DESERTFEST PRE-SHOW: Lost When You Found Your Way

Posted in Features on April 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.25.13 — 11:35PM GMT — Thursday — Holiday Inn, Camden

This was it. The official start of London Desertfest 2013. Well, okay, maybe not. That’s tomorrow, but tonight had the banner up and that’s something. The Black Heart hosted what was billed as the “Official Desertfest Pre-Show” with Greek stoner heavies 1000mods and UK rockers Enos and Blasted. Three bands to ease the way into what’s destined to be a landmark weekend of riffs and fuzz. Their task was laid out before them, but if any of the acts was feeling the pressure, the sweat was lost in that from the raging performances. It was a varied bill, with Blasted showcasing punkish roots and Enos hinting at heavier space rock while the headliners basked in European fuzz, but all three were met with a decidedly positive reception.

Since this is the start of the Desertfest 2013 coverage, I’m going to present the show like I will the fest as a whole. Hope you dig it. Let’s get started.

Blasted

I guess if you had to pick one, Blasted would be the standout act on the bill, less riff-minded than either of the other two and they didn’t get through their soundcheck without shrapnel flying from one of drummer Tommy Randhawa‘s sticks, but it seems to not really matter which end of heavy a band comes from over here to make a good bill, and I like that. I was early to the show, but Blasted got going soon enough and sprinted through a set of speed rock with thoroughly punkish overtones and aggression. Guitarist/vocalist Ben Perrier used to be in Winnebago Deal, but Blasted is by and large faster and meaner, bassist James Phung answering back in call-and-response choruses to “This Place is Nothing” and “Living Nightmare,” both highlights of their set for being catchy as well as blazing. They were crisp and efficient in getting from point-A to punch-you-in-your-kidneys, but not without locking in the occasional heavy groove along the way, as though to portend what would come for the rest of the night.

Enos

Despite having some warning of what Enos got up to when I received and added their late-2012 All too Human album and added the tracks to The Obelisk Radio, when the Brighton four-piece actually got to work on stage, they immediately surpassed my expectation. There are a lot of bands who blend heavy psych and stoner riffing to one degree or another, but Enos blur the lines well with a wash of echo and cymbals that nonetheless come underscored by a near-constant forward motion. They had an open sensibility, and with the two guitars of Sean Cox and Chris Rizzanski, there was plenty of room for exploration while bassist George Cobbold and drummer Sparky Rogers held down thick and dense grooves, but Rizzanski‘s vocals also had a throaty,  motor rock delivery that grounded the songs well (when he wasn’t using a second mic setup for a talk box, that is). The crowd was obviously more familiar with their breadth than I was, though even with a regular sprawl of effects on Rizzanski‘s guitar, it was easy to dig into Enos‘ gripping material, the band tossing in a hook riff more than often enough to hold attention for the duration. They were a pleasant surprise, and I picked up a copy of All too Human on CD for further investigation. They were also selling glow-in-the-dark shirts, which are always fun, but I didn’t dare.

1000mods

With riff-worship culled from early Dozer and stoner rock’s alleged ’90s glory days (I happen to think the glory days are going on now, particularly in Europe), 1000mods came up to Camden Town from Greece en route to the Desertfest in Berlin this weekend, and I’m glad they did. Their 2011 full-length debut, Super Van Vacation (review here) took cues from some of modern heavy psych’s laid back atmospheres, but it was the more powerful, rocking moments that stood out live. They got going with a cut listed as “Zamataz” that didn’t appear on the album — maybe new? — and just as they were kicking into The. Big. Groove., the power went out of Giannis and George‘s guitar. Like, gone. No coincidence I’m sure that they were rocking at full throttle. A couple minutes of lost momentum didn’t help — bassist/vocalist Dani (his instrument slung low in the tradition of Church of Misery) and drummer Lab did the best they could to fill the time — but by the time they were into their third song, it was more or less forgotten. They resumed their rush and continued on unabated. Highlights from Super Van Vacation included “7 Flies,” “Set You Free” and “Navy in Alice,” but the best came later into the set, with the sweet guitar interplay of “Vidage” and the sing-along-ready hook of “El Rollito,” The Black Heart crowd fist-pumping and shouting along to the chorus ending with the memorable, “…Nothing can save my soul.” They ended with the opener and closer of Super Van Vacation in that order, and both “Road to Burn” and “Super Van Vacation” locked in rolling riffs that drew likewise vehement response from the audience, duly sauced. They went a few minutes past the 11PM curfew, but fortunately no one seemed to register a complaint, and when it was over, there was as much a sense of something having begun as having ended.

After Party

At the downstairs bar, which is awesome, the Desertfest crew were holding an after party DJ’ed by none other than Rich from the The Day After the Sabbath, which, man, if you haven’t checked out his podcasts, you should. Certainly the guy for the job — I don’t think I’ve ever been to London and not heard Leaf Hound‘s “Freelance Fiend” at one point or another — he was holding it down for sure, but I needed to get back to the hotel and write and so didn’t linger as I otherwise might have. Many did, though, and it seemed like Desertfest was getting its due for an opening night pregame.

Tomorrow starts early and runs late, is my busiest day of the festival. I won’t have time to check in during the day, but will report in afterwards with words and pics on the proceedings. I was feeling beat going into today, but after tonight, I’m more geared up and excited for what’s to come over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s going to be a blast, I can tell already.

More pics after the jump.

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More Desertfest 2013 Adds: The Shrine Go to London, 1000mods Go to Berlin

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

More news from Desertfest 2013 to round out the week. Fresh off their run in the US with Graveyard, Cali stoner-skaters The Shrine will be playing as part of Desertfest‘s London lineup, and traveling from Greece, heavy psych rockers 1000mods will make an appearance at the Berlin fest.

Here are the official announcements, culled from their respective websites (London, Berlin):

The Shrine to Shine at Desertfest

Smashing their way straight into Desertfest, L.A. young bloods The Shrine are set to bring their in-your-face and to-the-point brand of hardcore desert rock. Not many bands out their can claim to mix the tripped-out echoes of fuzz with the rough and ready aggressiveness of early punk, but the upcoming three piece of Josh Landau (guitar/vocals), Courtland Murphy (bass) and Jeff Murray (Drums) make it effortless.

Last year’s Tee Pee Records debut, the appropriately titled Primitive Blast, is a lightning paced wall of sound that blows off your ears. Traces of almost everyone, from Truckfighters, to Misfits, to MC5, are there to find within an all too short 35 minutes of raw, chugging stomp.

It’s no surprise to see that they’ve already notched up some impressive support slots with, among others, Kyuss Lives!, Graveyard and Desertfest headliners Pentagram. No doubt at Desertfest The Shrine will be some of the heaviest fuzz you’ll ever hear.

Desertfest Berlin – 1000MODS (GR)

Today, we are thrilled to welcome the first Greek band at DESERTFEST BERLIN : the striking 1000 MODS !!

1000 MODS is a 4-piece psychedelic/stoner rock band from Chiliomodi, Greece, formed in 2006. They play an impressive and highly addictive piece of downtuned, fuzzed up and hard hitting stoner rock, hone in a serious groove.

In the beginning of 2007, they released their first (self-financed) EP “Blank Reality”, and in December 2009 they stroke back with a brand new 7” EP titled “Liquid Sleep”, on the Greek label CTS Prods. In may 2010, they released a split tape with the German psy-doomsters Wight, and few months later, they recorded their full-length debut album “Super Van Vacation”, produced by the almighty Billy Anderson, and released by German label Kozmic Artifactz (vinyl) and CTS Prods (Digipack) in September 2011. Last December, the band released their latest EP “Valley of Sand” on Lab Records.

Since their beginning, they have played over 100 live shows, including openings for Brant Bjork, Colour Haze, Karma to Burn, My Sleepin Karma, Radio Moscow and many others. In October 2011, they toured in Europe playing 25 gigs in 12 countries, with an appearance as special guests at Up In Smoke 3, and in August 2012, they played at Aquamaria Festival.

This year, it’s time for them to play at DESERTFEST BERLIN ! “Super Van Vacation” vinyl re-issue is scheduled in April 2013 by CTS Prods, just in time for the festival, so get in the van, and come to Berlin !!

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1000mods Issue New EP Valley of Sand; Release Show this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 28th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

You probably already knew this, because you’re hip like that and/or have effectively arranged your Facebook updates so that you still get them, but Greek heavy psych unit 1000mods released a new EP last week called Valley of Sand. Comprised of four tracks but mostly centered around the 17-minute titular opener, it’s a laid back jammer’s delight complemented by three live cuts, “7 Flies,” “Navy in Alice” and “Track Me,” all of which appeared in regular ol’ studio form on the foursome’s killer 2011 outing, Super Van Vacation (review here).

The new EP comes in an edition of 500 white vinyl 12″ records, pressed on The Lab Records, and it’s available now through the 1000mods Bandcamp. In case you should happen to be in Korinthos this weekend — hey, it could happen — they’re playing a release show for it at Artichoke, the poster for which can be enlarged by clicking the image on the right. Basically, they’re a good band and I thought after listening to it that the EP was worth a plug, so if you get a second and feel like checking it out, here’s the Bandcamp stream:

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1000mods, Super Van Vacation: The World Turns Orange

Posted in Reviews on September 13th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Fuzz abounds on the Billy Anderson-produced full-length debut by Greek trad stoner rockers 1000mods. The Chiliomodi four-piece made a splash late in 2009 with the well-riffed Liquid Sleep 7”, and they follow much the same course on the 10-track Super Van Vacation, nodding at desert rock while keeping a looseness in the material that speaks to a love of jamming. Released by SuiSound/Catch the Soap Productions, Super Van Vacation is long at 65 minutes, but mostly immersive, and 1000mods do well within the rigid parameters of genre they’ve set for themselves, launching the album with the nod-fodder groove of “Road to Burn” (a call-out to Roadburn, perhaps?), one of several extended cuts reaching well over the eight-minute mark. The Orange-amped guitars of Giannis and George are expectedly thick and lay down solid riffs throughout for drummer Labros and bassist/vocalist Dani to follow. Their choice of producer couldn’t have been better, as Anderson is among those who set the standard for recording this kind of music in the first place in his work with the Melvins, Sleep, Acid King and Weedeater (among others), and sure enough, the balance of sounds on Super Van Vacation is near perfect. Tones are dialed in thick and full, and Dani’s vocals cut through well but never dominate the guitars, which are clearly intended as the focus.

The groove of “Road to Burn” – or at least the delivery of the chorus – reminds a bit of Alabama Thunderpussy’s “6 Shooter” from 2000’s Constellation, and that’s one of several moments on Super Van Vacation where 1000mods make their influences explicitly known. Fourth track “Set You Free” seems to find its roots in a combination of Dozer and Astrosoniq, and the ringing guitar notes in the more subdued parts of “Vidage” seem to be calling out to the same sandy gods as did those of Elvis Deluxe’s “Take it Slow” from their stellar 2011 album, Favourite State of Mind. That’s doubtless coincidental and the result of a common Kyuss/Josh Homme influence in both bands, but worthy of note anyway, as it speaks to how much of Super Van Vacation is going to be immediately familiar to experienced heavy rock listeners. Ultimately, it works to 1000mods’ benefit, as it makes them seem like fans of the music they’re playing, and I’ll take nothing away from Dani’s bass runs, which are pushed to the fore of the mix in the second half of “Vidage” before the guitar solo kicks in. They’re a genre band, definitely, playing largely off the characteristics that have emerged over the past several years of stoner rock revivalism in Europe – the emphasis on jamming one finds in the second half of Super Van Vacation only speaks further to that – but damned if they don’t do it well on these tracks and earn their place at the head of the Greek stoner scene along with the stalwart likes of Nightstalker, who themselves lifted a great deal from Monster Magnet along the way.

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1000mods: Stoner Fuzz from the Land of the Magemeno

Posted in Reviews on April 12th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Liquid Sleep is the second EP from the curiously-named Greek stoner four-piece 1000mods (following 2006’s Blank Reality). Released through SuiSound, the 7” comes in a full cardboard sleeve cover with rockin’ purple artwork, pressed on foamy green vinyl and is just over 12 minutes of fuzzed-out riff bliss, marked with extended instrumental sections and the occasional bit of Echoplex shenanigans.

We begin with “Burnt Sleep,” the more straightforward and rock and roll of the two tracks here present. Bassist Dani comes in on vocals after a short stretch of riffing from guitarists Giannis and George (first names only), in the meantime starting off the song and providing suitable accompaniment to drummed Lab in the rhythm section. The production is modern but not overdone, though the vocals feel higher placed in the mix than the music warrants — could be my listening apparatus. Nonetheless, the half-decade-old band from Hiliomodi sound engaging in a not-asking-too-much kind of way.

The amps are Orange, the vibes are good, the structures are relatively simple, none of which is a cause for complaint. There are some effects sprinkled throughout on the vocals (and elsewhere) to keep it interesting, but mostly 1000mods traffic in straight up stoner fuzz that will ring familiar in the ears of the already-converted without sounding overly redundant. The jam about four minutes into the song goes a long way toward changing things up, Dani doing an especially notable job steering the course through dual-guitar delay improvisations.

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