Stone Frequency All Dayer is a new event organised by Andrew Valiant, impassioned front man of underground stoner metal outfit, Oak. Along with Trevor’s Head, they have rallied like minded bands from around Britain and congregating at Camden’s Black Heart, the billing is like a who’s who of the stoner and doom community. Pacing the venue with a slightly anxious smile, the good Mr Valiant keeps a close eye on proceedings as many familiar faces start to wander upstairs.
The sign at the entry way is vindication enough – “sold out”. No wonder then, that today’s first band, Green Lung have a healthy gathering to hear their slinky riffs that move from Cream smoothness to a thick Soundgarden density. This is a solid way to kick start the day and nods of approval can be seen around the room. A noticeable number of patches and t-shirts adorned with Sail bode well for said band who are up next. Theirs is a glorious, grooving cacophony of pulsating, droning rhythms that chug away into the early evening.
Big, warm and fuzzy. That’s Oak. Kyuss inspired riffs that are taken to a fresh level of dirt and heaviness. Naturally, this is a well received set and Valiant’s challenging glare commands all to come down front and get sweaty. Pushing the pace along, Trevor’s Head set some blistering leads into some thick, bluesy metal groove that occasionally veers towards some swinging jazz looseness. They’re a mood setter and it’s hard not to crack a smile as the Redhill boys are clearly having a good time.
1968 have to be good – that year was a great vintage. Steeped in the ominous tones of Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard, this is the heaviest stuff of the day thus far. They’re a pure driving force and have won over a new legion of followers based on this set. The riffs from Sam Orr are punishing while Jimi Ray on vocals could have stepped straight out of the classic era. Sigiriya barely need an introduction. Their set has a certain grandeur whilst maintaining a seething, undercurrent of brute force. “Dragging The Bones” gets a lot of vocal chords warmed up as the evening just seems to keep getting better.
Welsh doomsters, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard waste no time in shattering these walls with their feedback drenched introduction before the familiar dense, hypnotic tones. Jessica Ball’s vocals seem a little lost in the thunder at first but it’s not long until her sublime voice starts to shine through. This is a purely atmospheric set that sets timeless, droning riffs amongst waves of Hawkwind style space rock. A sonic tapestry held high by some pounding drum work from James Carrington mixes ethereal beauty with primal, crushing intensity. The scene is set then for a big finale and it’s the throaty bellow of front man Matt Ryan that announces the NOLA inspired beast that is Desert Storm. With a decade of relentless gigging and some fine albums to their name, they’ve developed into a formidable force. I’ve been privileged to watch their progress over the years but have to admit that the maturity on display tonight is at times quite staggering. Seemingly more technical, there’s a far darker, more edgy aura about them and those riffs are truly gritty but when they cut loose, they do so in style. Bodies bounce off each other and sail across the crowd in a set that seems to go all too quickly. Closing with perennial favourite “Enslaved In The Icy Tundra”, calls for more are sadly declined as proceedings draw to a close.
Cutting to the chase, I hope that the Stone Frequency All Dayer becomes a regular calendar event. Organised by bands for bands, this was a well crafted celebration of British underground music that complimented each other but allowed individuality to shine through. The vibe and camaraderie created an atmosphere that was a testament to the organisers.