad.
So my first band of the day ended up as North Carolina’s ASG, a band that I had actually heard of, and apparently had been going for quite some time. So much so, they have a best of. I barely know any bands of this genre that have a best of. In any case, they were fucking amazing, although I couldn’t get over the fact their singer resembled a scruffy Josh Homme impersonator who seemed to like bird impressions, their perfect balance of stoner riffs and mind-melting psych won me over almost from the get go. Their whole 45 minute set was a completely joyous celebration of everything I love about the stoner scene, and perhaps even music in general. Passionate people creating catchy tunes, that hit both hard and fast when needs be.
Riffs and trips, man. Riffs and trips. Lovely, lovely stuff.
At this point I had the choice of wandering to either Hey Colossus at the Underworld or Wizard Fight at the Black Heart, but I didn’t go to see either of those bands. I have no idea what my reasoning for this was, I just didn’t. I braved the toilet in the Ballroom once again, at the risk of having to acknowledge the guardian armed with many male scents and avoided confrontation again. Then I wandered to find a spare stool or something, hard to do when next to nobody travels alone at a festival. Thankfully, it didn’t take long but I found a spare one and sat down for a while. I tried ringing Jake once, it rang the entire time before the awfully polite automated response tone told me he was unavailable. So I tried once more a couple minutes later, it only rang a few times before stopping. I froze. I’d gotten through to him again, at last. I looked at my phone just to check, but nothing. It’d stopped ringing. Strange, maybe I’d lost signal or something, so I tried again and exactly the same thing happened. Either where I was sitting was shit for mobile reception, or it was just cutting out. He was probably still busy anyway.
By the time I’d finished sitting, as well as fannying around with the settings on my phone to save my battery (oxymoronic I know) and pretending to look like I have friends on the Facebooks, the next band had almost finished soundchecking for their set. It was another I’d heard of, and although I had heard recordings of before, was slightly apprehensive of how this would translate into a live environment. I needn’t have worried. Berlin’s Samsara Blues Experiment essentially are a predominantly jam based band, if a single song they played was under 7 minutes long, I didn’t hear it. But they were bloody awesome long ass songs, hypnotising in their ability to sweep crowds into their swirling journeys. Although, after their first song, stretching to the 9 minute mark, the band apparently soaked in nerves and slightly shy, someone who I’d hoped to God was an amateur comedian, had the balls/common courtesy (make up your own mind here) to shout loud enough: ‘You’re quite good.’ I laughed, more at the guy’s brazenness for shouting it after the band had clearly spent 9 minutes concentrating hard on their performance and not mucking it up, but I still laughed. A fair few laughed with me too. But they smiled and thanked him, continuing on for the remaining 35 minutes of their set, which I think was only made up of about 5 songs total. They were excellent regardless, and I erased the doubts I’d had about them previously. The time I had listened to them though to be fair was at 3 in the morning and I was half asleep or doing something else, so chances were I was judging them unfairly regardless.
I think this got played… It’s an incredibly lovely jam regardless.
So far I’d merely gone to see bands that hovered across the stoner/blues/psych side of the scene I understood, so I did wonder as this was Desertfest, had they focused purely on bands that dealt with this side of the music? Well, walking into the Underworld after Samsara, it seemed my question got answered rather quickly. There was doom here, and I had found it. I more went to check these guys out on their name alone really but London supergroup 11Paranoias actually weren’t that bad. What struck me more as I was watching them, that they had random screeches of feedback every now and again. This was odd to me as I was standing next to the sound desk, and the sound engineer wasn’t doing anything about it. Was this part of the music then? Or was there nothing wrong with what was going on on-stage, not warranting messing with the levels? I couldn’t work it out for ages, until I moved forward a bit more. Behind a pillar that was blocking my view of the stage, there was another member of the band. And he had a saxophone. It suddenly made sense. Well, where the ‘feedback’ was coming from, not why the band felt they needed a saxophonist though. I liked it however. Added something a bit different to a traditional four-piece set-up.
Make up your own mind if you like it or not, this recording is really, really noisy anyway.
Now, I must confess, I’m not really much of a fan of doom metal to be honest. I get and appreciate why people do like it, obviously it’s called doom for a reason and I understand why it’s at this festival and that it creates a trance like mood for those into it. But for me, I like the heaviness of it, but it’s a tad TOO repetitive for me, I can only stand the same crushing heavy chord and bleakness for a smaller period of time and not just be the entire song. I’m probably over-generalising and I apologise, but my experience of doom tends mostly to be the experience I’ve described. Admittedly, the last song I witnessed them play I really, really liked, but I left 15 minutes before they finished to wander a little further down the street to the Black Heart.
I think I just barely missed the next band start playing, but from what I’d previously heard about Australia’s Hotel Wrecking City Traders, it was going to be an exhilarating 45 minute set. I didn’t expect them to be instrumental, but what they certainly were instrumental about is their sense of humour. In addition to a piledriving performance, armed with just a guitar and drums, they didn’t wait too long to criticise the free beer they given: ‘We don’t even drink this shit at home’ (Fosters, although I’m inclined to agree with them that it tastes shit) and when the crowd were asked which bands had been best today, no one replied quick enough, leaving silence too long for them to add, ‘Nobody? They were all bollocks then.’ Someone did mumble ASG. Not loud enough though. They had to add that they thought Hey Colossus were great, probably nothing to do with the fact that their singer was standing right at the front of the crowd, or they’d been on tour with them or anything. A shout of ‘YEAH, I HEARD THOSE GUYS WERE GREAT!’ of course followed. Another guy shouted that he fucking loved the guy speaking for Hotel Wrecking, and that he fucking loved the guy shouting back. I wondered if this room was going to turn into a mass male orgy for a moment. Poor wives and girlfriends would have to sit watching their husbands/boyfriends cuddling, crossing pork swords and sweating beer through as many orifices you can think of. Shudder. I’m all for bromance, don’t get me wrong, I have numerous myself, but that construct in my head sounded a lot less graphic in my head.
Anyway, music. Something this weekend did leave me wondering was is the soundsystem in the Black Heart actually configured badly or is it just the sound engineers making everything ten times the volume it should be. Because fucking hell they were loud. Uncompromising in their execution, they got a rapturous reception upon completing their decimation of the room, and I have to say I was impressed. Both sides groovy and destructive, and even though they have a couple of albums to their name (their second only came out a couple of weeks ago in fact), justice permitting, their trips to the UK will become more frequent. I would love to guarantee it.
An excellent example of this band’s prowess, truly making their name seem all the more appropriate.
Now I had little interest in the band that was currently on at the Underworld, nothing to do with whether I’d heard of them or not (I hadn’t and didn’t know anything of the music they made), actually I was thinking more of the sausage and fried red onion sandwich I was going to make once I’d got back to Guildford. So I’d wandered back to the Ballroom in the hope to catch the end of Weedeater, as one of the biggest bands at the festival, I naturally had to investigate, but the time I got there, they were already finished. Blast. I swore they were supposed to be playing for another 15 minutes (they actually were… no idea what happened there…). So I stood and waited for a little while for Kvelertak’s soundcheck to complete, theorising that if Weedeater had finished early, their soundcheck was well underway and wouldn’t take that much longer to complete and they’d start early.
I think I waited a further 20 minutes after I’d got into the Ballroom and they still weren’t on stage. Sighing slightly and impatient, I left for the Underworld to see whoever the hell The Body were. I stopped however to try my luck once more with Jake, standing outside to ensure that I had signal. It rang, but it cut out after a few rings. I tried again, just to be sure, and sure enough it happened again. I was starting to get the impression he was hanging up on me. Part of me said he’s still busy, he has a festival to sort out after all. The other part said THE BASTARD HUNG UP ON ME! That dilemma aside, there was a more unpleasant one awaiting me as I entered the Underworld.
Oregon’s The Body apparently play something between sludge and doom metal, between just two people which is a feat I’ll admit. One slight problem. Whatever they classed as screaming/shouting/I have no fucking idea, seriously made me grimace. The music wasn’t necessarily bad, but this barking, literally incomprehensible in translation, was awful. There’s a whole rant I have saved for this for another time, but it didn’t add anything to the music whatsoever, only building up pools of blood in my ears. I hate to bash bands, and try to give credit where it’s due (I even did a bit of research afterwards and I understand better why this happened now), but this was, to me, a cacophony, and whom I can safely say were the worst band I saw over the weekend. I somehow stayed to the end of their set, persevering for 20 minutes. I was glad it was over though.
I’m not going to add a clip for The Body here. Instead, I’m just going to say apparently a lot of their songs deal with suicide, they are incredibly sad people and that I feel like a bit of dick after reading that information. If you’re curious, go look their music up, but it is not for those of a nervous disposition.
Norway’s Kvelertak however… Well, there’s nothing subtle about them either. I mean, they have three guitarists and their singer wears a taxidermy owl for the first song of their sets for fuck’s sake. Getting back into the Ballroom, the place was packed, understandably so, so many younger fans came to the festival purely for them. Having a good spot in the middle of the room, I awaited for the carnage to unfold. Prior to this festival, I’d only been to the Ballroom once for a gig. That was to see The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. What I remember most fondly about that gig, other than the fucking inconvenient stomach cramps I’d had near the end of the gig, was that the crowd went from 0-apeshit in about 3 seconds. This crowd was not as quick off the blocks, but came close to the level of insanity I witnessed there. It was like watching a party and a civil rebellion quite honestly. The vocalist was standing on top of the crowd singing at points, many, many crowd surfers, guitars flew around on stage, singers that can harmonise when singing or growling… No wonder so many musicians and bands rate them so highly. They were an unstoppable force, and an absolute delight to watch work. An article written about them for the festival said to the author of that article, they sound somewhere between Every Time I Die and Mad Capsule Markets. He said it varies from person to person, but for me, I got so much more of fellow Norwegian stalwarts Turbonegro with a black metal band I like, but haven’t actually heard yet, bar maybe Deathspell Omega. I maybe should listen more to it, but I’m not really a fan of black metal either.
I’m sure a few of you don’t need to be introduced to Kvelertak, so this serves as more of a refresher. If you’re not one of those few… LOOK, ANGRY NORWEGIAN DUDES WHO WRITE RIFFS!
Once there was nothing left of the Ballroom, well, after Kvelertak finished anyways, I had to make a decision. Either venture to see Dragged Into Sunlight at the Underworld (a band I had heard of) or The Cosmic Dead at the Black Heart (a band I’d never heard of). I ended up doing what a rational person would do, which was seeing one, deciding if I liked it enough to stay, or going to see the other. I wandered back to the Underworld, taking the chance to phone Jake again, with no such luck, and upon walking into the venue where the stage was… equipment was being packed away. Bugger, I’d missed them. By process of elimination though, if anyone wanted to see a live band, they would go to the Black Heart, essentially packing the place out. In the end, I couldn’t be bothered. Besides, there was going to be an afterparty here anyway, I at least wanted to see what went on at at least one of them, just for my own piece of mind. Slowly but surely, laptops were set up with a mixer and a set of headphones each, a fairly respectable set-up if I was to judge, at least they were actually doing something and not just pressing play. A few volume hiccups here and there followed, but more and more people turned up, and anthems of the scene, surprisingly most of which I knew, were pumped out, slowly filling up the now dancefloor of the Underworld. I stood and observed, being the type of person I am, singing if I knew the words, but smiling at what I was watching unfold. They were no different to what I would do in this situation. Air guitar. Singing. Enjoying themselves. It made me appreciate the things I’d done over the last few years. Just a shame I had to leave really.
Near eleven, I had to leave for Waterloo, and back to the land of Guildford. Jake did send me a text to say that he was still caught up in business, but I’d said to him not to worry, I was taking a chance to see if he was around anyway. Plus I was thinking heavily about the forthcoming romantic entanglement I had with a sausage and fried red onion sandwich. Of course ending in cannibalism. Tasty, tasty cannibalism. Mmmmm.