Desertfest - Camden, London - live review

NW1’s arid landscape plays host to a psychedelic stoner-rock party

Crowd shot

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Over three days across various Camden venues, Desertfest hosts rowdy rock to swill beer and shakes beards to. From extreme doom to stoner rock and party rock’n’roll, it’s a Mecca for anyone who worships at the altar of the riff.

Taking to the Underworld splattered in dayglo paint, London trio Vodun evoke the magic of voodoo in their psychedelic, soul-doused heavy rock. It’s akin to watching a ritual: frontwoman Oya shimmies across the stage like a woman possessed and, towards the end, the cymbals are set on fire. Her multi-octave vocal range is the centrepiece, but the songs are solid too.

The Picturebooks’ psych-driven rock’n’roll evokes choppers cruising down California highways, even if the pair hail from Germany. From the riff-heavy The Rabbit And The Wolf to the Americana-tinged Zero Fucks Given, they’re a perfect Friday night headliner

Black Spiders bid their bittersweet adieu on Saturday, as they’re in the middle of a farewell tour. It’s a shame as they epitomise the sheer power of straight-up party rock. They will be missed.

The Saturday night party begins with the appearance of John Garcia. Kyuss classics like Gardenia and Green Machine get the best response, but his solo and Hermano material slot in nicely, the kingpin of stoner rock sounding as fresh as ever.

Hannah May Kilroy

Hannah May Kilroy has been writing about music professionally for over a decade, covering everything from extreme metal to country. She was deputy editor at Prog magazine for over five years, and previously worked on the editorial teams at Terrorizer and Kerrang!. She currently works as the production editor for The Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Guardian, Classic Rock and Metal Hammer.