This weekend I got to go to Desertfest in London along with my boyfriend Will. It was the first time attending this festival for the both of us, so we didn’t really know what to expect. I am a massive fan of festivals, and going to my favourite ones are usually one of the highlights of my summers every year. The festivals I normally attend are usually set out on the country side and have a camping site which makes for a nice community feel and a complete escape from everyday life. Since Desertfest is set in Camden, central London it doesn’t have a camping site for it’s visitors which worried me slightly. Would the festival be able to create that sort of belonging and secludedness that other events have? The lineup for this years edition of the festival was very strong so I thought that the great bookings would at least make up for the lack of camping site and party, but as soon as we arrived I saw that my scepticism was for nothing.
Desertfest has a small street closed off especially for the visitors of the festival where you can purchase a bit of merchandise and have a drink in the sun, and this little area is where we spent most of our time between gigs. It was very well set up and added that feeling of community that I was afraid would be missing. As this was Wills first time at an event like this he also really appreciated being able to sit there and reflect upon the shows, meet new people and just generally have a great time.
So over all we were really pleased with the organisation of Desertfest and I can’t really find anything to complain about. The shows were well set up and within short distances of each other, the closed off street was great and the visitors were equally as fantastic as everything else. The only thing I can note as a problem was that the organisers might have under estimated the popularity of certain bands, like Dopelord. I was very excited for this particular show but we ended up leaving after about 3 songs due to the venue being so overcrowded. Since they were playing at a small pub there wasn’t a lot of space, and the security seemed to just let people in without checking if the venue was at capacity or not. I am only 4.11 in height which causes enough issues as it is when it comes to going to concerts, but when a place is so packed that people can hardly move and it’s extremely hot it just becomes impossible for me to stand it.
I don’t want to drag on for too long about the festival in general as i feel that I have mentioned the things I needed to mention. We were obviously mainly there to catch some gigs. We did only have 24 hours to spend at Desertfest which was very sad as we enjoyed ourselves massively, but we managed to catch some fantastic shows, and one not so fantastic show within those hours. Let’s just start with the good bits.
I knew very little of this band before Desertfest, and hadn’t really planned to watch the show, but we wanted to make sure we were on time for Jex Thoth who was playing right after in the same venue. I am very happy that we got to see the last half of the Radio Moscow show because it was really a pleasant surprise.
This trio was explosive on stage and you could tell that they enjoyed themselves. This is something I find very important in live shows. If I can tell that the band are loving what they’re doing I am more likely to enjoy it. This was very much the case with Radio Moscow. The audience were really enjoying the show (at least from what I could see) and I did find myself stomping along to the intense and deep drums more often than I didn’t. Something i normally find a bit annoying is guitar solos, or solos of any kind that drag on for longer than they need to, but i was surprised to find myself feeling excited and impressed by the long solos this band played through out the gig.
This was truly a talented group of guys!
i think this gig was the one that both me and Will looked forward to the most. For me it wasn’t the first time seeing them live, but for Will it was. I was excited to see what he would think of it.
As soon as Jex steps on stage you’re transported into some trans like state, and it is magical. It is almost as if she can feel the music in her body, and her stage presence alone is enough to really drag you in deep. That stage presence that she is so well known for, along with the fantastic band makes for a very intense and memorable show and I do urge everyone to take the chance to see Jex Thoth live when you get the chance.
Will was very impressed with gig as well, but felt that he wasn’t in the right mood for her slow paced, heavy sound at the time. Most likely because we had enjoyed a few beers at that point and he was feeling a bit up beat. I however enjoyed this set more than the first time I saw them in Sweden a few years ago. The only downside was that her beautiful voice got a bit drowned out by the band if she wasn’t pushing as hard as she could.
I felt that Napalm Death was a slightly odd booking for a festival who focuses on stoner and doom rock, but they are a very popular band who attracts a big audience. The Electric Ballroom was packed with people for the show, and although I myself have never been a massive fan of Napalm Death I thought we might as well have a little look.
It was obvious that people were very excited for the gig, but for us it just fell flat. It did however seem like we were the only ones who didn’t have a good time. Most of the songs felt like they melted together and there wasn’t any good variation to keep things interesting. Along with the music not being to our taste, the performance didn’t make it any better. Watching Napalm Death on stage was like watching a mid life crisis unfold in real time. Mark Greenway jumps around on stage almost non stop but it just looks messy and slightly forced. When he is not jumping around like a madman he describes the meaning of songs as a criticism of the way society is. These descriptions sound like something that would come out of an angsty teenagers mouth and it’s hard to take it seriously when it’s actually coming from a middle aged man.
I really do think that Napalm Death would have been better to book for another festival.
So this concludes my thoughts about Desertfest 2018. Both me and Will had such a fantastic time, and are already talking about going back next year to hopefully be able to attend all 3 days. I highly recommend anyone who loves doom and stoner rock to plan their visit.
And finally, a massive thank you to Desertfest for having us there and letting us write this review! We will see you next year again, I’m sure!