After Friday night’s monumental metallic proceedings at the Electric Ballroom I arrive later than intended so sadly miss The Vintage Caravan. I head straight to the Our Black Heart pub where the outside area is open to DesertFest patrons only, providing food, a Team Rock stall and an extra bar to quench any thirsty throats. The first band of the day I take in is Bad Guys. They entertained me when I saw them at last year’s Raw Power Festival at the Tuffnel Park Dome, sporting big beards and twin guitars. No change in that department but unfortunately a gruelling and ludicrously painful volume in the rather intimate venue has me retreating outside. This is a shame but there is no need for ruining precious eardrums for future listening pleasure.
Fortunately when I return to the same venue for Manchester’s Ten Foot Wizard the volume is at a more sensible level, but still loud enough to please rather than batter and bludgeon you. However, this time it has turned into a sticky pudding sweatbox like all good small venues do when filled to capacity. There is anticipation in the air and the crowd are behind them from the off. Vocalist/guitarist Gary is primed and ready, stripped to the waist as they deliver some fine ‘party doom’. Ten Foot Wizard successfully combine classic rock big riffs and stoner rock, Clutch style, in ‘Rise From Your Grave’, and a touch of Queen of the Stone Age‘s melodic hooks in ‘Real Love’. This in turn generates some squeezed crowd surfing sandwiched between the carrying hands and the ceiling.
A slight variation of the stoner rock sound is provided by Kyuss founder, and therefore pioneer, Brant Bjork and his newly formed backing band The Low Desert Punk Band. Whiffs of… er… exotic cigarettes permeate the air as Brant and his desert punkers get into a laid-back fuzzy guitar groove. While he has taken a slightly heavier and rockier sound than on his recent solo albums, they still swagger with a natural mellowness compared to some of the more aggressive rock/metal orientated contemporaries on the bill. ‘Buddha Time (Everything Fine)’ and ‘Boogie Woogie on the Brain’ (from current album “Black Power Flower”) seduce and caress, leaving me feeling rather satisfied.
My debut DesertFest has been thoroughly enjoyable with a well organised, run-by-fans-for-fans feel and a thoughtful, friendly atmosphere.