Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Sonic Blast Festival, Vila praia de Ançora Portugal Aug 10-13th, 2022

It takes us a bit more than 3hrs to drive to this coastal sea front town in the very north of Portugal.  We are staying in an apartment about 15mins walk from the festival site.  When we are arrived our friends were already there.  It was about 1830. We put out stuff in and headed over to get our wristbands and drink tickets. This went pretty smooth saw Roberto from Deepa Fuzz blog.  What a great guy. Ricardo and Thelma, both super nice..  All seem to be in order. The festival site is very different from there the other editions of the festival were in Moledo.  

Anyway, a bit after 20, they let people into the food court. They had a drink stand outside the entrance but you can not bring those drinks in, which is a bit strange. Anyway, a light search and you are in.  I guess you can have 5000 people in this site.  Camping is in the forest which is nice and they have several fire trucks about due to fire risk as Portugal has been so dry this year. 

7 places to feed all these people..  Going to be a bit of chaos once the festival gets going as there is only one small hamburger joint on the walk to the festival and that is it for food.  We will see. The pizza we had was good but very thin on the toppings.  Pepperoni and mushroom but I guess there was less than 1 mushroom and maybe 2 pieces of pepperoni split in half on the entire pizza. Also hardly any cheese, just a lot of bread and sauce…  7.5€..

Temple Fang
Temple Fang
The first band was a local noise rock duo. NO idea what they were called but it was terrible.  The sound was awful, not just bad, but awful. Out where most people were standing it was a lot of bass and some cymbals. NO definition in the sound at all. Granted the guitar player who played thru a bass amp and guitar amp had tons of distortion.  He also used a lot of vocal effects.  Anyway, they played until 2235 and then it took a while to set up Temple Fang but thankfully, they had their own sound guy.  They started about 15mins late and played an hour set of I think 5 songs. It really liked it a lot. Sue and I were talking to the guys earlier. Such nice people. Anyway, the set was very dynamic, spacey, heavy at times.  Great use of the 3 vocals as well. Jevin and Dennis share the lead vocals.  There was a time in the middle when they spaced out they were losing the audience a bit, people were talking around us quite a bit but then they got the groove going again, Great stuff.

Me and some of the El Perro Guys
El Perro did not get going until nearly 0030 but what a powerful sound and groove.  I bought the LP at the merch and Parker and a couple of the other guys signed the record, which was cool.  Parker was drinking rose wine from the bottle at this time and it was like 3hrs before they were going to play. I guess he wanted to loosen up. Man, he rips it on the guitar.  We did not hear the entire concert as we are old and tired after the trip today.  We could hear them quite clear back where we stay though.  

We did not see Toxic Shock (thrash metal) who also play tomorrow and Misleading. I spoke to Diogo and their lovely female synth player from Misleading but they were not on until 2 in the morning and even later now that things were 30mins later. Pity…. I wanted to see them. Met the drummer from Travo as we were leaving last night as well. I dig their band.  They are also on super late so we will not see them either. 

Day 2

Up at around 9 and it is foggy here but a pleasant temperature outside.. A lot of car noise as we are right on a big highway roundabout looking out to the sea. 

The first band on is 1440 with Pledge a sort of indie punk with shouting vocals.  Madmess is next on the 2nd stage and then the Devil and the Almighty Blues!  Madmess came out on time and had the biggest audience they have ever played for and the people dug it… Seems they play more or less the same set for the last months but they do it well.  Ended with Stargazer but then Vasco and Luis started a new jam and Sam had already left the stage and he had to come back on. They were not supposed to play more but it was only 5mins..   Audience loved it.

Intro, Rebirth, Albatross, Mind Collapse, Shape Shifter, Stargazer, short jam piece

The Devil and the Almighty Blues from Norway had not played a gig in 2.5 years and the sound guy I was talking with had not even seen the most of the band in the last few years. He said most of a 4th album was in progress or done. They only played the same set as they played last time here when the weather was so bad and stormy that not many people saw them. Cool to hear them again. I like the band but wish they did more guitar solo parts.. 

Salt the Earth, Root to Root, Lay Down, Time Ruins Everything, The Ghosts of Charlie Barracuda

Another Norwegian band, Slomosa was next on the 2nd stage. I had only heard a few songs on the internet.  They play a sort of Indie stoner rock.  They had a big audience and people seem to dig it but most of it was not for me…. no guitar solos even though they have 2 guitar players.  Singer sound a bit like Nick from Elder at times.  It was ok…. Set list included most or all these songs..

King Buffalo, was the band of the festival that I was most looking forward to see.  I spoke briefly with the bass player at the merch. He was very friendly…  They did not get much of a soundcheck but the sound guy dialled it in pretty fast. They have awesome PA so most of the bands have sounded really great.. The main house sound man is really great and cool… Knows that the guitars need to be loud.. Anyway, King Buffalo have this special bass groove that they hook you with and although they over use it a bit. They have great dynamics and cool songs. Whatever the last song of the set they played, that was a killer.  Hope it is from the new album. It was a great show. They did not disappoint..

We needed some food so we only heard but did not see Meatbodies. They had a big crowd. They is 5000 day tickets, per day.. the festival site is big, it never really felt super crowded so far. Very easy to get drinks with the plastic cup you have to buy and token system. While everyone liked the Moledo festival site better with the football pitch, some trees and the pool stage, this one is pretty functional with all 3 stages side by side so easy to go between stages. There is basically no break between bands though. Sometimes 5-10mins but sometimes, just straight into the next band..  Meatbodies was hard rock… 

We heard the entire W.I.T.C.H. concert but half of it at the sea watching the sun go down. It was perfect. This is an old Zambian band but this line up only has the original keyboard player and a bunch of young white guys. It was cool to hear these old songs from the early albums (I have them on tape) and they also played some new material as well. I filmed one of the songs. I really liked them a lot. I wish I had recorded the whole show.. It was nice and groovy most of the time with some awesome fuzzy and cool wah guitar.. Some songs were a bit weak but overall it was an excellent choice..

Nebula, the stage area was packed.. The band started off a bit nervous, perhaps, Eddie was not really in the groove and the fingers were a bit slow but they really kicked some ass later in the show with some great tracks like Full Throttle…. They for sure played at least 2 songs from the new album I got so high and I think Warzone Superwolf. They ended the set with Out of my Head. They were supposed to have Nick Oliveiri join them for the last track but he was on the stage next to them playing his bass to get his amp ready for the Stöner show that was to directly flow and it did. 

Within 1min of Nebula ending and not getting Nick to come over, Stöner just started their line check-soundcheck and straight into the set… never looking back…  The albums are ok but live they were fucking great.. I think this is just what I needed and I was really into the gig.. They played a mix of the first two albums and ended with the Kyuss song, Green Machine.  55min set..  Much more heavy than I expected and some good grooves..  

Set List: Rad Stays Rad, The Older Kids, Stand Down, Own Yer Blues, ?, Green Machine

We really wanted to see Slift from France but we would have to sit another hour and listen to the thrash punk metal of Toxic Shock and we were tired and just not in the mood. We had been there hearing bands straight for 8 hrs now… We are near or over 60 now so it is a long day and we often miss the last bands. There was still Travo at 0120 and Cobrafuma at 0215!!  I bet they were good… Our friends we attend the festival with said Slift had really good visuals and it was a great show. 

Day 3

The camping is set up in a forest next to the festival site. One is not going to get a lot of sleep in this camping site!!  Music ends like 3-4 the morning and this morning at 1030 they are already sound checking the bands using full volume on the PA. We stay about 2km away and it you could hear it very clearly… So maybe there is 6-7hrs of silence.. 

We were up about 9 and in bed about 0030 last night… Could hear Slift playing in the distance.  The first band today is Rosy Finch on the 3rd stage at 14.. Not sure if we will hear her or not.. We did not..

We got there just in time to catch the last 10mins of 24/7 Diva Heaven, which was three ladies playing punk rock.. They have the energy and give it all but I did not find it interesting.  Crowd was having fun though.. They did have a great male sales person in the merch trying to sell their stuff after…

Next up was the strange and interesting Spanish occult fantasy rock group, Luna Viaja.  Cool costumes and cool stage set up.  Bass player took over the drums and the female drummer then became one of the singers- actors…. it was dark rock with a doomy element here and there. Quite entertaining but musically not that interesting for me. 

The Dutch band, the Machine were first on the main stage.  Last time I saw them was at Sonic Blast. I was not sure what to expect.  There early albums are very guitar driven and solo driven stuff and their later albums a bit more polished and shorter songs and even a bit of QOTSA influence.  This set though was mostly the jammed out stuff and they did at least one, new song and said they will have a new album next year. They were really cool and jammed out a lot. A more heavy set than I expected and some cool visuals as well. I hung out with the drummer and bass player a bit during the day and a bit in the night. Cool guys…

Set list: First Unique Prime, Crack You, Awe, Genau or Never, Wave Cannon and Gamma….

Green Lung from London are gathering quite a big reputation now and I only own the first CD but the new one had great reviews. I was looking forward to see them. They put on a great show and the audience was totally into it.. While they do not deliver anything really that new, this heavy doom rock (Pentagram, Sabbath, Witchcraft inspired) is pretty full, the throw in a really great front man and also a great lead guitar player who does plenty of solos.  The audience dug it for sure and were headbanging. Cool set with a mixture of a lot from the first album and the new one.  Good set..

The Harrowing, Old Gods, The Ritual Tree, You Bear the Mark, Call of the Coven, Reaper’s Scythe, Leaders of the Blind, Graveyard Sun, Woodland Rites, Let the Devil In

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs were next on the main stage and they delivered a high energy and heavy set. We only heard it from the food court as we had to get something to eat at this time. They had a big crowd and people were into it for sure. I had seen them at Reverence Festival in maybe 2016??  

Anyway, El Perro was the band I was most looking forward to see at the festival. We only really heard the other show from the distance as it was too late.  Anyway, they were dressed to kill and in a good mood. I had been talking with the rhythm guitar player over the last days and they were really enjoying themselves here in Portugal. Anyway, the band just was killer… They nailed that funky 70s groove rock and played at least one totally new song and ended the show with the killer Black Sands from the new album which after the drum section which was extended here with a great conga, percussion and drums, they came back and did the Santana Soul Sacrifice tribute.. Blew me away. Great band.. My fave so far of the festival…

Frankie and Witch Fingers, wow…. who would have expected this.. This band had a made high strung singer/guitar player, female bassists, the most intense drummer of the whole festival and another guitar player who did the solos and played a bit of keyboard.. It was just 50 mins of high energy kick ass rock and roll with a bit of a punky edge. Blew me away…   I should have bought one of their albums..

CONAN……. wow.. every time I had seen CONAN, they were the loudest band at the festival. The share the soundman with Electric Wizard (a heavily tatoo¨d and mean looking guy). Sure enough, it was at least 10db louder than any band, maybe more. The house sound guy even told him, he needed to turn it down a bit!!  Anyway, the crushed the place with their massive wall of distorted nasty, evil guitar, forced screamed tortured vocals.  The audience was totally into this one dimensional wall of noise.  I give it to them, they lay down a fucking nasty sound and are heavy as fuck.  YOu need to be in the mood for this or you will not like them at all.  They played a new song and said they have a new album on the way. The best song was the 3rd to last one where they did a min or so of really spacey stuff with some delay and wah guitar. That was pretty much the only real major change in the nasty distorted guitar that sounds like bass… Far out.. Set list was something like below..

Total Conquest, Prosper on the Path, Hawk as Weapon, Satsumo, Levitation Hoax, Gravity Chasm, Righteous Alliance, Volt Thrower, Foehammer, Battle in the Swamp, Paincantation

WITCH, J. Mascus stoner heavy band were next on the big stage and the crowd was big… They laid it down heavy for sure. I think they started off a bit slow but the last half of the show was really good.  I do not know their music at all but the last few tracks seem to be their hits or something as people were really into it.. It was pretty cool…

Moura, a quite unique and different band from Galicia in Spain was the last band before Electric Wizard, where the crowd had already filled the stage next to these guys waiting… Anyway, it was a colourful 7 piece band with female drummer and percussion/vocalist and a guy how played sax, percussion and harmonica, two guitar players, one was the lead vocalist, bass and a cool keyboard player with vintage hammond with Leslie, malotron, moog….  We heard most of the show from a distance but it was really nice music.. On the Spinda label..  A nice change from the heavy stuff before EW!

Electric Fucking Wizard…..  They walk on the stage with attitude…  They know this is what the people want…. The open with Come my Fanatics and the audience is in the palm of their hand!!  

They have an awesome and fucking loud sound and great visuals.. It was a cool concert.  I wish I had recorded the entire thing.  Lots of guitar solos and movies.. Damn.. good time.

The set list was something like this:  Come my Fanatics, Satanic Rites of Drugula, The Chosen Few, Incense for the Damned, Black Mass, Funeralopolis

There was still Kaleidobolt from Finland, The Goners and Deathchant on this night but it was just too late already. We did not get to bed before 0130..

Day 4

We are too fucking old for this but we still do it..   Starts too early today so I doubt we will make it to see Orange Goblin at midnight, but we will see….  Mythic Sunship had to cancel as the drummer caught covid…. They replaced them with the US band from LA, Deathchant.  Anyway, we arrived at 14 to catch Samavayo from Berlin. They were an old school stoner band from the late 1990s… Still going…  They only had about 40mins to rock before Black Wizards on the main stage. I was not so into the opening couple of songs but then they really got the groove and it was great. It was a small crowd, maybe 150 people… The singer sung one song in Persian and said that if you came and sang him a song in Persian at the merch he would give you a free gift! One person did later!! 

Set List: 

The Black Wizards, I may have seen them years ago at Reverence but I feel like this is really the first time I have really seen them and they were excellent. Such a diverse and cool set of songs. Mostly from the new and their best album Reflections. One of the songs which was a lot like the old blues number Evil (as Cactus did it) they took into a new direction with a few bars of 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson. That was cool… Anyway, they did rock, psych, blues, and the audience loved it. Maybe 500 people..  Great job people…

Deathchant, I had no idea what to expect and they are mean looking tattooed guys but man, they put on a killer show. It was like old school UFO and NWOBHW mix with a lot of duel guitars, lots of solos. I just was not very fond of the singing but damn they did a killer high energy set. My wife loved them and bought the shirt and cd:.. What a surprise..

Psychlona from the North of England laid down a really good set of what I call relaxed stoner grooves and vibes. While I miss the guitar solos, the two guitar players do some interesting melodic guitar notes rather regular solos…. Cool songs and grooves. People were really into it for sure. They have a new album out in Sept, I think he said and they played 2 new songs in the set. 

Set List: Gas, 1975, Blast Off, Rainbird, Valley, Purple River, Devil, Warped. 

Bala was this insane angry all female Spanish Duo.. The drummer, her friend told me teaches drums, was an animal. Man did she have energy and kick ass. The blonde guitar player and main vocalist, she was pissed off and angry and just played nasty riffs, no solos….  It was crazy stuff. Fun to see but I can not imagine listening to this at home. Audience was packed and loved it… Wild..

Mdou Maktar was something totally different. A band from Niger with three African guys and one white dude on bass.  They had a great energy and the place was dancing and it made everyone really happy. What a cool success and change of pace for everyone. The lead singer and lead guitar player, he was a tall guy and had long fingers, played a lot of solos, mostly sounded the same as he did not use any effects.  Bass and drums lines were often a lot the same on many of the songs but it was a great vibe and people enjoyed it. Bring Bassekou Kouyate and Ng Ba next time Ricardo…

Atomic Bitchwax, I spoke a lot with Bob and Gavin. This was the last gig of the 7 weeks in Europe which started at Freak Valley in June. These guys just play insane. The riffs are awesome, the bass lines intense, the drums pounding and the energy just insane..  It is no wonder they are so tight, it is mostly the same songs they play ever year every tour so they should know them well but just an awesome band. Which they would just drop most of these tracks and pick up another set of 10 to 15 for the next tour… Awesome band and super nice people…. 

Pentagram was next on the main stage and I just happen to run into Bobby. Wow.. what a chance that was. Got a pick but he was in a mad mood as Vitor and the other PT guy from the Limit (released on Svart last year) said they were here. And he was like running around the festival site, where the fuck is here???  Anyway, I got my picture and said good luck and have a great gig. He looks a lot older and whiter than the last time I met him in Greece in 2015, I think.. Anyway, the band was focusing mainly on 70s stuff this tour except for Relentless and Review your Choices, I think it was all old tracks..  It did not start off that well. I really miss Victor on guitar, the new guy was really off to start but really kicked ass as the gig went along.  I had fun.. it was not the worst Pentagram gig but far from the best either. Cool Bobby still has it in him to play this stuff for the audience… 

1000 Mods, what a great stoner band from Greece.  I had recently mixed one of their multitrack shows and the merch guy said they dug it and he did too.  They played most of the same songs as in April but what a great sound and vibe they have and both guitar players do cool solos and the grooves are good.. No wonder they have a big following in Portugal.. I think they sold a ton of merch…   Seemed like people were there all the time…

My Sleeping Karma, had to cancel at Sonic Blast 2019, so they were finally back in Portugal or maybe this was the first time ever. Anyway, the larger German guys were in a great mood and really were having fun. The way the guitar and bass player interact with each other in front of the drum kit, is nice…  They have a special sound and for me most of the songs sound so much a like but man, they are awesome at what they do, with the vibe and emotion they create and cool visuals as well. Not enough of the bands took advantage of the visual screen on the main stage.  Solid show.. 

Set List: The Four Horsemen, Ephedra, Akasha, Prema (possible set list)

Orange Goblin, Weedeater and Mister Miyagi were too late for us but we heard a lot of the Orange Goblin show from the distance it was a high energy kick ass biker rock show.  I heard Weedeater were super heavy and great as well and that the singer in Mr Miyagi was totally wasted and quite funny….

Just an awesome festival. So many great bands every day.. The best bands?? Hard to say?? The bands I liked the best???  El Perro, Atomic Bitchwax, The Machine, Electric Wizard, Black Wizards, Stoner, King Buffalo…. the most surprising acts were W.IT.C.H. and Mdou Makar and especially Frankie and the Witch Fingers. The energy of that drummer and band, was off the chart.  Really great festival.. Thanks to Ricardo, Thelma and all the amazing staff and sound people, who did a great job...

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