Desertfest London 2019 – Day 2 @ Camden, London

Spread the metal:
4th May 2019
Review by: Ryan Whitwell
Photography by: Ryan Whitwell (Shotison.com)


Saturday saw Day 2 of London’s Desertfest engulf Camden Town, and it would be another banger! I made a few new mates on the first day who I would once again be rocking out with at various points throughout the day, which is all part of the festival experience that we all love!

The first band, who had the task of blasting my hangover away, were High Fighter, from Hamburg, Germany, at the Black Heart.

 

Hard rocking stuff from the Germans! High energy and lots of movement from lead singer Mona Miluski. The band’s second studio album, Champain, is set for a release on July 26th 2019 and after what I saw today I am very much looking forward to hearing it. I noticed a few weary heads banging along with the band, it was pretty hard not to! The venue is a great size to build a bit of intensity with loud amps and a relatively low ceiling, and with the hard, heavy, sludgy vibes of High Fighter it really enhanced the set.

A quick walk over the road to The Underworld to catch some Headless Kross.

The Glaswegian trio have a big and doomy sound, with some glacial tempos and a huge sound reverberating around the Underworld. I really enjoyed these guys. Loads of bass and the longer format songs seemed to go down well with the crowd! I was a bit gutted I couldn’t stay to see the rest of the set, as these guys are certainly my kind of tempo, but I had to run over to Electric Ballroom to try and catch the end of Monkey3’s set…

Annoyingly they pulled out due to an airline breaking a keyboard, so I decided to chill out with some mates and wait for the next band.

The next band were one of my “must see” bands this weekend: Stoned Jesus, at The Electric Ballroom.

Yes! Love these guys and they smashed it. There were pits, headbanging and great responses from the crowd. The set featured a lot from their current album, Pilgrims, but a real highlight was the epic ‘Mountain’, which was as brilliant as ever, and got a proper sing-along from the fans! Here Come the Robots closed the set, which gave the pit a chance to really amp up!

As I was already there with people I like spending time with, I stuck around the Electric Ballroom for Kadavar.

I’ve loved this band’s music for quite a long time, and I really like the doomier edge their latest album, Rough Times, has. I have only seen these Berliners once before, in Sheffield, I think? It was a pretty hefty weekend, that one, so it was nice to see them in a state I will remember. Opening with ‘Skeleton’ and playing a good mix of old and new, the big fuzzy riffs were sounding great from where I was in the photopit. The drum kit being moved forward helped emphasise the bigger hits and, from where I was standing, gave a more intimate feel to the opening few numbers before I moved back a bit after the three song rule.

The fans were very much into it too. Kadavar are one of those bands where the recorded stuff sounds great but when played live the songs feel a bit stronger. The energy on stage, especially with the drummer’s emphatic playing, lifts the experience.

Funnily enough, I was up the night before drinking tins in The Lounge and headbanging to Muse with one of The Skull‘s guitarists. They were playing The Underworld to an up-for-it crowd so I had to go along.

I saw the Skull at Desertfest Belgium last year. I have to say I enjoyed it much more this time. Whether it was the response and interactions with the crowd or just the general vibe, I’m not sure, but what I saw was a lot of fun!

A quick run over to The Dev for Coilguns.

It took a while to set up the massive array of amps, pedals, keys and guitars, but once they got going they really got going! Immediately the front man leapt out to the gathered fans in The Dev and would later climb up all over the place. They were intense, to say the least. Bags of energy and attitude, but again I had to run to get in the press pit elsewhere.

Amenra were headlining at Electric Ballroom tonight.

Until last year, at Desertfest Antwerp, I didn’t know much about this band, but I now know I love what they do. There’s a raw intensity and imposing vibe with this band that was amplified tonight using a combination of elements, creating the atmosphere that the packed Ballroom was very much engaged with. The singer barely showing his face, the monochromatic stobes of minimal lighting along with the dark and heavy music worked wonders! It was a superb performance!

The crowd was packed into the Ballroom and they themselves seemed to be generating just as much intense energy as the band!

And that was Day 2 for me. Amenra played a very fun DJ set at The Dev after their set, featuring songs that you wouldn’t expect them to play, and by all accounts it was a lot of fun! Great way to wind up Day 2 of Desertfest London 2019.