Saturday marked the second day of the already brilliant Desertfest 2016. With beers flowing, and more punters in attendance than the day before, the Saturday lineup proved to be the more eclectic mix of the weekend.
First in line on Saturday were Yorkshire’s BongCauldron . Sounding like the bastard spawn of some bizarre ménage-a-trois between Eyehategod, Weedeater and Motorhead, they were a sonic force to be reckoned with first thing in the day. With song names like “Bury your axe in the skulls of lesser men” it was nice calm morning music, as you can imagine. They put on a hell of a show, with both bassist and guitarist doing vocals which really added to the incredibly thick texture of the music. Musically, the drummer also displayed tremendous technical prowess and versatility, which, coupled with the bands use of some really interesting non pentatonic melodies (a bit of a rarity at a stoner festival) made for some really great music. The band were also highly entertaining on stage which made for a great experience all in all. Great high octane kick off to Saturday from a band I hope to hear more of in the future.
Conan , as many who have encountered them before will know, are one of the heaviest, most monolithic sounding bands to grace anyone’s ears as of late. As always Conan delivered their mix of slow growling riffs, howled vocals and driving aggressive drum beats. They sound like the last stand of some kind of enraged mythical beast, with two well contrasted vocals delivering some variety to the sound. They blasted through an uncompromising setlist, with wild mythical cartoon projections accompanying the storm of noise created by this gloriously noisy three piece. For a band who push the limits of tuning and sound, they manage to put together a very coherent and engaging set. Read our interview with Conan here
When most people think of stoner rock, their minds will tend to think of the stereotypical lethargic headbanded hippie. Truckfighters  could not be further from this if they tried. These fuzzerocious Swedes are the true embodiment of a no nonsense band, doing everything from checking their own gear, to being around the festival and watching other bands while they were in town. They hit the stage with the ferocious energy of a lemur that had fallen face first into a pile of amphetamines, launching straight into “Mind control”. Guitarist Mr Dango’s feet barely touched the floor the entire set as he flew about the stage, with bassist Mr Ozo seemingly only being slightly restrained due to having to stay within range of his mic. They played a fantastically paced set, which had the audience in a fuzzy cosmic trance at points, and incorporated a wide range of material ranging from more cosmic progressive songs such as “Manhattan Project” through to hard hitting riffers such as “The Chairman”. They seemed to be having as great a time as the audience and clearly lost track of time somewhat towards the end of the set. Due to this they were welcomed back onstage to thunderous noise to play “Desert Cruiser” which they got through at absolute warp speed, which again sent the crowd into a frenzy. Fuzzy, cosmic and best of all, fun. One of Sweden’s finest exports.
Instrumental post rock band Russian Circles  were an interesting choice for Desertfest, and a thoroughly welcome addition. Starting off with a two guitar intro, with one then switching to bass, they showed a great level of musicianship. Russian Circles managed to create a sense of mesmerising heaviness hanging over the room, with soaring drum driven grooves. After about 10 minutes of the set they had some technical issues, which seemed to cause a bit of a stumbling point in the set. While they are a greatly musical band, they failed to provide the engagement level that many of the groovier acts with larger stage presences had achieved. This may partially have been a billing issue, as they were an odd choice to put as headliner after hyper energetic bands such as Truckfighters. However, they were a welcome change of pace in the lineup, and managed to rouse interest in an unlikely audience.
Rounding off Saturday were Germany’s Mantar . For a band with only two members, they managed to create a truly gigantic sound, and played with the stage in the Black Heart arranged so they were facing each other. Dark, doomy grooves, with pounding drum beats and growled vocals were the order of the day, with truly gut wrenching (in a good way) frequencies being produced from a single guitar, and 3 amp rig. Mantar are a raw, raucous sounding band, and they absolutely blew the top off of the Black Heart. Now, while the Black Heart is only around a 100 capacity venue, there was a queue out of the door of the venue within the pub, and a one in one out policy on the door of the entire pub. To say it was busy really doesn’t cut it. It was so warm upstairs that people were breaking out in a sweat during the first song, and the fact the band were wild enough to get pits going on says it all. Great end to the evening from the wild duo. Read our interview here
Words: Innes Rankin
Photos: Miley Stevens[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157668010159141″ size=”z” count=”100″]