Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Roadburn Festival, Tilburg, Holland April 9th-12th, 2014

This is my 9th year in a row coming to Roadburn, my favourite festival in the world.

Weds April 9th

I flew out of Copenhagen about 12:30 and landed in Amsterdam around 14. It was a beautiful day and I had some really great conversations with some guys on the plane. One was from Mumbai and the other a Nigerian living in Finland for 15 years! It was quite easy to find the hostel and Lasse he was standing in the door way of the place having a smoke when I arrived. The other guys were not arriving till later so I went around to some of the local record shops after I dropped off my stuff. Record Friend and Concerto are cool stores but I did not end up buying anything, I really wanted the new Seun Kuti but they only sold it as a bundle with a free ticket to the show Friday and it was too expensive. Amsterdam is a cool town and I love just walking around and seeing all the strange and cool art, people, unique streets and canals. Very nice.. I had dinner at Meghna or something like that, an Indian place just around the corner from the hostel. Food was good and I asked them to make it really hot and they tried but I asked for some fresh green chili as well and they were pretty surprised thinking they had made a really hot dish but they had not. It was nice food. I went back to the hostel really satisfied and my Finnish friends, Santtu and Jukka, who DJ at Roadburn, they came by the hostel and hung out the rest of the night. My Swedish friends who also play in OSC and the Carpet Knights also came by and it was a cool party while we waited for the others. Their plane was delayed 2hrs in Copenhagen and it was like nearly 10 when they arrived and we were all quite happy by now and they had been drinking at the airport so were pretty drunk when they walked in the door. Far out…. I crashed out at 11:30 but some of them stayed up partying until 5 in the morning.

Thurs April 10th

The Copenhagen Gang waiting for the Tram in Amsterdam
Magnus and I went to a great place called Light/Dark and had an energy smoothy and a great avocado goat cheese bagel sandwich. Yum…. We all met at the tram stop at 9:30 but Lasse was not up yet so we were delayed another 30 mins by the time the next tram came. Our timings were off all day. We got the central station and just missed the train to Breda. Half the group got split and got on a train to Hertbotenbosch and we took the next Breda train. We happen to meet Santtu and Jukka again, which was great. They ended up getting there about 20mins before us. We just missed the bus to Hilvanrenbeek by 5mins and so we had to wait another 30mins. By the time we got to the hotel it was 13:45. I still needed to get to the venue and sell the extra ticket that Lasse was supposed to buy from me and I held on to since Jan and then just a week ago he bought it from someone else, which was not cool. Anyway, I caught a bus within 10mins of arriving at the hotel, and it went the wrong direction and I was now 5km in the wrong direction and stuck and no bus coming for 55 mins.. I was fucking desperate and as I really wanted to see Brutus and sell this ticket, which I knew was not going to be easy. I stuck out my thumb and tried to hitchhike. After like 10mins a car that passed came swinging around and they picked me up. Some super nice Belgium guys said they could notice a Roadburner in distress and that I was! What luck..

I got there, got the wristband and then started walking back and forth down the street with the bars and by the venue. There were 4-5 others trying to sell tickets also but most just standing in one place. I need to maximize my chance of being seen and this paid off as a cool Swedish guy found me and he needed a 4 day ticket for a friend from Eindhoven! Great luck. I did not get the full price but 150€.. I learned my lesson though now. Can’t trust some of these people for shit…. I will never buy another ticket to help them out again after partially being screwed…

Anyway, straight into Brutus, which was too packed on the floor so I hit the balcony and was able to squeeze nearly to the front. Band was in a great mood and the people were totally into their rocking groove. The singer drank constantly, as he usually does and says  a lot of funny stuff. The crowd loves it.. It was great to hear a lot of these new songs live and they come across even better than on the record. I think these guys are one of the best of the 70s style bands around. If they would just have 2 songs every show that they just jammed it out with some longer solos the crowd would love them even more. Especially me.. 

Next up was Sourvein on the big stage but I only caught like 10mins as they stopped playing 25mins early! What the hell??? I think they wanted to party some more rather than play. The singer was looking for some mushrooms! They are so heavy and intense. I like them in small doses.. Some went to see 40 Watt Sun but said it was a bit boring. A lot of intense stuff like Beastmilk (Finland) or Lord Dying (Death metal) but I next checked out Samothrace. Saw some Danish people and met Marko (Swiss band Phased) and his beautiful wife, Sand. I filmed the first number which was pretty good but I could see where it was going so I headed off to see the Shrine.

I hung out with an old Finnish friend that I also see at Sweden Rock every year or nearly. They were fantastic but the bass player had some technical problems and was very annoyed and threw his bass into the audience and then jumped in himself while the band just kept on rocking and playing some ripping solo guitar. It all got sorted out and they were back on track in 5mins.. Crazy way to start the show…

The Cult of Dom Keller
The Cult of Dom Keller from the UK. The room was totally packed but I found a place next to Martin (Litmus) and his wife Kate. We had a nice long chat while they finished setting up. I was not sure what to expect as I had never heard these guys but damn, they were great. It reminded me a lot of 90s UK psych bands like LOOP, a bit Sundial, etc.. The bass played  some really tight grooves with the drummer while the guitar player and organ player played pretty spaced out stuff at times and did all the vocals. I enjoyed the concert a lot. It was really hot in there though. I was really sweaty afterward and also thirsty. Now we had to make some choices between Conan and Goatess. I met Nils and Sven outside and we decided to get to Goatess early and it was the correct decision as it was excellent….

Goatess has a great sound in the Bat Cave (Stage 01) and started off quite spacey with some really cool stuff and


then the massive grooves kicked in. Christian, the singer is a very charismatic guy and an excellent front man. What he lacks in voice, he makes up with performance and passion in his delivery of his vocals. I know some people just think he sings poorly but it is not what you should focus on, focus on the way he puts his words into the heavy music, then you get it…. It was a powerful set with more guitars at the beginning and more riffing at the end.

Set List: Full Moon at Noon, King One, Shadow Land (new song), Tentacles of Zen, The Orange

After Goatess I took a chance and went to see a Dutch band called Mühr in the Cul de Sac. They had just started when I came in and their concert was one long like 50min piece of spaced out cosmic doom, with elements of OM, Lamp of the Universe/Arc of Ascent and drone doom like BONG. They had two guitar players and they both played really cool stuff not just what you would expect. It was for sure Cosmic DOOM..

The last band of the day was the mighty BONG on the main stage. The bands have not been that loud or massive this year on the main stage. I think they must have put some sound restriction in. Anyway, we were all totally psyched. It is really hard to describe what it is about BONG that I really love. It is very simple but so effective. One note for an hour but it is the right note, the BONG note, and the combination of straight heavy doom, one phased out cosmic guitar and Indian drone, just hits me in the right stop. Awesome stuff but again, they are given 70mins and play just about 55, which is a bit disappointing. It was a great way to end the night and day. Wow..

Day 2

This is the Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth curated day and it looks to be awesome. Check out the video above that was showing on a lot of the screeens in the different rooms.

Amazing set. Promise and the Monster, were a three piece all female group with acoustic guitar, flutes, hand drums, synthesizer, harpsichord and just beautiful voices. I was pretty mesmerized but sadly could only see the first two songs before MAGMA was to start. I have nearly all the Magma albums but have never seen them live. I was really looking forward to this and they did not disappoint.  The bass player is just amazing. They actually all are all great and the voices in a strange made up language. Far out. Great sound and lights as well. One did not know how the normal RB crowd would appreciate Magma, if they would just not get it and leave, which Walter was not sure of either as this is a very musically challenging day. Anyway, the room stayed packed the entire show. It was a great concert and they did not just stick with old music. They actually played most of the set as recent material. Such incredible intensity in this band.
After Magma I managed to get a spot in the front of the balcony in the green room to catch the rest of the Harsh Toke set with Lenny Kaye form the Patti Smith band. They were having a lot of fun and jamming on the song Rollercoaster, Gloria and a lot of crazy guitar, spoken word like poetry stuff from Lenny. It was fun and crazy but a bit out of hand at times as the drummer was wanting to play all this really fast stuff like Earthless or something and Lenny was wanting to bring it down. Lenny mostly lost out! Both Harsh Toke guitar players just kicked ass on lead guitar. They all smoked a joint on stage which is something you don’t see too often at concerts. Fun show.. Crowd was into the chaos as well.

Now it was straight back to the main room and I stood with Martin (Litmus) and Kate and their friend. Comus are always so cool. Just utterly unique music and his voice is somehow in another world. I only saw three songs but it was fantastic. Even the new ones sound great. I will have to get that 2nd lp. The place was pretty packed as well on the main stage.

Set List: Song of Comus, Diana, Out of the Coma, The Herald, The Bite, The Sacrifice, Drip Drip, The Prisoner

I was very curious what the Nicklas Barker (Ankedoten, My brother the wind) and Reine Fiske (Dungen, Elephant 9) were going to do. It was two of these modern mellotrons and some other desktop synth gear. Nicklas said they had no plans, just freeform. I watched about 30mins and it was really cool dreamscape stuff a lot like mid 70s Tangerine Dream. Great lush sounds and cool movies. I filmed about 5mins but did not have a very good spot. My friend Anders, a big guy was right in front..

Anyway, next up was Änglagård, whom I had seen at Sweden Rock a couple of years ago but their sound was being blasted by Michael Schenker on another stage and plus they choose to play this really mellow laid back set and it was raining so it was just not that good. Today, it was something completely different! The band seems to be totally energized from having been invited and also recently playing in Japan with the Crimson Projekt. They were really intense but great moods and dynamics. IT was a new keyboard player and he also played saxophone. I was pretty blown away by this concert. I was up on the balcony with Magnus for the whole show.

I think we missed the last little bit as Claudio Simontetti’s Goblin was on the big stage with a tiny overlap.

Claudio Simonetti's Goblin

We found a great place on the left side of the mixer. The sound was very good but sometimes the keyboards were a bit too loud. Overall, it was great. They played 3 tracks before they started showing any movies along with the music. I was a bit worried it was not going to happen but they started with two tracks from dawn of the Dead. This was the Romero version for sure as I had recently seen the Argento version ad it was different from this. There was bits from roller, Demoni, Phenomenon, Suspiria (of course) and others. It was a fucking cool show. A great band. All great players. with a few guitar solos and a great bass playing.

Sula Bassana
We could have gone to see 30 years’ war, just the end but I had been inside and seen band after band with no break for 4½ hrs and I need some air and some food so Magnus and headed over to a Turkish place. We got back just a few minutes before Sula Bassana started in the Het Patronaat (the church). The crowd filled the place up but not totally packed, which was nice. I saw Santtu and my other Finnish friend. I was curious what this was going to be like but it was not what I had hoped actually. Sula Bassana solo band is Electric Moon but Reiner from Zone Six and the Pancakes. They started off with some quite heavy stuff that sounded just like Electric Moon freakouts but with more guitar. The sound was not very good to start as it was mostly bass and drums. Way too much bass. Pity. The synths were totally lost in the sound. They played Dark Days, maybe The Night?, and some others from his albums but I had hoped for some of the more cool 60s like stuff from Dreamer, more spacey stuff but it always ended up with heavy fuzzed out phased out electric moon style psychedelic, which is not what I really wanted to hear. I can see Electric Mon for that and I had hoped this would be different but it was not really. The dark days track with the mellotron was the best as it was a real space rock number. Great guitar playing but both Rainer and Dave. People got a heavy psychedelic experience for sure. I just had hoped for something different. Seems all of Dave’s bands end up sound the same now, pity, as can make such a diverse range of cool music. He is giving the people what they want though. I think he will one day get tired of this as well.

Most of the people I know were at Candlemass which were playing the entire Ancient Dreams record. Seen them many times and knew exactly what to expect. I had hoped for something different with Sula Basssana but also got what I sort of expected. I caught the last song of Candlemass, Solitude but that was it.

I tried to get into Papir but the room was too packed so I sat down for a while in the big room and spoke with the photographer, Jacob Denson (dk) and rested my very tired legs and had another beer. I saw one track of Opeth and that it not my kind of music. I managed to get into see the last 30mins of papir and they totally killed it. Nicklas was on fire and the sound was great. I had never heard a Papir show with the guitar so loud but that is the way it should be. Fucking killer stuff. The best guitar playing I heard all day.

Last band of the day was Elephant 9 plus Reine Fike. I had heard the record at Øyvin (Black Moon Circle’s) place and it was cool. Very spacey and then very intense dynamics and that is exactly what it was here as well. This show started out very slow, Reine almost not playing at all. The organ player was totally amazing.I loved his style. Amazing drummer and bass player. It took them 20mins before much happened but when it did that was it. Just incredible intense drumming, bass playing, organ and finally super cool guitar. It took him forever to decide what he was going to do and where but eventually the Richie Blackmore in him came out and the other strange talents he has as well. It was a great concert. One of my favourites today in the end. I was pretty exhausted in the end though.. Great day. One of the best in Roadburn history perhaps!

Day 3

10:15 Got a bit less than 8hrs sleep. Up and had as shower, juice, tea and a small sandwich.

12:15 Sitting shoeless in the sun in the garden at the hotel. The weather is great. Cannot see the computer screen so it is hard to see what I am typing. My feet are sore but I had such an amazing day yesterday… Wow… Today will be a lot less intense but also some cool bands.

14:00 I am sitting and have some ribs and fries to start the day. I had just met and spoke to Walter and it was a like a dream for him that everything went so smooth yesterday and all the bands were so excellent. Magma.. who would have ever though at Roadburn. … It really opens up the possibilities for the future..  Roadburn is already almost limitless anyway in what styles are allowed. It is more or less only pure pop, country and hip hop.. just about everything else goes…

16:00 I started off near the front for 11 Paranoias and that was loud and intense stuff. Mike Bong, plays a not very complex guitar but man, the sound he gets, he chooses the right chords and effects combination. Massively spaced out. They had a guy doing some electronic drones and he also played the saxophone. It was pretty cool. I caught about 30mins of the this German electronic group, E-musik Gruppe Lux O … Three synthesizers and one guitar. It was nice cool music a lot like mid-70s Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream. The guitar player hardly played anything very interesting which was a bit sad and no lead guitar really. They played it a bit too safe with the grooves.. a bit too predictable. They needed some cool visuals. I like the Nicklas Barker- Reine Fiske better. Same kind of vibe.

Circle… wow.. what the fuck.. how to describe that. A simple drum beat starts the show off while the band gets undressed and then dressed in their spandex and spikes and then into a long repetitive track that morphs into and out of Heavy metal, and just strangeness and back and forth for an hour. What a mind fuck and unique concert. Totally blew us all away! There is no other band quite like these guys. Utterly unique and talented..
I was up for some straight up stoner rock and got that with Gozu from the USA. I really liked the last record and the singer has a cool voice and they have the stoner groove down. I really could have used some more guitar solos and a bit more variety on the riffing but damn solid band just delivering the goods for 40mins and rocking out. I liked the last song, Alone quite a log. The crowd was not packed but into it…..

Set List: Meat, Ghost, Bull, Meth, Riddle, DRI, Irish, JMV, Alone

I watched the first few songs of Scorpion Child and man I was so disappointed. The singer has an amazing Robert Plant like voice but their songs are just so generic and Led Zeppelin want to be but the players are just not up to that kind of standard. Not interesting or inventive bass playing, very normal guitar riffs and hardly any solos….. They want to be like Rival Sons or the Answer, etc..  I left after 2-3 songs..

Rich (Carlton Melton) and Mike BONG
18:00 I went out and got some air and ran into the Carlton Melton guys and Glitter Wizard guys and had a nice chat. Everyone was doing great. Rich and Mike Bong were chatting. Nice to hang out with those guys for a few minutes before back into for some more intense music.

I checked out one song of YOB… the place was totally packed to the brim and the bass sound was just too much. I could hardly find the guitar sound. Super cool visuals while they played but I don’t like there new direction at all. I did the first couple of records but not much else by these guys.

Carlton Melton started off with a killer heavy hard rocking piece and Rich just killed it on the guitar. Andy next switched from drums to guitar and the band spaced out for 20mins or so and then back to some heavy space rock. I think people were pretty blown away. I think we will have a pretty cool show tomorrow. Even more spaced out..

I did manage to catch some of the Age of Taurus set and they rocked like hell. They remind me of a mix of Candlemass and The Sword (first album territory). They have some really great songs. Huge guys in this band.. After these guys it was into the green room to catch the Finnish band Mansion. I really liked their EP. They played a cool set but I only got 20mins or so before going to see LOOP.
LOOP was for sure the best thing so far today. The sound was so amazing and the sound guy used a lot of effects on the PA, including extra delays and panning effects. It was a super psychedelic sound and they really rocked and he played great spacey guitar solos for the first half of the concert. The last few before the encore was more hypnotic and loop like stuff. They came back and did two encore songs including Mother Sky by CAN.. They played it a lot like Vibravoid does.

Set list: Soundhead, Nail, Pulse, Straight to the Heart, Fade Out, Collision, Vapour Arc Lite, Feverknife, Afterglow, Buring, Breathe, Mother Sky (CAN)
Harsh Toke

I just hung out in the big hall after loop and talked with the guys from Papir, while Harsh Toke set up and soundchecked. I stayed and saw the first two jams. I really like this stuff a lot. The guitar player on the right, he also played a great keyboard solo in the 2nd track.

Glitter Wizard is a band I did not want to miss and I needed to get there early to make sure I got in the room. I have known the synth player, Doug Person for many years. Super talented guy. They were running behind and were late getting everything set up. They started at least 10mins late. They totally smashed the place. Huge energy in the room as they played their super cool and unique brand of high energy 70s rock, humor and psychedelia with a bit of space rock thrown in! Fun…  They even played my request, Wizard Wagon, which he said they had not played in a couple of years. We were all singing along. The new songs where really excellent as well, especially this one called Atlantis. What a great band. Wish they could have played longer.. That was the end of Day 3. I will play tomorrow so have to keep my head together and get some good rest.
Glitter Wizard!

Day 4

14:00 We had a relaxed morning and are sitting in the sun at a bar across from the Cul de Sac with Mogens and the guys from Papir. Mood is really good and it is beautiful weather. I will soon go get my artist wrist band, food coupon, drink tokens, etc.. We are supposed to load in and set up and soundcheck at 15:30. People at the venue are really cool and a German guy named Martin asked if he could do the sound and it was all ok with us and the venue so that is great.  A lot of cool bands again today but I will not get to see much today, which is a pity.

17:00 All went well with the setup and soundcheck and I was very happy with the sound and my equipment was working as it should. The Aqua Nebula Oscillator concert was too packed so I could not see or hear any of it but I heard they were pretty cool. A six piece line up, which was different than what they normally have.

18:20 I had dinner with Clint from Carlton Melton and then ran off to see about 15mins of Avatarium, the ex-Candlemass bass player’s produced band. They were really excellent. Very cool songs, a great female singer who also played some acoustic guitar. They had one really cool video during the song they said was their new single. Cool band.

19:30 I caught the first 20mins or so of the Papermoon Sessions, as these guys are all my friends and all of them except Lulu, have played in ØSC currently or in the past. It was long spacey stuff with cool guitars and two bass players, which was nice. I could not hear Nicklas’s guitar almost at all, which was a bummer. The place was packed and people seem to like it a lot.  I will play with Carlton Melton in the Cul de Sac bar at 20..

22:00 Wow.. that was an amazing concert and experience. I had so much fun playing with these guys. The place was packed and hardly anyone seem to leave so I think they were really into it. It started off very slow and space with me and rich doing a lot of synth stuff and then Andy on guitar. Real Scum Beat was a heavy jam and Rich just ripped it up on the guitar. He was totally into it. Palmer was also with drums but not so intense a track and then Andy just played great guitar in the droney spacey new track called Tilburg Blues. I had fun playing this one. The last part of the concert was really intense with a heavy version of Pink Floyd and then Hawkwind. People seem to love the show… I was pretty exhausted afterwards. We recorded both from the audience and soundboard so maybe people will get to hear this again.

Set List: Country ways>Spider Webs, Real Scum Beat, Palmer, Tilburg Blues, When you’re in (Pink Floyd), Time we left this world today (Hawkwind)

There was some other cool bands playing like Harsh Toke and the Luminerians but I was pretty done for so I just hung out and talked with the guys in CM and fans on the street, a bit with Sula Bassana and Lulu, Mike Bong and his girlfriend, etc… It was a great but intense way to end Roadburn. I did actually hear the last 20mins of the LUmierians while hanging out with Rocksanne, Sabine and a few others that came by like Martin (Litmus).

Day 5

Why are the trains just fucking chaos in Holland every fucking year???? I am on a train now finally going to the airport and it is 12:39. I was supposed to arrive at the airport a bit before 12! The train we got on at Tilburg (met Santtu and Jukka) went to Breda and then we switched to a train that said Amsterdam Central-. Schiphol. When it got to Rotterdam, we sat for a while and then it started going back the direction we just came??? They had cancelled it and rerouted it. All the messages were only in Dutch so what the fuck???? I will not miss my flight but still I will only have 1½ hrs max or less if this train makes..

So who were my favourite bands this year????

Magma, BONG, Mühr, Glitter Wizard, LOOP, Carlton Melton meets Dr. Space, Elephant 9

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