Wednesday, October 12, 2016

DesertFest Athens- Athens, Greece Oct 7-8th, 2016

Very cool to come down to Athens for the first DesertFest. We arrived about 17 on the first day and went to get some food near by.  After we got our wristbands we went straight into see some of House of Broken Promises from California… Trio playing stoner rock. It was insanely loud and harsh in the 4th floor room and hot and smokey. Ugh.. We only lasted about 3 songs.  
Next up was the Greek band, Beggars. They are also a trio and played blues rock with a stoner edge at times. They had some really great songs and grooves but hardly any lead guitar. This is a band that could really use a 2nd guitar player to lay down some cool slide or great 70s style lead work. IT would make them great. They were ok though.

In between we talked with the guy from Steak, who runs the London Desertfest. Super nice guy and people… They play on Saturday.

Back across the street to catch Sadhus, a Greek Doom-Sludge act. Now, they had turned on some ventilation and the sound was much better and not as loud, but still very loud. This was a cool band in this genre. They had a lot of diversity and not just doomed sludge. Vocalist was very intense and reminded me of Tiago from our local Copenhagen sludge band, Dreich.  I like the way they mixed in some slower bluesy and spacey stuff it. Cool band to watch out for.

Set List: Stevaro, Sadhus, Columbian, Abduction, Foonda, Make Me, Lazerus

Torche was next on the big stage and I had never heard these guys and was caught by surprise. The early part of the set was a bit indie rock singing with heavy riffs and some cool guitar parts. One of the songs they played reminded e a lot of Warrior Soul. Their soundman was great. Killer sound, much better than for Beggars (bad drums EQ). Anyway, their set became more stoned and although not a lot of lead guitar, a lot of cool guitar parts and riffs. Some nice delays on some of the vocals. Impressed.

We came from the Sky

Back across the street for We came from the Sky, a Greek instrumental post rock band with three guitar players.  The room was packed again and they had a pretty cool sound as well. I really liked the bass players lines at time, intense drumming (very loud in the mix) and one heavy guitar and two doing melodies and spacey stuff. They had some great numbers.

Set List: Transmissions, Mussle, Yoda, New Song, Penny

When we came out from this it was a massive storm outside. Pouring down rain and blowing wind like a hurricane. We had to wait for it to calm down to get across the street to see Truckfighters. Sue and I had a beer with Nicos and his girlfriend, Elena.

It eventually was ok to cross the street and not get too wet to see a bit of Truckfighters. I like the bands early stuff and they played a track from the first album and it was great but today, it is a mixed back. Some slow dreamy stuff and some more high energy stuff. We could not really get into it.

Back across the street for the last show of the night on the 4th floor place with Black Rainbows. This was their first gig ever in Greece.  The crowd was small until Truckfighters stopped and cleared out and people could get across the street and up the 4 floors. IT was exactly the same set as they always play except for one new song, from what I could tell. I think they had a new bass player from when I saw them last time?? People were totally into it and they were for sure one if not the best band today! Great band I just wish they would learn some new songs.
Gabrille from Black Rainbows

?, ?,  Hawkdope, Hypnotize my soul with R&R, The Cosmic Picker, Black to Comm (MC5

Last band of the night for us was the Greek band, 1000 Mods. Red Fang were playing later but we needed to save some energy for tomorrow, as I will play with Automaton at 01:45 in the morning.  Anyway, 1000 Mods are very popular in Greece. Place was pretty full (1000 people??) and they had a great groove and people really were having fun on the floor in front of the stage. Some of their songs and stoner grooves were great. They don’t have a lot of guitar solos but they do some and have longer tracks with cool riffy parts.

Overall, the first day of the Athens Desertfest was a great success. Day 2 is a loaded bill with Cough, Pentagram, Colour Haze, Elder, Steak, etc.….

Day 2

Well, the 2nd day was hit with a bomb! The air traffic controllers are on strike and Cough, Colour Haze and Elder can’t fly in! Fuck…  This also affected us and will effect the other bands that have to fly out as well (Pentagram, Steak, etc.)

Anyway, Pentagram will play a 2nd set and Omega Monolith, an experimental doom duo will fill in and they will cut some time off the program as well. Automaton, we are still on at 01:45…

Omega Monolith
We arrived about 17:30 and perfect timing to see the entire Omega Monolith set. It was just two long tracks with some really cool guitar layers and intense drums. It features the bass player from Automaton. Some of it was dreamy layers, heavy doomy riffs or some heavy distorted stuff. He rarely did any guitar solos really. I missed that. They have made one LP/CD. It was very cool.

Black Hat Bones, another Greek act were next and it was getting hot and smokey in the stage 2. If you are a non-smoker, this festival is not for you as about 70% of people smoke and you can smoke anywhere. Anyway, BHB were an uptempo R&R band. Sometimes a bit stoner rock but mostly just kick ass rock and roll. Bass player was good and had a lot of attitude, while the guitar player could really play some great solos at times. Singer was quite good as well. Solid band.

The Relentless Ghouls hit the main stage at 20. This was basically Pentagram, with ghoul make up. Victor looked amazing. Wow… including a fork taped to his arm! It was a very unusual Pentagram set, with songs I had never heard them play before. Bobby seems very tired and strange but I think it might have been part of the ghoul act. The sound was great and massive but the set was only 35mins ending with a massive version of Wartime!

Set List: The Deist, The Ghoul, Lay down and Die, Evil Seed, The Tempter Push, Review your Choices, Wartime

Steak, a stoner rock band from London played the stage 2 next. I had missed them at the Reverence Festival and was looking forward to hear them. They really reminded me a lot of early Dozer and the Man’s Ruin era stoner bands. They were a four piece band with a great singer. I really liked his voice. He was a bit like John Garcia at times but he had his own style also. Musically, though they were straight up kick ass riffing stoner rock. Rarely any lead guitar solos but high-energy stoner rock all the way. The crowd dug it…

Set List: Acid Dave, Goat Slag, Coke Dick, El Dude, Pisser, Homelife, Hanoid, Liquid Gold

My Sleeping Karma from Germany played to a pretty packed hall on the main stage. I had seen them 2x before, I think and they used to have two guitars but now they have a keyboard player who played these pad layers and trippy stuff and I think that worked much better as when they had the two guitar line up it was mostly both playing a lot of the same stuff and no guitar solos. There are still no guitar solos but the killer bass playing sort of makes up for it in a way. I really liked them.

Pentagram was up next and wow… what can I say. I guess they felt like they had to make up for the cancellation of Colour Haze, Elder and Cough, as they just blew the place apart. This was probably the best I had ever seen them. The set list was pretty close to what they played in Las Vegas in August when we saw them but the sound was incredible and super loud… Bobby was in a totally different world now and killed it. His voice is a bit weaker every time we see him but he is still a very cool and strange performer. Audience loved it. Wow…

Set List: Death Row, All your Sins, Close the Casket, Sign of the Wolf, Forever my Queen, Tempter, Screams from the Grave, Dead bury Dead, Curious Volume, Dying World, Devil's Playground, Relentess-Broken Vows-Relentless, Last Daze Here, Be Forewarned, 20 Buck Spin

We missed Karma to Burn as I had to set up and soundcheck with Automaton but I am guessing they played a great show. It is a solid instrumental band. I spoke to one of the guys a few times during the day. They were trying to stay sober! Ha…

My gig with the Greek cosmic doom band, Automaton was great. We were the last band on at 01:45. I recorded some synths for their record 2 years ago and played live with them in Athens earlier this year. We have a really good chemistry. We were able to have one rehearsal this week, which was good as they were playing two new songs. We opened with a doom-drone-space thing that leads into Going Down. Wow. Heavy fucking song with intense vocals and a great riff.  The next ones were new songs and had some cool spacey parts. The audience seemed totally into it. I guess there were 200 people. We ended the set with Pink Floyd’s One of these Days. I think we play a very cool version. People were pretty blown away by the show. The band considered it to be the best show they ever played. Wow.

This was a very cool festival. My only complaint is the smoke and it is too loud.  I congratulate the organizers on pulling off the first Desert Fest Athens with over 1000 people each day. Cool venues, nice people, and fair prices great music. It was quite a blow with the air strike and three main bands not making it but the rest of the bands did a great job to make people not miss them as much.

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