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Desertfest London 2016

London 29 April – 1 May 2016

Oranssi Pazuzu live at Desertfest 2016 (Picture: Richie Ruchpaul)Desertfest is the place where the stoned immaculate of Britain (and several other countries) meet in one of London’s coolest areas, watch some of the heaviest (and out there) bands over a three day period in five different venues.

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Einstürzende Neubauten (live at Koko)

Einstürzende Neubauten November 2014London 19 November 2014

As one does before seeing a show by a well-loved band, I muse on my own personal history pertaining to this group as I make my way to Camden to see Einstürzende Neubauten perform their latest release Lament. I can work out in approximations that I have loved this band since 1984 or so and I’ve seen them around 20 times before. They are a group I never tire of, one I never lose my love for.

Lament is a performance work commissioned by the city of Diksmuide in Belgium to mark the centenary of World War I. One marvels at the genius of the commissioners in choosing EN to be their ambassadors; I picture outdated businessmen in stern suits convening in a bleak

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Swans (live at Koko)

Koko, London 15 November 2012

Following their new album, The Seer, Swans first live performance in London for two years was genuinely eagerly awaited. The second album from the ‘reactivated’ Swans had shown that despite, or indeed because of, the long break they were still capable of producing innovative music that defies comparison with any of their contemporaries. Swans reputation as live performers goes before them, and a performance including material from the demanding and yet uplifting new album held the promise of being a particularly special event.

I have never been to a gig with such a palpable sense of anticipation. Every corner and balcony at Koko was packed and the nervous excitement of the crowd communicated an intense expectation of a spiritual experience, rather than just a gig. Sir Richard Bishop’s low key but powerful warm up set the bar high and served to crank up the

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Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra (live at Koko)

Koko, London 23 October 2012

When I said I’d review this gig, even though I have seen Amanda Palmer several times before, I really didn’t think through what I was letting myself in for.

Let me explain. I pre-ordered the tickets for this show on the first day they were available. I like music, a lot. I like going to gigs. But this was different. I am a big fan of Amanda Palmer. I really wanted to be at this gig. I backed the kickstarter. I’d been at Heaven In September 2011 when the proto-Grand Theft Orchestra had made their first stage appearance in London. I was psyched to be doing this.

And of course this was not just a gig. Amanda Palmer is a true curator of her shows. I’m not trying to use that hipster-faux term in either a derogatory or flippant way. This is art. This is

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SunnO)))/Nurse with Wound (live at Koko)

Koko, London 12 June 2012

Been wrapped up in the awesomeness of NWW/SunnO)))‘s collaboration [post=sunnnww text=”The Iron Soul of Nothing”] since New Year, so naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to see both groups together. I was secretly wishing for a stage collaboration of sorts, but it was pretty clear, as Colin Potter, Steve Stapleton, Andrew Liles and somebody else I didn’t recognise on bass (was that Mr Waldron sporting hair!!?) filled the stage, that this was going to be a game of two separate halves.

The proceedings started quite sharpish, with none of the usual waiting around that London gigs seem overly keen

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Nurse With Wound/Mika Vainio & Bruce Gilbert/Radian (live at Koko)

Koko London 15 May 2011

Loved the minimal post rock vibes of the opening act Radian – that 23 Skidoo ethnicity and those broken This Heat narratives were riddled with an exciting unpredictability, each track, a scattered jigsaw filled with unusual colours and textures, oozing a restrained intent that was really impressive.

Bruce GilbertBruce Gilbert and Pan Sonic‘s Mika Vainio were next on the bill. Introducing themselves in a short burst of hi-end pierce that got the crowd cheering. They continued with a Malaysian flavoured ambience, a gigantic staked beauty, fluttering like a quartz split mouth of the night, later molested in high pitched scars. Then the beats kicked in, like sacks of liquidised potatoes slapping all hardcore, whirring on the rebound, turning the rainbows of electro abstraction into a lush avant-club land, the

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SunnO))) (live at Koko)

Koko, London 14 December 2009

The cavernous space of Koko, once known better in the days of music hall and indie rock dance club as the Camden Palace, turns out to be eminently suitable for hosting bands whose raison d’etre is shifting air pressure through the application of low end to the somewhat notoriously loud speakers of the PA. Koko may not exactly have the acoustics of a cathedral (or even the natural reverb of the Norwegian church which hosted SunnO)))‘s excellently immense live double LP Dømskirke), but the tiers of balconies also provide plentiful vantage points for the audience to get a full view – and earful – of the proceedings.

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