DESERTFEST BELGIUM 2018 Review – Day 1

Written by Live

One thing that you surely won’t feel at this year’s DESERTFEST BELGIUM is boredom! This was a first for me, and not the least, as I’m a huge fan of most of the bands on the bill – with some Belgian post-hardcore stars, heavy US doom, psych rock and even some lute are on the menu! (PHOTOS: Sandrine Correia)

After we struggled to make it to Antwerp’s lovely centre the day before, we hardly find our way to the Trix venue, which is located on the city’s outskirts and quite poorly served depending on your location. There are three stages under the same roof and shows are starting slightly later today. LUCIFER are the first to grace the Desert Stage in front of a consistent crowd, delivering their vintage, sexy and groovy Sabbath-worshipping tunes. Is the singer’s ankh necklace a nod to Iommi? However, the audience remains a bit shy, blame it on early proceedings… or a rather static and bland performance, monotonous vocals despite a few hypnotic hair/fringe-laden jolts. The hard rock unit is far from outstanding, but their studio work definitely are worth a listen.

While we are getting our bearings inside the venue, I realize how small the Vulture Stage is, and the fact it’s located on the far right of a bar with with one small door on each side as an entrance. FRAYLE are on but the packed audience prevents me from seeing jack-shit, so I’m heading to the Canyon Stage upstairs where  British rock’n’rollers ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL are putting out one hell of a show. They make me think of a nuttier Kadavar or a wilder, British Vitus. Very nice. Honestly, I’m making the most of this moment to discover the place, watch those oil visuals, while listening to the band from the bar where a foamy, expensive Duvel is served alongside three other kinds of tasteless lager. What a disappointment in the motherland of beer!  

I don’t stay longer, because — and this is one of the few festival’s black points in my opinion — all shows are overlapping. My top priority tonight is not to miss DEAD MEADOW, whom I last saw in 2016 in Bordeaux. Their music has had such an impact on me, it’s always reminiscent of the American wilderness, a warm summer coming to an end, the first autumn leaves falling and animals taking shelter underground for the winter… First (instrumental) track “Greensky Greenlake” perfectly depicts that feeling, and it’s also my favorite song ever. This instantly brings me shivers and tears of joy. Other tracks off their first album are being sprinkled throughout the show, like “Sleepy Silver Door” or “Beyond the Fields We Know”. But I also remember that a smaller venue was more suitable to their intimate brand of rock. However, the crowd is on the same page tonight, getting all carried by their smooth fuzzy sound…

There’s such a thin line between love and hate… I’m going back to the Vulture Stage to watch LETHVM, a Belgian crew specialized in ear-crushing proceedings in the vein of Amenra. It seems that they are quite popular here, given the packed crowded and boiling room. I’m making my way to the bar to hear the set, but there’s something wrong here: people can’t help chatting. And the more they drink, the louder they get. I start feeling just as furious as the band on stage, so I quickly head back to the Canyon to enjoy SASQUATCH‘s thick and warm stoner tunes, party and stay positive. What a great discovery, and a huge slap in the face! Their fat riffs remind me of 1000mods with a gruffier side à la Red Fang. Loving it.

Time for a break before the very first headliner of the weekend and today’s absolute must-see on the Desert Stage: ORANGE fucking GOBLIN, baby! It’s getting obvious that these guys are taking Motörhead’s helm when it comes to sonic power and blowing roofs off, also Ben Ward is one of the friendliest and most impressive frontmen on this planet. I thought it would be hard to top their crushing performance at Hellfest last June, and that an indoor show would be all cosy and what not. Fail. They’re bringing ruckus on the Desert Stage, and I can hardly resist: the pit is calling and I’m happily shoving my drunken peers while the Brits are delivering their anthems. They even treat us to the newer stuff, but this is nothing in comparison to a “Quincy The Pig Boy” and “Red Tide Rising” combo as an encore. Damn, I hate them for doing this to me. My sore neck. 

WO FAT‘s wall of amps will terminate ears and necks of tonight’s survivors. Strangely, they are the only band which show can be watched in its entirety. The sound is hefty as hell, tunes are being delivered like hot pancakes, and them trippy and off-beats moments are still driving me crazy! Unfortunately, tiredness starts to get the better of me, but what a perfect way to wrap up the night. We’re sparing ourselves for the busiest day of the festival. Anyway, that was one hell of a start, my old bones are telling ya!

Last modified: 30 October 2018