Desertfest Antwerp 2022 – Day 2

Written by Featured, Live

(Photos : Sylvain Golvet) I’m not going to lie to you, we don’t feel very fresh this morning despite our BnB roommate’s scrambled eggs. After I swore not to have any more of the venue’s wine and on the advice of Beeho, I run (in Uber) towards Trix and its Vulture Stage for Half Gramme Of Soma. She sold it to me like a must-see, but I’m the one who’s finally crushing on this groovy grungy band and their strange yet super-skilled vocalist.

Then follows the set of Gnome, an uncanny mixture of hats, punk rock riffs, altered rhythms and awesome solos, all mercilessly crushed by an appalling sound. Headache unfortunately ensued.


How to describe the performance of Unida (without John Garcia)? Well, let’s just say I’m glad I took the time to get an aspirin and a cocktail… On paper, everything is perfect. The worthy successor of the desert rock godfather is a good performer. A very good one, that is. It’s a pity that vocals are literally drowned in the mix, while the cymbals scratch the inert and defective mass that is my brain with each hit. Actually, it’s not just hangover speaking, the sound is really messed up, except for Arthur Seay’s guitar, which by a miracle as only Gibson can produce, narrowly escapes the carnage. Halfway through the show, bassist Owen Seay leaves the stage to change his strings, and an accidental instrumental medley of Sabbath, ACDC and hints of Chicago blues ensues. That’s when I officially set sail.

More women on stage!” says Pogo Car Crash Control bassist Lola Frichet in French media. Her wish is Desertfest’s command, with a nice Rosy Finch/Alunah combo, although both bands have nothing in common. Rosy Finch offers a brave, jazz-tinged brand of doom with vocals reminding me of Julie Chrismas. Clean vocals are a little off but the screamed ones rise with strength on top of well-crafted and at times tear-jerking melodies.

As for Alunah, their doom leans more towards the traditional and hieratic appeal, mostly due to their absolutely gorgeous frontwoman Siân, who seems to be intimidating most men in the audience. The show is good, but the audience is too apathetic, making me wonder if one thing explains another… A theory that will get confirmed the day during Lucifer’s performance.


But for now, it’s time to see Elder, the kind of band that you may have seen thirty times in all possible circumstances but that keeps on taking you on board within seconds, even on a bad hair day. I think the word that defines them is classy… The Frenchmen in The Necromancers also prove to be elegant in their own way, with their old school heavy doom a la Pentagram enhanced by baritone vocals and a clean-cut look. Said it like that, it might not sound exactly glamorous, but I can tell you that right now, it’s hot, it grooves and it really catches my ear.

I thought that thirty minutes would be enough to have a curry and mojito refill but I was being prodigiously optimistic. As a result, I’m late for Red Fang and I can’t get into it anyway. However, the Portland foursome is a safe bet if you want to headbang, shout, or both. Yet tonight it doesn’t work for me. Anyway, the sound on the Desert Stage is excellent and I’m not saying that because my old friend Sam is behind the desk.

Considering the fact I feel like a wreck, we’re going to need something to wake up the corpses on the Canyon Stage. Take note, promoters: when the number of hours spent drinking is thrice those spent sleeping, we need something radical at the end of the night… And then there were Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs!

I got moderately hooked during my pre-fest listenings, but I now fully approve of these Newcastle nutters, who just succeeded where Red Fang failed: make me take back human form again. All mustached and sporting his usual ultimate fighting shorts, Matt Baty renders an epileptic and cathartic performance, ranting about social issues or religion. Not a single song sounds like the other here. Some are in the purest stoner metal vein, others conjure up a strange blend of thrash and prog, and others get noisy or jazzy — like something that would have been dismantled and reassembled by a 4 year old suffering from ADHD. In short, the kind of music I normally dislike but that delights me beyond reason tonight.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

Then follows a glittery afterparty (YES, again…) hosted by a soul/funk DJ I don’t know but I already love. Some people who swore they’d never dance swayed their hips until dawn, but I won’t tell the names because I’m not a snitch. Only the real know…

Last modified: 22 November 2022