Day Two of Darkness was all killer, (almost) no filler. You had Boris playing Heavy Rocks, Warning playing Watching from a Distance and Bongripper playing a 60-minute set after the band scheduled before them couldn’t cross the border. Twas also my first time seeing Unearthly Trance and Cirith Ungol, and luckily the lone techno guy who played this day allowed me to take a timely 7 pm dinner break.
Local openers Asthma Castle were walking on the the stoner side of sludge with some riffs that bordered on Weedeater and a singer who looked straight outta the 70’s. A pretty decent start to the afternoon.
Night Demon offered an afternoon snack to the trad metal crowd, with an uptempo, galloping sound more akin to Manilla Road or Slough Feg. They were also the only band that brought its own mascot…
Now, it’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of Ruby the Hatchet. To be honest, I think I listened to the first song from their new album, said “Jex Thoth did it better,” and closed off the promo window in my browser. But since my aforementioned dinner break was set aside for said as-yet-unmentioned techno artist, I figured I’d at least hang around and check out their set. And you know what? I was pleasantly surprised! Don’t get me wrong, it’s still quite clear who their primary influence is, but they’ve got enough of a proggy, spacey vibe of their own. And man, their organist really rocks!
Last summer, I actually walked out on High on Fire to catch Bongripper on the poolside stage in Vegas. Even if Matt Pike had my presidential vote, I don’t regret that decision. This instrumental outfit is simply crushing in the live setting, and they benefited from an extended set after Le Matos was deemed inadmissible at the border. These guys don’t always play slow, but when they do, they melt faces!
Unearthly Trance was up next, and it was cool to finally see a band I’ve been listening to for a while. Their sludge game was on point, and I hate to say it, but…they lacked the sheer sonic intensity of Bongripper. I think the whole festival needed to take a dinner break after that set!
I was eating crab cakes during GosT’s set, but I made it back in time for Boris. Now, I’ve seen the Japanese legends several times before–last year’s Pink tour was a personal highlight–although this time was something completely different, as they dusted off 2002’s Heavy Rocks. I’d almost forgotten how heavy and doomy this band was in the early days, but it was certainly on display here!
The hit albums kept on coming, as Warning flew across the pond to play Watching from a Distance in its entirety. The backing band was fairly low-key, on stage as on record, while it’s mostly about Pat Walker’s emotional lyrics and vocals. Let’s just say he delivered.
Now, being the total amateur that I am, I ran out of space on my camera’s memory card during Warning’s set. I shouldn’t have taken so many pictures at the damn aquarium! So, while I can tell you that the inimitable Tim Baker and company put on quite the performance, I do not have any photographic evidence of Cirith Ungol. Instead, here’s a picture of a giant stingray: