Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sonic Blast Moledo, Portugal Aug 11-12th, 2017

This festival is about 3.5hrs from where we live in Portugal. We had a relaxing drive up listening to 3 or 4 songs from CDs by different bands playing at the festival: Dead Witches, Orange Goblin, Colour Haze, Sasquatch, Cosmic Dead, Acid King and …..

The place was pretty easy to find, right in the center of the town. We got a really close parking spot and SMS’s our friends Paulo and Ana who met us at the wristband line. My wife’s name was not on the list so we had to wait to confirm it with someone else so I put up some posters for the Reverence Festival and handed out or placed a few hundred flyers about.  Places where everyone will see the poster.

The festival takes place right in the center of town. They have a stage next to the pool at the community center, where they use the library for the press office and interviews, and the rest of the complex for the festival. Very nice area to see bands. They started at 13:30 and ran to 18. Then at 18, the main stage open a few meters away from the exit from this area on a large football field. Large professional sound stage.  The festival was sold out (2000 festival tickets and 500 day tickets).
We got it all sorted out and made it in time to find a shady spot to see a PT band called Stone Dead. They were a 4 piece band where the drummer was the lead vocalist. They had this 60s Monkees like catchiness to their songs but a more 90s grunge rock sound. They were a fun band and people enjoyed them. They could use some more dynamics in the set as the songs were all more or less similar in speed and length.. They ended their 40min set with TV Eye by the MC5..

Next up on the pool stage was Black Bombain. I have all their recent records but had never seen them before. They never played in Denmark and I missed them at Roadburn. Anyway, they played a 45min set that was one long track, with a track from the album Far out played in the middle. For this show, they had a saxophone player. The sound was not very good for the first half of the show, the guitar was buried and so was the sax.  Once he turned these up it was great. The guitar player used to play really intense and ripping lead guitar but has mellowed a lot and lets the others play more. The drummer really drives the grooves and music a lot like Causa Sui.  I am sure they know this band. I enjoyed the show.

Now it was off to the main stage area. There were some delays so they did not open the area until 18:20 or so. The Great Machine from Israel, started things off about 18:40,  I think. Strange they start late, when they have the past two days to get it all ready and be ready and all the bands sound checked all afternoon?? Anyway, that is the way it goes in Portugal, often things are always late. The Great Machine played a mixture of styles starting off with a quite snotty punky attitude and stoner rock sound. Later, they slowed things down and were more heavy and doomy.  It was a pretty cool way to open but things would only get better and better.

A US trio playing Occult rock/Doom style stuff with a female bass player and vocalist, called the Well, were next.  I had never heard of them but they had a couple of albums, 7”, and pic disc for sale at their merch stand.  The sound was slowly getting better and better with each band. Very boomy bass for these guys and too much kick drum but it was a heavy rock sound. They did not really stand out for me from so many other bands playing this style today.  They did end their set with a heavy cover for an early Pink Floyd song from Pipers. Cool..

Yuri Gagarin.. 1st time in Portugal, actually most of these bands this was the first time in Portugal.  I met the guys earlier and we hung out a bit. Of course they asked me to play with them but it was a bit too late.  I have an open invitation now for when every our paths cross, so that is cool and I can prepare.  Anyway, the sun was going down now and it was starting to get dark. The transition was very cool and their logo burned into the screen and they did very cool lights. The band was super intense as always and the crowd loved them. No new songs today. Just the same powerful set. Sound was a bit off, way too loud drums but I gave the sound guy some advice and he raised Christian (lead guitar) and lowered the drums a bit and it was way better.  The audience loved them. Only about a 40mins set though. Pity.. Powerful stuff.

Kikagaku Moya from Japan followed and this was a good transition to lighten the mood a bit. I had seen the guys from the band walking around and waved to them. I met them at Loppen and we talked before. Really nice people. Anyway, they started off really heavy and hypnotic for the first couple of songs and then it was more relaxed hippie freak rock stuff and then they returned to space out at the end again. It was a very cool set and a lot like what I had seen before. The sound was fantastic. One of the best sounds of the festival.

Monolord from Sweden are a three piece DOOM band. Some of my friends in Copenhagen really love this band. I had never heard them before.  We did not see all the set but it was a good mix of doom stuff, some heavy metal thunder with some guitar solos and psychedelic vocals sometimes. Their last song was over 10mins and was very cool. What a great track. Paulo said this was their most famous song. Crowd really dug it. Actually, the crowd was totally into every band. The Portuguese audience are really attentive and into it. They don’t spend much time on the phone and are really present and friendly, which is great..

ELDER, first time in Portugal, were basically the headline act and had 70mins. I think they only played 6 or 7 songs. I have been friends with them for a few years now and we hung out some earlier in the day and evening. This was the last gig of their 4 week tour and they were in great form. They opened with Sanctuary from the new record. They also played Blind (2nd to last) and this featured their new 2nd guitar player who had a long solo. He also plays some keyboards. This is great for the band. They played 2 from Lore as well.  I think people might have been a bit disappointed to not hear much older stuff. Perhaps the new guy does not really know many of the old songs and they have not rehearsed them for a 4 piece line up. IT allowed them to do a lot of cool harmony guitar parts and Nick was playing amazing cool guitar solos. Best show of the day.

Here is a short interview I did with Nick and Jack.. Enjoy.

It was now nearly 2 in the morning and we were really tired so we did not see the Cosmic Dead. They were supposed to start at 01:30. We could hear start as we walked 15mins back to where we were staying. They did started off straight away with some heavy intense psyched out stuff and not a slow droney space out like they often do… I am guessing they were very cool. Nice people as well but they did not make it to the festival site until after midnight, so I never saw them.

Day 2

Same thing to day. 5 Portuguese bands at the pool starting at 13:30 and then move over to the main stage on the football field.  The main gig today is Colour Haze, who have never played in Portugal. They only have a 70min set but I think people are very excited. Sasquatch, Acid King, Orange Goblin, the Machine and Dead Witches all play today.

We arrived in time today to see nearly all of all the bands on the pool stage. We had a nice shady spot, which was good where we had our base and could see all the bands. The day started off with a PT band called Ana Paris. They were a four piece band that as a bit punky, a bit stoner rock but a strange singer. He walked around like he was not really into being there and spent a lot of time facing backwards towards the drummer and away from the audience. The vocal was also often like a spoken word and not very emotional at all. It was pretty generic.  They had a small following though.  

Next up was a band from Mexico City called Vinnum Sabbathi.  This was a four piece instrumental band that reminded me of a more doomy La Ira De Dios (in the old days). They had a guy making spacey sounds and also different spoken word samples in English. Sadly the sound man was shit and you never heard anything the guy played. I found out he was making space sounds my talking with him. Sound guy on this stage was pretty bad all day, drums way too loud and not really paying attention to the instruments well enough. Don’t hire this guy again!  Anyway, VS, started very slow and doomy and then built up a few times..   A doom worship band. Not a lot of lead guitar.

Lobo was next and this was a sort of as my friend Paulo said, “Atmospheric post black metal”. They were a three piece with guitar (no solos), drums and keyboards. IT was slow post rock mixed with some metal at times. If they had some really cool visuals and it was at night would have liked it more but not in the hot afternoon. 

Blaak Heat, is a French band with an American singer and lead guitar. He also played the Oud.  We saw them at Reverence last year and they were great. They remind me of a North African version of Black Sun Ensemble but more metal.  They play some really cool stuff but again, the main lead guitar player was way too low and he played all the cool stuff while the rhythm guitar player who played the metal and stoner power chords was too loud….  Pity the sound guy just sat there and did nothing.  Great band….. they took 40mins to set up though so now everything was off schedule.

Toxic Shock blew everyone away. This is a hardcore punk band from Antwerp, Belgium. They just blew the place apart. The got everyone off there assess and created a mosh pit and lots of stage diving and people diving off the stage into the pool. It was crazy… Singer was in a speedo and totally insane climbing on the speakers, and on the final note he climbed way up the lighting rig and jumped into the pool. Crazy.. Musically, they were like CA 80s punk, DRI, Suicidal, Excel, etc.….  The people loved it.
The Dutch band, Death Alley closed the pool stage on this day. Toxic Shock was not an easy band to follow but Death Alley, were up for it and got all the people close to the stage and tried to turn it up a notch and kick some ass. I had seen them a few times and they are a kick ass rock band.  I think they managed to keep most of the audience and deliver the goods..

At 19, Sasquatch hit the main stage in the direct afternoon sun as it was going down a bit. I have been wanting to see them for some years and was really into the show. It turns out they actually played at the very first Sonic Blast Festival 7 or 8 years ago. I really loved their 4th album but they did not play a single song from that album and focused on their new one (which I bought) and older material. I really like the riffs and the way the guy sings. He did quite a lot of guitar solos a well and the bass and drums were really solid stoner rock. Cool stuff.
Possible Set list:
Rational Woman, More Than You'll Ever Be, Cracks in the Pavements, Drown All the Evidence, Chemical Lady, Bringing Me Down, Knuckle Down, Pull Me Under, Destroyer, What Have You Done

Next up was The Machine from Holland. I have not seen them for some years (Roadburn was the last time) and they were really good. Their set just got better and better. They stared off with a really doomy track (new??) and then a super fast short track and then something brand new. It has been 2 years since they released a new album. The guitar player is really good and he did some very cool solos on some of the tracks. They ended their set with a 15min long track Ode to….

Acid King… what can I say.. Very very powerful and people were totally into the stoned hypnosis.  The lights were really cool and the band delivered! People wanted more in the end. They went down a storm..

Silent Pictures, Laser Headlights, 2 Wheel Nation, Coming Down from Outer Space, Red River, Electric Machine

Colour Haze, this was the first time ever in Portugal and they had a 70min set. They had probably the best sound of the festival (they have their own guy) and the drums were perfect and not too loud and the guitar really in your face. They opened with She Said, a long track. It was cool for them to play a really old one (Roses). I saw they started to play this one again earlier this year. They needed some fresh material from the old days as they always play the same stuff. Skydancer, not my favorite track from the new album was actually really good live and people were into it. Transformation was for sure the best track of the show. They closed with Tempel. Crowd went nuts.. Great band and they all are so amazing player. Mani, was the best drummer of the whole festival. I got a chance to say hello to Stefan and Phillip but sadly no Mani. I have been friends of their for some years.

Set List: She Said, Roses, Skydancer, Transformation, Tempel

Orange Goblin hit the stage hard and heavy and just bulldozed the audience into submission. The sound guy also cranked it up and it was damn loud! Ben is a great front man and really rallies the crowd to his side. He was really having a good time. They had played in Portugal before but apparently it had been many years.  Some of the songs were really great like Some you Win, Saruman’s Wish and They come back. Cool band. Powerful stuff.

Scorpionica, The Devil's Whip, Saruman's Wish, The Man Who Invented Time, The Filthy & the Few, Turbo Effalunt (Elephant), Some You Win, Some You Lose, Cities of Frost, Your World Will Hate This, They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls), Quincy the Pigboy, Red Tide Rising

We were tired and did not stay to see Dead Witches who closed the festival but I was told by several people it was like Electric Wizard light with a over dramatic female singer. I don’t know, as I did not see them.

This was a great festival.  There are a few things the organisers could improve though that would make the experience better for everyone.  The toilets in the main area need to be cleaned between Friday and Saturday. They were very disgusting and the men’s stand up ones were overflowing. Also, there is no place anywhere for people to wash their hands or get water to drink.  I also wish the sound guys on the small stage would pay a bit more attention to what instruments are being played. Both stages suffered from bands having way too loud drums and too low guitars. Mostly very good sound though but still too loud drums. Great festival.  I will be back again!

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