Desertfest Antwerp 2018 – Day 1
12th October 2018
Review and Photos: Ryan Whitwell / Shotison Media
As I got off the train, I took a few minutes to appreciate the impressive Antwerp station before dropping my bag off at the Airbnb and heading to Trix to get stuck in to a three day feast of stoner, doom and desert rock. Trix is a really cool venue with lots of different areas, three stages (plus a secret basement set up), and I was really looking forward to seeing an awesome lineup. It took me a while to figure out which stage is where, but after that it was pretty easy and far less walking than the London one I attended earlier in the year!
No gentle easing in to the festival as Brussels based band, Goddog, kicked off the weekend with some high energy stuff, opening with ‘Highway’. There was plenty of movement around the third stage with guitars being treated like they aren’t expensive bits of kit!
Upstairs to the second stage for Vancouver based Dead Quiet. The band offered a bit of muscle to open the second stage, thrusting forth with some deep, heavy riffs. There are a few hints of old school heavy metal in there with some really punching rhythms. Good headbanging stuff.
This German/Swedish band is one I’ve liked for a while, so I was glad to be down the front for them. It was an explosion of energy after an orchestral intro. That vintage classic rock vibe made an immediate impact, only really slowing down for ‘Demon’ around the half way point before hitting the gas again.
There was plenty of noodling and riffs from the two guitarists, which I always love, but I was very impressed by Johanna Sadonis‘ vocals. That amazing voice that she has on the studio releases is all real, and she proved that tonight.
Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell
The Hastings based group were on fine form. I saw them at the London Desertfest opening the Electric Ballroom, so was pleased to see them again. Accompanied by an Asda carrier bag, the fast and fuzzy numbers seemed to go down well as the room filled up. I always enjoy their great vintage fuzz sound, as did a lot of other people as plenty were still coming up the stairs to the second stage as I was making my way to the next band.
20 years ago, in Washington DC, a stoner band named “Dead Meadow” formed. These guys have been on my “to see” list since an ex-girlfriend enlightened my ears with their music.
They started out with some really laid back psych. Before the set there was a rather enchanting loop of guitar tones, getting those there early to get at the front in the mood for a few slow and smooth psych tracks. It was so chilled out, and I was enjoying the music so much, that I caught myself nodding along forgetting I was supposed to take photos.
The fourth number picked up the tempo a bit, but it was still very much in that stoner/psych bracket. The use of effects was quite impressive and gave a unique sound that really stood out.
Blackened and despairing doom from these guys. Little to no lighting, twinned with an enthusiastic little smoke machine, made for plenty of atmosphere that suited the tone of the band. Sound wise it was heavy, dark, and angry; big, slow riffs and plenty of quiet moments to enhance the impact of the bellowing vocals.
Saw these guys a few weeks ago at Camden’s Black Heart. They’re still on their European tour and life on the road doesn’t seem to have tired them at all.
It was another nonstop onslaught as beer and sweat flew from the front as well as the odd crowd surfer. The crowd were certainly fired up for this one! ‘The Message’ really got the rowdiness up, and it was only the second song on the set list and they managed to keep that momentum going.
AC/DC’s Long Way to the Top blasted from the PA to get people ready before London’s Orange Goblin walked out and got down to business with ‘Sons of Satan’.
The crowd were invited by front man Ben to get moving for third number, ‘Saruman’s Wish’, not that they weren’t already! Crowd surfing levelled up and the pit doubled down once that song really kicked in.
Heavy as fuck was all that was available tonight. Big bass sound was kicking out and the crowd loved every beat. Orange Goblin smashed it, no doubt about that!
Blood of the Sun
I managed to catch a bit of these guys before running upstairs, and I liked it. Very much a Deep Purple vibe, with electric organ and near operatic vocals. The drummer was a highlight for me, not only for his ability, but the amount of energy he was putting in. Great stuff!
I actually saw them a little over 24 hours ago in London, I loved that, so had no worries about this one being just as good.
Plenty of fans were in for the Texan band. Each number got a good response from the crowd, with enthusiastic headbanging further indicating their love of the music blasting from the stage.
The songs flowed into one another at times, with only a rhythm change indicating that the set had moved on before the main riff really kicked in. A nonstop freight train packed full of dirty riffs!
What a way to start the weekend. Having been awake since 6am, I didn’t stick around for the after party as I had to be ready for a full on day of bands the next day.