Tag Archive for: Desertfest London

BY DARAGH MARKHAM

Fresh conscripts from our sister pubs clock in. Actually, most of them are volunteers — naïve sadists with an expectant gleam in their eye. Sorry dude, there’s only one wristband on bar. Take a number and get in line, because you’re not catching Truckfighters. You’re standing here for the next nine hours, getting intimately familiar with how to pour a Hells. An urgent care package of Modelos is brought in from a nearby corner shop, as staff, some Desertfest team members, and a few customers have drunk through the entire weekend’s supply already. A customer grabs my arm. “Man, I saw your set at the Underworld yesterday — that was fucking nuts, your guitar must be totalled!” Yesterday feels like a hundred days ago. We played mid-afternoon, before the drummer and I, both ranking warriors of Camden bars, hightailed it back to start/resume our Desertfest shifts. One eye on the customer, the other toward the taps. “Yeah that was actually pretty much inadvertent, the guitar smashing…” I reply. It wasn’t my guitar either so, I won’t be hearing the end of that. Wonder what I can break next year.

Another customer is complaining about the toilets, reminding me of a recent review. We never really read reviews of the bar (as Larry David says, “the customer is usually a moron and an asshole”), but this one was great. Besides whining about the smell of our (a rock bar) toilets, the author referred to one of the staff as “Satan’s idiot”, which left one obvious thing to do: get cut-offs with Hells Angels-style back patches made up saying SATAN’S IDIOTS, for every member of staff. That this wasn’t achieved in time for Desertfest will forever be my shame. Eighteen hours in one place, doing one thing, listening to (essentially) one riff will either send you mad or grant you a sense of Zen you never thought possible. (For days after, I will lie in bed waiting to fall asleep, calves screaming, my mind endlessly flashing, locked into the mechanism of pouring pint after pint after pint like an automaton, the main riff of Sleep’s Dragonaut haunting my head in an infinite loop). The shifts follow similar patterns, and when the day’s headliners take the stages of the bigger venues, the bar clears out for awhile. This reprieve is spent with frantic smoking/drinking, before more prepping, stocking, reloading.

The final offensive will hit us soon — the bestial midnight raids of the afterparty. Actually, “siege” would be the more appropriate term. One bartender likens it to the relentless blitz of Call of Duty’s Nazi zombies, with the platoon pinned down, cornered behind the bar, weaving and dodging and sidestepping around each other, pouring pints with one hand, making spirit ’n’ mixers with the other, taking change with our mouths (pre-covid). The faces of customers become interchangeable bearded blurs. Your ears ring like after a bomb blast, fingers whittle into numb stumps from hammering orders into the till screen. Legs beg you to stop. Have another shot, keep going. This is the final push. If you can’t find a rhythm, you lock into crushkilldestroy mode: no logic, no order, just serve the first person you see after every completed order. My personal record is making over three grand’s worth in one day, and that was when we flirted with 10-hour “easy” shifts one year, so God knows what I rack up on a day like today. The bar is packed, the party heaving, the whole room one single, multi-limbed, multi-bearded organism. DJs are deafening — orders for cider result in soda and confusion. Regular Mat buys the whole 10-strong staff a round of top-shelf tequila, a much-needed and appreciated bolstering of our defences.

With the unexpected May heat and so many people in, our weathered cooler gives up and dies. The fan units out the back of the building pump out piping Saharan air. The beer starts pouring as pure foam in a bar full of pint-hungry maniacs. What can they be appeased with? The Modelos are long gone. Bongripper soundtracks our endless descent into ruin. Finally, at 3 am, we clean down the bar to Darude’s Sandstorm, because surely this should be the anthem of a festival with “Desert” in its moniker, and after a full, uninterrupted day of doom and stoner blasting through the PA and roaring from the venue, you need pop music. Hip hop. Fucking Dido (ok, not Dido). Exhausted, you stand at the toilet, jeans and boxers peeled midway down your thighs, pissing free and airing out your region. You look down to discover you are pissing directly into your yanked-down boxers, which have become a sort of piss-cradle. You are too tired to do anything about it, and just keep pissing. After all, you have survived a full Thursday–Sunday Desertfest. You are kept buoyant by the achievement. Tomorrow you will awake broken. Tonight, you will slumber victorious, knowing you will do it all again next year.

But right now, it’s time for the best-tasting beer you have ever earned. Dixie Dave is roaming the bar in a determined daze, clutching a large inflatable giraffe/camel. I’m drunk enough to get over myself and grab him and apologise for being one of those annoying, demanding fans, but something has been bugging me for years and I need to know: the burning American flag on …And Justice For Y’all’s cover art, the lyrics in Jason… The Dragon (“Abandon ship, and burn that goddamn flag… burn that fucking flag”), among other anti-American sentiment sprinkled throughout their recorded output — that’s pretty ballsy stuff, coming from shitkicking North Carolina… Dixie explains he’s always been a punk, and those things are just an extension of his skateboarding, anti-authoritarian origins, and some other rapid, rasping, guttural mutterings I can’t decipher. Then, straight-faced, he says to me, without a hint of irony, “Y’know, Weedeater… I don’t get why people think we’re a stoner band”.

Daragh Markham has worked, attended and performed at Desertfest many times over the years, sometimes all at once. He’ll play with D-beat speed metal hellions Dungeon at this year’s edition.

BY DARAGH MARKHAM

Let’s get one thing clear: if you can survive a weekend working the bar at Desertfest, you can work a bar anywhere, in any situation. Forget other festivals. You can sling pints on deck as the Titanic sinks. You can line up shots while a mushroom cloud courtesy of Putin/Biden/Kim Jong-fucking-un towers in the distance (customers irradiated before your very eyes, what a sight that must be…). But I’m drifting.

So it starts like this: you wake up, legs still aching. You’ve only shut your eyes a minute and now you’re on your feet again, slouching back to the front. At least you didn’t follow your colleagues to their spontaneous Slimelight afterparty (they’ll roll in soon, sicker than Mike IX Williams in withdrawal during Hurricane Katrina).

At the bar, every morning of Desertfest begins with the keg hustle. How much beer does the focal point of a festival need each day? About as much as Matt Pike loves aliens — lots. You’re rolling, stacking, lifting, packing an inordinate number of kegs, the tiny cold room filled to the rafters as your frazzled brain plays keg Tetris trying to organise it all while you sweat out yesterday’s regret.

It’s like war prepping, strategising every bit of space before another full-day assault. They rinsed us of that peach sour beer yesterday — gonna need to push something fruity to the front today… Fortify yourself with a couple Bloody Mary shots and a Modelo for breakfast. You’ll need it. For today be Saturday. Or is it Sunday? Forget it. Eighteen-hour shifts don’t require day names — they all spell insanity anyway.

It’s May in England and this year, miraculously, it’s not raining. Throngs accumulate in the alley out front, allowing air into the bar. By midday, the venue upstairs reeks of beer, bud, BO and beard. The volume is unreal. It’s way past capacity up there, a line of people snaking out and down the stairs, all looking to the venue door, where all you can see is the backs of heads. The body heat and smoke-machine dry ice hang in the stagnant air like mist from a Hammer Horror film. Oh, for a big-titted vampiress to take me now.

Those too late to get upstairs congregate around the bar. Acid casualties. Serial defecators. Curious out-of-towners demanding round after round of Bloody Mary shots. Space cadets reeling from obscene amounts of weed/shrooms/beer/acid demand they be looked after by your staff (this is the second consecutive year this happens).

Time gamblers cling to the bar, gripped by the unmistakable murk of several accumulated all-nighters, well-earned sleep circling, beckoning like a vulture. Any minute now, the eyes of one of them will roll back, their head will fall forward, and their face will slam on the bartop with a meaty smack. And somewhere in the bar, a skinny white boy is a bit too eager to clarify the name of the Eyehategod song playing, yelling the racial epithet in its title loud enough to startle the dazed, glazed and blazed attendees out of their afternoon reveries. Someone comes to the bar to inform us that one poor soul/hole didn’t quite make it to the toilets, opting instead to shit in the corner of the corridor leading to the johns. A recruit drafted in from one of the sister pubs is sent on a search and destroy mission. He returns disgusted but triumphant.

Ten minutes go by and someone else informs us of the faecal matter. Turns out the wet-behind-the-ears grunt had simply doused the mound of human waste with disinfectant powder (blue-coloured, meant for drains) and cordoned it off with blue roll, so the offending corridor corner appears infested by a pile of luminous blue-spotted mutant excrement like something out of The Thing. A dishonourable discharge beckons for this soldier for his failure to properly deal with the offending dishonourable human discharge.

Naturally, a weak stomach has no place in bar work. But this weekend, my diet will consist of three Quorn scotch eggs, a Quorn cocktail sausage, 63 Modelos, and anxiety. All of which means we have to talk about the snack station — the infamous, annually expanding staff snack station behind the bar.

I’m talking four one-litre bottles of vodka, four cartons of tomato juice, and multiple packs of celery sticks. I’m talking three large bags of tortilla chips, various salsa/guacamole/sour cream and chive/nacho chilli cheese dips, along with apples, oranges and bananas. I’m talking bread rolls, slices of cheese, ham, and cherry tomatoes. I’m talking sausage rolls, scotch eggs, pasta, chicken bites and steak bakes. And I am most certainly talking four to five ASSORTED TUBS OF HUMMUS and endless Modelos.

This is how we win. An army marches on its stomach, and my unit is no different. Around late afternoon, a senior member of the Desertfest team locks eyes with me over the bar and nods to the office. I nod in confirmation and lead the way, followed by the team member and an unknown third party dragging a suitcase on wheels behind them. The door closes, and I look at the two of them, waiting for some sort of introduction, status update, or indication as to why the three of us are cramped into the hobbithole confines of this office.

The two of them ignore me and a sordid transaction unfolds before my eyes.

“You got it?” the team member asks.

“Oh yeah,” comes the reply, in an American accent.

The American unzips the suitcase and produces two extra-large ziplock bags, containing six airtight Tupperware boxes, three in each bag. The boxes are brimming with a beige–brown substance.

My eyes widen, pulse quickens. “Is that h-“

The team member turns and narrows their eyes at me, smiling. “That’s right. Pure, uncut, homemade hummus.”

I gulp. Hard. The team member pulls an artist pass out of his pocket and places it in the American’s waiting hand.

He nods and smiles at me. “I’m an artist, bro.”

I’m hip to this scene. “Oh yeah, me too,” I wink and nod back.

A clandestine hummus handoff! In my own office! I am completely aroused. And, naturally, for his silence, your boy gets a slice of this action. I nip back to the bar to grab a bag of crisps and then scurry into the office and the chilly keg room to luxuriate, alone, in my share of the contraband. Fuck yeah, I whisper to myself, dipping crisps into a hunk of hummus clutched in my hand. This’ll take the edge off nicely.

Daragh Markham has worked, attended and performed at Desertfest many times over the years, sometimes all at once. He’ll play with D-beat speed metal hellions Dungeon at this year’s edition.

For those who’s not familiar with Khemmis, can we get a brief introduction?
Ben: I moved from Mississippi to Colorado in August 2012 to begin my PhD at CU Boulder. I put an ad on Craigslist looking for some folks to play heavy music in the style of Neurosis, YOB, Rwake, etc, and nobody responded. I reposted it with a picture of Jawas carrying a Sunn Model T and Dan responded fairly quickly. We met up at TRVE Brewing to grab a drink and talk music. We didn’t know it at the time, but the head brewer, Zach, had recently relocated from Texas and was itching to create some heavy tunes too. Phil was actually a student in the same PhD program that I’d just entered, and I mentioned to him that some folks and I were putting together a band and were looking for a singer. Although he had never sung in a band before, he had cool gear and good taste in music. After the two of us got together and jammed on a bunch of riffs through obnoxiously loud amplifiers, I immediately knew we’d found our Huckleberry. 

Khemmis was an ancient Egyptian city, any particular reason why you went with that as a name?
Naming a band sucks. We landed on Khemmis because it’s short, doesn’t tie us to any singular sound/style, and someone else hadn’t already taken it. 

For the average Orange reader, how would you describe your music?
Khemmis: We call ourselves doomed heavy metal. We draw inspiration from a wide variety of metal subgenres such as death, black, sludge and trad, but we strive to ground our music in the feeling(s) most strongly associated with doom metal. That said, I recently saw someone on Twitter describe us as “Candlemass meets OSDM” (old school death metal), and we really dig that description as well.

….aaaand how would you describe it to your grandma?
The Devil’s Music.

Okay – let’s talk gear; what are your different history and experiences with Orange?Ben: Shockingly, I don’t think I ever played an Orange amplifier until our set at Psycho Las Vegas in 2017. I plugged into a Rockerverb 100 and a pair of PPC412s that night and conjured the best tone I’d ever had in this band. I knew and loved the magical Orange cabs, but that amp blew me away. As luck would have it, our friend Eddie of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Beer Guy podcast was in attendance along with Alex from Orange Amps. We got off the stage, took our guitars to the hotel room, and then saw a message from Eddie saying that Orange wanted to talk to us about working together. We soon sold off the amps we’d been using and all switched to the same kickass Orange heads we’re still using today. Though that was the first time I’d played a Rockerverb, I own a PPC412 with v30s and WGS ET65s in an X-pattern that has been “the cab” on everyKhemmis recording. Dave Otero, our producer, has been trying to buy the cab from me for years! 

Dan:  Ben sounded amazing that night. I saw Sleep with Matt’s wall of amps, mostly of the Orange variety.  I was sold in that evening, and knew that nothing crushes like an Orange. 

Phil: That Orange sounded so much better than the Marshall I played that night. It was night and day what the better amp was.

What’s your current set ups?
Ben: We’re not the sort of band that throws a Muff or Rat in front of an amp from the 70s and calls it a day. That’s not to say that approach is flawed—it just isn’t the one for us. Phil and I both use Rockerverb 100 MKIII heads, which are simply the perfect amps for our sound; the gain channel is thick with just a touch of fuzz while retaining the clarity to allow complex chord voices to ring out without turning into a pile of mush. Even though we both use the same head, our guitars and signal paths allow for two decidedly different flavours of heaviness. My main guitars are both Dunable Asteroids (flying Vs). My go-to has a mahogany body and neck, burl maple top, ebony fretboard, and Seymour Duncan JB and 59 pickups. It is the best guitar in the world. My other Asteroid has a maple body and neck with a claro walnut top, maple fretboard, and SD Nazgul and Sentient humbuckers. I use a lot of “flavour” effects to add texture to our music, but my main rhythm tone is a Seymour Duncan 805 into the dirt channel. I switch from the 805 to a KHDK Ghoul Jr to shape my lead tone a bit differently, cutting some lows and adding a bit of grit to make my solos slice through our wall of riffs. I use a Fortin Zuul, which is the best noise gate I’ve ever used, to keep things quiet and under control.

Phil: I try to keep things relatively simple while complementing and filling out the space not occupied as much by Ben and Dan’s sounds. I also use a Dunable Asteroid (mine is mahogany with a maple cap), loaded with some humbucker sized p90s that Dunable built for me, and I play very, VERY hard with my picking hand. I have a Reverend Volcano with p90s as a backup, which sounds very similar and is also a great guitar. Naturally the p90/heavy handed playing combo produces a lot of upper mid range and very ‘present’ sounds, so I have my Rockerverb and pedals tailored to emphasise that. My main dirt is a Way Huge Saucy Box overdrive, which I like because it doesn’t really effect the tone of my guitar other than adding a bit more “push” to the amp, and I use the Orange Two Stroke EQ in the effects loop for solo boosts to get some additional volume, cut low end, and boost the upper mids a bit more. Other than that I rely on Mr Black pedals for some ambiance, their Wolfmoon for reverb and the SS 850 for delay, which I absolutely love and never take off my board.

Dan: The first time I plugged into an AD200, I knew it was exactly right for me.  Tubeyness and plenty of headroom… but just enough to still get that growl. The Orange 810 is dark and doomy without losing expression. I don’t know if a cab can be tight and fat at the same time, but if it is indeed possible, the Orange has achieved it. I am keeping pedals quite simple these days.  Before the amp, the venerable Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra is the go-to, mostly-on, pedal.  On occasion I’ll add the DOD Preamp 250 in front of the UltraOmegaOk. A touch of the Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster in the back reintroduces some thickness.  Much or all of this may be replaced with the Orange Bass Butler, which I experienced for the first time at NAMM.  Ade and Alex hung out with us during the demo, from which I am still recovering. I’ve enjoyed playing Dunable Basses for many years.  However, like all true gear heads, I’ve had fun mixing and matching a bit. The mainstay for touring in 2019 was the Sandberg California Grand Dark TM4.  I also have a very cool Sandberg VS4 that is far too nice to travel with.  The Grand Dark is very versatile, sounds great, and plays oh so very nice.

You’re heading to the UK for the first time ever in a couple of months where you’ll be playing Desertfest London, are you pumped?
Ben: We are honored to be part of Desertfest and can’t wait to finally perform the UK. The lineup is nuts! Quite a few folks in the Nuclear Blast UK office have been asking when we’d finally make it over there, and we can’t imagine a better debut than being part of Desertfest.

Dan: So very excited. I love London. I was able to visit for the first time in 2018 and I just couldn’t get over the rich history, architecture, and musical pedigree of the city.  Desertfest is a tremendous honor.  

Phil: I’ve never been, and I’m am super excited! It is a great fest in a really cool part of the world that I’ve always wanted to visit. I’m hoping to stay after for a bit on my own and make a vacation out of it.

Your latest album ‘Desolation’ was released in 2018, will there be a follow up soon? Maybe some new material played live in London….?
Khemmis: We recently began writing for album #4, but these things take time to get right. That said, we might have a new track ready for Desertfest, who knows? Regardless, we do have new material coming out this year. We contributed a song to Magnetic Eye Records’ reimagining of Alice in Chain’s Dirt, one of the most important albums ever to me. That should arrive this spring. We also have something special that we’ll be announcing sometime next month. What could it be? Stay tuned, hellions!

Give us your best joke – GO!
How do you think the unthinkable?

With an itheberg..

Truls Mörck of Graveyard, Desertfest London 2018. By Ella Stormark

At this point in time, many of you might still be knees deep in post-Christmas depression and January blues while dreaming of better days, potentially made even worse by dry January (I caved on the 9th and had a glass of wine, it doesn’t count if it’s with food right?) which equals stone cold sobriety during what feels like three hour long days. It’s okay though, spring’s not actually that far away – just look at this as an excuse to be a record recluse for a bit, personally I’ve only socialised once in the entire month of January, and hell, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m not quite sure when I’ll emerge from my winter slumber, but, it will definitely be in time for Desertfest London.

Since the launch of Desertfest London back in 2012, the festival has grown and gets bigger and busier every year, with 2020 looking huge. Among this years lineup, we’ve got some of the headliners from the first ever Desertfest London returning; Orange Goblin, who’s celebrating their 25 year anniversary this year, and Corrosion of Conformity. Also returning to the Desertstage is the mighty Graveyard, who’ll be accompanied at the festival by fellow Swedish countrymen Witchcraft, Maidavale and Lowrider, the latter due to release the follow up to their iconic 2000 debut album ‘Ode to IO’ on February 21st, a mere two and a half months before the festival.

Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless at Desertfest London 2019. By Ella Stormark

Mixing things up a bit at this year’s festival with sunny, progressive psychedelia, is US bands Sacri Monti and Monarch, both hailing from Oceanside just outside San Diego. San Diego’s been on the frontline of modern psychedelia since the formation of Earthless in the early 2000s, and Sacri Monti and Monarch are just two of many bands who’s followed in their footsteps with a modern take on older influences – the rise of successful psychedelic bands from the area is so high that ‘San Diego Psych’ has sort of become a genre of it’s own.

Of course, as always, Desertfest is also a fantastic platform for up and coming bands, featuring some of the finest heavy acts in the UK underground scene, such as London’s very own Green Lung, who’s 2019 debut album ‘Woodland Rites’ received critical acclaim from the likes of The Guardian and Kerrang. Joining them on the bill is also Birmingham’s eerie doom band Alunah, and another London local in the form of The Brothers Keg, who despite having just released two songs, have caught the attention of The Obelisk who compared them to both King Buffalo and Sleep, eagerly anticipating for their debut album to drop.

We’re also excited to catch hard hitting and heavy two piece Big Business, the former rhythm section of the Melvins, and of course, doom connoisseurs Khemmis who will also be crossing the Atlantic for our listening pleasure, so there will be no lacking in the heavy riff department (okay dad…), not that that was ever a concern of ours anyway.

There are still some tickets left for the festival, so head over to Desertfest London’s website to get your hands on a pair and hopefully we’ll see you there! We’ll be catching up with some of the artists playing the festival in the next couple of months, so watch this space.

As a few days have passed and the hangover had time to wear off, it’s time to reflect on yet another spectacular Desertfest London. We kickstarted the weekend at The Black Heart at 2pm on the Friday for Israel’s ‘The Great Machine’, who totally kicked ass, by the way, before venturing out in the rain heading towards Electric Ballroom where Old Empire had curated the stage for the day. We caught soothing Jaye Jayle who were a nice little ‘calm before the storm’, as we knew we were about to get our ears blown out over the course of the next 48 hours.

Ben McLeod, All Them Witches

After a Black Heart pit stop for a rum and coke, it was time to interview Swedish ‘Skraeckoedlan’ where our first questions were “HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE YOUR NAME WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHERE DOES IT COME FROM AND WHY DID YOU PICK IT?” We’d tell you the answers to all of the above, but we’d rather keep ya hanging so you’ll watch the interview we did with them once we release it in about four years time. We can tell you this though, they shared their thoughts on it perhaps not being the most beneficial name when it comes to world domination and reaching an international audience – no shit. Still, lovely guys and killer musicians, and totally cool with getting interviewed outside in the freezing rain, gotta love viking Scandis.

Over at the Underworld L.A record label Riding Easy was showcasing a selection of it’s bands, and we caught heavy rock band R.I.P which catered for those wanting fast and heavy rock ‘n’ roll. Later on in the evening saw OM headline Electric Ballroom, Electric Citizen the Underworld and Skraeckoedlan The Black Heart, before The Shrine played Electric Ballroom’s midnight afterparty, which was their first London show with bassist Corey Parks.

From previous year’s we’ve been pretty spoiled with sunshine and summer during Desertfest, something we had to pay for during the Saturday as we had thunderstorms, rain and hail all at once, which also called for yet another great outside interview with Savanna’s swamp metal band Black Tusk who were headlining the Black Heart later on in the evening. The Saturday consisted mostly of legging it between venues to catch as many bands as possible, all while not becoming a soaked mess while doing so.

Isaiah Mitchell, Earthless

Sunday was the grand finale, where we headed early to catch up with Earthless before their show, followed by Witch, All Them Witches and Fu Manchu. Once the Roundhouse headliner finishes everyone knows it’s do or die to get into the Black Heart, where we miraculously landed a table and spent the rest of the evening people watching and drinking until closing time at 3am, which then again calls for another half an hour (at least) lingering outside in the street hoping that somewhere else to party will somehow appear – it did. Fast forward two more hours to dehydration and a headache, and it was time to realise Desertfest London was over, for this time.

Charles Michael Parks, All Them Witches
Desertfest afterparty.

Lo and behold, Desertfest London 2019 is upon us! With just a few more days to go, it’s time to take a moment to check you’ve got everything you need for this years festivities, you wouldn’t wanna show on unprepared now, would you?

Ticket

Well, have you got your ticket yet? If not then you best get going, there’s still some left at Desertfest’s website, phew.

Denim Vest with 8000 patches

Please tell us you’ve got your Desertfest uniform ready to go, no? Well, you’re in luck. As we mentioned above there’s luckily still a few days left, which means plenty of time for a bit of last minute DIY, ripping sleeves and stitching patches to the soundtrack of Sleep and Black Sabbath

Waterproof everything

If you’ve been to Desertfest and The Black Heart before you will be aware of the unisex toilets in their 2am state. If not, well, we can only word this nicely – enter at own risk and don’t ever with a hole in your boots. Bring a wetsuit and and oxygen tank to avoid drowning in a puddle of piss. Do your drugs elsewhere.

Earplugs 

A lot of you kids and grownups thinks earplugs are uncool, but we’ve got news for you, pal, so is permanent damage to your hearing. Yours truly have made the mistake of attending the majority of shows without protection and am now a constant victim of white noise should the decibel reach a certain level. Now that we’ve warned you, don’t look at us when you ears fall off having stood next to an AD200 for three hours.

Band- and music related pick up lines

Guy spots girl wearing KISS t-shirt “Hey girl what’s up, you sure pull the trigger to my love gun!”

….which brings us to the next one…

Condoms

Kidding, no one ever gets laid at Desertfest.

Requests 

Have you got your song requests ready to plea the after-party DJs? Bet you do. DJs LOVE requests and a crowd loves an obscure B-side, keep ‘em comin’!

Suncream 

English people get sunburnt everywhere, even at the Underworld at 11pm – it’s unbelievable.

Cash for Kebabs

Drinking solidly for 11 hour straight will take it’s toll and eating is advised – Woody Grill is often the ‘go to’ place for survival and with good reason, killer kebabs and great veggie options. Also conveniently located only a stone throw away from Black Heart, Underworld and Electric Ballroom – perfect when all you can handle is a 40 second stumble.

Tissues

For wiping tears of joy when ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is played at the afterparty.

Once again Desertfest London has gone and done it and put together yet another cracking lineup for this year’s festival featuring bands and artists such as OM, Fu Manchu, Earthless, All Them Witches, Kadavar, Electric Citizen, Witch and more. We might still be a while away, but we’re impatiently waiting as we count down for the festivities to begin.

The festival is held every so slightly later than usual this year as it’s taking place over the weekend 3rd to 5th of May, and as spring should have properly sprung by this point we’re hoping for even sunnier conditions than last year – there is just something beautiful about casually bumping into about 98% of the people you know drinking sunny pints at 3.45 on a Friday in the designated Desertfest area outside the Black Heart, browsing through records and merch while chatting along. 

Desertfest means madness to us at Orange, and we’d probably all clone ourselves if we could to stretch out between the different venues to catch all the bands as well as conducting all the interviews, shoots and unsuccessfully trying to upload Instagram stories while in our favourite but 4G-less basement at The Underworld. In many ways, it’s very much like a wedding, our wedding – lots of planning and excitement during the months leading up to it, until day one’s all of a sudden there and you’re jet launched into an overwhelming experience of people to talk to and a gallon of booze thrown into the mix. Not your average day in the office, and sometimes it’s hard to differ between working hard or hardly working – somehow the two go hand in hand delightfully during this weekend.

As always, there’s always some acts that excite me to the point of explosion, last year it was Hawkwind who’s set timed perfectly with me finishing all interviews for the weekend, allowing embrace the space and go full Rainbow Rhythms in the crowd during their set. This year I’ve got my heart set on Earthless at The Roundhouse despite having seen them a whole bunch a times before, the last one being at Brighton’s The Haunt where I for a second thought I’d take off into hyperspace during the 20 minute long into. My heart sings for Earthless, the finest psych connoisseurs and masters of their instruments, and some of the kindest people in the industry. I spoke to guitarist Isaiah about his expectations towards the gig, and being one of the bands chosen to close the festival at Roundhouse on the Sunday;

Earthless at Islington Assembly Hall April 2018

“We’re stoked and honoured and excited to be playing with all these bands that we love, and to play a venue such as the Roundhouse makes the whole thing even sweeter! We can’t wait to get to London and let it all out.”
– Isaiah Mitchell, Earthless

Another band I’m genuinely stoked to see at the Roundhouse is All Them Witches – having first seen the band play London’s Lexington just three years ago it’s incredible to think how much they’ve grown during those years, from Lexington to Scala to Koko to the Roundhouse – almost sounds like a classic case of “dreams come true”. Having recently parted with their keyboard player the band is now performing as a three piece, so seeing how they’ve adapted their music to be performed one man down is pretty exciting. Everyone loves a power trio, and ATW might just be the next big one.

Day passes and weekend tickets are up for grabs via Desertfest London’s website, so get your hands on yours before it’s too late.

I must be getting older cause the years keep flying by, and it’s time for Desertfest London yet again, having just about recovered from the last one. Just kidding, I’m totally recovered from that one, but still slightly sleep deprived from last weekend’s Roadburn festival – anyway, enough about myself and my speedy or not so speedy recoveries.

This weekend, as every other year, Camden will be infiltrated with mostly longhaired, although not limited to, music and beer enthusiasts ready to shout along to some of their favourite bands before let’s admit it, getting hammered at the Black Heart and The Dev until 3am before when it’s time to, venture to Woody Grill for lifesaving kebabs that will prepare them, myself included, to do the same thing all over the following day – and then again, the day after that.

Covering last years festival I started out incredibly professional with pen and paper in my bag for professional notes to go in my professional daily recaps I’d be getting up at 8am the following mornings to write, and earplugs because we only get one pair of ears and we must look after them. Four hours into the festival I’d had about eighteen pints, lost an earplug, and a single puff of a cigarette that definitely wasn’t a cigarette and sent me on a magical mystery tour for about 3 hours, making me run away at an incredibly slow pace from my friends to watch various bands in the dark on my own, all while feeling uncomfortable about the way my arms were attached and hanging down the side of my body and accidentally brushing unknowing by-passers.

Radio Moscow, Desertfest Antwerp 2017

This year I’ll be kickstarting my festival nice and early on the Friday when London noise connoisseurs Swedish Death Candy takes the Black Heart stage at 2.45pm. I’ve seen ‘em a million times before, but they continue to deliver impeccable live performances every time, so I wouldn’t wanna miss them. Following that, I’ll be making my way to The Dev for Orange ambassadors Lionize where guitarist Nate will brighten the place up in his all gold outfit, which will most likely be the only all gold outfit at the entire festival. After that, we’ve got Orange ambassador Anthony Meier taking the stage at Underworld, which might just be my favourite venue in all of London, with his band Radio Moscow, and I’m pretty sure will be one of the festival highlights as they blew the roof off as headliners at last year’s Desertfest Antwerp. When Radio Moscow ends, I’ve got half an hour to make my way to KOKO where the kings of Gothenburg and 70s revival rock Graveyard will be headlining the night, with bassist Truls Mörck flaunting his AD200 (Product placement, advert, shameless name drop etc.)

Saturday I might as well set camp at Electric Ballroom with bands such as Church of Misery, Weedeater and High on Fire playing. London, lock up your ladies cause who knows what’ll happen when a shirtless Matt Pike plays his first note through his stack of turned up to eleven Orange amps taking everyone on the train to vibration station – the entire Roundhouse will be speaking in tongues not knowing what hit ‘em, most likely all in a haze of, uhm, Willie Nelson scented incense. ‘Incense’.

Church of Misery, Desertfest Antwerp 2017

Then there’s Sunday, the grand finale which already had a pretty damn strong lineup since day one, until they about a month or so ago threw in King Buffalo which will be headlining the Black Heart at 9pm, Elder playing Roundhouse at 4.30pm, a band that simply just blew me away when I saw them for the second time last August, having added a second guitarist/keyboard player to their line-up, as well as adding a second headliner for the day which is none other than Hawkwind. Hawkwind. H A W K W I N D. ‘Hawkwind live at the Roundhouse’, kinda rings a bell, doesn’t it? The legendary kings and pretty much inventors of space rock will be taking the stage at 7.50pm, and that really is a show I don’t wanna miss. I met Phil Campbell last year, and he told me Hawkwind live was ‘the scariest fuckin’ thing he’d ever seen.’ Fair, that was in the 70s when they had a topless Stacia on stage surrounded by some of the trippiest visuals the world had ever seen at that point, but surely even decades down the line Hawkwind are destined to provide you with a night you’ll late forget. Let’s not forget Monolord who just finished touring with Black Label Society where the played London’s infamous Royal Albert Hall, and will be taking their caffeine fuelled doom to yet another iconic London venue as they open up the Roundhouse at 3pm.

Monolord, Desertfest Antwerp 2017

Between all of this, running between shows, catching up with friends from near and afar and drinking lukewarm, flat beer that I’ve held in my hand for far too long, I’ll also be conducting artist interviews and keeping Instagram a float, keeping you guys up to date with the mayhem and the madness going down in Camden town.


If you wanna join the madness and share the fun, head over to Desertfest London’s website and get your hands on a or two ticket before they’re all completely gone – see ya there!

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters

Sunday, the grand finale! As I arrived in Camden, I met up with the guys from Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters as my hair braiding services had been requested before their show at The Black Heart later in the evening. We sat camp at The Blues Kitchen, they cracked open their flight case of make up, and we got going. Three grown in tie dye men having their hair done while applying layers of corpse paint, at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. A sight for sore eyes, to say the least.

Elephant Tree

As I finished my duties in the beauty department, I ventured over to the Underworld for Elephant Tree. This was the third time I’ve seen them, and they continue to blow me away. They sounded absolutely immense, and the Underworld was the perfect fit for them – their heavy sound bouncing off the walls in the underground bunker. As they finisher their set, we headed back out into the daylight, and across camden for Saint Vitus at the Roundhouse. Sadly, Saint Vitus were a bit of a let down after Elephant Tree, so again, fucking well done Elephant Tree!

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

Saint Vitus finished, and it was back to the Underworld, which has pretty much been my home away from home over the weekend, for Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. The New Castle band with the band name that puts your tongue in a twist. And again, yet another band that killed it at the Underworld! They’re great on record but that still doesn’t do them justice at all as they’re absolutely mind-blowing live.

As Pigs x 7 ended, it was getting late and time for me to face my inner demons – would I go see Sleep at the Roundhouse, or Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters at the Black Heart, followed by Samsara Blues Experiment at Underworld? I went with Chubby and Samsara, and god damn I’m glad I did! Chubby was a big ol’ sweaty mess of riffs, tie dye, corpse paint, cowbells and bubbles, and just one big party – and Samsara? Well, they were sensational.

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters

Samsara Blues Experiment

So – if I were to summarize this weekend, I’ll have to say it’s the most fun I’ve had in a very long time. The line up was absolutely sensational, and I’m currently suffering from severe post Desertfest blues. Roll up Desertfest London 2018 – it’s only a year away, but who’s counting?

The Groundhogs

Ah, day two of Desertfest! As mentioned in my previous post, I started day two on a staggering hangover, but managed to make my way to Electric Ballroom to catch The Groundhogs at 2.30 – there was no way in hell I was gonna admit defeat and miss out on THE Groundhogs, who’s 1970 album ‘Thank Christ for the Bomb’ has been on repeat for the last couple of months. The Groundhogs came, played, and did not let me down – they pretty much tore shit up and blew me away! Musically I reckon they’re proabably one of the best acts at the entire festival, and it baffles me that they were on so early as they’re a pretty damn hard act to follow.

Post Groundhogs, we ventured the The Black Heart to catch some of Iron Witch, before having a three hour long sit-down and beer break while waiting for Turbonegro. As a Norwegian, I think of Turbonegro as a national treasure – I’m raised on their denim death punk, and until last night, I had not seen them since 2007, let alone with Tony Sylvester fronting them. Having a frontman replaced can be scary, heartbreaking and gut wrenching, and I wasn’t sure what to expect as Hank left pretty big boots to fill… All of my fears, worries and concerns, disappeared in the split second Tony strutted out on stage in his tight, cropped sleevless tee, combined with some outrageously tight denim cutoffs, a hat, and his trade mark make up. It was, in a way, the campest and most masculine thing I had ever seen, all at once. They’re a party band of a different dimension, and they were fucking sick. I left the venue sweaty and stoked in my newly acquired Turbonegro ‘Taste it & Get Wasted’ t-shirt that I will live my life by and wear like a badge of honour til my dying day. Also totally applying to join Turbojugend, asking myself why I haven’t done so years ago.

Turbonegro

After Turbonegro I made a half hearted attempt of queuing to get into The Black Heart afterparty, but decided to call it a day so I’d wake up fresh and fine for the grand finale. Not one from learning of my mistakes, but as I’m sat here feeling fresh AF, well rested and rejuvenated, I’m feeling pretty good about myself and ready to take on the day.

The Black Heart //  2.45pm – 3.30pm – Venomous Maximus
Underworld // 3.30pm – 4.15pm – Elephant Tree
Roundhouse // 4.45pm – 5.45pm – Saint Vitus
Underworld // 6.30pm – 7.30pm – Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
The Black Heart // 8.30pm – 9.15pm – Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
Roundhouse // 9.15pm – 10.45pm – Sleep
Underworld // 10.30pm – 11.30pm – Samsara Blues Experiment

I have my heart set on seeing all of the bands above, but am coming to terms with the fact that I’m gonna have a nervous breakdown at around 8.45, trying to fit in Chubby Thunderous, Sleep and Samsara. Shit.