Naxatras + Morag Tong + GNOB
@ The Underworld
16th September 2022
Review and pictures by Dovalde Gaidelionyte
Earlier this year The Underworld in Camden hosted a handful of bands for Desertfest, and on 16th of September they gave a chance to those who couldn’t join the festival to have a glimpse of that vibe or perhaps to give a small throwback to the ones who been there. On the stage this evening are three psychedelic rock bands that were ready to take you on a dreamy trip.
First act of the night was from East Londoners called GNOB. Formed back in 2014, trio Morten Jorgensen (drums & synth), Ben Kenobi Le Marchant (bass & synth) and Luke Tomkins (guitar) mix together Eastern, Arabic, psych and stoner sounds and add some heaviness to all of it. The band released an album a few years ago and an EP in 2017. I’m not sure if it’s because the band started early, but the venue seemed quite empty, but the clock was ticking and GNOB filled the place with their first song.
The band didn’t lie about about the heavy part, and they definitely had that energy but as long as I listened, I somehow missed the Eastern and Arabic influences mentioned. Probably because the sound was far from perfect during the show. Overall, it was obvious that band had experience and they have their sound down; halfway through their set, more people were gathered around the stage. The band was cheered after all their songs and they set a great mood for the evening.
After a break, the venue seemed to fill up and Morag Tong were about to appear on stage. They’re another local band, with Adam Asquith on drums & vocals, Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane on guitars and James Atha on bass. Formed in 2014, the band has one EP and one full length album under their belt. It’s a band that is inspired by the “Elder Scrolls” games and are more into doomy and heavy sounds, and even though they appeared on Desertfest this year, I didn’t have a chance to hear them at the event.
Fans were already lining up the stage and Morag Tong were up, enthusiastically greeted by the crowd. They started off slowly and stoner doom filled the venue bit by bit. The vocals in this genre usually seem like an accessory to the music and you don’t see the drummer handling the vocals that often either. Again, the sound quality wasn’t doing many favours to the band, so compared to what they sound on the record, things seemed quite different. Thankfully, this was not an issue for their fans who cheered after every song and seemed to be fully immersed in the music. The whole performance felt seamless, well executed and they truly created the mood. I definitely would be up to seeing them once more!
Another break and reorganization later, and the headliners of the night, Naxatras, were about to take to the stage. Coming all the way from Greece, John Delias (guitar & vocals), John Vagenas (bass & vocals), Kostas Charizanis (drums & percussion) and Pantelis Kargas (keyboards & synthesizers) are true professionals that have been on stage for quite a while and the venue became really crowded with people wanting to hear them tonight. The band has released four studio albums and songs from the latest one, “IV”, were the primary focus of the show.
I had a chance to hear them a few months before and was excited to get another opportunity to see them live. Compared to the other two bands that were on the stage this night, Naxatras were the most chill of them all and, as they mentioned themselves, their music can feel like you’re at a jam session. The laid back sound quickly mesmerized the audience and there isn’t much you can do, just relax and enjoy. The majority of the songs have long instrumental parts and you could hear slight shifts to some jazzy sounds that were heading into that psychedelic stoner style so this was a real treat for the whole crowd in the Underworld.
It was really great to be in an event which was quite relaxed and not over the top, though I once again noticed that bands who are mostly instrumental tend to forget to create such a connection with the audience. Of course, the main focus is the music itself, but it feels like no matter how long bands are on stage, most times it feels like it’s their own rehearsal more than a show. But perhaps that’s just me. The good thing is, all the bands created such a wonderful atmosphere through the whole night and probably that is what’s truly needed when you’re about to submerse yourself into the psychedelic journey.