Desertfest Berlin 2019

Fotos by Zarahlena
Text by Papiroflexia

Desertfest Berlin is an annual gathering of like minded people who love Rock. It’s a Mecca, a church, a temple, a cleansing ritual, for the less spiritual creatures it’s simply a wicked festival! Events such as this are a communal experience, but every individual perceives them differently. What we all have in common is, that even if we try not to, we all arrive with expectations and desires. It’s important to leave some space in our minds in order to be surprised, because most of the times it happens.

I am going to share a few words about the shows and moments that impacted me the most throughout the Desertfest Berlin, some passionate expectations and other unforeseen revelations.

What better way to kick off the festival than with all time favorite Norwegians, The DeviI and the Almighty Blues. The anticipation to see them was deep due to what I knew I was getting myself into; They played tracks from their latest album Tre. The work shows their consistency of dark blues rock sound with yet a more laid back feeling permeated by total clarity. Their performance had the confidence of a new message, it was strong. The singer was wearing a long black cape and led us ”to salt the earth” with solemnity, straight through the realization that “time ruins everything” (first and last song of Tre). Once I was speaking to Eggat , singer of the local band OPERATORS, we were trying to define The Devil and the Almighty Blues’ sound and he came up with the word stoic. It’s true, they are stoic in their presence , trance inducing repetitions and experienced interpretation of Blues. The band is formed by Arnt O.Andersen on vocals, Petter Svee on guitar, Kenneth Simonsen on drums, Torgeir Waldemar Engen on guitar and Kim Skaug on bass.
We allowed and trusted them to take us where they wanted. What a great start!

All Them Witches played later that evening. Another personal fav. Parks, lead singer and bassist of the band, was spotted going around the festival among us common mortals drinking beer and enjoying the atmosphere. He was indeed appreciating the context as later on stage, he proudly and goofily showed the audience the amount of piled plastic beer cups, letting them slide out one by one. We could all relate to his state, making the gesture even funnier.

Apart from beer theatrics, the show had a great energy from both sides, band and audience. This ultimate trio formation seems to do the band’s spirit well. It definitely makes sense that their latest album is a self titled ATW, cause their identity is recognisable. I am thankful of having witnessed Ben McLeod ‘s warm, flowing but wisely measured riffs on the guitar, Robby Staebler‘s tribal approach to rhythm and Charles Michael Parks Jr.’s dark passionate soul he unintentionally attempted to hide behind his reliability.

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Getting to know a band by hearing them live for the first time is wonderful.
For me this was the case with psychedelic rock bands such as Swiss Monkey3 and Japanese Kikagaku Moyo.
Monkey3 are Walter on Drums, Kevin on Bass, Boris on Guitar and dB on Keys. They form a great band which is absolutely worth seeing perform live.
Between magical clouds of smoke, cosmic projections and most of all pure psychedelic riffs, the trip was on! Visuals and sound fit perfectly to a confident performance of the musicians. It is extremely satisfying for an audience to be smoothly brought into a band’s vision that incorporates all the senses. In fact we all finally felt at ease in sharing THC. Monkey3 was a revelation to me because I didn’t know them and a salvation for all the stoners in the place. Everyone was being very discrete in smoking joints until the vape dragons arrived on stage yeahhh!

Kikagaku Moyo is a band of 5; Vocal/Guitar: Tomo Katsurada, Guitar: Daoud Popal, Bass: Kotsuguy, Drums/Vocal: Go Kurosawa and last but not least Sitar/Organ: Ryu Kurosawa. A part from the total control of sound, they also offered a pure example of how it feels like when band members are not only extremely talented musicians, but also know how to listen to each other. Undoubtedly they are forged by practicing, but I believe they have that special something called perfect chemistry. They explore various approaches in an unpretentious way, resolving into inspiring the people. Soft vocals move into groovy riffs that than become introspective journeys aaand come on let’s be honest, a lot of the mind blowing magic is also given by Ryu Kurosawa playing the Sitar!

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Desertfest has been hosted for the second year in a row in ARENA Berlin. A landmark for events in the city, situated right in front of the Spree near Treptower Park. After wisely listening to last year’s visitors’ feedback, for this edition the crew of Sound of Liberation (SOL) and GreyZone Concerts re-planned the whole architecture of the space in order to offer a great sound and less overlapping bands possible. The solution they achieved was of a black box in the Arena’s main hall, a box in the box which ameliorated the sound immensely compared to last year. I believe they did a wonderful job with that. Furthermore the second stage this year was on the Hoppetosse a boat used for events that is docked in front of the venue. The only thing that didn’t work just as well as everything else in my opinion is the scheduling of this second stage due to the fact that it was outside. There appear to have been some issues on the count of the loudness of the sound. The scenery and organization was impeccable and charming, but unfortunately some boring neighbors did not concur with us . The result was the moving up of some shows and the lack of time for people to learn about it.

Although The Great Machine‘s set time was moved up (israeli trio who just released their new Album Greatestits a few days ago), many people present at that moment could witness their heavy rock greatness and partied out with them!

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On Friday, 24/7 Diva Heaven, a local grunge, punk rock band formed by three powerful Women influenced by the historical Riot Grrrrl scene. Kat on vocals and guitar ( also agent and head of booking of Sound of Liberation) Karo on Bass and Mary on drums. Kat’s voice is so direct, but with a warm strong growl. The trio’s mood seems to be infectiously easy going, I perceived good energy and inspiring Women Power. Their performance was emotionally liberating, the right balance between 90’s grunge sound with a contemporary twist and just pure punk fun! My friends, on which I spilled most of my beer due to wild dancing, can confirm.

A show I was very much looking forward to see (for the second or third time) was of legendary stoner rock band Fu Manchu. They played Saturday evening. Scott Hill, the front- man, guitarist and singer, started off their set on a skeptical tone. Being the band originally from southern California, it was evidently strange to them that there is a Desertfest in Berlin. Hello “Desert?”fest Berlin he said ironically.

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Well it didn’t take long for him and the band to change their minds about the apparently absurd nature of the name of one the best festivals in cold northern Europe. Whatever the physical distance to a desert, when it comes down to what moves us , it ‘s all about the vibe! Stoner, Doom, Blues, Desert Rock and however you wanna call all the sub-genres of rock, induce us in a specific state of mind and body. This festival enables a collective agreement of sharing the love for heavy riffs and does so in the respect of everything and everybody. In fact by the end of their show also Fu Manchu felt it. “ Desertfest what the fuck… “ said Hill overwhelmed by the love!

PAPIROFLEXIA (in spanish the art of folding paper) is an observer and practitioner, an explorer of energy flows that manifest themselves through different artistic mediums. She developed stage experience in the field of dance/theater performance with focus on improvisation and live music. One of her greatest passions is rock music and its numerous sub-genres. She considers listening, playing and writing her favorite rituals. Sharing her perceptions and temporary truths with the multiverse is one of her ways to affirm her humanity and contribute to the feminist perspective of evolution. With her words PAPIROFLEXIA wants to bend the status quo, for the realm has seen too many Wizards and too less Witches working on their reviews.

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