PREVIEW: Raw Power Festival!

Toby 'Columnus Metallicus' Cook picks his top tips for this weekend's Raw Power Festival in London. Circle! Pharoah Overload! SEX SWING OMG WE LOVE SEX SWING AIEEEEEEE LUBE US UP NOW!

Hails and salutations my cosmic cohorts, and all those who enjoy their rock of the hegemony-warping variety and the misuse of anal relaxants! Raw Power is very nearly here – now in its second year the festival, which takes over The Dome and The Boston Arms Music Room in London’s Tufnell Park for three days, aims to showcase, in their own words "some of the best psych heaviness, spacerock, synth craziness, leftfield electronica and much more." But with plenty of lesser known acts and musical curios on the bill the only thing harder than deciding exactly who to see is maintaining your grip on reality during Circle. So, to save any prematurely twisted melons here’s our pick of the ‘must sees’… Raw Power is sure to come runnin’ to you. For more information and tickets go here


It’s no exaggeration to say that Finnish troupe Circle are by some distance one of the most captivating and entertaining live bands on the planet. Usually summoning forth a monotonous, NWOBHM-meets-Kraut rock maelstrom that sounds like Can pretending to be Queen covering Judas Priest – and possessing, in Mika Ratto, a front man/keyboardist whose mantis-like gait and wild gyrations make Freddy Mercury look like Grizzly Adams – they’re a mysterious lot and in truth you’re never really sure which Circle are going to show up. Will it be the light-bondage adorned trad’ metal beast? Or the synth’ wielding, masters of motorik psychedelia? Or the duel-drummers and 10 guitarists of the near mythical ‘Circle vs. Circle’? Whichever incarnation they decide to bring to London their set promises to be as life-affirming as it is confusing… Smell the glove indeed!


Instrumental, stoner-hued, Psych-tainted jam rock is a deceptively hard beast to nail down – the cosmos is littered with groups who thought they could just by a Stratocaster, lean back a little, close their eyes and jam in a pentatonic scale for three hours. Fortunately for us Earthless are nearly peerless in this oft misjudged realm. Despite lengthy run-times the Californian trio’s desert-fried, psyche-heavy jams harness just the right mixture of departure and arrival to launch you firmly into the rarefied air where buying an oil lamp and rug made of pure hemp seems like a good idea.


Full disclosure: All my previous experiences of seeing Manchester based collective Gnod are clouded by the fact that I thought it would be good idea to take lots of cheap MDMA before their set. At Supersonic some years back their monotonous throb and warped groove made me feel like I was being consumed by a white dwarf star (before tQ’s John Doran started talking to me about black holes or something!) and the band looked like they were having an even harder time keeping it together than I was. Having replaced amphetamines with meditation (them and me both. No, seriously…) and this year released perhaps the most accomplished work of their career – the eternally expansive Infinity Machines – their renewed focus means there’s probably never been a better time to take the plunge into the Gnod dimension

#46 – 18 May 2015 (Raw Power Festival special) by Independent Music Podcast on Mixcloud

Pharaoh Overlord

Featuring several members of Circle, Pharaoh Overlord take the more repetitive, kraut-ish elements of the formers sound, loosely bind them to a more traditional blues rock framework and then proceed to teach their amassed audience a lesson in the art of dynamics, often choosing to sit in one groove, and one riff, for tens of minutes on end. All take-off, no arrival, and it never felt so good – the only danger is that the infectiousness of their groove is going to leave you nodding incessantly, like one of the catatonic asylum inmates in Midnight Express, for the remainder of the weekend… And most of the week following.

Sex Swing

"Oh look, he’s recommending Sex Swing for the 17th time this month… Shocker!"

Okay, okay, yes I am mildly obsessed by Sex Swing at the moment, and if you’ve read anything on this site in the last six months you probably no longer need me to tell you who they are, or awkwardly tumble over my own words in a futile attempt to explain their particular musical oeuvre. The pulsating, sax-addled, kraut-indebted drone conjured by this four-headed beast – comprised of some of UK noise rocks most accomplished veterans – opened tQ’s stage at Desertfest a few weeks back and they made converts of the confused and curious who arrived early enough to catch their set. And if you can win your average Saint Vitus fan over to something with keyboards, a saxophone and no guitars, you’ve got to be doing something pretty exceptional. Definitely not to be missed.

Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs


Newcastle based quintet Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs are pretty much the ethos of Raw Power incarnate, and the bristling energy of their live show regularly creates an atmosphere matched only by being fired out of that launch tunnel thing in Buck Rogers In the 25th Century. They ought to be huge; don’t miss ’em.

Anji Cheung

I only became aware of Anji Cheung’s existence a couple of months back, but subsequently diving into her word of harsh, merciless drones and a jarring, free-form noise has proved to be an equally unnerving and massively rewarding experience. Whilst her lengthy dirges are about as far away from the likes of, say, Earthless or Circle as it’s possible to get, Anji is just as representative of the ethos of the festival as any other band on the bill. Get there early, and bring an open mind.

Blown Out

Featuring Bong/11 Paranoias’ Mike Vest and Matt Baty of Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs infamy, Newcastle based power-trio Blown Out operate loosely in the domain of acid-scorched spacerock – albeit the sort of hallucinatory spacerock that you’d imagine the Star Wars cantina band would play, if they were imagined by Philip K. Dick, and the only music they’d ever heard was Hawkwind’s Space Ritual at the wrong speed. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from their latest EP go towards a charity that helps protect Aye-aye’s, a type of Madagascan lemur… So, they’ve got that going from them too.


Whereas on their debut, self-titled LP this then Brighton based group wallowed in a mire made of the sort of bowel loosening and brain frying punishment that lurks uncomfortably between Eyehategod and the Melvin’s Gluey Porch Treatments, new LP (and their first in four years) Deep Mountain‘s viscous journeys sound more like Acid King chucking Orange Goblin down a very, very deep well. With members now spread across the UK and Europe, this is a very rare live outing for the quintet, and once to be missed at your peril.

Rat Salad

What do you mean you don’t fancy seeing London’s premier Sabbath covers band close the festival in their own indomitable, Iommi worshiping style?! What the fuck’s wrong with you!… Well, let’s just enjoy the most bizarrely technicolour looking Sabbath show ever, complete with flowers and rainbows, instead then…

See you all there. Hails!

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