audiObelisk: Stream Roadburn 2013 Sets from Antisect, Dread Soveriegn, Dream Death, Intronaut, Monomyth, The Psychedelic Warlords, Royal Thunder and The Black Heart Rebellion

Posted in audiObelisk on October 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Today, Roadburn announced that Whitehorse, KEN Mode, Hark and Bölzer will take part in the 2014 festival, and yet even as they move boldly forward (from what I hear there are a couple major announcements coming tomorrow), audio continues to surface from the well of excellence that was this year’s edition. This time around, we get sets from Antisect, Dread Sovereign (which is Alan Averill from Primordial‘s doomy side-project; they ruled), Dream Death, Intronaut, the if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now Dutch instrumentalists Monomyth, The Psychedelic Warlords, Royal Thunder and The Black Heart Rebellion. Certainly more than enough fodder to tear asunder even the most mildly productive of afternoons.

As always, these were recorded by Marcel van de Vondervoort and his crew. Thanks of course to him and Walter and everyone else from Roadburn for making this happen.

Look out for more this week from Roadburn and enjoy:

Antisect – Live at Roadburn 2013

Dread Sovereign – Live at Roadburn 2013

Dream Death – Live at Roadburn 2013

Intronaut – Live at Roadburn 2013

Monomyth – Live at Roadburn 2013

The Psychedelic Warlords (playing Space Ritual in its entirety) – Live at Roadburn 2013

Royal Thunder – Live at Roadburn 2013

The Black Heart Rebellion – Live at Roadburn 2013

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audiObelisk: Stream Roadburn 2013 Sets from Elder, Pallbearer, Astra, Spiritual Beggars, Witch Mountain, Seremonia, and More

Posted in audiObelisk on September 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Of all the batches of Roadburn 2013 audio that have thus far come to light, this one might be both my favorite and the most comprehensive. From Pallbearer‘s morose doom to Elder‘s heavy psych righteousness, the progressive metal of The Ocean and Spiritual Beggars‘ classic heavy rock, seething black metal from A Forest of Stars, with post-metal from Process of Guilt, blues doom from Witch Mountain and prog from Camera and Astra between — that’s not to mention the genreless freakout of Seremonia — it’s a series as varied as the fest itself.

Please enjoy the Roadburn 2013 streams on the players below and kiss your afternoon goodbye. As you make your way through, don’t forget to check the news below about The Shrine, Papir and Glitter Wizard being added to the Roadburn 2014 lineup, as that continues to impressively take shape.

Thanks as always to Walter and the Roadburn crew:

A Forest of Stars – Live at Roadburn 2013

Astra – Live at Roadburn 2013

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Elder – Live at Roadburn 2013

Pallbearer – Live at Roadburn 2013

Process of Guilt – Live at Roadburn 2013

Seremonia – Live at Roadburn 2013

Spiritual Beggars – Live at Roadburn 2013

The Ocean – Live at Roadburn 2013

The Ruins of Beverast – Live at Roadburn 2013

Witch Mountain – Live at Roadburn 2013

As noted above, Roadburn 2014 has continued this week to add bands to its already considerable lineup. Here’s the latest, courtesy of the fest:

LA’s The Shrine To Bring Some Heavy, Psychedelic, Riff Based Rock n’ Roll To Roadburn Festival 2014

Grab a six pack! It’s time for some high energy, rock ‘n roll action when Los Angeles’ The Shrine hits the stage on Thursday, April 10 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. We’re feeling inspired… should we put up a skate ramp at Roadburn 2014?

No, let’s empty some pools, and conquer these concrete bowls! Right here, right now, as the hairy dudes in The Shrine could easily have been part of the 1970s Zephyr skateboard team. Or at least, they would have put up their big ass amps (draped with an American flag, of course) next to the pools, and crank some drug addled, SoCal primitive blast to get it all going, pure and simple!

Denmark’s Papir To Transcend Heavy Psych Territory at Roadburn Festival 2014

We here at Roadburn are on our own path and we ensure that when booking the festival it encompasses everything we like – from krautrock through post rock to heavy psych.

Papir, hailing from the suburbs of Copenhagen, are definitely kindred spirits, as this fascinating instrumental three piece have created their own extraordinary type of semi-improvised psychedelic rock by transcending the usual labels – something we immensely admire. Thus we simply can’t wait to dive headfirst into the band’s richly textured sound on Saturday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Take A Trip Way Back Into The Future With Glitter Wizard at Roadburn 2014

In our ongoing quest to exhume every artifact of 60s and 70s proto metal, we recently stumbled up on San Francisco’s Glitter Wizard. For a moment, it seemed that we unearthed a forgotten gem, as Hunting Gatherers, the band’s sophomore album, could be easily mistaken for a long lost album from the early 70s.

In our hazy minds’ imagination, the band shared the stage with Steppenwolf, Bloodrock, Black Widow, The Stooges or Iron Butterfly, but Glitter Wizard‘s trippy, swinging sound — replete with catchy riffs, amusing lyrics and space-age keyboards, sax and flutes — isn’t some kind of Nuggets discovery, they are here and now.

Don’t get behind the times when the devil worships Glitter Wizard at Roadburn 2014 on Saturday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. They will take you into future through a doorway hidden in the past.

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audiObelisk: Stream Roadburn 2013 Sets from Eternal Tapestry, Ihsahn, Moss, Mournful Congregation, Penance and Switchblade

Posted in audiObelisk on July 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Already the announcements have started up for Roadburn 2014 — as demonstrated last week by the landmark revelation that a reunited Loop will headline — but in the meantime, there are still more audio sets from the 2013 fest to unveil, and the latest batch has a little something for everyone. From the ambient post-everything of Eternal Tapestry to the crushing tonality of Switchblade and the trad-doom plod of Penance, it’s like a sampler platter that still only begins to give some hint of the stylistic ground the highly-varied festival has come to cover in recent years.

As always, these recordings were overseen by Marcel van de Vondervoort and it’s through the courtesy of Walter and the rest of the Roadburn crew that I’m able to host them here for your streaming pleasure. Much thanks to all involved.

Please enjoy:

Eternal Tapestry – Live at Roadburn 2013

Insahn – Live at Roadburn 2013

Moss – Live at Roadburn 2013

Mournful Congregation – Live at Roadburn 2013

Penance – Live at Roadburn 2013

Switchblade – Live at Roadburn 2013

Keep up with the latest Roadburn 2014 announcements here or by checking out roadburn.com. Check out the rest of 2013′s streams here.

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audiObelisk: Stream Roadburn 2013 Sets from The Pretty Things, Cough, Pilgrim, Goat, The Atlas Moth, Zodiac, My Brother the Wind, Amenra, Satan’s Satyrs, Raketkanon

Posted in audiObelisk on June 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

A couple things you’ll want to note as you make your way through the latest batch of audio streams from Roadburn 2013. First, the Satan’s Satyrs set is a Blue Cheer tribute, and that’s frickin’ awesome, and second, I’m pretty sure that Pilgrim photo below (from the same set as the one above) is one of mine. So, you know, it’s nice to be included.

Thanks as always to Walter and the Roadburn crew for letting me host these streams, and to Marcel van de Vondervoort for continuing to boldly helm the recordings year after year. Posterity owes you a gratitude.

Enjoy:

The Pretty Things – Live at Roadburn 2013

Goat – Live at Roadburn 2013

Amenra – Live at Roadburn 2013

Cough – Live at Roadburn 2013

The Atlas Moth – Live at Roadburn 2013

My Brother The Wind – Live at Roadburn 2013

Satan’s Satyrs Tribute To Blue Cheer – Live at Roadburn 2013

Pilgrim – Live at Roadburn 2013

Zodiac – Live at Roadburn 2013

Raketkanon – Live at Roadburn 2013

If you missed them, check out the first batch of Roadburn 2013 audio streams here and the second batch of Roadburn 2013 audio streams here.

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audiObelisk: Stream Roadburn 2013 Sets from Black Magician, Candybar Planet, Castle, Crown, Maserati and Dirk Serries: Microphonics

Posted in audiObelisk on May 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The second batch of Roadburn 2013 audio streams has been loosed, and if nothing else, it’s a grouping that shows just how far out the reach of the Netherlands-based annual festival has grown. From the ultra-British doom of Black Magician (above) to the American cultistry of Castle, riff rock of Candybar Planet and ambient experimentalism of Dirk Serries (aka Vidna Obmana), Roadburn 2013 cast a wide net, and though I didn’t get to actually see all of these acts, it’s reassuring to know each year that even the stuff I missed is accounted for and recorded for posterity.

Consider the rest of the afternoon spoken for:

Black Magician – Live at Roadburn 2013

Candybar Planet – Live at Roadburn 2013

Castle – Live at Roadburn 2013

Crown – Live at Roadburn 2013

Maserati – Live at Roadburn 2013

Dirk Serries: Microphonics – Live at Roadburn 2013

If you missed them, check out the first batch of Roadburn 2013 audio streams here.

Thanks as always to Walter and the Roadburn crew for allowing me to host these streams and to Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team for recording them in the first place. Hope you enjoy.

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Buried Treasure and the Spoils of Adventure

Posted in Buried Treasure on May 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I know this is going to sound strange looking at the stack of CDs above, but the truth is, I didn’t buy as much at Roadburn and Desertfest as I could have. For instance, this whole trip, I only picked up two pieces of vinyl — the new Electric Moon 10″ and the Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson split 12″ — and that’s it. I didn’t buy the Dread Sovereign 12″, limited as it was, and there were countless other pieces I could’ve grabbed and justified buying with the sheer fact that it was money I wasn’t spending on booze. I’m not going to go as far as calling it restrained, but it was nowhere near the most reckless I’ve ever been when it comes to spending cash on albums, even with the exchange rate taken into account.

Stuff like Winnebago Deal, Black Skies, Sparzanza and Endless Boogie (good thing I bought that, because indeed, they didn’t have it at the merch table) I’ve already talked about picking up at Sounds in Tilburg, and that was awesome. It came as a surprise though to find a full-on Svart Records table in the merch area when Roadburn itself started up. I guess it made sense, with Svart acts like Victor Griffin’s In~Graved, Jess and the Ancient Ones and Seremonia playing the fest, but it was still cool to see and I appreciated the chance to buy CDs from the former two acts (the latter I’d already bought my last time at Armageddon Shop in Providence), since although I was sent digital promos for both, I’d rather save myself the trouble of hearing something like Jess and the Ancient OnesAstral Sabbat or Hexvessel‘s Iron Marsh, liking it and then being pissed later and just cut out the middle-man, bite the bullet and buy the album without feeling like I then need to cover it. I got the High Priest of Saturn CD from that table too, and no regrets.

The Burning World Records table at Roadburn also had a few necessities, among them the Mount Wrath live set from Conan — their 2012 Roadburn appearance in the Stage01 room that was so frickin’ loud I feel like I can still hear it — and I also grabbed a disc from The Angelic Process called Coma Waering that I’d later learn was a reissue of a full-length from 2006 and not in fact a follow-up to 2007′s Weighing Souls with Sand, which I remember digging a lot when it came out on Profound Lore, and a copy of SlomaticsA Hocht, which Burning World released last year but which I hadn’t gotten to hear. Right on the other side of the same room was the Exile on Mainstream table, which was selling Toner Low‘s III and from which I also bought the first Tlön album, having remembered digging the second one after getting it from the same source last year.

It’s worth pointing out that neither of those records is actually on the Exile on Mainstream label, but they were selling them nonetheless and I relished the chance to pick them up, along with the self-titled Johnson Noise, which it turns out I already own, and a copy of Electric Moon‘s The Doomsday Machine, of which I’d later buy a double from the band’s table. Admittedly, when Electric Moon showed up, I got impulsive. My instinct was to buy everything they had, and I didn’t go that far, but in addition to a second The Doomsday Machine, I also got the Electric Moon, D-Tune EP, the aforementioned 10″ You Can See the Sound of… and one of guitarist Sula Bassana‘s solo albums, as well as Vibravoid‘s Gravity Zero on Sulatron Records. There was more and I’d have got it, but frankly I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

From bands, well, I got two tapes from The Cosmic Dead Live at the Note and Inner Sanctum – in addition to a CD of Orbiting Salvation, both Kadavar discs from their table, the digibook version of Les DiscretsAriettes Oubliées… (review here) after seeing them so thoroughly bring that material to life on stage at Het Patronaat, Black Magician‘s Nature is the Devil’s Church, The Midnight Ghost Train‘s Buffalo, and the Within Time album by Koiramato, which I’d soon understand was being sold by Mr. Peter Hayden because it’s a full-length of complementary textures for MPH‘s Born a Trip sophomore outing. I set up the CD to go at the same time as the Born a Trip Bandcamp stream and sure enough, even the changes lined up. It was excellent. I’ve never gotten something like that just right before — see NeurosisTimes of Grace and Tribes of Neurot‘s Grace and me with my fingers on two very out-of-sync play buttons — so it was exciting on multiple levels.

Aside from a free Van Records compilation, that would be it from Roadburn, and though I tried and failed to hit up a couple stores I’d been to previously in London — goneski — I still did alright at Desertfest and at the pre-show, picking up albums from Enos and 1000mods from the night before the fest-proper began, and filling out the weekend with that already-noted Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson split vinyl, a CD by Black Moth that I haven’t had the chance to hear yet but am very much looking forward to based on the couple minutes of their set that I saw, and Center of Gravity by Croatian heavy riffers Center, which I was given to hopefully review. I haven’t gotten there yet — I’m back a week now and I haven’t even gotten caught up on email, though I’m working on it — but maybe one of these days. The record’s pretty cool, in any case.

A lot of the stuff I’ve not yet had the chance to check out, but the good part about an actual CD is I don’t get pissed off about the real estate on my desktop it’s taking up and delete the folder. Can’t say the same for, well, nearly every digital promo I get these days. The last couple years have definitely seen a decline for the compact disc — more than ever in 2013 were the vinyl-only releases featured — but I still did alright, and hopefully I’ll continue to do alright until CDs go the way of those other dead formats, LPs and tapes. And by that I mean get a retro comeback. I’ve got no shortage to listen to in the meantime.

The Cosmic Dead, Orbiting Salvation

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audiObelisk: Stream Roadburn 2013 Sets from Black Bombaim, Endless Boogie, Ash Borer, Blues Pills, Satan’s Satyrs, Teeth of the Sea and Golden Void

Posted in audiObelisk on May 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s always a special time of year when the audio streams start coming out, and the output from Roadburn 2013 is no less stellar than ever. Whether or not you were able to make it to the legendary festival at the 013 venue and Het Patronaat in Tilburg, the Netherlands, their ability to capture the audio performances and the rate with which those performances are released is either a great way to relive a special weekend, discover something you may have missed, or just check out some killer bootleg-type material you can’t get anywhere else.

As ever, thanks to Walter Roadburn for sending over the streams for me to host and to Marcel van de Vondervoort and his crew for capturing Roadburn 2013 for posterity so that future generations can know how much ass their forebears kicked in their day. Or so I can put the stuff on this afternoon and rock out at the office. Either way. Maybe a bit of both.

This first batch includes Ash BorerBlack Bombaim, Blues Pills, Endless Boogie, Golden Void, Satan’s Satyrs (who played twice) and Teeth of the Sea. Enjoy:

Roadburn 2013 was an extravaganza of great bands from Alcest to Zodiac. Sometimes, trying to decide between shows (or get into the Green Room or Het Patronaat) was as hellish as anything screened during the Electric Acid Orgy Grindhouse Cinema. And if you couldn’t make it at all, well…

Have no fear, the 2013 audio streams are here! Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Marcel van de Vondervoort (Torture Garden Studio) and the team from VPRO 3voor12, which is the best cultural media network in the Netherlands, you can listen to the Roadburn 2013 shows you either missed or want to relive.

Tune in and ‘burn on!

Ash Borer – Roadburn 2013

Black Bombaim – Roadburn 2013

Blues Pills – Roadburn 2013

Teeth of the Sea – Roadburn 2013

Satan’s Satyrs – Live at Roadburn 2013 (Friday, April 19th)

Golden Void – Roadburn 2013

Endless Boogie – Roadburn 2013

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ROADBURN 2013 AFTERBURNER: Floating on Mountains

Posted in Features on April 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.21.13 — 23.02 — Sunday night — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

My watch alarm went off at 13.00 to serve notice that it was time to wake up, get cleaned up and head back over to the 013 for Astra kicking off the traditional Afterburner, the final, pared-down day of Roadburn 2013. I hadn’t fallen asleep until after seven, could hear people leaving for an early start to the day outside my room, but rolled into the Main Stage room still with minutes to spare to see another showing of Costin Chioreanu‘s Outside the Great Circle. This time through, I learned Current 93‘s David Tibet was also involved in the music. Not that it was lacking dark and artsy cred anyway, but Tibet always seems to have some to spare.

Though it was a contrast to Outside the Great Circle‘s bleak visuals and the Attila Csihar groans those visuals came with, Astra‘s Cali sunshiny early-King Crimson prog was a welcome way to start the Afterburner. The lush melodies and multiple layers of keyboard wash work especially well in the morning, though of course it was 14.30 when they got on stage. Morning to me, though, so right on. They played most of last year’s The Black Chord (review here), including the title-track, “Bull Torpis,” “Cocoon,” “Quake Meat and the closer, “Barefoot in the Head,” but ultimately, they went back to the first album, The Weirding, to finish out with the eponymous cut.

I was a much bigger fan of the second album than the first, but “The Weirding” is a good song and Astra did justice to the expansive and psychedelic feel of their albums, without losing themselves in the staid, passionless presentation prog often winds up having. Switching between guitar and the keys (a Memotron and then some, it looked like), Richard Vaughn was out front and center with lead guitarist Brian Ellis, who seemed to have dressed up for the occasion. I hadn’t seen the San Diego five-piece since 2009 and they seemed all around a more solid band at the 013, and their heavy prog was just the sort of complex but welcoming start a lineup like this one deserved.

A second round of Pallbearer? Sure, why not? Diagonal, who were supposed to open in the Green Room, canceled on account of illness, so the Arkansas four-piece stepped in for another round in the smaller space — the Green Room is the middle space at 013; smaller than the main stage, bigger than Stage01; also smaller than Het Patronaat, which was closed today at least to Roadburn 2013 types — and were once more filled with potential, emotionally resonant and crushingly heavy. The setlist varied some from the Thursday night show, but they got their point across anyway. Interesting that for such morose music, the mood in the room was pretty up. I guess people were excited to see Pallbearer again or excited to see them having missed out the other night, but when whoever it was in the crowd shouted out a request for “Owner of a Lonely Heart” came through, there were laughs on stage and off. Even guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell was more animated — not quite thrashing out like bassist Joseph Rowland or guitarist Devin Holt or drummer Mark Lierly — but still more than he was on the Main Stage earlier in the fest.

So be it. Even with less tickets sold than for the fest proper, the same basic rules apply to the Afterburner. If you want to see a band up close and personal, you need to get there early. I’ve done a lot of back and forth this weekend and don’t regret any of it, but with less bands on the bill, there’s more time to stick around and see a full set if you’re so inclined, and that takes some getting used to where over the last three days it’s been, “Okay, I have to run in here, stay for 15 minutes then split out and catch so-and-so over here” and so on. It’s a different vibe, and from all the Dutch I heard being spoken, it seemed that a lot of the people who hadn’t stuck around for this fourth day/transition back to reality were the ones traveling, which made sense.

That said, the crustpunkers — crustpunk is the new doom; also atmospheric black metal; also d-beat hardcore; also doom — behind me watching Pallbearer and brushing my back with their headbanging hair were from Australia, so clearly a sizable “fuck it” contingent was present as well, which I guess I also represented to some degree. Not to that degree, but some degree, anyway. I poked my head in the Main Stage as Sigh were getting ready to go on and found the Japanese black metallers duly theatrical. One doesn’t see fire on stage much anymore, or at least not in the venues I go to on the regular — which is fortunate, because everyone would die — but Sigh had a candle going and some light blowtorchery to go with the pummel and dual vocals. They were black metal-plus. Plus sax, plus fire, plus percussion, and so on. Their albums are supposed to be the shit according to a few in the know, but I’ve never been especially in the know, and the thought of leaving town tomorrow started weighing on me, so I ran back to the hotel to ask the kind soul at the counter if she could print my train ticket, and after about an hour, it worked out that she could.

Sigh were done upon my return, but I watched a couple minutes of Dutch black metallers Nihill (interesting about the lineup; had Diagonal showed, it would’ve been prog on one stage, prog on the other, then black metal on one stage, black metal on the other) through the doorway of the Green Room. Actually, I could’ve at least listened to them in the alley outside the venue, since they were loud enough to make the concrete wall of the building sound paper thin. It was supposedly their first show, though you’d never know it by the crowd gathered to see them play it. I guess everyone who hadn’t yet fully gotten their fix from Sigh were still looking for grim satisfaction.

Me, I was looking for Golden Void, but there was still a long time till they went on ahead of Spiritual Beggars and Electric Moon, the two acts who would close out the list I’d see today and my path through Roadburn 2013 as a whole. Neu! founder Michael Rother was going on doing music from that band and his subsequent project Harmonia, sort of bridging the gap between the prog elements and the psychedelic as only krautrock truly could. Being only remotely familiar with Neu! on any level other than the academic, the driving, spacy rhythms were enough to keep me hooked, but I did break for an early dinner partway through — chicken and gravy, mashertaters, salmon and salad — because I could feel myself dragging ass and wanted to be ready for Golden Void‘s set in the Green Room.

Another Californian act, the Bay Area four-piece set an immediately friendly vibe. The curtain in the Green Room was closed when I got there,  I guess from Nihill (maybe someone can confirm that?) but before it was even reopened, Golden Void guitarist/vocalist Isaiah Mitchell – whose reputation as slinger of epic solos in influential heavy psych jammers Earthless preceded him — poked his head out from under to say hi. He made conversation as the band set up their gear and even when they got started, kept the atmosphere friendly and unpretentious, which couldn’t be anything but welcome. At one point, Mitchell pointed to someone up front in an Earthless shirt and said, “Nice one.”

Camilla Saufley-Mitchell‘s keys played a big role in their sound, bigger than I recalled from their self-titled debut (review here), and they ran through a JCM800 head, so presence wasn’t lacking, and she added backing vocals as well here and there. The Afterburner marked the end of a 12-date (13 if you count the Brooklyn show they did on their way out of the States) European tour, so no wonder they were feeling good. Golden Void were jammier live than on record, Mitchell taking what seemed to be a couple extended solos, or maybe it just came off that way because of the striking verse/chorus structures on the record where one wouldn’t expect from his work in Earthless that they’d be included at all, but they more than held the crowd’s attention, and the new song “Rise out of the Reach” — which they were selling as a Record Store Day-exclusive 7″ single — makes me look forward even more to their next record than I already was.

I would’ve loved to stay, but Spiritual Beggars were going on the Main Stage and it was time for me to once again “Excuse me” and “I’m sorry” my way through the crowd out from the Green Room. The Beggars – I can call them that now that I’ve seen them live — have a new record out called Earth Blues, and they were selling LPs and signed CDs. I’ll pick it up at some point, but haven’t bothered to listen to it for the same reason I don’t listen a ton of shit that comes out: No time and I fucking hate digital promos. That frustration actually made me less inclined to buy the record, though having autographs from Michael Amott (Arch Enemy/Carcass) and his formidable assembled lineup does hold a certain nerdish appeal. In this incarnation of the band are bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy/Mercyful Fate), drummer Ludwig Witt (Firebird), organist Per Wiberg (Opeth) and vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (Firewind), who now has two albums under his belt in the band and did a more than able job filling the frontman role while also tackling Spiritual Beggars tracks from the eras of Spice and JB Christoffersson, the former now of Band of Spice and the latter in Grand Magus.

Not easy voices to take on by any stretch of the imagination, as both singers could add dramatic flair, soaring highs or growling lows to any given song at any given time, but again, Papathanasio did well in that spot, and the newer stuff they played seemed right in line with their long-standing love of classic heavy rock. Amott‘s the driving force in that he writes all the material, but everyone was clearly on board – Ludwig Witt is a monster drummer — and the stage show was engaging, professional and fun to watch. They played “Turn the Tide” from the new album and dipped back to 2002′s On Fire for “Young Man/Old Soul,” which was a highlight, and just before “Wonderful World” from 2000′s Ad Astra, Papathanasio asked the crowd, “Have you got the energy left?”

The honest answer? Nah, man. It’s been four days solid of rock and rolling and I’m feeling pretty demolished. He got a response from the crowd that was probably less than the roar he’d hoped for, but the band didn’t miss a beat. Their shit was pro-tight and as next year will mark 20 years since the release of their self-titled debut, for all their love of classics, they’re on their way to becoming one as well. A band of string lights wrapped around the inside frame of Amott‘s speaker cabinet, Wiberg had a tapestry hanging from the front of his keyboard, and in everything they did, Spiritual Beggars were very put together, very rehearsed, but also very effective. It wasn’t the first time I liked a band more than I thought I would this weekend, but it was a nice surprise anyway.

Entirely true, I would have relished the notion of seeing Switchblade live, but I had an early-ish train looming, was beat and knew that I wanted Electric Moon to close out my Roadburn 2013. The German jammers were just right for the job — heavy, psychedelic, totally switched on in their groove and, as I learned, swirl-ready at a moment’s notice. Before they were even ready to play, before guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt had his shoes off, he and bassist Komet Lulu and drummer Michael Bongolious Orloff were jamming. I don’t think they even realized they were doing it, but all of a sudden, Komet Lulu had a groove locked in and the other two stepped right into it. Their set was great to watch too, but I found that little pre-jam even more telling, since it goes to show just how much chemistry there is between these three players. Lulu led a lot of the changes, with Orloff responding accordingly and Schmidt spacing out in guitar swirls, but she also took the time to add to the effects wash with her bass. I was really, really glad to see them.

What songs they played, I don’t know. They jammed like mad and had a recorder set up at the front of the stage, so hopefully audio or video surfaces at some point. Truth be told, they were the one band I really regretted not seeing at last year’s Roadburn, so watching them tonight was an absolute must, and though former Emperor frontman Ihsahn was on the Main Stage backed by progressive rockers Leprous, I couldn’t have felt better about being where I was. Nothing left to do then but slowly peel myself away from Roadburn 2013 as the thought of that train and what time I’m actually going to get to sleep tonight started to gnaw at me. I’d hoped to see fest promoter Walter and tell him thank you for another fantastic year, but no such luck. I tossed my earplugs in the trash, and bid farewell to the 013 for another year, when hopefully I’ll be back to have my brain melted all over again.

Many people to thank before I sign off from Tilburg and make my way to London tomorrow, but I’m going to save it for now and do a big thanks at the end of the trip next weekend. There’s still another week to go before I head back to Jersey — I cannot even begin to tell you about the plate of pasta I’m going to have upon my arrival there — and plenty more to come in the meantime, so please, stay tuned.

Thanks to all for reading. More pics after the jump.

Read more »

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ROADBURN 2013 Day Three: Dead Roots Stirring

Posted in Features on April 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.21.13 — 00.25 — Sunday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

Before Black Magician went on at Het Patronaat to start off day three of Roadburn 2013 and the final day of the fest proper (the ceremonial Afterburner is tomorrow with two stages instead of four-plus), there was a showing of Costin Chioreanu‘s animated short film, Outside the Great Circle, which made its premiere earlier this weekend. The Romanian guitarist has played with a ton of bands and did the soundtrack for the film as well with help from Attila Csihar, whose vocals were immediately recognizable, and a host of others. Pretty heavy on the visual metaphors and there were a couple points where the digital animation style seemed awkward, but apparently it was Chioreanu‘s first time out as an animator, so I’m not about to rip on the effort.

If nothing else, it made the wait for Black Magician significantly less grueling than the one for Dread Sovereign was yesterday, though sleeping later also eased some of that burden. In any case, I was there in plenty of time to catch Black Magician‘s set, which followed in post-Cathedral suit with some of what Witchsorrow got up to last evening and had me once again thinking about what it is that makes British doom British and American doom American. One of these days I’m going to sit down with a piece of posterboard and a list of bands — Trouble and Death Row here, Cathedral and Pagan Altar there — and get it figured out. In any case, the Liverpudlian fivesome belted out weighted riffs and trudging nod, earning the support of both the UK contingent in the crowd, which was sizable, and the rest.

Their 2012 debut, Nature is the Devil’s Church, which I was hoping to buy but will have to pick up next week in London, was well represented, and frontman Liam Yates underscored the classic influences while prevalent organ — Matt Ford played on the album, presumably it was also him live — complemented Kyle Nesbitt‘s guitar and offered a distinguishing factor for the band. Yates is a charismatic presence up front. As they took the stage, he announced in no uncertain terms, “We are Black Magician and we play doom metal,” in the we-are-we-play Motörhead tradition, and before a new song which he dedicated to, “all you Catholics out there,” he announced that Black Magician‘s next release would be on Svart Records, so I guess congratulations are also in order, both to the band and to Shaman Recordings in getting their name out.

No shocker, they lived up to the “We play doom metal” promise, and though Nesbitt seemed less comfortable in the extended solo that started their final song, the extended “Chattox” that also closes the record, than he did while riffing out, they still came out of that long intro and crashed into the slowly unfolding verse unscathed. Over at the Main Stage of the 013, French post-black metal trailblazers Alcest were getting ready to go on. Fronted by 2013 artist-in-residence Neige, they also played in 2011 (review here), and put up a much, much better performance than I recall the last one being. Part of it has to be the fact that their 2012 third full-length, Les Voyages de l’Âme (review here), was superb — I mean that — and gave Neige a little more space to change things up, adding screams on “Là Où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles” while also generally sounding like a stronger singer as well.

Backing him was the same second guitarist/vocalist who had been with Les Discrets alongside Fursy Teyssier while Neige played bass, and here as with the other act, he also added a lot to the lush melodies. Drummer Winterhalter set up on the side of the stage and had a laptop open for the synth parts and other ambient whathaveyous — it was, I believe, the first laptop I’ve seen all weekend — and it was put to good use on “Beings of Light” from Les Voyages and its memorable bookends, opener “Autre Temps” and closer “Summer’s Glory.” Perhaps most impressive of all, Alcest managed both to capture the serene melodic wash of their studio output and still give an engaging live show, striking a difficult balance and providing a sound follow-up/answer-back to Les Discrets‘ set at Het Patronaat. They were an unexpected highlight of the day.

While they played, Camera were getting ready to go on over in the Green Room. I only watched a couple minutes through the door, and though they had a laptop, they put it to much different use, setting a space-jammy tone and fleshing it out via personal computing. I’d get my fix of cosmic improv later with The Cosmic Dead and Endless Boogie, so I jive-turkeyed my way into Stage01 for the first time of the whole fest, managing to get in just after Raketkanon finished in order to see Texas fuzzers Wo Fat. Of everything that Roadburn 2013 has had to offer over the last three days, the balls-out stoner rock contingent has been relatively quiet (though I hear good things about Candybar Planet) in favor of doom, heavy psych, black metal and that specific kind of “other” that has become Roadburn‘s bread and butter these last few years, so I knew there was going to be a good crowd for Wo Fat, who rose to the challenge and dug right into the dirt with the title-track of last year’s excellent fourth album, The Black Code (review here), well representing their home state, American heavy rock, and well-spirited riffage. I can’t speak for everyone, but for my tired ass, they were an existential tonic. A pick-me-up like the espresso I’d soon grab from the machine in the merch area.

The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter didn’t exactly shy away from jamming on The Black Code, and their set followed a similar ethic, Stump taking extended solos while Wilson absolutely nailed the grooves underlying and Walter held all the pieces together. They were glad to be there, everyone seemed to be glad they were there — it was awesome. I immediately had “The Black Code” stuck in my head and figured that if I had to spend the rest of the night with that groove on mental jukebox perma-repeat, I had no problem with that. “Descent into the Maelstrom” from 2011′s Noche del Chupacabra was preceded by “Hurt at Gone,” which featured a few highlight leads, and they rounded out with the last two tracks from the latest LP, “The Shard of Leng” and “Sleep of the Black Lotus,” which meant they played the whole record, just not in order, plus “Descent into the Maelstrom” and “Enter the Riffian,” from 2009′s Psychedelonaut. This being their first European tour, and first real tour in general unless they went to Japan without telling anybody, I wouldn’t be surprised if they come out of it a much tighter, different band than they came into it. Clearly they were relishing every second of the Roadburn experience.

And while I watched them, so was I. I felt refreshed on my way to see Victor Griffin’s In~Graved in the Green Room, making sure to get there in plenty of time to get up front. Griffin, of course, is American doom nobility as much as anyone can be, with a pedigree that traces back through Place of Skulls to Pentagram to Death Row, but as he’s joined in In~Graved by bassist Guy Pinhas (Goatsnake, The Obsessed, etc.), keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson (former Trouble drummer) and drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell (Sixty Watt Shaman and Place of Skulls, among others), it’s something of a supergroup. Their recently-released self-titled debut (review here) for sure is Griffin doing what he does best, singing and playing guitar with his unmistakable tone and professing his faith in song. He was in his element at Roadburn 2013, and said it was good to be back. I saw him here in 2010 with Death Row reunion and again in 2011 with Pentagram, and he’s got his thing and it works well for him. He led In~Graved in such a manner as to be fitting of having his name in front.

“Digital Critic,” which also started the record, opened. My issues with the subject matter notwithstanding (because if anyone needs a good shitting on, it’s bloggers; actually, if the song was about poor syntax and needless hyperbole, I’d be down with it), they were tight, and “What If” followed, immediately establishing the dynamic of the band, with Olson‘s keys playing a major role in enriching the melodies and underscoring the grooves of Griffin‘s riffs. It seemed to me that’s where the real potential for In~Graved lies. Here Victor Griffin has this awesome band that’s out on tour. Pinhas on bass is a rhythm section unto himself, and he and Campbell were locked in from the first note, so what I’m left wondering about In~Graved is what happens next? Where do they go from here? Is it a real band or a Griffin project with a revolving door membership? Seems to me that this lineup could yield some fantastic material if they wrote together. I don’t know how feasible that is — last I heard, Pinhas lived in California, and everyone involved seems to have plenty going on besides, so scheduling could be a nightmare — but they had potential to be a real band and not just a touring lineup. We live in a universe of infinite possibility. Maybe it’ll happen, maybe they’ll do this European tour and never speak again. Who knows.

High on Fire delivered their second set of the weekend on the Main Stage. Thursday night’s headlining slot was Art of Self Defense-only, so this one replied with selections from the rest of the trio’s catalog, launching with the rush of De Vermis Mysteriis opener “Serums of Laio” and weaving a vicious blood trail through material from Surrounded by Thieves on, cuts like “Devilution,” “Frost Hammer” (Jeff Matz joining Matt Pike on vocals), “Rumors of War,” “Madness of an Architect” and “Eyes and Teeth” melding together in a career-spanning sampler that may have been missing the first album’s highlights, but in the context of the other spot still made sense. It hadn’t been that long since I had seen them do most of this material, late last year in Philly, but they never disappoint live and this was no exception. Who could complain about two High on Fire sets in one weekend? Not me, not this weekend, though I knew with Elder still to come there was much more of the day to be had, and so I took a quick break for dinner — fish, rice, salad — and to pick up some Cosmic Dead tapes from the merch area. More espresso was the right choice as well.

I sat outside Het Patronaat for a few minutes to get caught up on my notes and drink said coffee in the fresh air — actually it kind of smelled like old potatoes, but that’s still fresher than inside — but wound up going in to see a bit of UK black metal progressives A Forest of Stars, who wound up being probably the most elaborate act of the whole fest, between the double-guitars, violin, flute, keys, extra percussion, ebow, multiple vocalists, shirts and ties, and so on. It was a far cry from High on Fire, to be sure, as screamer Dan Eyre stood almost perfectly still to seethe when he had a break as the band around him continued their well-received onslaught. The people there knew who they were — Roadburn‘s a pretty hip crowd anyway — but I didn’t, so for just being something different, it was exciting even though what they were doing, black metal tinged with psych and folk influences, isn’t really where my head is at. Very atmospheric, very complex, very intense, mixing clean vocals and screams and everything else. I can’t imagine getting seven people to agree on anything, let alone be in a band, so kudos are in order.

The reason I was there, though, was for Elder, who played next. What a fucking blast. Seriously. That’s what it says in my notes: “What a fucking blast.” It’s a direct quote. Probably the best thing I can compare it to is when Black Pyramid played the Afterburner in 2011 and were given such a warm reception, but this was bigger, both in room size and in that reception itself. Similar to Goat last night, people were lined up out the door and down the alley to see Elder‘s Roadburn debut, and the crowd was cheering before they even started the first song. They waved and people cheered. It was a lot of fun to see, and as it was the 10th show on their 15-date European run with Pet the Preacher (who played earlier at another club down the way as a kind of annex to the festival), they also handed the place its collective ass. Both cuts from the Spires Burn/Release EP were included, as well as “Dead Roots Stirring” and a host of others, and for the umpteenth time in the last couple days, I felt lucky to be there. I know for a lot of people, this was the first time they’re getting to see them live, but even for the several times I have, this one was something special. I’ve got my train booked to London in time to see them in Camden Town on Monday. Fingers crossed it actually works out.

My thought was to catch Mr. Peter Hayden at Stage01, but didn’t get there in time and so missed it. Drowned my sorrows instead in a few Electric Moon CDs — there are so many! — and ran back to drop them off at the hotel before heading back to the Main Stage for Godflesh. While I’m feeling lucky, I felt lucky to see Godflesh do Streetcleaner front-to-back two years ago, so I guess I’m twice-over lucky as regards the seminal Justin Broadrick-led outfit for having now seen them do 1992′s sophomore full-length, Pure, as well. If it comes to it, I wouldn’t object if Broadrick and bassist B.C. Green wanted to go year-by-year through the whole catalog and wind up at 2001′s Hymns, but I doubt it will come to that. I had been wondering whatever became of the new record he alluded to when interviewed here for the last Jesu full-length, but nobody seemed to mind a roll through Pure — at least I didn’t hear any groans, “Oh, this again,” and so on — and from the sheer damage that material can inflict, it’s no real wonder why. Apparently one of the byproducts of being so ahead of your time is that later on your output is still vital. Go figure.

Now, I’m not going to claim to be the biggest Godflesh fan in the world. To me, they’re a band I’ve appreciated more in hindsight — hearing their records years after the fact and recognizing the parts that others have ripped off; there’s no shortage — but I don’t honestly think they would’ve worked as anything but the headliner for this final night of Roadburn. The energy and the volume they bring, Broadrick, Green and the drum machine, didn’t really leave room to be built upon. Robert Hampson, who played on Pure and the preceding 1991 Cold World EP following the dissolution of his band Loop that year and who also did a solo set on Thursday, joined them on second guitar, so that the three were spread out across the stage, Broadrick on the right, Green on the left and Hampson in the middle.

It only got louder and more pulsating from there. I made my way over to Stage01 to watch some of Mr. Peter Hayden through the open door — I had really wanted to see them — and even then, the sounds I was getting was a mixture of their heavy-as-hell psych freakout and Godflesh‘s dissatisfied industrial frustrations. Figuring that I was going to want to work my way up anyway for The Cosmic Dead‘s 23.15 start, I started through the crowd as Mr. Peter Hayden did a sort of space rocking baptism rite on the front row that involved a tinfoil-covered hand. Seemed like a great set, and it certainly ended riotous enough, but having missed them, there was no way I was letting The Cosmic Dead go unseen. I got to the front of the stage just in time to see Mr. Peter Hayden sell a DVD to the dude standing next to me for 10 Euro that I’m pretty sure was the visuals that were playing behind them and not, as I’m relatively sure this guy thought it was, a live video of what they’d just played. The day had been long for everyone.

But The Cosmic Dead were something of an arrival for me. You see, I knew this day was going to end jammy and spaced out, and so when I got up front at Stage01, it was the proverbial home stretch. My feet were sore, my back was sore, I smelled like other people’s smoke and the fish I ate for dinner, but dammit, I wanted to see the Scottish band bring their heavy space to life. I didn’t have much time, because New York’s Endless Boogie were going on the Main Stage at 23.50, but I’d get in what I could. This was fine until The Cosmic Dead made it apparent they were running on SRT (“stoner rock time”). They started closer to 23.30, which meant I had all of five minutes before I had to head out and see the last band. In my head, the voice of Lana from Archer made a “womp womp” noise, though what I saw of The Cosmic Dead was right on. The bassist set up facing away from the audience, and they were so densely fogged up from the smoke machine that one almost had to take the sound’s word for it that they were there in the first place, but they made it known that they’re in it for the jams. What little I got to see was a boon.

Earlier in the day, I was asked why I wouldn’t just go see Endless Boogie in New York. They’re from New York and I live in New Jersey, about an hour away. It makes sense. Well, the thing is some of the shows they play in New York are terrible, and I get bummed out at terrible shows. If you’re ever going to see a band live, no matter who they are or what they do, in my experience, there’s no better place to see them than at Roadburn. I’ve seen some awesome shit in my day, and when it came to me and Endless Boogie, I knew that if I was gonna run into their low-end moody improv, this was how I wanted it to happen. Asphyx were playing at Het Patronaat, but I didn’t care. I watched guitarist/vocalist Paul “Top Dollar” Major preach impromptu about whatever the hell he felt like while Endless Boogie smoothed their way into an all-flavor/no-filler groove that I think was loosely based on one of the cuts from this year’s Long Island (review here) but ultimately headed somewhere else.

The same could be said for me. I’d stayed later than the last two nights to at least get a glimpse of The Cosmic Dead and Endless Boogie, but with this ahead of me, I knew my time was limited and that I needed to get back to the hotel and start with the clacky-clacky. Tomorrow is the Afterburner — like Roadburn‘s (relatively) laid back way of transitioning its audience back into real life. There’s always a cool vibe throughout the day and from Sigh and Nihil to Golden Void and Electric Moon, I’m sure tomorrow will be no exception. First though, sleep. I lost track this morning of what day it actually was and started doing work that needed to be in by Monday — and post time after sorting through the 80 pics with this post is 06.30; I have not slept — so maybe I’m a little frayed, but nothing I’ve thus far encountered has made me regret any of this.

Thanks all for reading. More pics after the jump.

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ROADBURN 2013 Day Two: Born a Wicked Man

Posted in Features on April 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.20.13 — 00.52 — Saturday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

I was early to Het Patronaat for the start of day two of Roadburn 2013. Stupid early, as the kids might say. Dread Sovereign – the new and doomly trio from Primordial vocalist Alan Averill and drummer Simon O’Laoghaire, also with Bones on guitar — were going on until 14.00, and I rolled up to the old church roughly an hour before. It was in time to catch their soundcheck, as it happens, which I watched from the door into the upstairs of the venue as a prelude to their actual set, which followed a much-needed cup of coffee. I had thought of bringing a book to read and ultimately decided against it. Can’t say it was the right choice, but there you go.

Averill handles bass in Dread Sovereign as well, and dialing his stage makeup back to some eyeliner but keeping the hood — Bones had one as well — his stage presence was a far cry from what it had been the night before, less interaction with the crowd, less rousing to fit with the music, which in turn was less rousing. There’s a 12″ they’re selling here, limited, whathaveyou, that I’ve had my eye on for two days now, and watching Dread Sovereign live did nothing to dissuade a purchase. Bones was a ripper on guitar, thrashing out like the kids do while he tossed off lively solos to counteract the songs’ marked plod. For his part, Averill‘s vocal style was roughly the same as in Primordial — after a point, you’re going to sing how you’re going to sing, no matter the context — but he had room to breathe between lines for the slower tempos.

Less adrenaline all around, then, but that was to be expected, and there were still a couple flashes of more uptempo groove to be had. “Pray to the Devil in Man” may have beat out its anti-Christian miseries, but “13 Clergy to the Fire” had some swing to it, with a chorus pattern distinctly in Averill‘s sphere that was immediately memorable. Solid beginning as it was, though, even Dread Sovereign‘s fastest stretch was little indicator of what German retro rockers Kadavar had on offer, playing songs from their two albums, 2012′s self-titled debut and the brand new Abra Kadavar (review here). I think for lack of material, as they’re a pretty recent band, Dread Sovereign ended their 45-minute set early, so there was a break in between, but as soon as Kadavar started checking their sound, it was clear things were about to take a turn in a much different direction.

One thing about the German three-piece: They’ve got the look down. Also the sound. Between two songs early into their set, someone in back shouted out, “Hair metal!” and received a couple boos. I can see the point of the critique, that Kadavar are so much leading with their aesthetic, the vintage production, the shirts, necklaces, beards, the bellbottoms and so on, and I guess if they sucked, it would be an issue, but they clearly take it seriously, and they’d more or less melted Het Patronaat by the time they were through their third song. Wolf Lindemann‘s vocals were spot on, and Tiger (drums) was responsible for a good bit of the energy they exuded from the stage. Say what you want about their haircuts, a drummer who can headbang like that to his own rhythms is something special to watch. They had a fill-in bassist, but once they got going, there was really no stopping their momentum.

The drums were set up toward the front of the stage, off the riser, so I don’t know how it looked from the back, but from where I was, people ate up “All Our Thoughts,” “Doomsday Machine” and Abra Kadavar opener “Come Back Life,” and rightfully so. In their tones, in Lindemann‘s vocals, in Tiger‘s riotous playing, Kadavar delivered an early highlight to the day and rounded out with a massive jam, bringing up DJ/filmmaker/psychedelic manipulator/etc. Shazzula Vultura – who was also showing a movie in Stage01 at 013 today — to add swirl via a Theremin run through a Moogerfooger. Shit got real wild real quick, and it was a stretch that brought to mind the later moments of Abra Kadavar. True to the record, they held it together live as well and crashed to a finish as crisply and vibrantly as they’d started, having played their full hour.

At that point, I’d been standing in the same spot at the front of the stage for about two full hours, but I knew I didn’t want to move until I got to watch at least part of Witch Mountain, who were playing Europe for the first time and on the road for four weeks with Cough, who played later tonight. It was another abrupt change in vibe, but neither did Witch Mountain disappoint. The abundance of talent in that band is nigh on ridiculous, and between drummer Nate Carson‘s work with Nanotear Booking (he’s giving a master class tomorrow on touring the US, which he knows both ends of, having done it a few times himself at this point as well as sending others on their way), guitarist Rob Wrong‘s history of reviewing albums for StonerRock.com and penchant for counteracting lumbering riffs with shredding solos, vocalist Uta Plotkin‘s intense range as she varies from growls to soaring, clean high notes (while actually hitting them; I don’t know if she’s a trained singer, but she certainly sounds like one) and bassist Neal Munson‘s tonal heft and nod-out rhythms, it’s hard not to root for them both here and in general.

“The Ballad of Lanky Rae” and “Beekeeper” from last year’s Cauldron of the Wild (review here) and the extended build of “Aurelia” were welcome, and as they seemed really glad to be playing, there resulted the kind of wholesome atmosphere that emerges when doom gathers to celebrate itself. I dug it, which was doubly fortunate because watching Kadavar and Witch Mountain meant missing out on Dream Death. There was some strategy involved in this, as staying at Het Patronaat instead of going over to the 013 Main Stage for Dream Death freed up scheduling conflicts to come and I’ll be able to catch Dream Death in June at Days of the Doomed III in Wisconsin — most assuredly about as “in their element” as they’re going to get. So I felt bad for missing out on Dream Death, but will make up for it later. Every Roadburn brings hard choices, and every attendee has to carve out his or her own path through the crowded lineup. You know, like life.

Already at Het Patronaat the temperatures were reaching unseasonable highs. Witch Mountain had started early on account of this, and it was largely the thermostat that had me split partway through their set — still fun to start today with two full sets, as opposed to yesterday with all the running around early on — to head across the alleyway to the 013 and check out the “The Electric Acid Orgy” curated lineup by Electric Wizard guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn. The Wizard‘s own set was still a ways off, but as I walked in, the Green Room was just starting to fill up for upstart doomers Witchsorrow, who soon came on with their peculiarly British kind of traditional crushing riffage. At some point I’m going to have to sit down and really hammer out the differences between British trad doom and American trad doom and see what I can come up with, but watching Witchsorrow after Witch Mountain underscored how wide the margin between two doom acts can be, however similarly witchy their names might wind up.

They too seemed glad to have been asked to play — who wouldn’t be? — and the Green Room did indeed pack out for them, guitarist/vocalist Nick Ruskell craning his neck upwards to a high microphone as though to invoke Lemmy’s occult powers and further drive the band’s Cathedral-inspired take into wretched oblivion. And so on. Ruskell, bassist Emily Witch and drummer David Wilbrahammer also had a limited-edition cassette for sale over in the merch area to mark the occasion of playing Roadburn 2013, but I didn’t see it over there when I went today to pick up the new Toner Low CD from the Exile on Mainstream table (one of these years, I’ll introduce myself to Andreas from the label, but frankly, people with taste in music that good intimidate me) and must have missed my shot at one. Too bad, but I’m glad I got to catch them for a bit before I headed into the Main Stage area for the start of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.

It was plain even before they played one note that Uncle Acid were a major draw for the day, and in the five Roadburns that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend, I can think of very few times that room has been that crowded. Sleep last year, Saint Vitus in ’09, and oh yeah, Electric Wizard later in the evening. Usually there’s somewhere to go in the Main Stage area, whether it’s up front in a corner on the floor, or up in back on one of the raised steps, or even up on the balcony, but not for Uncle Acid. There was just no corner that didn’t have someone already there. I knew that a lot of people were looking forward to seeing them play, and so was I, but I suppose I hadn’t realized how that would translate to the actual numbers. They had their work cut out for them in living up to expectation.

But that, they didn’t fail. Opening with “I’ll Cut You Down” from their landmark 2011 sophomore outing, Blood Lust, they had the place immediately in their grip, the song’s psychotic verse swing and chorus hook delivered by both of the UK four-piece’s guitarists, Uncle Acid himself front and center, with backing in the chorus and here and there throughout from the bassist. People watched from out the side door as “I’ll Cut You Down” led to “Mt. Abraxas” from their third album, Mind Control (review here), the stomp in the finish winning favor readily even though the record is still pretty recent, as is, I’m told, the drummer. “Valley of the Dolls” provided a slowdown and “Death’s Door” was a highlight, the band playing mostly in the dark but for a few flashes here and there. I guess as regards the light show, I expected Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to come bathed in psychedelic purples, oranges and pinks the whole time — they were for flashes in the beginning — but they did just as well in hair-down-lights-down blue and there was little I could’ve reasonably asked for that they didn’t deliver. My one per year, I stood on the side of the stage to watch for a few minutes. Not too long, but long enough.

From there, I popped out to grab a quick bite to eat — roasted chicken, potatoes au gratin and a couple piece of fried fish; I’ve always been a cheap date — and figured I’d get a spot for Moss in the Green Room after. No such luck. By the time I got there, not only was the room itself full, but the space in the hallway outside where one would be able to see the band through the open doorway was also full. My loss, this Moss. They also had some tapes for sale. I should’ve bought everything. Didn’t. Hazards of doing a Roadburn sober, it seems. Back to Het Patronaat, then, my mind still reeling from the Uncle Acid set, to catch the start of French post-black metallers Les Discrets. Roadburn 2013 artist-in-residence, Neige of Alcest, played bass alongside guitarist, vocalist, visual artist and principle songwriter Fursy Teyssier and in comparison to Les Discrets‘ albums, of which I’ll make no bones about saying I’m a fan, the live incarnation was much heavier. This could just as easily be a byproduct of the house P.A., or of Neige‘s bass along with Teyssier and the second guitar, but it added to the dynamism of the band’s already dynamic material.

Also, but for Witch Mountain‘s Plotkin, Les Discrets also had the best vocals I’ve heard so far into the fest, Teyssier harmonizing with his fellow six-stringer and resting just under the lush wash of melody in the guitar and bass. It was gorgeous. Painfully so. I thought the mix on last year’s Ariettes Oubliées (review here) was stronger than that of their 2010 debut, Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées (semi-review here), but even the heaviest moments on record didn’t really prepare me for seeing them live, and while they may share a lot in terms of style with Alcest, it was never quite so apparent as it was watching them how different the two acts actually are and just how much of himself Teyssier puts into his work. I was really, really glad I got to see them, which as usual was becoming kind of a theme for the fest as a whole.

By the time they were really dug in, I could feel the day starting to wear on me, so I came back to the hotel for a few minutes to regroup, take my shoes off, drink a bottle of water, etc., so that when I got back to the 013 for Electric Wizard, I was good and ready. There was some hubbub about the band saying they didn’t want any photographers or something, an email sent to some people apparently, but there was still a decent population in the photo pit by the time the headliners started. I don’t know and I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway at this point, though I was worried Jus Oborn would stop the set and tell everyone to get the fuck out for breaking the rules. I tried to ask him while he was setting up his gear, but if he heard me, there was no indication.

Once more, Oborn had curated the day, so it was only fitting that Electric Wizard should headline — it would be fitting anyway, honestly — and the chance to see them for the first time was a considerable percentage slice for why I came. They toured the States over a decade ago (speaking of hubbubs, I seem to recall something about the Oborn‘s pants? I don’t know), but I didn’t see them then, so they were a must and a major cross-off for my must-see-before-I-die-in-a-fiery-plane-crash list. Yes, I have one, and it’s shorter by one band following Electric Wizard‘s set, which they launched with “Come My Fanatics,” Oborn stepping right into the cult leader role that he more or less legitimately is now, considering how many bands have followed in his drugged-out horrordelic footsteps. Joined by guitarist Liz Buckingham, returned drummer Mark Greening, who came back to the band following the dissolution of Ramesses, and bassist Glenn Charman, Oborn led the way through “Witchcult Today,” “Black Mass,” “Drugula,” “Legalise Drugs and Murder” as the packed crowd willingly went into something like a simultaneous nod trance, chanting lyrics back as screams entered the fray with extended verses and endings for the songs. I stood by the far-left side of the stage and watched riff after pot-addled riff met corresponding clouds of smoke in the crammed-in audience. I didn’t, but if you were ever gonna, this would’ve been the time.

I managed to get back to the other side of the stage by something I’ll just call “Roadburn magic” and ran by the Green Room to watch a few minutes of Finnish weirdo acid rockers Seremonia. Perhaps because everyone was either in the Main Stage space or over at Het Patronaat anticipating the arrival of Goat, the Green Room wasn’t overly crowded and I was able to walk right in. Kind of a bummer spot for Seremonia to have, competing with stoner legends and fascinating newcomers at once, but at least they were here. They just have one record out and from what I saw, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if they made another appearance down the line sometime. Their self-titled debut (track stream here) is better than people seem to have caught on to yet, perhaps intimidated by the many syllables of the Finnish lyrics. Couldn’t say for sure.

And though I wanted to stay and bask in the sort of folksy traditionalism of Seremonia, Goat beckoned. The Swedish outfit will apparently release a new 7″ on Sub Pop in the US in June, so somebody’s taken note following the critical tornado of fuckyessery that surrounded their 2012 World Music debut. Fine. I’m still not sure I’m really down with Goat. Maybe this is an all-too-American perspective, but you’ve got a bunch of people in masks running around playing psychedelic Afrobeat flailing arms and shouting whooping chants, I guess my big question as regards the band is what part of it isn’t minstrelsy. Obviously Sweden doesn’t have the history of troubled race relations that the US does, and I’ll be straight, I liked the record for what it was musically, it’s the theory behind it that has so far left me scratching my head.

Nonetheless, I ended the day same as I started it — standing in the doorway of Het Patronaat — only this time it was because the room was so full that there was nowhere else for me to go. The line to get in to see Goat stretched out the door and down the alley, and security was letting people in as others came out, so clearly the band was a major lure. Again, they’re good at what they do — I’m not saying they’re not — it’s all the other stuff besides the music I’m talking about. That said, judging by the smiles on the faces of those around me and the expectant/impatient looks of those waiting on line outside (far more wanting to go in than coming out), they probably made quite a few peoples’ day.

Late-night Tilburg echoes with the throb of the dance club across from the Mercure and drunken aus uur blijfts on the street below my open window. It’s just past four in the morning as I finish this post and if last night is anything to go by, it’ll be another two hours sorting photos [actually it was only an hour and a half!]. So be it. Roadburn 2013 day three kicks off tomorrow at 14.30 and I’ll be there.

Thanks (again) for reading. More pics after the jump.

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Euroventure Pt. 6: Let Me Swim in Your Ocean, Honey

Posted in Features on April 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.19.13 — 12.13 — Friday — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

Finally fell asleep sometime after six this morning, thinking to myself that downstairs, they’d just be putting out the breakfast and I could just as easily go down, bring a sandwich back to the room and stick it in the fridge for later. That would’ve been economical, but the thought of moving was more than my brain could handle at that point. Pretty much limited to farting and being frustrated at still being conscious.

My alarm was set for 11.00, so it was still just a  little less than five hours, which is enough I guess. My right eye was all red when I woke up and I wondered if some bastard hadn’t given me conjunctivitis,  but no, just exhausted and hotel-room dry. Need to remember to hydrate, especially as there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to stop and eat along the way. I put 10 Euro into one of the machines at the 013 last night and got myself some munten – the tokens used to buy drinks at the venue — and was fully ready to spend all of it on water, but the bartender just gave me a cup. People here are wonderful.

It’s gloomy and rainy enough out to make me think Electric Wizard brought the weather with them from the UK, but spirits are high all the same going into this afternoon. Today is pretty full-on, but I’m ready for it.

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ROADBURN 2013 Day One: Shore to Cursed Shore

Posted in Features on April 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.19.13 — 00.17 — Friday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

I was early to the Green Room, which is the middle-sized space at the 013. The first band on for Roadburn 2013 would be Black Bombaim, and if you’ve been here before, you know the crowds are serious and that if you’re not careful, you can wind up watching an act through an open doorway — which also happened to me more than once throughout the course of the evening. Plenty on time to see Black Bombaim, though, and no regrets for taking the head-first dive into jamming European heavy psychedelia, instrumental meandering to the cosmos. Man, all of a sudden it was a hell of an afternoon.

They were, as was somewhat expected, blissed right out, all-natural, all-jam, immediate swirl. The day had other starts on other stages, but for me, this was what it was about. I was stocked to watch them after digging last year’s Titans and 2010′s Saturdays and Space Travels (review here), and Tojo‘s bass tone served as an immediate reminder of why I can’t get enough of this kind of thing. Warm, grooving and perfectly suited to the band’s extended wandering progressions, I couldn’t have asked for more than I got as a way to kick off this year’s Roadburn. Watching guitarist Ricardo signal changes to drummer Senra, the whole thing had a very organic, very spontaneous vibe, and that’s just what you want. The first song was a little rough, but after that, they settled into a solid groove and stayed there.

Today was a fair amount of running around — less than some, more than others. Pallbearer were on the Main Stage shortly, and after the heavy dose of salivating they got in the US last time I saw them in New York with Enslaved (whose own Grutle Kjellson was kicking around here at some point today, seemingly just to hang out and why not?), I was curious to see how the Euro crowd would respond. Answer: Much the same. I knew what to expect in terms of performance, as it wasn’t that long since I last saw the band, but they still didn’t disappoint, and thinking about it in hindsight after seeing them on this stage, which is sizable to say the least, they were cramped at Bowery Ballroom. Tonally and in terms of presence, they more than held their own as a main stage act, which for only having one record out is all the more exciting.

Most of what they played I recognized from that record, early 2012′s Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and seeing them again, it was easier to get a sense of the four-piece’s live dynamic, Brett Campbell holding down the drama on guitar and vocals while bassist Joseph D. Rowland and guitarist Devin Holt bang their heads like they’re trying to get them to come off on the other side of the stage, and behind, drummer Mark Lierly steadily holding songs together and adapting fluidly to what would otherwise be stark tempo changes. The contrast of Rowland and Holt to Campbell is striking, but it makes Pallbearer a richer experience to watch. They’ve certainly had no shortage of hype around them since cropping up, but whatever else you might say about them and however loudly or emphatically you might say it, they’re well on their way to becoming a really great live act. Hopefully they continue to tour and carve out their sound and chemistry on the road.

Now, at every Roadburn, you’re going to see some things that you’ve never seen before and you’ll probably never see again. And even the stuff you have seen before — like tonight’s headliners, Primordial, for example, who came though NYC years back on the first Paganfest — is special here. Bands play better, play different material, and for an American coming over, it’s a chance to see European acts who probably aren’t going to be touring the States anytime soon. I say this so you understand why I left Pallbearer to go back and watch more of Black Bombaim. Since there’s so much going on at every fest, sometimes you have to make hard choices, and I almost always try to lean toward that which I’m less likely to run into later on or that which I’ve never seen before.

However, the Green Room was full to capacity and then some, so I wound up standing in the hallway in a cluster of people to watch for a couple minutes and then hit up the merch area across the way. I’d figured on picking up some discs and was pleased to find a host of Nasoni stuff again at the Exile on Mainstream table, including Johnson Noise and Vibravoid, as well as Burning World Records discs from The Angelic Process and Slomatics. Later on, I’d roll back through and grab more CDs from Svart and finally get a copy of The Midnight Ghost Train‘s Buffalo (review here) on CD. It wasn’t long though before I had to be back at the Main Stage for the start of Penance. Vocalist Lee Smith prefaced their set by saying it was the first time they’d played together since 1993, which math tells me was 20 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Butch Balich-era Penance a lot. I thought Spiritualnatural was a killer record and Proving Ground still kicks my ass on occasion, but 1994′s Parallel Corners, with the lineup of Smith on vocals, guitarist Terry Weston, bassist Rich Freund and drummer Mike Smail has to be their high-point. The Pittsburgh natives resided at exactly the juncture where doom becomes metal, and with a riffy looseness and ultra-straightforward Sabbath-loving ethic, cuts like “Crosses” and “Words Not Deeds” brought out more than a fair share of righteous grooves. Both of those were standouts of their set — “Crosses” I took as a personal favor though I’m sure it wasn’t one — though long breaks between songs and surprisingly quiet banter from Smith seemed to undercut the momentum their riffs were building when they were actually playing, so it was hard for them to get on a roll.

No-frills trad doom, Penance nonetheless got their point across in beefy riffs utterly lacking in pretense. I checked in on Blues Pills in the Green Room from the hallway, and they seemed to be holding it down with no trouble, so I wandered back into the Main Stage area in time to catch “Words Not Deeds” round out the Penance set. From there, it was back to the Green Room to catch Pilgrim, who started early following a guitar and bass classic rocking-type jam during the setup that I’d be interested to hear them take elements from for their next album, which reportedly is in the works. They played new material and cuts from 2012′s Misery Wizard debut like the immediately recognizable lumber of opener “Astaroth,” and not at all surprisingly, had the Green Room packed out the door. I don’t know if the Rhode Island trio are friends with the dudes in Pallbearer or what, but that’s a tour that should probably happen at some point. I’ve seen Pilgrim four times now since they put out that album, and they’ve only gotten stronger as a live act.

Though, to be fair, they did seem a little amped up at the start of their set, but the muscle memory kicked in before they were through the first song — you could actually see it — and they were locked in thereafter. I took pictures and then started to make my way through the crowd to watch from the back, and before I knew it, had kind of a, “Well shit, now what?” moment when the only place to be was outside the room. The answer to that question was “dinner.” I started to head out and get something to eat on the quick when I saw Gravetemple were just getting ready to hit the Main Stage for their start. With a lineup of a pedigree like that of Stephen O’Malley, Oren Ambarchi and Attila Csihar, popping my head in seemed like the least I could do on my way by. Csihar stood in front of a table of who knows what kind of manipulation devices, while O’Malley and Ambarchi came in soon enough on drone guitar. It was super-artsy in that particularly O’Malley kind of way, a different take on some of SunnO)))‘s atmospheres with Csihar‘s vocals providing a distinguishing element along the way. I dug it, but time was a factor, so I moved on to get a bite to eat.

Wound up with some salad, fish and plain pasta which I mixed in with the greens and the dill dressing. It was the first thing I’ve really eaten since I got on the plane that wasn’t a protein bar, and — here’s something that’s not at all shocking — I felt much better afterwards. My brain was like, “Dude, you’re the worst at life. You probably should’ve had a meal yesterday, jerk,” and I tried to argue back but there’s really no talking to that guy, so whatever. The salad was glorious in context for being just an ordinary salad, and though I got a piece of clam stuck in my tooth, the mixed fish was most welcome too. Nothing like actual protein drawing a direct comparison to the would be substitutes for it. By the time I was done, I felt like someone had just given me a piece of particleboard with macaroni glued onto it in the shape of the cover to Volume 4, and by that I mean ready to take on the world. This was fortunate, because High on Fire were getting ready to go on the Main Stage and play The Art of Self Defense front to back.

Or maybe they weren’t getting ready. They kind of took their time coming out from the back, but with a backdrop behind them modified from the album’s original cover from its 2000 release on Man’s Ruin, High on Fire stormed — what else would they do, really? — through the riffy sludge of their first record in a manner befitting its grooving bombast. “10,000 Years” and “Blood from Zion” still feature in their set on the regular (they were aired when I saw the band in Philly late last year), but to get a song like “Fireface” out and have bassist Jeff Matz start off its viscous slog, it was a treat the three-piece seemed to enjoy as well, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike cutting smiles every now and again between solos and the galloping riffs that started it all for the band. Tucked away in the back, drummer Des Kensel punctuated the stomp of “Last” and “Master of Fists” made for a suitably riotous finish, deconstructing at the end to leads and noise.

But they weren’t done. The bonus tracks from the 2001 Tee Pee Records reissue were also included, including the punkish rush of “Steel Shoe” and the Celtic Frost cover “The Usurper,” which Pike called the encore before they started. The room was the most packed out I’d see it the whole day, and it was the first complete set I watched. Elsewhere, other bands were playing, other special gigs taking place, but how could I not watch High on Fire do The Art of Self Defense? In reception, the crowd was unanimous in fervent approval — heads banged, fists pumped, madmen shouted along to Pike‘s long-heralded battle cries — and particularly as the last High on Fire studio outing, De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) was so crisp and tight, it was striking to hear them take on the earlier material. Almost like they were letting their hair down a bit, though as anyone who heard that record can tell you, they’ve hardly lost their edge in the decade-plus since the first record came out.

Rounding out with “The Usurper,” High on Fire still finished early, a good 15 minutes before their scheduled end. I guess there’s only so much album to play. Fair enough. I took notes in my fancypants license place notebook and went back to the merch to pick up some more of the aforementioned odds and ends, and then headed back to the big room in plenty of time for the start of Primordial, who if nothing else were the most thoroughly fronted act I’ve seen so far. The Irish double-guitar five-piece were helmed by vocalist Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill, who came out with a bottle of Jameson and a bottle of wine and was through the better part of both by the time their 90 minutes were done, and from his stage makeup — that’s not to say corpsepaint, because it wasn’t really corpsepaint — and costuming to his intense on-stage persona, Averill positively owned the 013. I saw Primordial years back when they came through New York on the PaganFest tour (it was a lot of glockenspiels to get to a Primordial set, but worth it), so I knew just how much of a factor the performance element was, but like many before him, the singer stepped up his game to match the occasion, and in a space so large, it was an impressive feat of showmanship.

He also noted more than once from the stage that it was the band’s first time playing Roadburn, and made it clear he felt they were overdue in this — provocateur, I suppose, could be part of the role, but either way — and I wondered if perhaps he was putting in a bid for curator next year. That would assure Pilgrim a return slot (Averill released Pilgrim‘s Misery Wizard via his Poison Tongue imprint through Metal Blade Records), and I wouldn’t mind seeing them take on 2007′s To the Nameless Dead in its entirety, were it in the offing. His other band, the nascent and doomier Dread Sovereign, also play tomorrow, so there’s room to work with, I guess. In the meantime, this set touched on To the Nameless Dead and several others in Primordial‘s seven-album discography, beginning with “No Grave Deep Enough” from 2011′s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (review here) and spanning genres as much as full-lengths, running from post-black metal to Celtic-inspired progressions and keeping at times a doomly edge, particularly on newer material like “The Mouth of Judas” or “Cities Carved in Stone,” which closed 2005′s The Gathering Wilderness.

That LP’s title-track and “The Coffin Ships” also featured, the latter penultimate to To the Nameless Dead opener “Empire Falls,” with which they closed. In introducing “The Coffin Ships,” Averill mentioned it was about the Irish famine in the 1800s, and said they were bringing a bit of their history and culture to the here and now. By all accounts I’ve seen, he does seem to think of Primordial‘s music as a sort of ambassadorship — they were very much representing the Republic of Ireland on stage — and though I wondered if maybe there was anyone in the audience who hadn’t already heard of the famine, the song left little to want. Averill had slowed some by then, less foot on the monitor, less back and forth from one end of the stage to the other, tossing around the mic stand, calling everyone present including the band lazy cunts, and so on, but revived with “Empire Falls,” letting adrenaline carry him through the end of the set as he got on his knees and shouted the chorus at the somewhat-dwindled but still strong crowd, who were only too glad to return the favor.

So the headliners were done, but the night still had its closing acts to go. Averill had plugged fellow Irishmen Mourning Beloveth‘s set at Het Patronaat a couple times, and former Hawkwind/Meads of Asphodel bassist Alan Davey was doing Space Ritual in full on the Main Stage, but what I really wanted to see was The Midnight Ghost Train, who were playing at Stage01, formerly known as the Bat Cave, the smallest of the three rooms at the 013. It was full by the time I walked over, and I probably could’ve stood there and gotten bumped into again, and again, and again, but after 16 or 17 times, I started to get claustrophobic and had to get out. Much to my surprise, the band followed not long behind me.

Guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss, drummer Brandon Burghart and yet another new bassist walked through the crowd and out of the room. From my spot in the back, I got to say hi to both, and Burghart explained they were doing a stagger-on, one member at a time. Moss had left his guitar feeding back, so there was a steady hum, and I suppose walking back through the audience (no backstage to come out from) there was something of a delay, so that went long, but once their crazed, blues-infused rock got going, the full room of people there to see them had no trouble getting on board for the wild shuffling riffs and Moss‘ throaty vocals. From Kansas to Roadburn. They’re always a lot of fun to watch, and in Tilburg was no exception.

I stayed and got bumped into a few more times and then decided to check out a couple minutes of The Psychedelic Warlords, who were just getting ready for launch at the time. Space rock, man. It sure is spacious. They pulled a good crowd as well of loyal lysergeons and Davey, along with a full lineup of keys, guitar, vocals, drums and sax, were in the process of giving Space Ritual its due. By that point, the “get back to the hotel and start writing” urge was coming on pretty strong, and I didn’t resist. Outside, people sat at the picnic tables (new this year) or ate grub from the outside food stand (also new this year and just closing as I walked by) and smoked whatever they may have felt like smoking. Needless to say, Weirdo Canyon was also abuzz.

Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham of Electric Wizard were also hanging around the 013 lobby. The band curated tomorrow’s lineup under the heading of “The Electric Acid Orgy,” which one can only imagine will leave but a modicum of survivors. Looking forward.

Extra pics after the jump and more to come tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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Euroventure Pt. 5: The Ham Hock in Your Cornflakes

Posted in Features on April 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.18.13 — 12.36 — Thursday — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

Guess who left all of his allergy medication home? This guy! Obviously this is a major oversight and will have to be dealt with on an administrative level. Lists were made and checked off. Prescriptions were filled. There may need to be a complete restructuring of the packing process, never mind a trip to the apotheek. I sniffle to think of the worldwide implications rippling out even as I sit at the desk in my room at the Hotel Mercure — the view out the window of which (above) is a familiar one.

Here’s a disclaimer for any and all future and past bitching: These Netherlands are beautiful (and in full bloom), and whatever state my sinuses wind up in over the next few days, please consider any complaints underscored by the deep-seated knowledge of just how lucky I am to be here. If I start whining about how I can’t breathe, or how I’m old, out of the loop, tired, fat, tired, tired, lonely, tired, etc., it’s important to me that you know that I know that being here is a blessing not everyone is able to enjoy for one reason or another and that I fully appreciate it and live in utter terror of not being able to do it again next year. At heart, I’m here because I want to be.

Today is the first day of Roadburn 2013 — a fest that continues to deliver an experience unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. I have my camera battery charged, more earplugs than I could possibly need if I switched out pairs in between each band, and my notebook, which I’m going to use to take handwritten notes throughout so as to look very busy and important (also to remember what actually happened during the sets) as I hustle and bustle from one room of the 013 to the next or across the street to Het Patronaat.

The day and my running order of the festival — because with a lineup so stacked, one must make difficult choices and carve out one’s own progression of bands to see — begins in the Green Room at 013, with Portuguese psych jammers Black Bombaim at 14.30. Each day of the fest starts earlier this year, so we’ll see how that works out with getting some sleep. It was unfortunate last night when I caught a second wind at about 23.00 and was up until about 5.00, even if I did manage to listen to the whole Yankees game on the computer. They won, but it remains to be seen whether or not it was by enough to make four hours of sleep worthwhile before I had to get up and once again catch the train to Tilburg from Eindhoven.

I have no doubt that over the next four days I will see some of the best performances of my life, since that’s pretty much how it goes every year, and as I sit here and basically wait for the next hour or so to go buy so I can head over, I want to say thanks in advance for reading, any and all commenting, link sharing, plugging on Thee Facebooks or Der Twitter and the rest. It’s all much appreciated and it’s the reason I’m here. Well, that and the music.

Almost time to go.

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Euroventure Pt. 1: Gotta Go Gotta Go

Posted in Features on April 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I won’t lie, turning on the “Out of Office” for my work email was the most satisfying thing I’ve done at my job in three weeks. It’s been a breaststroke through bullshit to get ready, and I’m already exhausted before I’ve even left, but I know that in an hour’s time when I leave to go to the airport, get pulled out of line as part of a “random” check and finally get on a plane headed (direct!) for Amsterdam, it will have been worth it. I’m looking forward to it the way lungs look forward to air.

Well, not the flight itself — that I’ve been looking forward to the way lungs look forward to water — but certainly what comes after. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be keeping track of what until I can think of a better name I’ll be calling the “Euroventure 2013.” Tomorrow morning, when my plane lands at Schiphol in Amsterdam, I’ll jump on a by-now familiar yellow and blue train to Eindhoven, where I’ll check in at my hotel, probably crash out for a few hours, and then hit up a record store or two in the area — I was bummed to read Bullit Records closed, but maybe I’ll jump on a train and head to Tilburg, where I know there are a few shops — in preparation for what’s to come this weekend.

Thursday starts the Roadburn Festival 2013 at the 013 venue in Tilburg. As I have the last four years, I’ll be covering that as much as possible (one can’t see everything) front to back, words and pics from the whole thing. It’s going to be a massive undertaking, but for the next several days, there’s no place better on the planet to be than there.

Monday morning, I’ll hop a train back to Schiphol, then on to London hopefully in time to catch Elder at The Black Heart. I’ll be staying in London for a few days in advance of the start of Desertfest 2013, which begins with a pre-show Thursday night featuring Greek rockers 1000mods. From there, it’s another mind-boggling weekend of heaviness brought to you in similar fashion, words, pics, complaints about sore feet, and so on.

As with every year, I hope in advance you enjoy keeping up with this trip, and I want to say and advance thanks to the Roadburn and Desertfest crews for hosting me at these festivals, and to The Patient Mrs., who I’ve no doubt will have occasion to live up to her name before the next two weeks are through. I may post some off-topic stuff along the way, news, etc., but I hope you’ll bear with me in that regard, since time will no doubt be limited.

Much appreciated.

Off we go.

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Nathan Carson to Teach Master Class on Touring the US at Roadburn 2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Imagine being the one to have to break the news to European bands how much shittier they’ll get treated if they decide to make a run of it in the States. The bold impresario taking on the task of imparting such wisdom that our nation’s humble scene is… getting better… is none other than Nathan Carson, drummer of Witch Mountain and founder of Nanotear Booking, who count YOB, Primordial, Acid King and the recently-reviewed Helen Money among many others on their client roster.

What can Carson (interview here) teach attendees at Roadburn 2013 about hitting the road both in the US and in general? Plenty, I’ve no fucking doubt — and better, he can do it not only as someone who runs a respected booking outfit, but from the perspective of someone who’s put in significant road time himself.

One not to miss, and one more way in which Roadburn continues to push the boundaries of what a fest can do. Here are details:

This year, Roadburn Festival is pleased to present master classes and performance clinics for the first time. It seems like a great opportunity to give those of you attending the festival, many of whom are in bands or enjoy playing music on your own, and some of the folks on the bill an opportunity to meet and learn from each other.

On Saturday, April 20th, Nanotear Booking‘s Nathan Carson will focus on what it takes to strategically tour in the US, and how to avoid the many pitfalls that can put tours in jeopardy (financial and otherwise). Questions from attendees will be welcomed.

Nathan Carson is a musician and booking agent from Portland, OR USA. A member of the international doom scene since the 90s, he taught himself to book DIY tours for his own band Witch Mountain, and soon after for his first official clients YOB. Nanotear Booking was founded in 2004 based on the success of those tours and Carson‘s growing network of connections, which he built first-hand on the road.

In 2013, Nanotear represents over twenty-five uncompromising artists, including Agalloch, Jarboe, Lene Lovich, Corrupted, YOB, and Witch Mountain. Riding the fine line between DIY ethics and sincere professionalism is what sets Nanotear apart from many other booking agencies. Artistic curation, fair deals, and humane practices are all a part of this successful formula.

Touring The US is available for Roadburn ticket holders (no additional fee) and will be held between 1:30 PM and 2:30 PM at the Hall of Fame in Tilburg, Holland.

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