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CVLT Nation Captures DESERTFEST NYC 2023 Day Two

Charles Nickles

Text and Photos by Charles Nickles

See the Pre-show Here and Day One Here.

Day 2. Day 3? Day 2.5. Who cares wins? All I know is this day is gonna be the heaviest of heavies Desertfest NYC 2024 has to provide and since it’s an early or reasonable start I’m gonna assume my death is evident and if it isn’t you’ll have KCBC and/or Dale Crover to thank.

Clouds Taste Satanic

I know I could ask the internet but I won’t and just go ahead and assume that the big, bad doom qua doom née doom expanse (even when their songs are listed as under 20 minutes, I don’t believe it) of these Brooklyn bangers is a direct (if belated) response to Wayne Coyne’s decision to put glitter ahead of the terror.

And so what if it isn’t?

Clouds Taste Satanic have the riffs to put even the most acclaimed psych majors on blast and more than enough tunefulness to make the weight of their osmium balls feel like a joy to behold.

Mick’s Jaguar

Would you believe the only piece of merch I bought at this whole damn fest was a Mick’s Jaguar shirt? I mean, yeah it was only ten bucks and the design was total “WE RULE / YOU DROOL” which I would probably fuck with even if they / we didn’t but they / we do and you know it’s been true since I first (and only) saw them blow the back out of DFNYC2019 extoling something shitfaced and delirious (I’m sure) about second comings of true New York rock and roll and I was worried a sober morning might impede my revelations for a second and I guess it does but soon enough MJ’s all in for the win and I’m feeling weird and horny as fuck.



I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know that’s dumb but MANTAR’s such a tormented monstrosity, I need a little bit of levity to take their scorched-earth sludge punk seriously because Jesus, Mary and Manowar does this duo come in hot with the horrors and general misery of what it means to not be quite dead yet in this age of fire and ennui and I’m a little surprised that their drum / git / scorch hasn’t reached for the apple of Steve Albini’s eye just yet because Chicago noise is deep in the marrow of MANTAR’s bones and I bet he could make those drums break your fuckin neck in quarter tones.

White Hills

So, okay. Hear me out. I think White Hills might be one of the best bands to come out of NYC since who gives a shit or maybe Missing Foundation or Live Skull or the real feel of doing blow you found on a pay phone with a drag queen you met outside the Village Idiot at the tender age of (redacted) circa whenever the fuck that bar was still open and serving us, more kindly delinquents.

Like, they kinda have it all: Industrial spikes and thumps, whorl axe and tonal expansions, psychic explorations on the popart death trip and, at least, a dozen coming-of-age stories played out like confessional whippets.

Upper Wilds

I really want to write something erudite and elucidating about Upper Wilds because there’s very clearly a whole lot of talent that goes into the radiant space rock ruckus this Brooklyn power trio cranks out with an almost manic ease but I just can’t stop grinning.

Am I giddy?

I think Upper Wilds makes me giddy.

Watching them I want to start a band. I want to play air guitar. I want to read books about quantum mechanics and write letters to retired astronauts asking them how their favorite ice cream tasted when they landed back on earth.

I want to be happy.

I am happy.



Actually, no…I am small. Wee. Puny. Petulant. Pumice. A maggot of a man before the monolith that is the great and merciless Conan for whom the bell tolls, the walls wail and the earth lets rot her most forbidden fruits.

Heavy shit, dude. Much heavier than I would have imagined even given their name, catalog and reputation because, let’s face it, some doom can be a total snooze but Conan, dude. DUDE!

This is borderline unfuckwithable.

Mondo Generator

In my head, there is a bill that features Mondo Generator, Moistboyz, Zeke and Reo Speedealer with the Dwarves thrown in as surprise guests because none of those frothing four would straight up assault the audience outright and it’s all just a blur or speed, tequila and speed and probably some tits and definitely a gun and the whole damn thing is wrapped and spit out in under two hours.

Damn that would be tight but I’m gonna go ahead and assume that never did, could or would happen for a number of logistic reasons mostly having to do with insurance and so i’ll just have to content myself with Mondo Generator kicking the jams right down my throat which is cool but should probably be rephrased or maybe not because this is some big, swinging dick fuck art, let’s rock three chord monte punk massacre which is apparently exactly what a body needs to set right a wandering mind.

Dorthia Cottrell

I don’t want to get too TOO here but we can all concede that this is medicine, right?

Yes it’s dawn and yes it’s death and yes it’s a tale twice told in riddles once for the ageless and again for the old and it sure as shit is creaky, red dust baked and streaming tears up from deep, deep down in the well of human suffering but it’s also…not also, it is something total.

As much a dire warning as it is a sweet unknown.


Have I been waiting 30 years to hear ANYTHING from Streecleaner live? YES! Am I kiiiiiiinda pissed that I heard the bulk “Like Rats” while settling into the Brant Bjork photo pit? Also Yes but I think that’s actually kinda funny because the many Brant Bjork devotees were very not interested in Birmingham’s most dispirited luminaries interrupting their readying daze with a revelatory sonic ode to vermin (and I think they played “Spite” after that) and besides the time I did get to spend with Godflesh was beautiful and brutal and so goddamn loud that, more than once, I legit needed to take my pulse and convince myself I wasn’t having some kind of cardiac episode.

So yeah, pretty much the fucking fear and lapping every inch of it.

Brant Bjork

This is the dude.


I know Homme has got the glory and Oliveri’s got the grime but Brant Bjork’s got the grit and groove like some dusty snake child come up the sewer of ingenuity to bite poseurs like me in the ass and spread love to the many, many deserved.

I mean, not to knock a single other artist on this incredibly stacked and stellar lineup but this is kinda THEE most desert rock band playing THEE most desert rock set this weekend and there are so many heads out there just loving the fuck out of it so fuckin wild and hard it actually makes me want to get to know the man behind the bandana.


There’s something very specific about the bare-toothed bombast of Djunah’s noise rock reveille that speaks to my DNA and I’ll be damned if I can put my finger on it. I think (THINK) it might be a callback to the femme-fired passion plays of the mid / late 90s which taught me and a lot of other naive white boys that the rage we aped in punk, metal, grunge or whatever was laughable if not impotent, ignorant and dangerous and if ANYONE had the right to cry foul against the churchstate it was women.

But, alas, the dicks persisted.

Thank fuck, then for a band like Djunah that brings the riffs and thunder back to shake hell for the oppressed.


Part of me hoped Boris would just play Feedbacker in its entirety (which, apparently, they’ve done a couple times before) because I feel like we’re all in need of a monolith right now but, ultimately, was pleased they decided to stick with playing Heavy Rocks (2002) cover to cover per the obligations of the Twins of Evil tour because that record goes hard as fuck and maybe now isn’t the time of unflinching men.

It isn’t.

And so Boris slayed like Boris slays and have slayed and will slay until loosed from this mortal coil, it seems and it just occurred to me that the two other times I’ve seen Boris (shocking, I know, given their propensity for endless touring) they played Pink (2006 and 2016) so I guess that makes this Heavy Rocks (2002) set something of new dawn for me and the Tokyo maelstrom.

Except, you know, BORIS so no?

Ecstatic Vision

Jesus, Mary and motherfucking Christ on a motherfucking clutch and AAAALLL the hosannas on that drink / fight / fuck high like when GG was kicking with the MC5 except I’m not about to eat shit which is a blessing and a curse when living’s just, like, the fuckin WORST and you’re not quiet ready to choose death but if you woke up as the stars, man…like nothing fuckin NOTHING but enigmatic darkness and unencumbered light engaged in violent, harmonious eternity absolving the last of your being into matter devoid of meaning like the real bliss of the unrecognized and unrecognizable, man…the yin/yang, the tai chi, the DP, the candy flip, the last trip of the black mask around the sun before we eat our young in homage to Saturn and if we ain’t that arcane or polytheistic we do it to gain entry to the Quinta del Sordo never to be heard again…

Is Ecstatic Vision the psych band I’ve been waiting for all my life?


Melvins are KISS for folks that hate KISS or, at least, folks who love bands who you’d think would hate KISS because “EW, KISS!” but kinda love KISS because KISS kinda rules except for how much they fuckin suck.

Like I wanna say “Detroit Rock City” forgives all sins but have you seen the Gene Simmons sex tape?


Doesn’t matter (but find it) because Melvins are here and Melvins are RAAAAAWWWKKKK and as the set goes on its miserably merry way from sludge to shred to stupor, back between and over again I remember that Melvins are, in fact, the other Twin in that evil tour with Boris and so we’re gonna get Bullhead played note for note in and around other Melvins stalwarts like “Honey Bucket” and “Night Goat”  and I am sooooo fuckin okay with that.

In fact, I’m stoked because it feels like I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear “Zodiac” and listening to Buzzo play an extended, solo rendition of “Boris” dedicated to Boris while Boris watched on from the wings is one of the cuter ouroboroses I’ve ever seen.

A+ out of 10.

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

Sentient 51423

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