Sonic Blast! A lot of people’s last opportunity to party and get royally wrecked before the end of summer, before the end of too much time on your hands and the return to whatever it is you do. I arrived the day before for the warm up party and before we get into this report, there is something you must know.
This is a stoner, doom, psychedelic rock and metal festival, it has a stage with a pool and people are constantly smoking drugs, so most of the time the audience was just sitting around in their towels enjoying the music with only their ears and not their entire bodies. It’s a festival to lay back and relax, people are all number than the arm you fell asleep on that one time for eight hours so if it seems like I am describing an uninterested, distanced, apathetic audience, I am not, it’s just the way it is, a fine way, I wouldn’t accept any other.
First off, it was a little harder to get to the festival than usual due to the fact that the whole damn country is on fire. A lot of roads were closed for safety reasons, even as we walked to the warm up party, over the hill we saw the menacing light of the burning woods rising from behind the mountain like Satan’s fiery, smoky abs looming over the seaside.
Apart from that, the warm up party was packed, a lot of people were spread out around the bar and all over the beach working on avoiding sobriety, including me. You could hear the live music coming from the bar and you didn’t need to be there to enjoy it. Just as well, the stage was less than a foot tall and the place was completely full.
Not a lot of eventful stuff beyond each one’s personal crazy night story happened on that day, so on to the festival itself.
Day one brought some complications. My photographer got lost, then when she found herself, all the roads were still cut because of the fire, she got there in time to take pictures of “Correia” on the pool stage.
Because I was worried and busy trying to get her there so we could do our job, I missed “Possessor” and everyone tells me it was fucking amazing, literally everyone who I talked to went wild over that show. I saw a little of “Asimov” as well, they play their instruments very nicely.
It’s hard not to miss bands at Sonic Blast and here is why. The camping is incredible, it really is. You’re sitting there by your tent with your friends, smoking a joint and it feels like you’re on the couch at home, you get lazy, you don’t feel like going places. To pile on that emotion, the festival is about ten or fifteen minutes up the village, you read correctly, you have to go up, you have to climb the mountain to get some live music in your eyes and ears.
Naturally, if you needed to deal with the hangover from the previous day, deal with your personal maintenance such as eating, shitting, pretending you don’t look as disgusting as you do and generally getting your shit together, it is difficult to manage this without missing some shows. Even more when your photographer is missing and you need her ASAP.
With this in mind let’s get right on it. First band we properly saw was “Correia” at the pool stage, a nice mix of blues and stoner with some moments of groove and melancholy. The old vocalist from “Men Eater” was their guitar player which is always a good way of convincing me to see a band. Though no convincing was necessary.
Next up, “Brain Pyramid” opened the main stage for the first time with their heavy psychedelic rock. Most people were sitting down or laying down in front of the stage enjoying their reefers and riffs alike, the music shaking them like waves.
I missed the two next bands because my dinner was at camp, fucking far away and uncooked. I returned in time to see the holy mountain shaping up. “Sacri Monti” which everyone was exited and horny about, were the first big band of the day, I was told one of them was an old member of “Radio Moscow”, always good to know and good to convince you to go see a band.
The people were horny for good reason, it was a very nice show, filled with the progressive, 70’s influenced hard psychedelic krautrock that everyone came to see and came when they saw. The crowd did not go wild, because it hardly ever did, but the clapping and cheering were there to let the band know that the audience was orgasming pretty hard.
Afterwards we orgasmed with “All Them Witches” and their bluesy stoner rock. Another good show on the main stage filled with people waving their bodies around to the rhythm and filling the air with funny smelling smoke.
It was during this show apparently, that I was supposed to be interviewing “Valient Thorr” who played next, but when they put up the schedule for the interviews it was far too late, I missed my first interview ever, if you are reading this Valient, I never meant to stood you up, it was a misunderstanding mixed with a bowl of It’s my first day at work. It was my first time doing interviews, I didn’t even knew I had to miss bands to interview bands. Lessons learned, more to come.
So after I stood up “Valient Thorr”, they did not stood us up, the sleeper awoke right on time to rock everyone’s face off with sexy, sweaty bearded muscles. The part where I said people were mostly laying around not moving much throughout the shows DOES NOT apply here, not a big surprise probably. By far the most energetic and wild band of the whole festival, awesome songs like “Double crossed”, “Man behind the curtain”, “Heatseeker”, “Tomorrow Police”, “Mask of Sanity” and “Master Collider” were among some of the tunes that made everyone hard, wet or both.
The band itself has tremendous stage presence and energy. If that wasn’t brutal enough, Valient Himself is without a doubt the most motivated, inspiring and exited party animal that ever lived on top of a stage. If you didn’t feel good during this show, it was probably something you ate, that or your ears were not functioning properly.
After this display of awesomeness, everyone wandered to the after party at the beach or to camp for alcohol. And that was day one of SonicBlast.
On the second day of the festival I actually managed to see everything but the first band. I saw enough of “Bala” to regret not getting there on time. A Spanish duo who were tearing it up pretty fucking nicely, it was one of the few shows at the pool stage when people were laying around and shouldn’t have, those two ladies had a lot of energy, but in spite of the audience’s for too chill appearance, they cheered for the band, well deserved cheers. I need to see them again.
Next was more Spanish music, but this time more relaxed and telling you to fire it up. “Cachemira”, a trio of heavy psych blues played for the relaxed pool party. The pool always kept the stage packed with people, even if you weren’t there for the bands you ended up seeing a lot of stuff just because the pool was right there and everyone else wanted to. So this worked in favour of any band playing at the pool, guaranteed audience.
I dozed on and off between concerts and within concerts. All I know is the music from all the bands passed through me like cool water or a sweet breeze on that hot as fuck day.
Including “Vircator” who played next. Their self-titled rock from outer space actually got some people at the front to get up and wave themselves a little more. Everyone else just kept on doing what they were doing, with their music in the background, always enjoying.
Closing the pool stage for the last time this year were the swedes “SpellJammer” who got a lot more people to stand up for their doom stoner metal. Definitely among the best of the pool stage, their heavy riffs shook the people and their heads came crashing down over and over again. An enjoyable poolside experience, even the sun, who in comparison to the previous day was hiding behind a wall of clouds, showed up during this show, as if there was some kind of jamming device doing its magic on the cloud’s spell over the sunshine.
Before the main stage opened, there was a motherfucking surprise. “Mr Miyagi” showed up suddenly at the skate park and played one of their classic punk shows, there was a considerable crowd there to see them and smiles were all around. I only saw the end of the show because it was a surprise, it happened like spontaneous combustion and it was good.
The main stage started with “The Black Wizards”, Portuguese heavy fuzzadelic that will rattle your crotch hairless. Great songs with great riffs washed over us leaving a sense of bliss and vibrations all over the body. A stunning opening show.
Following them were “Killimanjaro” from the great ancient city of cock, Barcelos. Their big ass ghost ship straight out of the nearby ocean and with an uncanny resemblance to Kingdom Come, filled the air with their heavy rock, the blend of awesome voice, great energy and great presence resulted in a great concert.
Then the prophets of stoner metal showed up on stage, “Stoned Jesus”. Starting with “Electric Mistress”, this was one of those shows that got everyone really fired up, me included. Heads were banging and bodies shaking so hard that the band felt like Deep Purple. “Yfs”, “Stormy Monday” and “Bright like the Morning” were played next, keeping the crowd happy and intensely wild.
When they played “I’m the Mountain”, everyone knew the lyrics and we melted the heart of Jesus with our beautiful voices, but not for long since his voice is so much better, he went back to the mic to show us how it’s done. There was even a slight mosh pit at the end of the song, weird.
When “Black Woods” started playing, a joint was mandatory and so it happened as the song made everybody wriggle their heads all over the place. I’m not entirely sure if there was another tiny mosh pit during this song at one of the faster bits.
Not so weird was the much bigger mosh pit that closed the show with “Here come the Robots”. Their guitars were not shapeshifting, but the crowd went massively fucking nuts with the mosh pit, it looked more like the beginning than the end of a show, but its stoner, no one is expecting a mosh pit, you lose joints in mosh pits. A great fucking show.
After “Stoned Jesus” something ambiguous happened. I actually got my first interview ever with them, no thanks to the organization (no hard feelings though) but to do so, I missed the beginning of the massive show that was happening right there. I could hear it being awesome next to us, so as soon as we wrapped the interview (it didn’t take long, everyone was wasted anyway) we motored our asses to see “Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats”.
These guys were so good I actually though their music was old school, I was convinced their band was as old as Sleep or Electric Wizard. Regardless of that, they were true masters at work, the show was an intense display of occult riffage that was thoroughly satisfying. I felt sorry for myself for not seeing it from the start, but it was for a good cause. The night got even darker when these guys played.
Next up was another band that got everyone really horny, even the vocalist from “Stoned Jesus” went to get a t shirt before he played his show. Three Swedish guys called “Truckfighters” came to fight trucks and play some good old stoner metal, the groovy energetic kind. The crowd went wild just as much as their shirtless guitar player who could not get enough of jumping around and being psyched and pumped, the audience was right there with him on the excitement. A long pleasant show oozing with power left everyone hungry for more truck fighting.
To end the festival, another Swedish band came to doom it up once and for all. “Salem’s Pot” showed everyone that a guy in a dress can have a lot more style and pizazz than most. Starting with “Tranny Takes a Trip”, they took us for a trip filled with haunting slow riffs and sudden spurs of bluesy groove infused with stoner that culminated and left us stranded on “Nothing Hill” were our heads forgot all concepts of gravity and just banged slowly. Then the carnival party played “Just for Kicks” along with a dose of “Creep Purple” to keep the effect hitting our brains from going away.
Since we liked the side effects so much, we stuck around and asked for another song which they delivered, sending us on an “Ego Trip and ending one of the most memorable shows of the festival in my opinion as well as ending the festival itself.
So it was that everyone got wasted and shitfaced on the beach at Sonic Blast. Such has been for a few years now and hopefully will go on, the festival keeps growing and getting better and since I went there for the first time, it has been hard to not go every year for more stoner doom goodness.
Text by J.P. Alves
Photos by Ines Oliveira in colour and by Daniel Jesus in black and white from Música em DX – musicaemdx.pt