Live Review: Desertfest - Saturday
6th May 2023
Featuring: Telekinetic Yeti, Wren, Tuskar, High Desert Queen, Slomatics, Grave Lines, Lowen, Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity
Words: Julian Pepper
Photos: Jacob Schwar
The job of blowing the cobwebs away on Saturday goes to Londoners Wren at the Underworld, and a fine job they make of it too! Another band who are backlit and let their music do the talking, Wren use heavy repetitive riffs that build in true sludge/post metal style and stick in the mind. Every now and then I sense a bit of a Godflesh influence, which isn’t a bad thing, particularly in the vocal delivery. Playing tracks from second album 'Groundswells' along with some new songs that will appear on their next album, Wren do a great job of kicking off day two of Desertfest 2023.
Following Wren at the Underworld are the two-man juggernaut of noise that are Tuskar! These guys (Tyler Hodges vocals/drums and Tom Dimmock on guitar) get better every time I see them and attract one of the biggest crowds of the weekend at the Underworld! Both the band and the crowd are clearly having a great time, as they rip through a set that draws heavily from 2022’s superb debut album 'Matriarch'. I’m always amazed how two people can make such a fantastic racket, particularly as both Tyler and Tom are like whirling dervishes on stage throughout. 'To The Sky' and 'Into the Sea' (with its superb Mastodon influence worn proudly on their sleeves) are both superb and get the crowd moving and wanting more as the too short set comes to a conclusion!
High Desert Queen are causing quite a stir as I walk into the Black Heart with their 'Texas Desert Rock' Full of energy and with catchy songs that contain riffs for days, HDQ are the perfect Desertfest band. They have a sound that brings to mind those dusty, laid back, beer drenched bars that you imagine in the Lone Star State. It’s not all about the riffs though as tracks aired from debut album 'Secrets of the Black Moon' also contain their fair share of gentler moments. Vocalist Ryan Garnet has a great set of pipes on him, which is evident during songs such as 'The Mountain vs the Quake' and new single 'Black Moon'. High Desert Queen are definitely a band to keep an eye on and I look forward to them touring over here again soon (hopefully!).
You know that you’re always in for a sonic treat when Belfast’s Slomatics are in town, and this occasion was no different as the three piece of Marty on drums/vocals and David and Chris on guitar level the Underworld with one of the best sets of Desertfest ‘23! The wall of sound that the band create is heavy, intense and hypnotic and makes me so glad to have my earplugs in! Launching into 'Electric Breath' from 2016’s 'Future Echo Returns' is a great way to start the set with its slow, heavy groove of a riff getting heads nodding. The sound in the Underworld is great all weekend (kudos sound people!) and makes Slomatics sound absolutely huge today. The setlist for this 50 minute set is career spanning from the likes of 'Tramontane' from 2012’s 'A Hocht' album right up to 'Kaan' and 'Proto Hag' from their 2021 split with Ungraven. All three guys play with huge grins on their faces throughout and the finale of 'Troglorite' with Pete from Elephant Tree guesting on vocals is the perfect way to end a superb set.
It’s straight up to the Powerhaus next to catch the second half of the set by the superbly named Telekinetic Yeti from Iowa. There’s quite a buzz about Telekinetic Yeti, which is evidenced by the queue to get in and the rammed conditions inside the venue. Telekinetic Yeti are another 2 piece consisting of Alex Baumann on guitar/vocals and Rockwel Heim on drums and stylistically they are firmly in stoner/doom territory. Live Telekinetic Yeti are quite a sight to behold as they unleash their barrage of brutal riffs and thunderous drums on the Desertfest faithful. Alex is a blur of hair as he headbangs his way between the drums and the front of stage whilst cranking out tracks from latest album “Primordial”. There’s a psychedelic edge to their sound on record that gets lost a bit in the live environment. However, this is more than made up for by the colossal riffage and stoner groove and swagger, which comes together to produce a superbly hypnotic sound. Telekinetic Yeti are definitely ones to keep an eye on!
Corrosion of Conformity