Desertfest Belgium 2021 – Day 1

Written by Featured, Live

At last. After so many months spent in the solitude of our isolated listening, here we are. All of us. The stoner, doom, psychedelic, sludge scene meeting at DESERTFEST ANTWERP for a 3-day communion, a big family reunion filled with smiles and decibels. Woke up at 5:00 am. Took off at 6:30. Train at 8:30. Breakfast at 10:00 am. Checked out at 12:00 pm. The wait, the excitement, the longing and here we are. (PHOTOS: Sylvain Golvet)

Desertfesters gather in front of Trix, while Detrvire‘s throbbing shrieks resound from inside the venue. At the crossroad of dirty punk and black metal, this is quite an unexpected opening act, to say the least, but definitely worthy of interest.

As an appetizer, I take my spot at the Vulture Stage for Fake Indians. If the Clash and the Strokes had eaten fuzz and cold wave, the final product would have been Fake Indians. Having voluntarily resisted the temptation to listen to the band before the festival, it’s a very pleasant surprise. During their garage psych set, I once again meet some online acquaintances and finally put faces on names. What a great feeling.

While some people rush to see Dool on the Desert Stage (I must say I’m not particularly into them, as their music is a little bit too soft and predictable for me), I head to the Vulture Stage for Motor!k. A drummer, two guitars, ambient/electronic patterns and samples catch us into a hypnotic and galvanizing set, sending nice krautrock/new wave vibes in our faces (without the cringe-inducing synths). A refreshing take and contrast with the rest of the Friday lineup!

Things are getting serious when My Sleeping Karma gets on the Desert Stage, delivering an incredibly emotional set. The show starts with a group hug and gets sprinkled with several speeches on how much of a deliverance it is to be back on stage, as the band has gone through a lot lately. Through this intoxicating, jam-driven show, we let our minds flow, but after 25 minutes comes an awaited, heavy climax. The bass is colossal, the reverb-drenched guitars remain clear as crystal while the drums bang while grooving badly. The band even graces us with a new track that augurs the best to come. A set of rare intensity and clearly the highlight of this first day.

I snap out of it in front of Bismut, their much-needed heaviness feeling like a slap in the face propelled by a massive bass sound. No time for nonsense, I throw myself into the lion’s den: Cult Of Occult is live on the Canyon stage. The violence meets skull-crushing grooves, vibrating legs meets warm beer cans thrown into the crowd, bleeding ears, hoods, pitch black, then the darkness… Has a band ever lived up to its name like these guys do?

During a quick break, I catch a glimpse of Motorpsycho, who delivers the goods for over two hours to a packed crowd of devotees. The night ends in apotheosis with Somali Yacht Club, like true masters of their psych-post-rock art. Melodic build-ups, finely chiseled riffage, grungy bits and dub interludes: the band never loses in power nor impact, a perfect way to wrap up the day.

Here I am, standing on the rooftop of the venue surrounded by friends, strangers, musicians and all sorts of colorful affectionate people. We cherish these last minutes, exhausted by this heavy first day, a smile of satisfaction stuck on our faces, ready for the weekend to come.

Last modified: 22 October 2021