Old Empire Return to Desertfest, Bigger and Better than Ever

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After years of bringing some of the most exciting, unique and diverse acts in all of heavy to Desertfest, this year the Old Empire stage is back and bigger than ever; taking over the main stage for the very first time. Before we run down this year’s killer lineup, we asked Josh from Old Empire for a few words straight from the horse’s mouth.

"Old Empire are honoured to be welcomed back to Desertfest 2019 with a special line up for the hallowed spot of main stage at The Electric Ballroom on the Friday.

The past few years we have played host to an array of artists that we not only work with regularly, but also have a strong admiration for. To be able to blast you Desert dwellers with the same bands that get our heads banging at Old Empire HQ is the ultimate privilege.
Hopefully you’ll discover something new, hopefully something weird and just maybe a new favourite.

None More Black"

We couldn’t be happier with Old Empire’s first pick, Desertfest 2019’s opening headliners, the incomparable, spiritual force of stoner drone that is Om. Formed in 2003 as one great band drifted off for a decade, Om - then consisting of the two-part assault of Sleep’s Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius - brought with them an extension of the hypnotic heavy first hinted at on Sleep’s Jerusalem/Dopesmoker. Achieving more with just vocals, bass and drums than most can dream of with a packed out stage, the opening one-two punch of Variations on a Theme and Conference of the Birds serves as a revelation to many; stripped-back power that cleans the cobwebs from your brain with reverberating blasts of droned-down stoner-doom.

By 2007’s Pilgrimage - the last full-length to feature Hakius on drums - Om had begun to lean more and more heavily into spiritual themes and Eastern tones, bringing about a new definition of what exactly heavy is; because let’s be clear, Om are heaviness incarnate, just not in the traditional sense. Through God is Good and their latest LP, Advaitic Songs - their first as a trio and surely one of the finest put to record this decade - Om continued down a path of hazed out perfection. It’s a testament to the importance of the band that, even as Sleep woke up, Om persist, ready to send you into a trance at the pluck of a bass. Be sure to catch Om when they headline the Old Empire stage - and Desertfest at large - on Friday 3rd May.

Joining our mighty Friday night headliners as main support are the incredible Wovenhand. Labelled many things over the near two decades they’ve been kicking around, from alternative country, to neofolk, to Southern-gothic, Wovenhand are simply low and slow, oozing with an atmosphere of gloom. Music torn from the heart and soul of David Eugene Edwards (ex-16 Horsepower), Wovenhand are a deeply personal experience that you won’t want to miss.

But that’s not all for the Old Empire stage, who offer up three more treats for Desertfest 2019; firstly, a slice of death metal in the shape of Grave Miasma, one of the leading lights of London's - and indeed the UK's - ever burgeoning death metal scene. Serving up monolithic slabs of atmospheric misery, notably on display throughout their sole full-length Odori Sepulcrorum, Grave Miasma will bring heaviness as we traditionally know it to the stage.

The jazz-inspired, ominous soundscapes of HHY & the Macumbas bring an exploration of the apocalypse to proceedings. Showcasing why they’re one of the most inimitable acts in the Portuguese, or perhaps even European underground scene, HHY are ordered chaos, wielding a twin attack of percussion and horns, tied together with a thin spine of drone.

Rounding off this year’s Friday’ main stage are the desolate, minimalist sonic mantras of Louisville’s Jaye Jayle. Revelling in the simplicity of a “Less is more” philosophy, Jaye Jayle build tension with their barely crawling musical progressions and stitch it all together with the gruff, semi-spoken vocals of Evan Patterson.

Yet again, the Old Empire stage looks set to be one of the most exciting places to be over the whole of the Desertfest weekend, bringing both the darkness and the light. Be sure not to miss this mammoth lineup at The Electric Ballroom on Friday 3rd May when Old Empire takes over the main stage at Desertfest 2019.

Kings of the Road Fu Manchu to Headline Roundhouse Sunday at Desertfest!

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Over the past seven years of Desertfest, we’ve had a lot of incredible memories of otherworldly performances from many of the notable bands this humble scene has to offer. Today, we finally cross another huge name off our bucket list as we reveal the kings of the road, Fu Manchu, will headline Roundhouse Sunday at Desertfest 2019. Not only that, but we can also reveal that joining them on Sunday May 5th’s mammoth Roundhouse Stage are the previously announced All Them Witches, Witch, Earthless and Colour Haze.

Southern California’s boogie-rocking titans were born out of the hardcore punk scene of ’85 as Virulence, but quickly switched up their super-speed, underground angst for more of a drawlin’, skateboard rampin’, hard-rockin’ vibe and so Fu Manchu was born. Throughout the next thirty years or so they’d come to be known to many as the AC/DC of the now global desert rock scene: always consistent, always on trend, always ready to rock; any time, any venue, anywhere.

In their stable post-2002 foursome of mainstay frontman Scott Hill, Bob Balch on lead guitar, Brad Davis on bass and Scott Reeder (no, not that one, the other one) on drums, Fu Manchu have become the perfect blend of style, guile, rough, smooth and un-mastered groove and frankly, they’ve never sounded better on stage than they do today. Recently Fu Manchu have gone through a phase of touring full albums in their entirety, and from the rising asphalt of In Search Of…, to the laserblastin’ The Action Is Go and right through the true hell on wheels that is King On The Road and beyond, we’ve all got a favourite Fu Manchu moment. If not, then there’s never been a better time to get familiar with the hardest rockin’, hotdoggin’ back catalogue in history.

Fu frontman Scott Hill is clearly as excited as we are for the boogie van to roll into town:

“We’re so stoked to be a part of Desertfest and to play the legendary Roundhouse in London. It’s hard to believe that we will be playing the same spot as some of our heroes like Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Ramones and Motörhead.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Joining them on what we believe is our biggest Roundhouse stage yet on Sunday May 5th are four must see masters of the underground who have already been announced for Desertfest 2019. All Them Witches bring an approach to the modern wave of bluesy psychedelia that is all their own, hot off the heels of their recently released and truly impeccable ATW. After releasing a few of the noughties’ most bad ass albums, Witch return from their slumber to provide a doomed out kind of psych to the Sunday. Riffs for days are guaranteed when Earthless show up; with an ultimate jam band approach which both rips and shreds, faces will melt into a gooey pile of mush. Last but not least, European underground heroes Colour Haze will open up the Roundhouse with their scene defining slice of heavy psych.

We couldn’t ask for a better way to round out what we’re sure will be a killer Desertfest 2019 than this lineup at The Roundhouse. Be sure not to miss out, book your tickets today.

Om to Headline, plus 15 more for Desertfest 2019!

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After warming you up with our first announcement in September, it’s time to break out the big guns. Today we’re adding 16 killer bands to Desertfest, including the lineup for 2019’s Old Empire stage, which, after years of bringing some of the heaviest sounds all weekend, will this year takeover as our Friday main stage. We couldn’t be happier with their first pick, Desertfest 2019’s opening headliners, the incomparable, spiritual force of stoner drone that is Om.

Formed in 2003 as one great band drifted off for a decade, Om - then consisting of the two-part assault of Sleep’s Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius - brought with them an extension of the hypnotic heavy first hinted at on Sleep’s Jerusalem/Dopesmoker. Achieving more with just vocals, bass and drums than most can dream of with a packed out stage, the opening one-two punch of Variations on a Theme and Conference of the Birds serves as a revelation to many; stripped-back power that cleans the cobwebs from your brain with reverberating blasts of droned-down stoner-doom.

By 2007’s Pilgrimage - the last full-length to feature Hakius on drums - Om had begun to lean more and more heavily into spiritual themes and Eastern tones, bringing about a new definition of what exactly heavy is; because let’s be clear, Om are heaviness incarnate, just not in the traditional sense. Through God is Good and their latest LP, Advaitic Songs - their first as a trio and surely one of the finest put to record this decade - Om continued down a path of hazed out perfection. It’s a testament to the importance of the band that, even as Sleep woke up, Om persist, ready to send you into a trance at the pluck of a bass. Be sure to catch Om when they headline the Old Empire stage - and Desertfest at large - on Friday 3rd May.

Joining our mighty Friday night headliners as main support are the incredible Wovenhand. Labelled many things over the near two decades they’ve been kicking around, from alternative country, to neofolk, to Southern-gothic, Wovenhand are simply low and slow, oozing with an atmosphere of gloom. Music torn from the heart and soul of David Eugene Edwards (ex-16 Horsepower), Wovenhand are a deeply personal experience that you won’t want to miss.

But that’s not all for the Old Empire stage, who offer up three more treats for Desertfest 2019; firstly, a slice of black metal in the shape of Wiegedood, whose Die doden hebben het goed trilogy serves as a granite slab of brutality. Featuring members of post-black metal heroes Oathbreaker, as well as being part of the illustrious Church of Ra collective - a handful of acts tethered by a DIY ethic - Wiegedood will bring heaviness as we traditionally know it to the stage.

The jazz-inspired, ominous soundscapes of HHY & the Macumbas bring an exploration of the apocalypse to proceedings. Showcasing why they’re one of the most inimitable acts in the Portuguese, or perhaps even European underground scene, HHY are ordered chaos, wielding a twin attack of percussion and horns, tied together with a thin spine of drone.

Rounding off this year’s Friday’ main stage are the desolate, minimalist sonic mantras of Louisville’s Jaye Jayle. Revelling in the simplicity of a “Less is more” philosophy, Jaye Jayle build tension with their barely crawling musical progressions and stitch it all together with the gruff, semi-spoken vocals of Evan Patterson.

Yet again, the Old Empire stage looks set to be one of the most exciting places to be over the whole of the Desertfest weekend, bringing both the darkness and the light; but that’s not all to expect over the May Bank Holiday weekend in Camden.

Elsewhere over the weekend, we’re excited to be welcoming Ukraine’s Stoned Jesus to Desertfest London. The stoner blues trio, who released their 4th full-length Pilgrims in September, possess a tone all of their own. Offering up one of the scene’s most beloved albums in 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar, Stoned Jesus remain a treat to catch live; as do punk infused stoner rockers Mondo Generator. Headed up by legend of the underground, Nick Oliveri, Mondo Generator are, like any of Oliveri’s myriad projects, an undeniably raucous experience live.

Next up, a double bill of some of Europe’s finest heavy psych; Part of the modern Greek wave of stoner and psych, without ever disappearing into the crowd, Naxatras are unashamed worshippers of the 70s riff. That said, they bring plenty of their own flavour to the mix. Whilst Oslo’s The Devil and the Almighty Blues live up to their name, bringing a devilishly groovy stomp and infusing it with their almost nonchalant, relaxed tones, fast becoming one of the most exciting bands in all of heavy psych.

There’s doom aplenty as ever at Desertfest, with all angles covered; the occult is worshipped with Sabbath Assembly and Messa’s take on the science of slow, whilst Elephant Tree will continue to show why they’re one of the UK’s finest acts with their uncompromising push outwards to the outer limits of doom.

A double dose of 70’s worship comes in the form of the strutting duo of Great Electric Quest and Salem’s Bend, with today’s announcement rounded off by two chances to get high; High Fighter are set to surround us with a densely packed smog of doom and High Reeper filtering the riffs of classic heavy metal through the So-Cal skater scene.

With dozens more bands still to be announced, including our Saturday and Sunday headliners, Desertfest 2019 is shaping up to be another hit of the best stoner, doom, sludge and psych on the planet. Don’t miss the annual celebration of the underground in Camden next May Bank Holiday weekend. Book your tickets today.

Desertfest 2019 Hotel Packages

Desertfest 2019 is coming to Camden in May and it’s never too early to sort your accommodation for the weekend; that’s why we’re releasing our hotel and hostel ticket packages early. As with previous years, we have managed to secure some well-priced packages for you to grab your ticket and ensure you get to stay amongst all the action in the heart of Camden.

We have doubles and twins available in the Hampstead Brittania. The Brittania Hotel  is situated a short walk from the Roundhouse up Adelaide Road towards Swiss Cottage. All rooms come with en-suites. There are a limited amount of rooms available and these will be available on a first come first served basis.

Our hostel is the Smart Camden Inn based a few minutes walk from the Black Heart. There are various options for people travelling into London for the festival. We are offering single beds in a mixed dorm which come with en-suite and there are 6 beds in each dorm.

If you are travelling in a party of 6 you can book an entire room at the dorm. Alternatively we have 1 x 4-bed dorm that comes with a private shower. Again, this includes the weekend ( 3-day pass) for you and 3 friends.  

We've managed to secure a reduced rate for anyone coming to Camden for the festival and our hotel rates are £40 to £70 cheaper than any other deals you may be able to find close to the heart of the Festival.

Details for all our deals are listed below, and you can book at the bottom of the page.

PRICES

HOTEL - Double / Twins - 2 person & 2 weekend tickets ( 3 Day pass ) - £640

DORM - Single bed and weekend ticket ( 3 day pass ) is £250 per person

DORM - 6 Bed dorm and 6 weekend tickets ( 3 day pass ) is £1500 ( £250 Per Person ) 

Check in Friday 3rd May | Check out Monday 6th May. 

All Them Witches, Kadavar and More Kick off Desertfest 2019!

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It begins! Desertfest is returning to Camden for our eighth edition over the Bank Holiday weekend of 3rd to 5th May, and as ever we’re bringing you the finest stoner, doom, sludge and psych bands from around the world. Over the next few months, we’ll be revealing our lineup of dozens of the heaviest bands around, so without further ado, here’s the first seven names for Desertfest 2019.

Over the last half-decade, Nashville’s All Them Witches have made themselves indispensable with a sound that has never stopped evolving, with their roots in heavy blues and psychedelia flourishing over time into an approach that is undeniably their own. The Tennessee four-piece arrive at Desertfest with a reputation that precedes them for jammy explorations and a kind of heavy that, while regularly imitated, has yet to be reproduced by anyone else.

Joining them on the bill are Kadavar, who make their long awaited Desertfest return with their fur-coated, barreling riot of a set at the Jazz Cafe in 2013 as fresh in our minds as ever. There are very few who perform the retro-rockin', '70s proto-metal revival with the power, prestige and passion of our favourite Berlin trio. The boogie train that is Kadavar won't be making any emergency stops as it ploughs through Camden this May.

Vermont spell-casters Witch will be enrapturing Desertfest with their stoner rock incantations in 2019. Combining psychedelic rock, Sabbath-ian doom, and Black Flag sludge-punk, stoner aficionados who were around for the noughties boom will fondly remember Witch for releasing some of the hookiest albums of the decade. After a stint lurking in the shadows, Witch are hitting up Desertfest to make magic once again.

Even after seven mammoth editions of Desertfest, there are bands we’ve been chomping at the bit to get over to Camden to grace our stages; finally, we’ve grabbed us the hardest jamming band in the universe, Earthless, are touching down to shred our corner of London to the ground. The epitome of psyched-out Hendrixian-krautrock from day one, San Diego’s ultimate power trio will melt your entire body this May.

Colour Haze make their return to the Desertfest stage in 2019 after six long years. The German trio, in whose image modern heavy psychedelia is in large part cast, have affirmed their position as unflinching masters of the form in their absence, finding a new niche between heavy riffs and expansive arrangements. The Colour Haze that return to Desertfest are, somehow, even better than the one we saw in 2013.

Vancouver trio We Hunt Buffalo‘s brand of prog-minded fuzz rock has been stampeding out of amps and trampling audiences since 2010. Professing a love of all things stoner and psych and citing influences from all genres of rock, all underpinned with driving fuzz lines, We Hunt Buffalo will be just the ticket to a sore neck at Desertfest.

Last but not least in our first batch of bands are Edinburgh’s DVNE who play their own unique brand of night sky-gazing melodic sludge. Early-period Mastodon fans should take note, as the progressive changes and all-conquering vocals conjure up scenes of destruction, desolation and absolution in their epic soundscapes of post-metal ebb and flow.

So there you have it, our first seven bands, all of whom you can get more info on below. With dozens more names to come, including all three headliners, we’re aiming for our biggest bill to date. Weekend tickets are on sale now at the link below, so be sure to book your place at the heaviest lineup in town; Desertfest 2019!