KOKO London 1.5.16
Our attendance for DesertFest this year, was a bit of an unexpected opportunity as I was asked by KOKO London if I’d like to attend and shoot for them! I simply jumped at the chance, as the bands on this years bill were insanely good, sadly, we only got to shoot the bands featuring at KOKO’s venue on the Sunday but the festival took place across three different venues (I actually count 5 on the flyer?) in Camden town, these being Electric Ballroom, The Underworld and KOKO but also hosting bands were The Black Heart and the The Devonshire Arms.
Now in it’s fifth year, they boast to be the UK’s premier independent Stoner Rock, Doom, Psych & Sludge festival and with it’s popularity reaching new heights last year, it continues into 2016 and many more years to come.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s also a Desert Fest event that takes place the weekend before in Berlin and a lot of the acts that play there also play here, in the UK.
Sadly, I missed all the other acts playing at the other venues, but I can’t complain, as KOKO’s line up was equally as good and I love shooting at this venue.
Monolord are a recent discovery for me and I’ve instantly fallen in love with them! The track that got me hooked was their twelve minute stoner epic ‘Empress Rising’ and is currently the most played track within my playlists! As these guys were kicking off the Sunday, I wasn’t expecting to see as many people as I did from the instant the venues doors first opened at around 15.30, this just says the crowd have excellent taste. So an early start, for four bands, with approx 45mins to an hour change overs which I believe is so that people can walk to and from the various venues to see all the acts, which is pretty good.
These guys are from Gothenburg and consists of;Thomas V Jäger – Guitars & vocals, Esben Willems – Drums and Mika Häkki – Bass.
Elder next, and these guys were raring to go but had to wait for their actual stage time so that people could get to the venue in time and they came in their hundreds! I even saw the band Wo Fat turn up, a Texan riff monster of a band, who I also love but were headlining at The Underworld for Desert Fest this weekend, which I was gutted about missing, but they came and showed their support. I was also gutted about missing Blood Ceremony, but never mind!
Elder seemed a little nervous at first, but got immensely better as the set went on and by the end, they had the crowd gagging for more! Awesome, what a musical spectacle these guys were and to witness it at KOKO, just made it all the better! For those who don’t like the repetitiveness of some stoner/doom bands, these are far from boring, highly recommended for anyone who loves riffs and clean vocals!
The guys are from New Bedford MA and consists of; Nick Disalvo – guitars and vocals, Jack Donovan – bass and Matt Couto – drums.
Trouble are a band that have been around since 1979, which is a whole year before I was even born, yet are a band I know very little about. I believe the lead singer is a recent addition to the band, although I am aware that the two guitarist are original founding members.
As for the rest of the band, I haven’t got a clue, but it was nice to have a classic band, who have most likely been considered pioneers within their genre. As for their set, it was one of the more enjoyable today, as they interacted and joked with the crowd, but above all, they played some superb twinned guitar Psychedelic/doom rock!
These guys are from Chicago IL and consists of;Kyle Thomas : vocals, Bruce Franklin : guitar, Rick Wartell : guitar, Rob Hultz : bass and Marko Lira : drums.
Tonight’s headliners Electric Wizard, amazingly were the only UK band on KOKO’s bill tonight and they hail from the South West. The band are signed to Spinefarm records, which doesn’t surprise me, as I love these and pretty much all the bands on that record label it seems! Although lighting was scarce for their set, I can only assume the band opted to allow their music do all the talking, although the bands female guitarist Liz, is a bit of a looker if I’m to be completely honest!
The band were on fire tonight and although this is my first time seeing them, I really hope it isn’t my last as thankfully, the band are playing many festivals around the world this summer, including Download Festival. They also have a new album on the horizon, due for release around October this year, so hopefully they will conduct an extensive UK tour to promote this. If they do – I’m there!
The band consist of the following; Justin Oborn – Guitar & Vocals, Liz Buckingham – Guitar & Feedback, Clayton Burgess- Lead Bass and Simon Poole – Drums.
All in all, a very enjoyable day was had running around the warren that is KOKO. I love Camden town anyway, as it’s a mecca for what I and many other like minded music folk enjoy and we go many times within a year. I just wish I could go more, if not for the music that features in this town but for the variety of food on offer in and around the venues! I’m so doing my research to find out how I can attend the whole weekend next year as May Bank Holiday 2017 is gonna rock!
Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)