It’s over. I couldn’t even leave the building. I walked out of Sourvein more than three-quarters into their set, and still, it was another 15 minutes before I could actually bring myself to walk out of the 013 and head back to the hotel. I stopped along the way in Weirdo Canyon for fries, which, true to form, came buried under a heap of mayonnaise. Kind of a tradition at this point, though most of it I scooped off and sent down the sink in the bathroom here at the Mercure. Hot water on. Gross nonetheless.
Hard to know where to begin, really. When I got back to the venue, I hit up the Green Room to catch the start of The Machine, and of course it was packed. Amazing to see what a year’s done for them — although, granted, they weren’t on in the Bat Cave opposite Eyehategod like they were in 2010 — but I guess that’s part of it too. They sounded tighter, more mature, more together than they did when last I encountered them, but the material was no less vibrant and spontaneous for it. I was back and forth between them and Dead Meadow, who were on the main stage, and while they were a decent sonic complement for Sungrazer (a sort of new school European fuzz Green Room trilogy would be completed later in the evening as Samsara Blues Experiment closed out the night), they also did right in showing some of their own sonic personality, which they began to display on their recently-issued Elektrohasch debut, Drie.
Dead Meadow, on the other hand, brought out Sasquatch. Literally. There was a dude in a Sasquatch costume, and he came out during their set and stomped around the stage while they played. Clad in my Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy t-shirt, I couldn’t have felt more appropriate. I’ve never seen Dead Meadow before, so I couldn’t say whether or not this is a regular thing, but either way, brilliant. Their music, sedate, meandering, cosmic, seemed to make a good impression on the furry beast, and everyone else there to see it (myself included), and with visual accompaniment from festival organizer Walter Hoeijmakers, who handled a video mixer of various psychedelic imagery, it was “a show” despite the lack of anyone losing their minds on stage.
Other than Sasquatch, of course. He seemed to be really enjoying Dead Meadow‘s set.
I stood and waited for Black Mountain to go on, thinking I’d catch their opening couple of songs and then head in for Black Pyramid, but before they even got on stage, I realized how dumb that was, that I’d never get a spot to watch Black Pyramid, and that Black Mountain‘s set was allotted enough time that I could see them after Black Pyramid were done anyway. So, without reason to stay in the main stage area, off I went to the Green Room, which was already mostly full — although nowhere near as full as it would be by the time they started playing — and set up shop there for the duration.
With their riffs of stone and language of doom, Black Pyramid inspire devotion. They played a couple new songs — “Stormbringer” from the 8″ vinyl of the same name — and when they were finished, the crowd wouldn’t let them go. True enough, they hadn’t yet seen their time-slot to its conclusion, but I don’t think they’d have been allowed to leave even if they’d wanted to, so they fired up the amps again and treated Roadburn to a new song from their upcoming second full-length. It was rough, but guitarist Andy Beresky was trying out some new things vocally, so it should be interesting to hear what they come up with on the next album. Everyone seems to go all-out for the fest anyway, but Black Pyramid really have become an excellent live act. I stayed for their whole set and regretted not a second of it.
And sure enough, when they were done, Black Mountain was still on the main stage. They’re one of those bands I keep hearing about, people recommending them and so forth, and good people, too, but although I have a copy of their latest CD, Wilderness Heart, I can’t say I’ve ever listened to it. I remember hearing them when they put out their first record and being unimpressed. Maybe I need to give them another shot. They were elaborate melodically, and probably not my thing on the whole, but decent enough for what they were doing. They sounded clean, which, with Sourvein following, was like wiping off the mirror before crushing up six vicodin and making an evening of it.
T-Roy Medlin from Sourvein‘s “Dirty South” was in full force when they hit the main stage. Before they even started, he urged the crowd to “get ghetto.” I’d already by then been in and back from the Green Room to see Samsara Blues Experiment, who were killer, and had Black Mountain not just played opposite Black Pyramid, I’d have a hard time coming up with a time when two more sonically incongruous bands were on simultaneously. Samsara Blues Experiment: warm, sweetly toned, jammy, laid back. Sourvein: like being punched in the face with the broken glass of the mirror from the paragraph above. They do abrasive and it’s about all they do.
If the two bands had anything in common — and it just might be the only thing — it was energy. Samsara Blues Experiment did well in not getting too lost in their material, in keeping the audience engaged, and Sourvein, complete with Dave Sherman from Earthride on bass, were personality on parade. For not the first time in the evening, I was reminded of Eyehategod doing an Afterburner set last year, but Sourvein might be even more demented. They were ridiculous in their heaviness and completely over-the-top in their stage antics, Medlin managing at one point to call European beer weak while asking for a whiskey from the stage, which aside from not being true was not exactly going to win him friends among the Dommelsch-downing audience.
But then, if he was even slightly concerned with being accessible or friendly, he probably wouldn’t be in Sourvein. They’re good at being mean, only thicker with Sherman (now bearded) on bass, and considering the last time I saw them was playing to an empty Europa club in Brooklyn, the response they got from the main stage was enjoyable to watch. After a festival with acts as diverse as Wovenhand and Wardruna, Sourvein and Samsara Blues Experiment were as fitting a finale (who likes alliteration?) as Roadburn 2011 was going to get.
I’m not exactly ready to wrap up the festival reporting yet, and I’ll allow that maybe that’s me just not wanting it to end and/or being too exhausted tonight to finish it off once and for all, but I’ll have a post to round out this series tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who’s been reading and commenting. That kind of feedback means a lot and is greatly appreciated.
More tomorrow, and more pics after the jump.
Samsara Blues Experiment
SourveinBlack Mountain, Black Pyramid, Dead Meadow, Roadburn 2011 Adventure, Samsara Blues Experiment, Sourvein, The Machine, The Netherlands, Tilburg