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Apocalyptic Blues

WITNESS The Riffs of Desert Fest NYC Day Two

Charles Nickles

Text and Photos: Charles Nickles

This is the full day scene: the place is big, the beers are choice and can prove costly as shit but there’s free coffee and for ten bucks a man can sate his ass on chicken and waffles which…duh.

It’s also made clear, repeatedly, on the wait to get in that the venue is a pro-weed facility (or something less potentially litigious) so people in line are encouraged to simply express what their packing so the staff don’t have to treat anyone just wanted to get good high and rattled like a common fucking creep.


Electric Citizen


It suuuuuucks to open the show. You know it. I know it. Electric Citizen knows it.

It sucks even more when you’re a band that triumphs in the brute sexy groove of the shadows and suddenly here you are playing Desertfest at, like, 3 in the goddamn afternoon and though you’re in the relative safety of a tent just beyond you is all the Vitamin D the world has to offer a pack of bearded hangovers, confused by being upright and outside so early on a Saturday.

Despite that Electric Citizen delivers and the people receive a solid dose of the chug-a-fuzz pleather bomb cool.




You know what, dude? Cat suits are sexy as hell.

And I’m sure that’s a big, dumb duh for most what with the long-standing, slack-jawed veneration of Eartha Kitt as the ONLY Cat Woman worth ceding Gotham to but it never really tickled my id until Tower brought the big, dirty rock and roll to open up the backroom.

That shit had me swooning.

And it’s not just because ill-shaved ape in me is an easy target for curves and leather (though he is). Nah, man. It’s because my lizard brain loves some brass-balled party riffs and seeing that sound commanded by such a raging siren empowered by her unapologetic autonomy had my knees shaking and my palms sweating like a middle school goon.




I really didn’t think I was going to give a shit about Danava. Their records play straight 70s shaggin’ wagon Schlitz worship to me and though lord knows I’ve got a soft spot for such things, in a saturated market, a man’s got to be a little harsh with his predilections or he’ll go mad getting high on so much of the same.

But Danava fuckin’ slay.

I mean they are so loud and so tight and so committed to the raw magic of the six-string apogee it’s a wonder half the bands on this bill didn’t just up and bail half-way through their set with the firm resolution that it would be a crude irreverence to follow such a masterclass in riffage with anything less than the Fucking Champs.


The Skull


It was wise of Desertfest to give the audience some time to come down from Danava. Pound some beers, smoke some dope, make a friend. Enjoy the simple pleasures of being on terra firma again before getting buried alive by The Skull.

This is the doom, dudes.

The slow, ashen suffocation of 40 odd years rolling deep in the burning hay and though it is still very much day (and quite a lovely one at that, I’m afraid) the more The Skull plays the more certain it seems that night has come and in her darkness we should be very much afraid.




I think these boys are from Boston and my buddy Josh might know them and the room’s so packed when they start into their Inner Space rocket fuel it takes me close to ten minutes to plead my case with the bouncer and slither my way to the stage.

What I find there is actually pretty straight.

Rock and roll of the finest order with just enough crush to scare my mom’s aged Christian proclivities but more than enough classic FM wunderkind to get my dad to bounce his new, new knee and ask me for a sip of my beer.

Good shit for easy living.




Jesus KRIST, man. Just like Jesus fuckin’ tapdancin’ necromancin’ whore-lovin’ bastard anarchist miracle suicide king KA-RIIIIST! what the fuck am I even DOING with my LIFE that this is the first time I’ve seen Weedeater?

I’ve wasted so much time and so many contusions getting wild and dizzy with so many bands that can’t, dare wouldn’t hold a candle to the totally ridiculous and wholly decadent wonder of Weedeater.

Maybe I was scared.

Maybe I was just being effete.

Whatever the reason I had for enjoying the bay over the great rotten swells of the ocean is dying mean in the briny tonight as Dixie Dave and his gutrot brethren deliver a set of dirty, dirty, dirty, DUUUURTY scumfuck blues the likes of which I’ve never heard and pray to hell I’ll never hear again.

It’s just so goddamn good. Nihilistically joyous and actually kinda technically stunning, this shit is THE resolutely unfuckwithable shit that makes real men out of manchildren.

And I will be forever grateful for the change.


Mirror Queen


Oh, shit.

Hey Mirror Queen.

You’re really good at your riffmonster magic and I appreciate the fact that you are (in parts) a NYC rock and roll institution but I’m still dealing with the pains of my (too late) metamorphosis to hear you as acutely and astutely as you deserve.

I’m sorry.

But keep on with the rock and fuckin’ roll.




Oh, what dreamy horrors man can write when we’re left to our own devices.

And, yes, I mean man as to encapsulate the many boorish homo-erectids from X to Y to Q and in between and I only take this pause in my stumbling articulations of heavy to point out that metal needn’t wholly be a prick parade because though the sonic backbone of Windwand is crusty dudes turning tricks on the great doom palatials, the booming figurehead of this burning warship is Dorthia Cottrell.

And she rules.

Like, hard.

Like once we add her voice to the turgid Virginia tincture we suddenly find ourselves on some Benzo mad Fleetwood Mac real witch curse excursion and I won’t be surprised tomorrow to find a forgotten Enochian prayer scarred into my chest.




A friend of a fiend (suitably loaded at this point) explains to me that the British doom scene loves to herald bands with absurdist names.

He lists off a few I’ll remember for the life of me.

“So, yeah…Steak”

And then here I am in the backroom again getting blasted by some postironic dreamscape motherfuckers who I think might be the whole reason for this fest but I can’t tell now because I’m too sweaty and bent and I should’ve enjoyed more than coffee and booze as food today but I didn’t and so the rock shakes me reckless and much more inspired than their silly name would suggest and I shoot and I shimmy and I party because God is dead and all and when I look back there will be nothing but three photos and an inexplicable scar on my foot.

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.

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