Leaving Roadburn 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 donders posters

04.15.19 – 12.21 CET – Monday afternoon – Gate D60, Schiphol Airport

Rumor has it we board in about an hour, but the plane isn’t here yet. There’s no rush apart from the usual going-to-a-place-so-I-gotta-get-to-the-place-I’m-going mania. Flying is always a lot of hurry up and hurry up and wait. That and recycled air.

This weekend was incredible. Over the course of a given year, especially as I’ve been trying to go to more shows, every April is always a reminder of how truly special Roadburn is. Not even just the bands playing — I think I knew fewer bands on this lineup than any of the previous 10 Roadburns I’d been to — but the setting, atmosphere, the intangible vibe of creativity that’s everywhere and so joyful. No matter how dark the music gets, or how grueling the emotions involved, if it’s to be a catharsis, then there is joy in that release.

When Treedeon were on stage, their bassist was on mic between songs talking about how fucked up the world is and so on, and that playing loud is their therapy. She then thanked the crowd for coming to their therapy session. Succinctly put and likely true. I’ve had days where the only thing that seems to keep my head on straight is writing. And I’ve had days as well where even that hasn’t worked. That’s the thing about getting old. You keep accumulating days.

I call that “sports wisdom.” It’s the act of declaring something obvious with an intent toward profundity. I’m sure the Germans have a better word for it. Think how many times you’ve heard professional athletes say things like, “They can’t catch it if you don’t throw the ball,” and be treated among the great thinkers of their generation. Sports wisdom.

Before I get on this plane and go home over the course of the next I don’t even know how many hours — 12-ish? 14? whatever — I want to say thank you to Walter Hoeijmakers, Becky Laverty and the entire team at Roadburn for having me back this year. It was an honor to work on what I think was the best Weirdo Canyon Dispatch we’ve ever done, and it couldn’t have happened without Walter advocating for us, the generosity of the 013 venue’s crew and resources, and the work of Lee Edwards, Paul Verhagen, Niels Vinck, Vince Trommel, and the entire staff of writers who’ve been so fantastic to work with these last six years. Editing that ‘zine has reminded me of what all the best parts were of working professionally in print media, and in that context, without any of the drag factor that came along with them back in the real world — as opposed, of course, to Planet Roadburn — it’s hard not to miss that. The WCD is an outlet I’m humbled and so fortunate to be a part of.

I got out of the van the other day at the 013 coming in from the airport, and though I was dead tired from the flight and ready to crash immediately over at the hotel (I didn’t, but I was ready to), I still took a moment to breathe in and feel like I was, in a very special, very specific way, home. I am so lucky to feel that in this place and with these people.

Thanks to The Patient Mrs., to The Pecan, to my mother, my sister, and to everyone who has followed along on this brief but wonderful bit of adventure. I’ve scaled way, way back on travelogue stuff because I figure people care most about the music and time’s short anyway and I’d rather focus on that, but it means a tremendous amount to me that you would check in, or give a like or a share, or comment on Instagram, or whatever it might be. Thank you for your support. It is the reason any of this can happen, and I will spend the rest of my life being grateful for that.

Okay, plane’s here. Boarding in a little bit, then off to Reykjavik, change in Reykjavik, then off to Boston. Then home.

Thanks for reading. Roadburn 2020 is April 16-19 in Tilburg, the Netherlands. I hope you go, and I’ll hope to get to see you there.

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 Day Four, 04.14.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 banner day four

04.14.19 – 01.17 CET – Sunday night – Hotel

Just now, before I sat down to write this post, I went to the tap in the bathroom to refill my water bottle. You can drink the tap water here — it’s really something. Anyhow, I stick the bottle under the cold water and look down about two seconds later to see I’ve left the cap on. Water running down the side of bottle. That’s about where one’s head is at on this last day of Roadburn 2019. You ever been nostalgic about something while it’s still going on? Yeah, emotions are running high in Tilburg. Many hugs, many slaps on the back, many see-you-next-years from one denizen of this temporary planet to another. Lucy in Blue (Photo by JJ Koczan)Indeed, even strung out on caffeine and obliterated by volume, it’s difficult to say goodbye to Roadburn, always.

Still somewhat reminiscent of when it was the Afterburner, Roadburn‘s Day Four has fewer stages, but I mean, it’s still four. Five if you count the Ladybird Skatepark, which I was at twice today. So yeah, not a laid back affair. And while the shows ended earlier — Imperial Triumphant and Cave both ended at 00.30, in Patronaat and the Green Room, respectively — the day also started early, with Lucy in Blue going on in the Green Room at 14.00 presenting their new album, In Flight, in its entirety. Based in Iceland, their sound is a classically progressive kind of rock with notable use of keys and vocal harmonies to go with the kraut-ish riffing and repetitive progressions.

They were young, but had both a firm grip on their aesthetic intentions and many aspects of their performance. Maybe some kinks to work out in terms of songwriting efficiency and their onstage persona, but the elements were there in a way that you couldn’t call anything other than encouraging. They were a mellow start to the day for those not watching Have a Nice Life on the Main Stage next door, and as far as I’m concerned, that was welcome. I did pop over to check out some of the Connecticut-based unit, Supersonic Blues (Photo by JJ Koczan)but only after Lucy in Blue were well in flight and had left the ground behind. It was a palpable contrast.

Didn’t watch Daughters. I know. But, well, Supersonic Blues were added last-minute to play at the skatepark, and well, they ruled last year, so it seemed like an easy-enough pick to head up and see them again. There were more skaters than yesterday, but they cleared out so the Dutch three-piece could play. Like Lucy in Blue, Supersonic Blues are probably under 30 — unless I’m just old enough now that 30 year olds look like kids; possible — but they command a warmth of tone and a sense of appreciation for classic boogie rock that comes complemented by an easy-rolling sense of craft and a sans-pretense approach to what they’re doing. I’ll take that any, any, any day of the week. I heard they got added yesterday and was only stoked that I’d get to see them again. They’ve had two singles out but sound like they’re about ready for a first LP, or at very least an EP.

A little bit of continuity to the start of the day between Lucy in Blue and Supersonic Blues, and though that coolest of colors wouldn’t factor into the moniker of Stuck in Motion, there was plenty of blues in their sound, and a fervent ’70s stylization as well. They fit with what I was looking for, is the short version of theStuck in Motion (Photo by JJ Koczan) story, and I stood and watched from the Green Room balcony as they classic-heavied their way into the hearts and heads of the assembled, easing out sleek grooves and keyboards/organ that only added to the depth of the melody. Cool band, and I felt justified in not fighting my way to the front to take photos by how chill their sound was. As if to say, “It’s cool man, you go ahead and take this one easy. We will too.” It was a winning decision all the way around, I think.

I had gotten turned onto their 2018 self-titled debut (review here) by Walter on Facebook posting about them, so checking them out in the flesh only seemed fair. They were cool, but I felt like I owed it to myself to watch Thou close out their residency on the Main Stage. Given the set they played last night at the skatepark doing Misfits covers, somehow a straight-ahead performance seemed anticlimactic, but hell’s bells were they heavy. I mean, really. Spread out across the stage, they brought full-on volume to the kind of atmospheres they had in their almost-acoustic set the other night, something disquieting in the mood and challenging of themselves and their audience. They are a band people really like. A lot. I can’t say that I’m a Thou (Photo by JJ Koczan)huge Thou fan like the people I saw chasing down the vinyl over in the merch area, but they’re undeniably powerful on stage, whether screaming or melodic, loud or quiet, or, you know, playing Misfits tunes, as one apparently will. I know they played like 50 sets in the last four days, but how could they not be back at some point in the years to come?

That question gave me something to ponder as I plotzed up to the Ladybird Skatepark for the last time to see Bismuth, who played earlier in the fest but were given another chance to volume-pummel everything in their path. Loud? Shit. There were parts of that building vibrating that were not meant to vibrate. Bassist/vocalist Tanya Byrne won Roadburn 2019 as regards t-shirts with the selection of Khanate, and she and drummer Joe Rawlings doled out grueling nod and brutal tone with unmitigated intensity. Their 2018 album, The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier Reef (discussed here), was some manner of preparation for seeing them live in terms of the basic air-from-lungs push of low-end — also tree-trunk drumsticks — but the volume factor made it all the more of a steamroller running atop the assembled masses Bismuth (Photo by JJ Koczan)in the skatepark, that big, high-ceilinged space seeming to fill up with sound no matter where you stood. Audio as a physical presence. It was righteous.

And then, of course, Sleep played. As far as culminations go, one could hardly ask for more than Sleep returning after so dutifully handing the 013 its ass last night to play their 2018 album, The Sciences (review here), front-to-back. But here’s the thing: Sleep played last night doing Sleep’s Holy Mountain in full. It was incredible. But The Sciences was better. The material sounded fresher, the band sounded more comfortable, and I’m not sure there’s hyperbole dramatic enough for how fucking loud they were. It was incredible. I’ve been lucky enough to see Sleep a few times. My go-to for the best I ever saw them was Roadburn 2012 (review here). After tonight, I might have to change my opinion. There was a technical glitch or two along the way — Matt Pike blew out one of his several guitar heads — but he, Al Cisneros and Jason Roeder Sleep (Photo by JJ Koczan)were utterly incredible. It was the kind of set that could make you believe in the magic of Christmas. A true Santa Claus of a set. They threw in “Holy Mountain” and “Dragonaut” as well, I guess just in case anyone in the room wasn’t there the night before. I heard no complaints for the repeaters, and registered none myself. Those songs too were better the second time around.

No clue how many times I’ve made this observation, but I think Jason Roeder might be the best drummer I’ve ever watched play. Yeah, Matt Pike just won a Grammy with High on Fire, and Al Cisneros deserves a Nobel for his work in Om, but between those two titans, Roeder — who, just to mention it so you don’t think I’m undercutting his own pedigree, was well established in fucking Neurosis before he joined Sleep in place of original drummer Chris Hakius — is crucial to the band Sleep have become. It was all the more emphasized in the The Sciences material, songs like “Sonic Titan” and “Giza Butler,” which unto itself was a highlight of the entire festival. If last night was a celebration of Sleep‘s earlier glories, then tonight was confirmation of the reason they’re the most influential riffers since Black Sabbath themselves. They were a joy to behold, and the perfect ending to my own personal Roadburn 2019.

There was a line outside Het Patronaat as I was leaving after aSleep (Photo by JJ Koczan) few quick goodbyes. Imperial Triumphant would be on shortly as the last Roadburn band ever to play the venue — there’s a bit of festival trivia for you — and I heard they were doing a whole thing with masks, but honestly, how could I ever hope to improve on the night I’d just had or what I’d just seen? Sad as it was to realize, it was time to go.

So I went. Roadburn 2019 ended on a higher note than I could’ve wished for, and I walked out of the 013 and down Weirdo Canyon to get back to the hotel sweaty, smelling like smoke, tired, hungry, thirsty and sore, but still feeling 100 percent refreshed. The only tragedy is it’s another year till the next one.

Thanks for reading. I’ll close out the Roadburn coverage tomorrow assuming I have time, but first and foremost thank you for reading. You’re pretty great.

More pics after the jump.

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 Day Three, 04.13.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn 2019 banner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.14.19 – 02.15 CET – Saturday night – Hotel

It snowed today. That was a first. Hail too. I wasn’t outside for it, but unless European snow bounces, it was hail, followed by snow. 11 Roadburns later, Tilburg still holds a few surprises. And no, I don’t just mean the secret Thou set where they did the Misfits covers and Emma Ruth Rundle got in on the action, though that too.

ROADBURN 2019 WEATHERThe weather wasn’t a hardship or anything — the joke was that Sumac were so heavy they made it hail, and fair enough — since apart from a short walk here or there I spent very nearly the entire day inside. I was bumming hard after finding out about a brutal fuckup on my part with today’s issue of the daily ‘zine, the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. Basically I left out an important piece and we’ll run it tomorrow anyway, but I still felt very, very much like shit about it. Like, “I don’t deserve to be here” beating myself up. I went and found the writer in question and damn near broke out into tears apologizing.

I know it’s a festival fanzine and all, but that shit is important to me, and it was squarely my mistake that dropped the article. It won’t be as timely tomorrow when it goes in the issue. I know it’s not the end of the world, ultimately, but this fest puts its faith in me not to screw up doing this one thing, and I screwed it up. I’d already seen Temple Fang and Wolvennest and a couple seconds of Confusion Master by then, and I thought long and hard about just coming back to the hotel and going to bed, but eventually got it together. It sucks being bad at, like, everything you do.

Like I said, I saw Temple Fang again. They opened up the pre-show on Wednesday (review here), and they opened up today in a kind of super-early showcase slot at 1:30PM in an especially foggy Hall of Fame, up by the Koepelhal and the Ladybird Skatepark, which is very quickly becoming another Roadburn venue. Launching with “Gemini,” Temple Fang were this time around a little less Temple Fang (Photo by JJ Koczan)tense — maybe just waking up — and a little more locked into an overarching groove that still highlighted their progressive take on space rock and psychedelia, but seemed to give the songs a little more space to breathe. I’m not sure I can speak to exactly what the difference was. It might’ve been just as simple as playing a little more relaxed. But both sets showed the serious potential on the part of the band and my only problem with seeing them play a second time was that it meant they did not immediately on Thursday morning enter the studio to record their debut album, which had been my hope after their first show. Oh well. Always tomorrow, guys.

Wolvennest opened the Main Stage, with theremin, incense and a few skulls here and there amid their darkened cult rock atmospherics. The Brussels-based outfit are celebrating the release this month of their new EP, Vortex, which came out last week through the ever-tasteful Ván Records, and I have no doubt they persuaded a few heads with their murky vibe and swirling, obscure but still progressive heaviness. Fronted by Sharon Shazzula, who’s done work over the years with Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Kadavar, Farflung and a host of others — in addition to having founded Swamp Booking — and she and the full band alongside her brought a consuming wash of noise to the big room at the 013, and once I got back from my Wolvennest (Photo by JJ Koczan)Beto-esque apology tour (except I meant it), I found I was even more into it near the finish. It was somewhere between black metal, psychedelia and lurch, and wherever that was, that seemed definitely like the place to be. I’m sure someone cleverer than me has already invented a genre tag for it. To me it just sounded awesome.

Today was Maalstroom — a massive celebration of Dutch black metal held at Het Patronaat and given the added poignancy of also serving as an ad hoc tribute to former Dodecahedron frontman Michiel Eikenaar, who passed away yesterday after a long illness. Malstroom itself is the third of Roadburn 2019’s commissioned projects, and like last year’s Vánagandr formed of Icelandic black metallers, Maalstroom drew/draws from various projects working together on a new piece as a new entity. The whole day at the church was dedicated to it, and though my own adventure would take me on a different path, it would be hard not to admire the vision in putting that kind of thing together with Witte Wieven, Turia, Laster, Terzij de Horde, the aforementioned Dodecahedron and then Maalstroom itself to close out. One way or the other, it was going to be a special day.

Sumac (Photo by JJ Koczan)There were also more acts today from Tomas Lindberg‘s curation, including UranThe Exorcist GBG, and Orchestra of Constant Distress, and it was the Exile on Mainstream Records 20th anniversary celebration. Oh, and Sleep played Sleep’s Holy Mountain (2009 reissue review here) in its entirety. You know, because why not. I wound up flitting back and forth between 013 and the Koepelhal complex for the day, as I think a lot of people did who didn’t otherwise camp out at the Patronaat. Sumac absolutely floored me playing the Main Stage. What’s been my hesitation with those guys? I have no idea. I’ve dug both their records — last year’s Love in Shadow (review here) and 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) — but I still never really considered myself a fan. It’s Aaron Turner (ex-Isis, etc.), Bryan Cook (Russian Circles) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists), and their tone was probably the heaviest I’d heard this weekend up to that point. I don’t know what my hangup was with that band, but yeah, I’ll go ahead and credit the universe with being right on that one. More records to buy: just what I need.

Mythic Sunship had added another set at the Skatepark — they wound up playing three times, so I’m extra glad I caught them at least once — so I made my way up there and stopped in Koepelhal first to see Boston’s Morne, who were casting death across that packed and massive space. Couldn’t help but notice guitarist/vocalist Milosz Gassan wearingMorne (Photo by JJ Koczan) a t-shirt for Armageddon Shop (or Armageddon Boston, to be more specific) on the stage. Today was apparently Record Store Day, so fair enough. Roadburn never seems to lack for commerce, as the merch area just outside the Koepelhal proper shows, but I’m sure plenty of people also made it over to Sounds, which is the local shop down the road a little ways. I went once. It was cool. This year, however, my feet were glued in place for Morne, who issued their To the Night Unknown LP through that same Armageddon Shop label last year. No regrets. Their sound has the classic emotional crux of death-doom but toys with that balance effectively and still holds a pervasive sense of atmosphere.

It was almost time for that Mythic Sunship show, and I was looking forward to it, but Treedeon in the Hall of Fame for the Exile on Mainstream 20th anniversary was too good to pass up. The German trio’s bizarre noise rock is so emblematic of that label, and while I don’t think my tastes and those of Andreas Kohl, who runs imprint, always line up — though we’re both big Wino fans — it’s a fair bet that something on Exile on Mainstream is going to at very least be interesting. In the case of Treedeon, it was interestingTreedeon (Photo by JJ Koczan) like a fucking boot to the throat. Even their recorded work — the latest LP was 2018’s Under the Manchineel (review here) — doesn’t quite capture the density of their approach to noise rock, and golly it was loud in the Hall of Fame. It’s a low ceiling, so the sound just feels like it’s collapsing on you, and that suited Treedeon well in portraying another vision of extremity after Morne.

Among other things, it was about the polar opposite of seeing Mythic Sunship in a skate park, so that was fun. Indeed, dudes were skating on the ramps and rails and whatnot and looking annoyed as people started filing in for the show. Sorry. The Copenhagen four-piece have been on tour since April 4 supporting their excellent 2018 offering, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music (review here), and though they didn’t have the sax with them today as they apparently did yesterday, they still tore it up ferociously, by which I mean they played a smoothly progressive jam-based kraut-psych-rock and their chemistry was out in full force. Their drummer ate a banana right before they went on, which I’m sure helped keep his energy up, and the Ladybird filled up well for them. They’re the kind of band I’d probably never get to see if I wasn’t here, let alone see in such a context, so I was stoked on the opportunity and the outcome of it. I don’t think they will, but if they played another set tomorrow, I doubt anyone would complain, Mythic Sunship (Photo by JJ Koczan)except maybe those skateboarders.

Dinner was chicken in peanut sauce. I had a few quick bites and then went back to the Main Stage to watch the end of Cave In‘s set. I gotta say, I haven’t listened to Cave In actively in a long time, and I still knew just about every word to everything they were playing. That band can write a song. They had Nate Newton (Converge) on bass in the place of Caleb Scofield, who passed away and was memorialized with an acoustic set last year by his bandmates Steve Brodsky and Adam McGrath that’s since been released by Roadburn Records, and while I didn’t see the full set, what I caught was dead on. They’ve always occupied a space between punk, metal and rock, but they’ve also always made that space their own, and to see them do that in front of a crowd so into it as that at Roadburn was affirming even if I only caught a couple songs.

It was time for Sleep. There was the requisite changeover after Cave In, and fair enough for the mighty stacks of amps and cabinets brought out, as well as Jason Roeder‘s drum riser. I mean, Sleep playing Sleep’s Holy Mountain. In full. Sleep (Photo by JJ Koczan)Front-to-back. As the first of two nights of sets. What the hell more could you want? If your answer was, “maybe a shortened version of ‘Dopesmoker’ and ‘The Clarity,'” they did those too, but obviously the highlight was seeing Al CisnerosMatt Pike and Roeder run through those Holy Mountain tracks. Pike even switched to an acoustic guitar for an extended take on “Some Grass” ahead of “Aquarian.” The Main Stage hall was packed to the point that the upstairs balcony looked like it was about to spill over, and the whole room just became a sea of nodding heads to each riff. Everyone kept up with the changes. Everyone knew where they were going. It was yet another of those Roadburn things that make you feel so stupid lucky to be here to see. Funny how those keep popping up all weekend. Every year. All weekend. They’re back tomorrow doing The Sciences in full. Again, Roadburn.

There was still plenty of Roadburn day three to go, but I was (un)fairly beat. Still, there was one more thing I had to, had to, had to see, and it was Bellrope. They were closing out the Exile on Mainstream celebration at Hall of Fame, and though the hike up there felt daunting to my riffed-out legs, I did it anyway and got up there before the two-bass-one-guitar-all-smash German foursome got started. Their debut album, You Must Relax (review here), is on my list of 2019’s best despite (because of?) its initial feedback assault to weed out the Bellrope (Photo by JJ Koczan)weak-hearted among its listenership. They did similar on stage, by the way, but shorter, and with a mammoth and punishing low end push to fill out that feedback, it was brutal in the best way possible. They brought up two members of Treedeon for a guest vocal spot and the sort of sludge ensued that you should need a prescription to get, which should explain the line that went out the door.

Despite the day’s rough start with my stupid, stupid, stupid, unprofessional bullshit error in the ‘zine, it was still a day that was as fantastic as it was busy. Tomorrow is the end of Roadburn 2019, and it’s always bittersweet, so while I’m plenty exhausted, like At the Gates before me, I’m going to try to drink from the night itself and let adrenaline carry me through as, hopefully, it will.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 Day Two, 04.12.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 day two banner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.12.19 – 02.26 CET – Friday night – Hotel

You get back to the hotel, kick off your shoes like you’re breaking shackles, realize your earplugs have been in since you walked out of the 013 and you’ve been walking to the rhythm of your own breath. Also why you feel so isolated. It’s Friday at Roadburn, which in the yearly cycle of the festival is always the hardest day. Good music makes it better. Always. Even the shinsplints. You pull the plugs out of your ear and put on a record. Start typing. Radical perspective shift.

It’s Tomas Lindberg from At the Gates‘ curated day. So is some of tomorrow. Dubbed ‘The Burning Darkness’ — as in, “with fear I kiss…” — it has featured a strikingly broad range of styles and acts native to his hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, and tonight, At the Gates headlined with a special set that, among others, featured guest vocals from Anna Von Hausswolff, who had already earlier absolutely decimated the Main Stage, and Rob Miller of Amebix, Seven That Spells (Photo by JJ Koczan)who also appears of the band’s latest EP, With the Pantheons Blind. Not the kind of thing you see every day, and that was pretty much the running theme from the early afternoon onward.

In the Green Room, Zagreb’s Seven That Spells held court for three complete sets, playing their entire The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock trilogy. Those three albums, Om, Io and Omega, were released over a period of seven years between 2011 and 2018, so to say it was an effort of considerable scope would be underselling it, but the four-piece approached the task with enviable vitality. I would be in and out for at least a little while of all three sets — the second one I watched through the open doorway; an essential Roadburn experience dating back years for those who show up late to see, well, anyone — and though they had breaks between them, it’s still basically one band playing three gigs in the span of about four and a half hours. Admirable.

During their first set, however, in the Main Stage hall next door, Tripkyton played the second of Roadburn 2019’s three commissioned works, completing the “Requiem” triptych with a previously unheard second part to go with the first, which appeared on Celtic Frost‘s Into the Pandemonium in 1988 and the third, Triptykon (Photo by JJ Koczan)which was on that band’s reunion/swansong offering, 2006’s Monotheist. Oh yeah, and they did so in the company of the Metropole Orkest, because obviously. It was nearly overwhelming on a basic sensory level, never mind the breadth of the arrangements involved to the performance aspect. It was not without its sense of space or dynamic, but there was so much to take in that you almost couldn’t do it just by watching. Fortunately, there were video cameras on hand documenting the entire affair, so I very much doubt this will be the last this performance of the complete “Requiem” is heard from.

Still, hard to think of it as anything other than a landmark, much as when Tom G. Warrior and Triptykon made either their first live appearance at Roadburn 2010 (review here), or when they presented their second album, Melana Chasmata, in 2014 (review here). The audience certainly treated it as such, packing into the venue to the point that there was nowhere to move. I tried to go over to Het Patronaat for Mythic Sunship, but the line was out the door as well, and I know how that goes, so I ran up to the merch area to pick up the Molasses two-songer that went on sale Anna Von Hausswolff (Photo by JJ Koczan)today and then back for more of Seven That Spells and, after a spell of just sitting and letting my mind numb out for a minute, Anna Von Hausswolff‘s set. I suppose I was at a disadvantage as regards the Swedish Von Hausswolff, as I went into seeing her having never heard her before, but from where I stood, that only seemed to make me happier to be blindsided both by her operatic vocal prowess and experimentalist songcraft.

With a full band supporting, she crushed. Bowed bass assured that massive waves of low end vibrated the floor of the big hall, and Von Hausswolff‘s keys and voice cut through in a fashion both melodic and weighted by more than just emotion. Late in the set, the group resolved itself in manic pulsations and strobe flashes; I wanted to look away but was mesmerized. Up in the back of the lowest level of the hall, I just kind of sat there with my mouth open — “catching flies,” as The Patient Mrs. might say. They had started about 10 minutes late and finished much the same, but I couldn’t possibly call it anything other than time well spent. It occurred to me at some point that I hadn’t eaten a proper meal in a while, Grails (Photo by JJ Koczan)so hit up a salad and some fish, and then was back in the Main Stage room for Grails.

I guess there are probably a bunch of varying opinions on Grails at this point, but I count myself as continually fascinated by the Portland, Oregon-based outfit, whose work has ranged from instrumentalist heavy rock to cinematic soundscaping, dark jazz and seemingly whatever else their creative whims might conjure for a given album. Their last one, incidentally, was 2017’s Chalice Hymnal (review here), and between this, the East Coast US dates they did earlier this year and the West Coast touring they’ll do this summer, I can’t help but wonder if they might not have something new in the works. Of course, the band shares Emil Amos with Om, and that band will be playing dates as well, but it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility. In the meantime, they turned out to be just what was needed at just that moment, so once again, I felt fortunate to be there to see them.

At the Gates (Photo by JJ Koczan)Soon enough, At the Gates would conquer Roadburn 2019. Let’s go back 20-21 years to high school me screaming along to “Blinded by Fear” blasting into my eardrums from this or that mixtape, and yes, safe to say I was fucking thrilled when Lindberg was announced as curator for this year, and all the more because I haven’t seen At the Gates since their reunion began in 2011 and, before tonight, I’d never seen them at all. So, a band for whom I’ve had affection for more than two decades — and I’ll gladly argue that Slaughter of the Soul has aged best of any melodic metal album from its era — playing a unique set at a festival curated by its frontman. Couldn’t have been any better if I got to interview Lindberg for the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. Oh wait, I did.

The first half of that interview ran in today’s ‘zine, and the second is in tomorrow’s — if you’re not here, they’re all archived — but even that interview didn’t prepare me for everything At the Gates had in store for their set. Yes, they brought Rob Miller (also Tau Cross) over from the Isle of Skye to guest on vocals, and yes, they had a string quartet, and yes, the visuals were by Costin Chioreanu, but if you gave me a thousand lifetimes, I’m not sure I ever would’ve guessed they’d bring Matt Pike — Sleep play tomorrow night and Sunday both — onto the stage to sit in for a cover of Trouble‘s “The Tempter.” Or that they’d start off with a take on King Crimson‘s “Red.” Or that Anna Von Hausswolff would come back out as well to cover Philip Glass. Or I guess generally that the whole thing wouldMatt Pike with At the Gates (Photo by JJ Koczan) be so fucking shit god damn shit fucking god damn it fuck god shit glorious front-to-back.

Yeah, I’m more than willing to admit that part of the appeal for me of seeing At the Gates was the nostalgia of “Cold,” or “Suicide Nation” or “Slaughter of the Soul.” I know At the Gates have been doing shows again for eight years, and I know there have been lineup changes, and they’re not the people they were 20 years ago and I’m not the person I was 20 years ago. I know all of that, but there was so much else going on, and it all worked. And all that, on top of the fact that those songs were one of my earliest exposures to extreme metal of any stripe, and frankly, it’s not an enjoyment I feel like I need to justify. They fucking ruled, and even the band was smiling by the time they were finishing up. At the end, the whole crew came out when they were done to take a well-deserved bow. It had been something truly special.

Messa were playing Het Patronaat, and they were a band I really wanted to see, but even when I went out during At the Gates to head over there, about half an hour before Messa were LOOP (Photo by JJ Koczan)supposed to go on, the line was out the door and down the block. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for another set added at the skate park near Hall of Fame or something, but yeah. I drowned my sorrows in churning, resin-coated psychedelia with LOOP, who also headlined Roadburn 2014 (review here). Seeing Robert Hampson on guitar with Hugo Morgan on bass and Wayne Maskell on drums — both also of The Heads — and guitarist Dan Boyd was the kind of thing I took last time around as a probably-once-in-a-lifetime chance, so now that I’ve seen them twice, I’ll consider this round like a life-bonus. Like someone took my life and they were like, “You know, let’s give this dope another LOOP set” because they were being nice to me personally or whatever. I guess that’d be Walter and Tomas Lindberg curating. So hey, big thanks, guys.

The strobe warning they put out before going on would be well enough earned, but LOOP were a fantastic ending to the day. Do I dare hope to see them again at some point? Roadburn 2024, maybe? I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

I still have pictures to sort through and a ‘zine to edit tomorrow, so I’m going to leave it there. Temple Fang are playing a special early set, and yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing that again if I can get up to Hall of Fame. We’ll see. Either way, halfway through Roadburn 2019 and starting to get that refreshed-soul feeling that only Roadburn can provide. Thanks as always for reading.

More pics after the jump.

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 Day One, 04.11.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ROADBURN DAY ONE BANNER (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.12.19 – 02.31 CET – Thursday night – Hotel

It’s a different kind of Roadburn for me, or at least this morning I decided it would be one. I’m still working on precisely what that means, so bear with me. Some of it I alluded to the other day, and some of it is just procedural on my end. I took no notes today. None. Normally when I’m here (or most places), I’m scribbling between bands, writing down observations that most of the time I don’t even go back and look at. Today I dropped the pretense. It felt freeing, and today was a good day to feel free.

Such as there is a map, Roadburn 2019 is all over it. The day started in low-key shoegaze psych Sherpa (Photo by JJ Koczan)bliss with Sherpa in Het Patronaat. They were the first band of the festival proper after the Ignition three-band pre-show last night. I had come back to the hotel to sleep after finalizing the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issue this morning, but it was a big no dice. So I was early to the church and sat in front of the stage for a bit while people filed in. There was a good crowd by the time the Italian four-piece took the stage to play their late-2018 joy of a record, Tigris & Euphrates (review here), and they were treated to lush tones and drifting melodies, a kind of easing into Roadburn that one doesn’t always get, but the fest very clearly made an effort to establish its vibe early.

Bismuth would soon rough up the Hall of Fame. It was Myrkur: Folksange on the Main Stage. In the Koepelhal, Crippled Black Phoenix played a two-hour-plus set. And in the Green Room, it was Thor Harris (Swans, etc.) leading the way with Thor & Friends with a set experimentalist enough that you might as well just call it jazz. I caught a couple minutes of Thor & Friends after popping up to see Crippled Black Phoenix as Sherpa were starting to wind down and was treated to a bit of sax and percussion, but it was ultimately Myrkur that held me in place for the duration with gorgeous Nordic folk harmonies accompanied by strings, piano, and a genuine sense of traditionalist homage. I’ve heard Myrkur‘s folk recordings before, but as will happenCrippled Black Phoenix (Photo by JJ Koczan) in Tilburg each Spring, something special was taking place while the afternoon clouds parted to let in a bit of sun outside.

But even Myrkur: Folksange was a part of something larger than itself, and it was that initial burst of diverse sounds that would so quickly establish the vibe for the day. I bounced around until finally landing at Myrkur and stayed put in order to see Molasses, the first of this year’s three commissioned projects, and — I won’t lie — the one to which I was most looking forward. In 2014, following the death of The Devil’s Blood guitarist and aesthetic mastermind Selim Lemouchi, his sister and that band’s vocalist, Farida Lemouchi, took the stage with guitarist Oeds Beydals, Ron van Herpen (Astrosoniq) and a host of others to pay her brother tribute, and it remains one of the most moving sets I’ve ever seen at any RoadburnMolasses, in bringing together Farida and Beydals — who has since brought his band Death Alley to an arguably premature end — as part of a new, complete band that may or may not be ongoing, continues some of the spirit of The Devil’s Blood, but seems bound to find its own path as well.

This was their first show, and as Farida swayed in time to the music ahead of harmonizing with Beydals, they made a Molasses (Photo by JJ Koczan)powerful impression. Roadburn‘s foray into basically making bands and/or happen is no less extensively curated than the festival at large, but there’s a deeply personal aspect to that as well, and one suspects that’s all the more true of Molasses given their Dutch heritage and the members’ history with the festival. It was the start of something special, and I hear tell there’s a vinyl they’ll be selling starting tomorrow. Every year I let myself buy one piece of wax. No question in my mind what it’ll be this time.

Back up at the Koepelhal — which, I don’t know how big it is in comparison to the Main Stage of the 013, but it’s plenty huge enough — the Full Bleed art exhibit looked awesome and was arranged differently this year so it kind of got its own gallery. I had a couple minutes before Thou went on, so walked around. I’d already been there to buy merch — a black t-shirt and a red hoodie, because apparently my midlife crisis involved wearing a color, ever, on my torso; also hippie pants — but it was still being set up. It was packed into its space, but still awesome, and one more example of Roadburn branching beyond the confines of the traditional festival. I think the panel talks start tomorrow at V39, so yeah, there will be more of that.

Thou Acoustic (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Thou took the stage shortly thereafter for what was billed as an acoustic set but was really more just quiet and loaded with harmonies from three vocalists up front and more added from the band behind. The New Orleans outfit have long since left expectation behind, so I wasn’t necessarily anticipating anything specific one way or the other, but as they played I kind of felt like I was intruding on something. It’s hard to explain. It wasn’t that the show was so intimate in that massive space — although I did find myself wishing they would just go ahead and cover Alice in ChainsSap EP in full — and it didn’t lack expressiveness, I just suddenly felt like I was somewhere I didn’t belong. I don’t think Thou were shooting to be particularly inviting, so it’s nothing against them in this incarnation, but yeah. After a few minutes, I galumphed back to the 013 to catch the start of Hexvessel.

The Finnish outfit are kind of regulars on Planet Roadburn. They played here in 2012 (review here), 2013 and 2016 (review here), and frontman Mat McNerney played with the short-lived Beastmilk in 2014 (review here). Not exactly strangers to the experience. Still, they came this time heralding their latest long-player and return to their nature-worshiping forest Hexvessel (Photo by JJ Koczan)folk roots, All Tree (review here), so I was not about to miss them. Highlights from that record translated well to the Main Stage, “A Sylvan Sign” and “Wildness Spirit” working no less fluidly one into the other live than they do on the studio versions. Sudden as the shift seemed to a more kitchen-sink aesthetic on 2016’s When We are Death (review here), All Tree‘s re-establishing of their foundation was no less striking, but they certainly sounded well at home on stage, McNerney well cast as the folk troubadour. I’m not sure why they’re not on the folk circuit, but I’ll take it.

From there on out, it was all about Heilung. I did see some of Emma Ruth Rundle at the Koepelhal, after more take-that-establishment jaywalking across whatever thoroughfare that is, and I was glad to have done so, but I knew what the crux of my night was going to be, and it was going to be wearing antlers and bones of sundry wildebeests and it was going to be percussive and throat-singy while also astoundingly melodic, and that was Heilung playing their Lifa (review here) performance in its entirety. I say without Emma Ruth Rundle (Photo by JJ Koczan)reservation that it’s easily among the most complete aesthetic experiences I’ve ever had in a live setting, from the circle they formed at the outset — bringing Roadburn‘s own Walter in their midst as a part of the ceremony — to the shield and spear-carrying soldiers in black bodypaint, to the later mimed beheading, to the off-the-rails, how-is-this-dance-music-but-it-totally-is fracas that ensued later in the set, it was simply incredible. I have seen as much spectacle in my time as the next guy, but this was really something else.

I’ve heard murmurings that Heilung, who are signed to Season of Mist and have a new album called Futha due in June, are planning to bring their show — and it is a show; a sight as much as a sound to behold — to the US. I have to wonder how that will go in terms of venue and  just where they can play to pull it off. Festivals, presumably. But more than that, it seems like Northern Europe would obviously have a different relationship to the depictions of pre-Christian, pagan Norse history than would an audience in the States. The simple fact that their faces are painted black could very well raise eyebrows, Heilung (Photo by JJ Koczan)even in such a full context. It’s just not a question here, because it’s the native tribalism being depicted. One way or the other, I have little doubt they could make it work. They absolutely delivered a set that I’ll be talking about for probably years, no matter how many times and in whatever setting I might see them subsequent to tonight. I wasn’t going to stay for the whole thing, but there was no other option. A don’t-miss scenario.

There was still a lot of Roadburn left, and that’s not even talking about the next three days, and I had writing to do, but another part of the different Roadburn experience I’m having this year is staying out late. I did trundle back to the hotel to dump photos and get some work in on Crypt Trip (Photo by JJ Koczan)this review, but Crypt Trip came all the way from Texas to be here, and as I’ve been digging their recently-issued full-length, Haze County (review here), it was only fair to be there to see them. For the minimal effort, I was rewarded with some primo Lone Star boogie. You can insert whatever cliche you want to about barbecue here — I’m sure the San Marcos three-piece have heard them all, but the fact of the matter is they earned every hair bit of mustache they had, and even though they were on a totally different wavelength than anything else on the Main Stage today, they absolutely brought their A-game to the 013. I wish I could say I stayed the whole time and partied until two in the morning or whatever, but yeah, I’m old, and lame. Ugly too, but that’s beside the point.

What I was able to catch of Crypt Trip was a joy — and speaking of, Zach Oakley from Joy (who played last year) was hanging out on the side of the stage — and only affirmed in my mind the buzz I’ve been hearing about their live show for the last couple years. After the vast swath that today covered, closing out with some classic-style heavy rock and roll suited me just fine. It’s a long weekend and a big spectrum of aesthetic. Sometimes you just want to get down to the basics. And Crypt Trip definitely got down.

And that was night one of Roadburn 2019. So much for a laid back start to the fest, though I knew that was a pipedream anyway. Tomorrow I’m up again early to wrap the day’s issue of Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. If you saw that today or see it tomorrow or are reading this at all, thank you.

More pics after the jump.

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 – Ignition, 04.10.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 banner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.11.19 – 00.23 CET – Wednesday night – Hotel

Just like that, Planet Roadburn aligned to the hew-mon visible spectrum with the newly-relocated and rebranded pre-show, Ignition. Once upon a Roadburn or three ago, the Sunday was called the Afterburner. Now it’s just another day of the fest. Next year, maybe Ignition will be two stages. Then four. Then six. Then Roadburn will just be a week long. Then a month. Until, at last, three centuries from now, it will always be Roadburn and Roadburn will never not happen, and if our shitheel species is lucky enough to witness it, it’s as close to utopia as we’d ever be likely to get.

Spilled beer on the camera bag. The wafting smell of dudefart. Volume the likes of which vibrates the shirt you’re wearing. Pro-shop everything. It’s fucking Roadburn, children. Get on your goddamned feet. Yes. This.

Three bands held sway at the 013 — there’s construction at Cul de Sac; a revamp, but it will reportedly return — and it was Temple Fang, Great Grief and Hellripper to cast a spectrum of light, dark and blood across the Green Room for the faithful in attendance to bear witness. Was that you? It probably should’ve been.

Boogie oogie oogie:

Temple Fang

Temple Fang (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was as impatient to see Temple Fang live as I am now for them to put out an album. The Amsterdam four-piece of bassist/vocalist Dennis Duijnhouwer and guitarist/sometimes-vocalist Jevin de Groot, guitarist Ivy van der Veer and drummer Jasper van den Broeke collided kraut and space rock visions with an even-heavier underpinning thanks to Duijnhouwer‘s formidable Rickenbacker tone. He and de Groot shared a tenure in hyper-underappreciated cosmic doomers Mühr, and Duijnhouwer featured in Death Alley as well, so there’s pedigree there as far as I’m concerned, but if Temple Fang had eyes for anything, it was only the silveriest of futures. I don’t know the name of a single song they played, but woof, they held it down in glorious fashion for the assembled masses. By the time they were done, I wanted to shout at the stage for them to immediately get in the studio and get something together. I’ll hope that while they do that, they also mix and master this live set so I can relive the magic in smug ground-floor fashion. They were the first band who played, and there’s no doubt in my mind that by the end of this weekend, I’ll still consider them a highlight. And sadly, they won’t have an album out by Monday either, so I’ll probably still be complaining about that too.

Great Grief

Great Grief (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Good grief, Great Grief. Roadburn‘s years-since-established fetish for the Icelandic underground in its many forms — yet seemingly not all that many people in the actual bands — continued with the heart-on-sleeve hardcore four-piece, who brought issues of diversity and coping with mental health struggles to the fore in their set, even as frontman Finnbogi Örn batted some dude’s beer out of his hand, and subsequently broke a beer bottle on stage (which was swept up afterward) and cut up his forehead with the shards. I’ve never been huge on hardcore, but I’m not about to take away from the fact that Örn, guitarist Gunnar Ágúst, bassist Fannar Már and drummer Leifur Örn were unreal in how tight they were despite also putting on a show energetic enough to be called visceral. They even had a little mosh going in the Green Room, which thankfully involved no kicking that I saw or felt. It wasn’t even until after their set that some dude dumped his beer on me trying to get a drumstick from Leifur, who was packing away his gear at the time. Up to that point, they very simply put everything they had into their material and the delivery thereof, and while I wouldn’t call myself a convert to the style, I readily acknowledge the convincing argument Great Grief made.

Hellripper

Hellripper (Photo by JJ Koczan)

For as long as Roadburn has had a pre-show, there’s been thrash. Hellripper, from Scotland, might’ve been the youngest dudes in the room, but the kind of no-nonsense, balls-out thrash. fucking. metal. they played is best meted out as a beating from a young person. They stripped the genre to its two-guitar essentials and charred it with an edge of rudimentary black metal and were nothing less than a total blast. Through such family-friendly hits as “Vomit on the Cross” and “All Hail the Goat,” which opens their newly-issued EP, Black Arts and Alchemy, the Aberdeen extremists lost none of their ferocity for also being a really good time, and they were a reminder that although Roadburn-proper over the next four days will unfold in a manner bound to no creative limits and celebrate artistry in multiple media sonic and otherwise, sometimes it really does just need to be about losing your mind and headbanging to a killer speed metal attack. Hellripper were only right to make the point, and their message was well received. By the time they were halfway through the set, Ignition was achieved, and it was Roadburn all the way. Let the vibe begin.

Usually, I’d get to the hotel, put my stuff down and sleep for a bit before the pre-show. Not this year. I’m jetlagged like a bastard and the alarm is set for a sadly few hours from now to get up tomorrow and put the finishing touches on the first issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, so with photos after the jump, I’m going to punch out and get every second of sleep I possibly can. Tomorrow is Roadburn. Let me take a second and breathe that in.

Thanks for reading.

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Roadburn 2019 Trip Pt. 1: Ascension Day

Posted in Features on April 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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04.09.19 – 6:32PM EDT – Tuesday Evening – Boston Logan Terminal E

Once more unto the breach, and by the breach I mean the ass-end of Boston Logon International Airport. End of the line. I actually walked past the check-in counter on my way in. Missed it entirely. There was no one there. Dude said the flight was full. Fine. No one here at the gate either. I’m early. Always for flights. Gives me more time to sit around and contemplate mortality amidst the ever-present knowledge that the people who own the aircraft I’ll step into circa whenever and which will spirit me away to Keflavik and Schiphol, respectively, think of me as little more than an impending statistic.

I’ll have a bite to eat in a few minutes and feel closer to human for it, but until the flight boards, it’s this, the Lo-Pan record playing in my headphones — I’ll put Floor on when we board, as tradition dictates — and a whole lot of nothing until takeoff. Oh, I know, I’ll dick around on social media until I find some band news from like four days ago that I totally missed and should’ve put up and wow I’m irrelevant and terrible at this and blah blah blah.

So yeah, I’m ready for Roadburn.

Have been, in fact. There’s a switch that goes off in my head a few weeks before. You know the “holiday season?” I don’t believe in the holiday season, but I do believe in Planet Roadburn, and once every year, I can feel the magnetic forces of the universe aligning as Planet Roadburn makes ready to enter into what we consider “our” dimension for a few days, only to then disappear again and prepare for the next round. All of this happens, and it’s just like the holiday season in that I spend most of my days punching myself in the face every chance I get. Only big difference is the holidays suck and Roadburn is life-affirming. And yes, that’s a big difference.

Dudes be like…

I don’t really have a plan yet. I have the day schedules — here they are:

As usual, Roadburn means hard choices. As unusual, I still need to make mine. I get so hung up on getting to a place on time to take pictures, I end up missing all kinds of bands I’d otherwise try to at least stop in and watch for a couple minutes if I could. Well, no one gives a shit about my photos, so I’m going to try to adjust that balance a bit and maybe do less standing around in front of empty stages this year and a little more enjoying music. We’ll see if my inflated ego and self-importance can take the hit. If you want my bet, I’d say probably no, it can’t. Punch punch punch.

Things I remembered to pack: Pills, laptop, camera, chargers, passport, etc. Shirts. Jeans. Hippie pants. Gum. Protein bars. Advil. Earplugs. I’ve been up since four this morning and I’m dehydrated already and as tired as I’ve ever been on any level you can possibly imagine. So yes, it must be time for Roadburn.

Off I go. In a couple hours.

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Roadburn 2019 Adds Another Fest’s Worth of Bands; Lineup “Complete”

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 banner

So, Roadburn 2019 has moved the pre-party from Cul de Sac — which was always packed — to the 013 proper, where it will be held in the Green Room for the first time. I’d expect that to fill up as well, as Temple Fang, Hellripper and one more band still to be announced take the stage to kick off the festival. It’s just one more example of how Roadburn keeps getting bigger. Sunday used to be the Afterburner, with fewer stages. Now it’s a full-blown fest day. The pre-party used to be two bands, then three, now a new venue. Pretty soon Roadburn is just going to be a full week long and will take over the entire town of Tilburg each April. You won’t hear me complain when it happens.

I’m thrilled to say I’ll be back in the Netherlands for Roadburn 2019 this April, once again serving as the editor of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch daily ‘zine. I am honored and humbled to one again have the opportunity to be there and to do that work — I need to get an email out to the writing staff like yesterday, which is typical — as it’s a project I believe in deeply and an opportunity to work with a group of writers, photographers, graphic artists and others I deeply respect. Thank you to Walter and the 013 for having us back for another go. It’ll be fun.

With day schedules and the occasional TBA act still to come, I doubt this will be the last Roadburn 2019 announcement before April gets here, but the lineup is officially complete, so here’s how it rounds out. See you in Tilburg:

Final bands announced for Roadburn 2019

-Tomas Lindberg adds CRAFT to his curated event
-Roadburn’s pre-show party gets a new home
…and more!

Roadburn’s artistic director, Walter Hoeijmakers comments:
“Whilst this is our final band announcement for the 2019 festival, we’re still working on various other things behind the scenes which we’ll bring to you in due course, including the side programme and of course the day schedules. Once again, we’re delighted to have sold out the festival before Christmas and our gratitude to all those Roadburn supporters is unwavering. We’re extremely happy to be adding some true cult bands to the festival with this announcement.”

TOMAS LINDBERG’S THE BURNING DARKNESS

CRAFT
Rounding out the announcements for Tomas Lindberg’s The Burning Darkness curated event is the cult Swedish band, CRAFT. As ever, we hand over to our esteemed curator to tell us why this was such an essential pick for him…

“Craft was one of the first bands that I contacted for my announcement. I have been a big fan for a long time, and with the release of the astounding ‘White Noise and Black Metal’, it was a no brainer to include them.”
Read more here.

BOSSE-DE-NAGE
With each member initially only known by an initial, as though mere spectres channeling this labyrinthine music from some other galaxy, BOSSE-DE-NAGE have navigated the last decade expertly, creating five incredible records, of which last year’s Further Still is the culmination so far. Melding black metal, shoegaze, post rock and screamo, we’re prepared for a mind-melting experience when BOSSE-DE-NAGE take to the stage at Roadburn.

STREET SECTS
Check out any STREET SECTS album artwork, and you’ll feel like you’ve plunged into the gritty, harsh world of a hardboiled crime novel, a genre famous for its unflinching realism and toughness. Adjectives that can well be applied to the music this duo from Austin, Texas creates, as well. Music is often described as escapism, but when Leo Ashline hollers, shrieks and proclaims hard truths over Shaun Ringsmuth’s pounding, pulsing rhythms, it’s the absolute opposite – it’s as if someone’s forcing your eyes wide open, Clockwork Orange-style, to stare at the ugliest and harshest realities this world has to offer.

GLERAKUR
Founded by Icelandic composer and sound designer Elvar Geir Sævarsson in order to perform his contemplative yet titanic score for Fjalla-Eyvindur & Halla – a production by The National Theater – GLERAKUR (Icelandic for ‘Glass Field’) is currently one of the most important cornerstones of the country’s thriving music scene.

GLERAKUR’s debut album, The Mountains Are Beautiful Now – the soundtrack to the aforementioned play – is very impressive, and won Iceland’s prestigious Kraumur Award in 2017. Though the band’s cinematic take on Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Swans really comes to life over a full set, as we experienced at last year’s Eistnaflug. With two drummers, and four guitarists, GLERAKUR multiplied their hypnotic waves of dreamlike-atmospheres and harmonic feedback into such an overwhelming and mesmerising performance that we simply had to invite them for the 2019 festival.

MJ GUIDER
Melissa Guion will be at Roadburn performing as part of the Thou Artist In Residence extravaganza, which we are already breathlessly anticipating. However, we’re thrilled to announce that she will also be performing her own set – aided and abetted by live collaborators – under the moniker, MJ GUIDER.

If you’re unfamiliar with the hypnotic fayre of her 2016 release, Precious Systems, then the good news is that there’s just about 11 weeks before Roadburn to get yourself up to speed. Immerse yourself in the swirling landscapes and enchanting melodies on offer; lay back in the stream of lush instrumentation and let it wash over you. MJ GUIDERs output is a multilayered offering, and yet remains delicately sparse at times.

L’ACÉPHALE
Never the most prolific of bands, nor the most well-known, nevertheless L’ACÉPHALE have offered some of the most intelligent blackened folk music throughout the years. While this decade has only witnessed a few small releases – after Malefeasance and Stahlhartes Gehäuse, their only full-lengths, punctuated an unusually productive period in 2008 and 2009 – they have all been remarkable, and once we were made aware that the band was getting ready to become more active, we saw the perfect opportunity to satiate our hunger for more L’ACÉPHALE. With the announcement of their self titled, 74-minute album coming this April on Eisenwald, what better time to explore the abyss than now?

GREY AURA
As well as participating in the Maalstroom commissioned performance, GREY AURA, hailing from Utrecht, The Netherlands, will also bring their conceptual Black Metal to Roadburn 2019 on Sunday, April 14. GREY AURA are using their playful yet sometimes schizophrenic take on this genre (like some of the others participating in Maalstroom) as a vehicle to expose and explore the darker side of the mind.

ROADBURN’S PRE-SHOW PARTY: IGNITION
With a new home (the 013’s Green Room) and a new name, Roadburn’s pre-show party, Ignition, is primed and ready to get the festivities off to a killer start. Featuring TEMPLE FANG and HELLRIPPER – a third band will be announced in due course – Ignition is the perfect way to kick off your Roadburn on Wednesday, April 10 – and sticking with tradition, it will be free to attend.

Though there’s no release yet, TEMPLE FANG – featuring of Death Alley alumni, Dennis Duijnhouwer and Jevin de Groot – are currently making quite a name in the Dutch underground by way of hypnotic and overwhelming live shows. Channeling the spirit of Grateful Dead, Hawkwind, Blue Öyster Cult and Captain Beyond, some fuzzed-out rawk comes to the forefront of their sound as well!

While TEMPLE FANG will bring the psych and expand your mind and your senses, HELLRIPPER will be the perfect antidote for all that! If anything, the Scottish kings of old-school dirty black/speed nastiness will contract your mind into a tiny and super dense ball of steel! Formed in 2014 by backwards visionary James McBain under the spiritual guidance of Venom, Sabbat or Kreator, they’ve since expanded into a full live band and are now ready to tear our head off while thrashing like maniacs.

TICKETS & ACCOMMODATION
Roadburn Festival 2019 is SOLD OUT. Accommodation options remain in Tilburg and further afield – please check the website for more details.

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Temple Fang, Live at 013, Tilburg, the Netherlands, June 19, 2018

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