Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Roadburn Festival 2016- Tilburg, Holland April 14-17th

I am back at Roadburn for the 11th year in a row. It has basically just become part of my life to come here every year to hang out with some of the most dedicated music fans in the world. This is the first time I have brought my wife (Mrs. Space).  Lee Dorrian (Rise Above Records) is the curator for his Rituals of the Blind Dead II. There are also special showcases of Icelandic bands, primarily Black Metal as well as a Finnish band showcase. Today, there are some quite cool bands playing like Black Mountain, Hexvessel, Bang, Arktau Eos, Mantra Machine, The Skull, Cult of Luna. Paradise lost and Converge.

We started the day off with Cult of Luna and I had seen them a few times in the past. They were playing their album from 2006 called Somewhere along the Highway in it’s entirety.  They had a great sound and lights. A big crowd that was into it. The main venue is huge now. The big difference is that they pushed the stage back about 10m and cut away most of the steps in the back so the floor is massive now. Balcony is the same but just feels further away.  Great show.
Cult of Luna
 After half hour we checked out the Australian band, Inverloch, in the green room. Pretty heavy stuff....

Der Blutharsch and the infinite church of the leading Hand played in the Church and this was pretty psychedelic Krautrock stuff. They used to be much more of an industrial band. Male and female vocals, both also played synthesizers. They sang in German and English. Crowd got into it. We saw most of this concert. They had some movies going on but you could hardly seem the as the light guy was using just way to bright lights and too much smoke.

I was excited to see the SKULL. If you don’t know this is the new Trouble sounding band fronted by ex-Trouble singer, Eric Wagner. This set was mostly songs from the Trouble albums from the 90s records and then also some of his new bands material, which is very Trouble sounding. I thought the set was excellent. Cool songs like Psychotic Reaction, End of my Daze, RIP, Touch the Sky, Mr. Green Man and many more.

The Skull
Finnish folkly-melodic-rock-prog thing was great. We had to get some food so we missed the first 25mins but the rest of the concert was great. I don’t really know this band but we were just sucked into the great 70s vibe of their songs. Sometimes they reminded me of their fellow country mates, Sammal. I know they have played in Copenhagen a bunch and at Roadburn before but I never had seen them…. 
It was amazing that the US 70s band BANG were playing at Roadburn. Wow.. I really love their records (Bang, Bow to the King) This was the highlight of the day for sure. This is one of the few bands I can say from the early 70s where their real original sound was fully intact live. The vocalist sounded great and just the same and the guitar playing and tone was great. This just rocked and they had so much fun. We saw the full show from the front of the balcony. Dead center.  I might have to go see them again in Copenhagen next week! We managed to catch a bit of Converge after BANG. Fucking intense stuff....

Saw a bit of the country guy Daniel Payne in Extase and then off to see Zone Six. This was pretty straight up country music. The crowd was having a lot of fun but I did not connect with it much. Not funny enough or weird enough or challenging the genre..

I was pretty disappointed with Zone Six. We only stayed for half the concert as this line up of Zone Six does not work well. Rainer is great on the freaking out guitar but Sula and Lulu just don’t groove for me. The rhythm section just was not there leaving too much pressure on Rainer to hold up everything. This was so different in the old days of Zone Six, with Walt on drums and Sula on bass. Wow.. they were great together. Stick to Electric Moon, where Sula and Lulu have a better chemistry.. This really does not do justice to what a cool band Zone Six used to be.  Just my opinion….

Black Mountain
We needed some air before Black Mountain, so we hung out and wow.. there were so many people on the street between the venues. I had never seen so many at Roadburn ever…. Shit…  Anyway, you have to expect that with 1000 more people!  Anyway, Black Mountain started 15mins late and opened with that great new song they have the video for from their new album.  The beginning of the show was really excellent but then it wandering off into more mainstream songs and we lost interest and left.  They were much better when I saw them last time 5 years ago. It had been a long day….but lots of cool music.

Day 2 (April 15th)

What a great day this was. We were pretty slow to get going but managed to get the meal ticket and meet the BMC guys before heading over to see Hexvessel with Arktau Eos in the Church. I really enjoyed this show a lot but it was really low in volume and when the ventilation fan at the back of the hall kicked in half way through the show, it was louder than the band, so we left as you could not really enjoy it anymore. Pity the soundman was not turning it up more.  We could have decided to push ourselves further into the room so the fan was not so annoying but we didn’t.

Diamanda Galas
From here we headed over and heard 3 songs by California band, Mondo Drag. This was really great but I dragged us off to the main stage to catch the one and only Diamanda Galas. This could be the only chance ever to see her. She had a full grand piano setup on the main stage. Everything else was black and just a spot light. She started a bit late and they were closing the bars and not letting people in or out except between songs so as to know disturb the artist. She was totally captivating and amazing. Her simple approach of classical and blues piano combined with here odd vocal expressions and bluesy, soulful mournings, were passionate and killer. Her version of 24 for mins to go, an old Johnny Cash song was great. We saw all but the encore song of the show. Mrs Space was not into it but I loved it. She is someone who you either get what she is doing and like it or you don’t really get it.
            We heard a bit of Sinistro but it was too packed to really get in and enjoy it so we sat on the balcony and just listened to the female lead doom rock. People seem to be into it and they had some cool movies going on. So far in the festival very few bands have had any movies, just some static images, which is a pity. Hope this changes on the next days. 

            US Death metal band, Repulsion were next on the main stage and the room was pretty packed. I don’t know this band at all but they had a great crowd and a pit was going right from the start..  Pretty short and intense songs with some nice guitar solos as well. Very fast stuff.. Phew…. We saw about half the show. I was told later did a cover version the Hammer by Motorhead. Impressive.
 We went into the backstage and had some dinner. The Black moon Circle guys just happened to be there as well. Sue and I sat at the table next to them and Walter comes and sit down with us. That was so cool. He looked tired and said he wished he had time for a short nap. He said all was running very smoothly and Diamanda was very happy with the way things went, so he was happy.

            Next up was Within the Dead, Lee Dorrian, the curators, new band. They were really heavy and showed some intense depressive movies. Lee did a good job with the vocal delivery and sings in a style that suits him better than in Cathedral. Hardly any guitar solos and lack of variety in the songs at times but some of them were really excellent. It was a really solid show and the crowd dug it. We saw the entire show from about 5m from the stage. Powerful..

Within the Dead
Hills soundcheck
We went into see the Hills and they were still soundchecking and by the time we came back like 15mins later, they still were but the place was so packed it was impossible to get inside. We had seen them last year so we decided to just get some air until GISM. A lot of people said they were blown away by Hills but some also told me the 4 songs were too much a like, not there was not enough variation in the set.

            GISM, are a hardcore band from Japan. This is their first gig outside of Japan ever and also their first gig in like 10 years. They were having a great time and the audience was totally into it up front and the people hanging on the stage. They were really fun and had the most crazy movie collages running that I had ever seen at the festival. Really wild stuff. Sometimes the band reminded me of Discharge or Charged GBH with a more metallic guitar.. Cool show. I really liked this a lot.

            Now, I needed to relax a bit and prepare for my own show with Black Moon Circle at the Extase bar at 23. It was pouring down rain now and I had to go back to the hotel and get my synthesizer.  I had a lay down to rest my feet for 15mins and then we got a plastic bag to put over my synth and walked over the venue. All the guys were there ready in the back stage and the mood was great. The band Bliksem was still playing and totally rocked the place. They ended their show with a long jammed out version of the old Janis Joplin track, Move over.

The Black Moon Circle gig was pretty filled up considering that Pentagram and Peter Pan Speed Rock and Dark Buddha Rising were also playing at this time.  I thought we might play to 10 people!  We opened with a shorten version of Andromeda, which used to be the set closer on the last tour and then into Machine on the Hill. This is a great one to play. We don’t play it that often actually. Then the trio of new songs: Magnificent Dude, Lunar Rocket and Warp Speed. I think they all worked really well and Warp Speed, we just blew the place apart with the intensity… Wow.. People loved the show.. I had a great time…

You can hear our show here....  BMC live at Roadburn!

That was more or less it for me. There was the Skull playing songs from the first 3 Trouble albums on the main stage, Zone Six in the Green Room, Hair of the Dog at Extase and Ülfsmessa in the Church. Still lots of cool stuff but I had given 100% at the show and needed to come down now… It was a great day of music.

Day 3 (April 17th)

Yadok III
We had a very lazy morning but headed over and caught about half of Yadok III, a Norwegian trio with French horn (and others), guitar drones (e-bow) and a killer drummer. The amazing drummer who was in his own world just mesmerized us. This worked pretty well. I liked it.   Next we popped over to the main stage as Mrs. Space did not have a clue what Funeral Doom was so we saw a couple of slow songs by Skepticism from Finland. They had a church organ, the huge lead singer dressed for a funeral and some flowers. Pretty decent crowd as well. Slow, heavy depressing music but with some slow developing melodies as well. This was a set chosen by the bands fans. Cool..

            Next up was Galley Beggar. We hung out with Martin (Litmus) and his girlfriend before and after. This was a great gig. I love their last record and the songs were great live. It was also Walter’s favorite album from last year. The band really gives space for nice guitar solos and instrumental sections in their really cool translation of English folk and rock. Amazing.. Wish they could have played longer. The 2nd to last song was quite heavy and had a great build. Lovely singer. This was really great.
Galley Beggar
We really wanted to see Astronsoniq but as is usual, the Green Room was overpacked. This has been the most impossible room to see bands in this year, ben though there are four doors to come in now instead of two. Pity..  We had another beer and popped over to see Beastmaker. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and Tau Cross were both on the main stage one after another during this time as well but we never made it over there.  Beastmaker had the church packed. I reviewed their single when it came out and liked it. They were a powerful band from Fresno, California. Short doomy hard rocking songs with few solos but good vocals, great grooves. The drummer pounding the hell out of his drums. Crowd seem to love them as well.  Great set. Lots of short songs and headbanging..
Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell

We decided to get some food now as it was 19:30. We ate at the restaurant under the church and then it was time for some of Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell.  I really like this band. This was the first time I had ever been up on the balcony in the church. Very cool place. They started off with two new songs, I think and they both totally kicked ass. Amazing stuff. Especially the 2nd song had an amazing groove.  I wish we could have seen the whole set but next up was a UK band recommended by Martin called Crumbling Ghost. This was a bit hard to describe actually. A bit of UK folk, 60s psych guitar parts, more hard rock, and a great female vocalist. She even did one track with voice alone. About half their tracks were instrumental. The first 3 songs just blew us away and then a few instrumental tracks and back into it again. It was a great set. I liked them a lot. I was really sad that I did not buy their record.
Crumbling Ghost
We went over to the main stage to catch a bit of Amenra. We saw the first three songs. The band was sitting in a circle facing the screen and there was only black and white spot lights to illuminate the people. The music was extremely boring though. We just did not get it at all but the room was packed so their must be something wrong with us or a whole lot of other people!
Atomikylä blew my mind.. We arrived really early and this did not help. The place was totally jammed and hot 20mins before they started and were soundchecking. This was some super intense stuff. Long songs that just built up and then wild Heavy metal and doom and just super psychedelic. Probably my favorite band today. I was really blown away. Mix of Dark buddha Rising, Circle, Oranssi Pazuzu and you get this wild sound.. We heard the last track from the hall though as we ran out of beer tokens and I was sweating a lot and thirsty as we had been in their for an hour. Great sound and super loud.. Phew…

Now you had to choose, Neurosis, Blood Ceremony, Kenn Nardi, We’rewolves or Lugubrum Trio….. We decided for the balcony at the Church for Blood Ceremony. This was a great concert and totally packed. We could sit down and have a beer to hear most of the concert and then we stood up for some of the new songs they played in the middle of the set. Amazing live sound and the new songs sounded great. I look forward to get the new record (already ordered).. We were pretty blasted by now and thought about catching the end of Neurosis but went back to the hotel… Great day..
Blood Ceremony
Afterburner (April 17th)

Mirrors of Psychic Warfare
            We started the day off with Mirrors of Psychic Warfare, a Neurosis-Burial at Sea collaboration side project. Very loud sampler and guitar. Strange noise soundscapes.. We lasted about 15mins…. Next up was the Norwegian band, Green Carnation on the main stage. This was excellent. A long prog rock album about 55mins long called Light of Day, Day of Darkness. They had a 75min set but sadly, quit after 1hr… I am sure they knew one short song.. Anyway, three guitars, powerful vocals, keyboards and samples and a strong rhythm section. Lots of cool moods and slow appearing visuals on the screen.
Green Carnation
            The old band, Blind Idiot God from the USA was making a very rare lie appearance was next in the green room. This was some really cool stuff. Reminded me of Fred Frith/Massacre stuff at times. Strange bass and guitar parts, intense drumming and some wild guitar at times. The 3rd song was a super cool track with some dub inspiration. From this point on in the concert the would do a crazy intense riffing track and then back into a more dub-reggae strangeness. I thought they were great.  

Blind Idiot God
We wandering in an caught a few songs by Jakob, a New Zealand post rock band. They had some cool visuals of like trees underwater that moved slightly… Their sound was not that good though. The drums were way too loud and just drown out the melodic lightly played guitar parts. IT was too boring in the end for us. No guitar solos and more or less the same dynamics for every song. Dreamy stuff, intense heavy guitars, dreamy stuff.. etc… I don’t really get this genre of music most of the time.

Ecstatic Visions
            Ecstatic Visions from Philadelphia was a really fun concert. Kind of Hawkwind inspired at time with a great energy but the songs were all a bit too much like. Massive amounts of wah guitar and saxophone, just full on all the time and nearly the same on every song .Great bass and drums and cool vocals. It was a fun show but not that diverse. They had a lot of fun and the audience loved. One of the best light shows we saw the entire festival in the Green Room.

            We had to go out and get some food now so we did not see Klone (France) or Witch Trail… Next up for us was Neurosis. This was a trip for me in a way as I was surprised they played some of their really early stuff from Pain of Mind, when they were a hardcore band. What an amazing sound they had as well. Massive, super loud but great details and not too loud drums, which was a problem in the big room for me with a lot of bands.  Super angry, powerful stuff. We saw the first 45mins and this was really great. I was really surprised they had no visual projections. What a band.. Makes we wish we had seen them yesterday. These two shows were only being performed here at Roadburn and in San Francisco the week before.

            Gentleman’s Pistols played a totally rocking show for about an hour! Lots of tracks from the new record with Bill Steer (Firebird, Carcass) on lead guitars. This was really great 70s hard rock with killer riffs and fun songs. I just wish they were a bit more loose and jammy.. Just tight 3-4min songs, never a cool jam or even a 7min song. This Robin Trower like new one was really great called Stress and Confusion. Mrs. Space loved it.

Gentleman's Pistols
That was it for us.. There was only Mr Peter Hayden (seen them twice and they were amazing both times), Burial at Sea, Menhir and Death Alley left. I had seen all those bands except Menhir before. We were tired.. We had one last beer outside the Cul De Sac, said bye to some friends and just reflected on another amazing festival and 4 days of incredible and diverse music. Wow…

Considering there are 1000 extra people you mostly seem to notice it out on the streets.. Like always, if you wanted to see bands at Extase, the Church and Cul De Sac, you had to make some sacrifices and leave early or there was no way to get in. Some of the cues for the church were insane this year.  Anyway, it is always that way at Roadburn. If you really have to see that band, you do what you have to do to get their early and don’t complain!! The Juliper pilsner beer they served at the venue was a real disappointment and I we are quite sure it was watered down or much lower in alcohol than they stated. Also, you really felt ripped off at several of the bars, especially Estase, where you would get ¼ cup of foam in an already small glass. A rip off….  One has to complain sometimes…

Thanks to Walter and Lee Dorrian for an amazing musical program. The magic was there again. It was amazing.. Also. please also check out my friend JJ’s amazing take on the festival for a really detailed account..    http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/

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