Live Review: Buried In Smoke Festival – Sunday

Live Review: Buried In Smoke Festival - Sunday
24th March 2024
Featuring: Conan, Wallowing, Old Horn Tooth, Indica Blues, Silent Weapons
Words: Matt Noble
Photos: Tim Finch

The final day of Buried in Smoke Festival, moved to the smaller capacity Port Mahon due to an incident out of the control of the organisers, started off with one man heavy industrial project Silent Weapon. His heavy beats and electronic noise starts the day off nicely, seeing a good few nodding and swaying to the cold, harsh, synthy sounds. Set up with a pad, a laptop and synthesiser, he leads the set with some beats that can be really quite filthy at times, and pretty upbeat. Some tracks are more vocal-led than others, and he packs a solidly crisp scream in his musical toolkit. Others, though, see the beats and electronic whirring progress in clever ways as the tracks go on. It's an interesting set throughout and being markedly different to the rest of today's bands certainly works in Silent Weapon's favour.

Local boys Indica Blues follow, marking the start of a notably doomy rest of the evening. Their elegant, melodic and classy take on stoner doom gets the heads of the audience locked in sync with their slow, crawling beats. Most of the tracks are rich with melody, with riffs that linger more into a psychedelic take on the genre, than many of this weekend's bands that show a much uglier side to this style of music. For this reason, they stand out nicely in their own way. Their latest album 'We Are Doomed' has recently passed its three year anniversary, so the inclusion of a couple of new tracks is a welcome treat to those that know them well. Their closing number is particularly groovy and fairly upbeat by their standards, bringing their hazy trip to a warm end.

A mass of long hair, a low-slung bass and signature branded Orange amplifiers can be seen on stage before Old Horn Tooth even begin. They look the part, and with deafeningly loud stoner doom, they certainly sound it. Playing a two (!) song set over the course of half an hour, they are very much compelled by the power of the riff, exploring the sound of a single musical idea at snail pace over minutes at a time to create a thick, trance-like atmosphere. With bags of stage presence and swagger from bassist Ollie, who joins the crowd to bang his head for the upbeat coda to titular track 'Old Horn Tooth', along with faithful, considered drumming from Mark, they are a solid live unit, fronted by the soft vocal wail and fuzz-soaked riffs of Chris on guitar and vocals. By the time 'Follow the Demon' gradually fades to black and the room is silent for the first time in half an hour, they've won over the venue. One of London's best, and slowest.

The world's scariest troupe of beekeepers, Wallowing take the festival's penultimate slot in style. The room is virtually full to the brim by the time the first, harrowing notes of 'Earth Reaper' ring out. It's ambitious to open with a twenty minute song, but in some ways, makes total sense for this band. Their sci-fi-inspired doomy noise, cloaked in green lights and smoke, punishes the crowd with larynx-shredding screams, a crushing guitar tone and weird alien sounds. It can feel quite loose and sporadic at times to the uninitiated, but the more you see Wallowing the more you can understand the true sense of purpose and deliberation in every note and beat. It's the twelfth (and last) day of their run with Conan, but on stage they show no signs of tour fatigue, delivering a set that hits their high standards, equally as intense and real as when I saw them at CVLTfest last month or in Birmingham a week prior (**C - link off to previous corresponding reviews here? **). Excellent as always.

The weekend belongs to the mighty Conan, again at the final stop of a long UK run. There had been some anxiety about fitting all of tonight's gig-goers into the changed venue, but on a smaller stage and in such a packed room, it makes for an unusually intimate gig and a rare treat for everyone who's turned out. It causes the room to really react with Conan, particularly with the stomping end to 'Prosper on the Path', the upbeat 'Satsumo', the iconic hook to 'Levitation Hoax' and the groovy 'Volt Thrower' that really lift the place in a way that you don't often get with a band at their level. I've seen Conan over ten times but this was easily among the most memorable of their sets for me personally, given the intimacy - and therefore the intensity - of tonight's show. Each fuzzy riff rings out with serious volume, each desolate vocal line shouted out with a different kind of power.

It's memorable for a couple of other reasons. Conan's booking agent Tyler had been promoted from answering emails to sitting on the drum stool for this tour, his abilities well known already as the drummer of Tuskar. He delivers a commanding, confident performance, showing off his own style with aggressive fills, particularly in the likes of 'Ritual of Anonymity' and 'Levitation Hoax'. Conan's usual drummer Johnny leaves big boots to fill, with tricky rhythms, unique feels and a sense of flair that isn't always needed in Conan's style of music, but Tyler steps up well. More notably is the fact that today is Chris Fielding's final gig with Conan as their regular bassist (and co-vocalist) after over a decade in the band. Jon gives Chris a heartfelt send off before 'Gravity Chasm', asserting that he's always a friend of the band. The last song of the set, 'Invinciblade', is a triumphant and energetic final curtain for Chris, with plenty coming over after the set to shake his hand and wish him well. His rumbling bass tone and vocal bellows will surely be missed.

Again, due to the venue change, it's not your typical Conan show. Due to it being Chris Fielding's last, it's not your typical Conan show. All of this creates a sense of urgency, memorability and emotivity to the set, which again, isn't your typical Conan show. It's still top drawer and reminds us that they rule. Storming.

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