Posted in audiObelisk on July 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a formidable batch of streams this time around from Roadburn 2014, with YOB‘s The Great Cessation played in its entirety, and gigs from Indian, who by all accounts killed at the fest, Morne, ditto, Lord Dying and more. For me though, like the first batch with their Lenny Kaye jam, the highlight is probably Harsh Toke. They were my find of the fest. When their Light up and Livealbum came out in 2013 on Tee Pee, I guess I didn’t pay enough attention and missed it, but after seeing them with the aforementioned Mr. Kaye, I knew there was no way I was going to let their set at the Afterburner pass without watching at least for a little bit.
As such, the San Diego jam-rippers were how I closed out Roadburn 2014, stopping by the Green Room to watch them tear into heavy psych fluidity as though you could actually tear into something fluid. Killer band. I’ve spent much time with Light up and Livesince April, and I’m glad to have the chance — thanks, as always, to Marcel van de Vondervoort and his crew — to relive their show. That’s not to mention YOB doing The Great Cessation, which was hypnotic to the point of being trance-inducing, and Morne and Indian and The Vintage Caravan, Lord Dying and Obliteration, the last two adding a malevolent, lurching extremity. Very cool mix.
No big surprise there, I guess, since the festival has become so eclectic. Plenty to dig into here so I won’t delay further:
Harsh Toke – Live at Roadburn 2014
Horse Latitudes – Live at Roadburn 2014
Indian – Live at Roadburn 2014
Lord Dying – Live at Roadburn 2014
Morne – Live at Roadburn 2014
Obliteration – Live at Roadburn 2014
The Vintage Caravan – Live at Roadburn 2014 (Friday, April 11th)
Yob – Live at Roadburn 2014 (The Great Cessation)
Thanks to Walter and Roadburn for letting me host the streams. The first and second batches are still available as well, and for all of the Roadburn 2014 coverage, click here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was a bummer this year when UK psych legends The Heads bowed out of their appearance at the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands, but if year-to-year Roadburn has proved anything, it’s never count out the fest’s ability to make up for any lost ground. Oh, you’ve got a volcano grounding flights so people can’t get to play their sets? Bring them over next year and give them better slots. The Heads can’t play in 2014? Well, bring them over in 2015 and make them artists in residence, playing multiple sets that include Paul Allen in the mix and come on the heels of a reissue of their landmark second album, Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere, on their own Rooster Records.
That reissue is due out Sept. 28 in deluxe form — it’s a 2CD or 5LP, take your pick — and for the 20th Roadburn, it’s hard to think of a better way for the festival’s spirit to be embodied than to bring back The Heads for another go in even grander fashion.
THE HEADS (ALLEN, MASKELL, MORGAN, PRICE) – ARTIST IN RESIDENCE ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2015
We’re elated to announce that The Heads (Allen, Maskell, Morgan, Price) will return to Roadburn, their spiritual home in Europe, to follow in the footsteps of Enslaved, Circle, Justin K Broadrick and Neige (Alcest) as Artist In Residence at the 2015 festival (the 20th edition), set for April 9 – 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
For this very rare appearance, Paul Allen (Prof) is back in on lead guitar, completing the circle. All of the band members have been busy, Simon, Wayne and Hugo with Kandodo, Paul with Anthroprophh, and in the past year Wayne and (now) Hugo have joined Loop.
Meanwhile, The Heads reissue campaign rolls onwards, with the re-release of their second album “Everybody Knows we Got Nowhere” on their label, Rooster Records.
As Artist In Residence, The Heads will play separate sets over the course of Roadburn 2015. The first will be Kandodo and Anthroprophh, followed by a one-off collaborative freakout with a fellow traveller (TBC).
The band’s residency will culminate in some serious wigged out riffmongery and the melding point of amped-up space rock with blistering krautrock workouts on the main stage on Saturday, April 11.
At last, The Heads will turn their amps up once more and they will pummel the ears and minds of all who bear witness!
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m not even sure how the logistics on this one work. There are to be 50 copies of Dutch trio Menhir‘s Uberlith IIEP released by Tartarus Tapes on Aug. 5, and they’re available now for preorder. That part is pretty straightforward. I guess what I’m getting hung up on is the fact that said cassette will arrive encased in a plaster brick, which the buyer will then have to break open — gently, presumably — in order to free the tape itself and make it available for listening. Practical? No. No it is not. Unique? Yes indeed.
The socially conscious — if their choices of samples are anything to go by, anyway — burl-rocking three-piece which features bassist/vocalist Arjan van Dalen, bassist/vocalist Frank de Boer and drummer Sven Jurgens (the latter two also of Ortega), self-recorded Uberlith II and released itlate last year on handmade mini-CDs (which they sold out), so it would seem they have a thing for stylized packaging. If nothing else, a plaster brick certainly qualifies as that.
Menhir also released a video for the opener “Mt. Aloha” from the EP last year that can be seen here. Along with notes for preorders from O and Bitcho, Tartarus sent this info on Uberlith IIdown the PR wire:
TAR036 Menhir – Uberlith II
Around the corner of Queens Of The Stone Age and next to the village of Asterix live the three-piece that is Menhir. It’s a well-picked name for a band that is often described to be ‘as solid as a rock’. Adjectives like ‘heavy, big-ass and overwhelming’ are also often used, thanks to the use of two bass players and one drummer. Formed in 2012 they play a brutal mix of southern and stoner rock. (Feat. members of Ortega).
Edition of 50 tapes Encased in a solid plaster brick.
NOTE: You will need to break the packaging to get the tape out! Breaking the case is at your own risk!!
Posted in audiObelisk on June 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
One of the things I enjoy most about these Roadburn streams every year is that not only do they allow the people who were there to relive the awesome (and in many cases, fuzzy) memories of seeing these bands, but they allow everyone, whether they were there or not, to get a glimpse at some of what they didn’t get to see. Because you can try your damnedest to catch everything at Roadburn every year — I know I have on the years I’ve been fortunate enough to go — but it’s just not going to happen. At any point during the three days of the fest-proper, there are at least four stages running simultaneously, and there’s just no way to be everywhere at once. I saw Noothgrush at Roadburn 2014, but I missed Brutus, saw Samothrace and missed Windhand.
With the audio streams — diligently recorded at Roadburn 2014 by Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team, as ever — that doesn’t matter. It would be something if the fest set up a security system for the audio one of these years that you had to be there to hear it (actually it would suck, aside from being a logistical/coding nightmare), but fortunately that’s not the case, and whether you were at the 013 or in the Netherlands or not, you can enjoy the fruits of Roadburn‘s considerable labors. If it sounds utopian, it is.
To listen and enjoy:
Age of Taurus – Live at Roadburn 2014
Bong – Live at Roadburn 2014
Brutus – Live at Roadburn 2014
Noothgrush – Live at Roadburn 2014
Regarde Les Hommes Tomber – Live at Roadburn 2014
Samothrace – Live at Roadburn 2014
Whitehorse – Live at Roadburn 2014
Windhand – Live at Roadburn 2014
Thanks as always to Walter and the Roadburn crew for allowing me to host the streams. The first batch is still available as well, and for all of the Roadburn 2014 coverage, click here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Call me a glutton for self-punishment for constantly dangling kickass European festivals in front of my own face that I’ll never in a million years be able to attend if you want, I doubt it’ll stop me from doing it. Whilst I torture myself with visions of being able to catch the jammy likes of The Cosmic Dead or Wooden Shjips at the Effenaar in beautiful Eindhoven, you can get the rest of the info from theEindhoven Psych Labfest, which will kick off its first installment on June 6.
Two days, much swirl:
EINDHOVEN PSYCH LAB
6 + 7 JUNE 2014 – EFFENAAR / EINDHOVEN / THE NETHERLANDS
2 DAYS / 30+ BANDS / 2 INDOOR STAGES AND A GARDEN
PRESENTED BY LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PSYCHEDELIA & EFFENAAR
Eindhoven’s Effenaar music venue and Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia and are thrilled to announce EINDHOVEN PSYCH LAB on 6 + 7 June 2014. Eindhoven Psych Lab is a new European festival, located in the Netherlands and established to explore and showcase the futuristic sights and sounds of the modern psychedelic condition.
Friday: Friday (doors open at 4.30 pm untill 4.00 am): Cosmonauts (USA) / Crows (UK) / Great Ytene (UK) / Hookworms (UK) / Nisennenmondai (JAP) / Peter J Taylor (UK) / Spectrum (UK) / The Oscillation (UK) / Wooden Shjips (USA) / Gnod (UK) / Teeth of The Sea (UK) / Lay Llamas (IT) / Anthroprophh (UK) / Terminal Cheesecake (UK) DJ’s: Liverpool Pzyk Pzoundsystem / Bernie Connor’s Sound of Music / Chris Rocket / Walter Roadburn
Saturday: Saturday (doors open at 2.00 pm until 4.00 am): Dans Dans (B) / Disappears (USA) / Elephant Stone (CAN) / Föllakzoid (Chile) / Mugstar (UK) / Night Beats (USA) / Pink Mountaintops (USA) / Suuns (CAN) / Terakaft (Mali) / The Growlers (USA) / Weird Owl (USA) / Sonic Jesus (IT) / Cosmic Dead (UK) / Wall of Death (FR) / Radar Men From the Moon (NL) / The Underground Youth (UK) / The Wands (DK) / The Woken Trees (DK) DJ’s: Al Lover (USA) / DJ Fitz (IE) / Wiekes (Le Guess Who) / dj .bOb / Pomponette http://www.eindhovenpsychlab.com/line-up
There are a lot of people out there with a vision. Anyone with a targeted daydream can claim to have one. Whatever it is you dream of doing. I dream of owning and running a venue. I can see it in my head, how it comes together, the people there, the music playing, all of it. That’s my dream. I’m working toward it, but it’s not anywhere close to being a reality at this point. That’s where most people are. Walter Hoeijmakers (Obelisk questionnaire here) is on the other end of it — that rare person who has taken his vision, made it real, and continues to work with unmatched drive in refining and remaking his dream.
I’ve spoken at length before in admiration of what Walter does and all he continues to accomplish with the annual Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands. It’s not just him — there’s Jurgen, Yvonne, the 013 crew, many, many people — but he’s widely regarded as the driving force, and his passion and heart reside at the core of what Roadburn has become. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you Roadburn has changed my life and changed the way I experience music every single day. In many ways, it has been the anchor of my last six years, and I was so, so happy to be there again in 2014.
When I arrived at the 013 for this year’s fest, and was greeted by Walter, the first thing I saw was the camera crew from Vice/Noisey filming the Mr. Roadburndocumentary. I hadn’t slept, was unshowered, could barely keep my head up, but there was Walter, guru-calm in being unphased by the familiar stresses of the festival that was about to launch. Comment from Walter himself, as well as those playing and attending the fest (because even when you play, you also attend), it’s a good look at somebody whose work has genuinely contributed to the course of underground heavy music for more than the last decade, and someone whose influence runs toe-to-toe with any artist against whom you might want to measure. I know that when it comes to my own daydreams, he’s a major inspiration.
Based out of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, the heavy rocking four-piece Shaking Godspeed released their last full-length on Drakkar Records in 2013. Hoera and Awecombined two prior releases — Hoera and Awe, go figure — into one double-album that was a solid listen and emphasized the quality of songwriting in Shaking Godspeed‘s approach, but might’ve been a bit much for listeners just getting on board. Their current single, the Future Boogie b/w Tombstone Talk7″ on Suburban Records, pressed in cardboard sleeves with hand-screened logos on the cover, makes for a much more gradual introduction.
The song reportedly (and by that I mean according to the band and I don’t think they’d lie about this kind of thing) deals with themes of technology and the seemingly inevitable advent of artificial intelligence. Presumably that’s what the young lady in the video is running from and is eventually overtaken by, her eyes going black as she becomes a hybrid android/human. Fair enough. “Future Boogie” will feature on Shaking Godspeed‘s forthcoming long-player, Welcome Back Wolf, which is set to release this fall, and the single will be officially released on May 10. Preorder link and more info follows the clip below.
The song is also featured on the forthcoming album Welcome Back Wolf by Shaking Godspeed. To be released September 2014.
Heavily inspired by The singularity is near (Ray Kurzweil) they wrote the song Future Boogie. This book sketches the end of the human race as we know it and the birth of the hybrid technologic new human being in 2045. No sci-fi, but soon to be reality!
Fascinated by all the new technological and cultural developments the group understood that keep hanging in the past, old heroes and rusty opinions are almost an insult to their brains. Their new album Welcome Back Wolf, recorded live in a deserted factory, provides ground to Shaking Godspeed’s own slightly deranged views and sincere emotions.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
What I like about the video for Pendejo‘s “Dos” at the bottom of this post is that when the main character makes a robot, first of all, he gives it long hair, and second, they totally hang out. There’s no immediate animosity, it’s just some weirdo mad scientist who wants to bro down so he builds a brobot with which to do so. They go get drinks. It’s not until they can’t decide who gets the last beer that machine and man collide in a battle that many would say was inevitable anyway. It’s a cool clip, and the psyched-out trumpet-as-guitar adds an individual touch to the Amsterdam-based four-piece’s otherwise definitively stoner sound.
I suppose I got sidetracked from the original news, which is that Pendejo‘s new album, Atacames– on which “Dos” appears — is released as of today, but it’s all feeding into my recent theory that nobody reads the stuff on top of the PR wire whathaveyou so I can basically say anything I want to up here. To a point, anyhow.
Here’s the news for your blues:
Pendejo Atacames Out Today
¡PENDEJO! is a four-piece heavy rock band from the Netherlands, founded by two cousins with a history in Latin America. Digging into their latino roots, El Pastuso and Jaap ‘Monchito’ Melman started blending heavy riffage, pounding drums, right-in-your-face lyrics in urban Spanish about the weirdest stories in life, and to top it all off, a screaming trumpet. Sounds pendejo, right?
‘Cantos a la Vida’ (2010), the band’s first full length album, was firstly released in Spain and got stunningly positive reviews there. Their music has been described as heavy, addictive, rough and grooving, or as a Spanish critic so eloquently put it: “Heavy rock in Spanish with balls the size of Danny de Vito”. Having played mostly in the underground scene throughout Europe and Latin America – and sharing stages with influential heavyweights like Fu Manchu and Karma to Burn – the band puts on a show for anyone who is not afraid to be grabbed by the cojones and to be thrown into a spicy puddle of chile con carne.
¡PENDEJO! recorded its second full-length album ‘ATACAMES’ with producer Pieter Kloos in The Void Studio in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Kloos, who previously worked with bands like Motorpsycho, Barkmarket and Ween, and with Dutch heavy acts like Peter Pan Speedrock and 35007, convinced the band to record their album the old fashioned way, recording most of the material live. This resulted in a daring album containing 10 songs ranging from heavy to lighthearted, and from melodramatic to outright aggressive.
Seems odd to say it, but Crowsisn’t the first 18-minute single that Netherlands-based post-metal four-piece Ortega have released in their time together. The last one was late-2012′s The Serpent Stirs(review here), and as the follow-up to that and reportedly the precursor to a new full-length album, Crowswinds up making a lot of sense with its limited tape release through Tartarus Records, a black-ink-on-grey-box unfolding with a handmade feel to match the Groningen group’s intricate heavy/ambient tradeoffs throughout the song’s 18 minutes. The program repeats on both sides of the tape, which has crows and branches printed on it, and for what’s purported to be a demo track, the sound is awfully full and the band is awfully tight, leaving me to wonder what they might look to change going into the album — that is, how much more there is to build on from what they have here. It’s almost unfair to use the word “cassingle” for a song that’s en EP unto itself, but technically I suppose that’s what Crows is.
And taken on the level of a single, it’s a strikingly cohesive one, with guitarists Alex Loots and Richard Postma trading between thick waves of riffing and sparse atmospherics, ambient squigglies floating into the sonic space of a mix that, again, is done little justice by being designated as a demo. Bassist Frank de Boer distinguishes himself in the song’s midsection with a surprisingly warm tone, while drummer Sven Jurgens manages to keep the proceedings fluid for the most part without falling into the trap of the Isis drumbeat (you know the one!), which is one of the core challenges at this point of post-metal percussion styles — how to make it not sound like Panopticon. Postma handles vocals as well when they arise, his assured growl topping the later payoff of a fervent instrumental build playing out in a rising tide of start-stop chugging; a measured, restrained groove finally letting loose just in time for the growls to reemerge. For those familiar with the style, Ortega‘s take won’t be wholly strange, but Crows remains asolid execution of the progressive aspects of post-metal and even over its extended course doesn’t dull the attention more than it intends to do with hypnotic repetition of parts.
It’s easy to imagine “Crows” paired with another piece of similar length as opposing vinyl sides as Ortega‘s next long-player, but I guess we have some time yet before we get there. Fair enough. Maybe by then I’ll have it figured out what exactly makes Crowsa demo.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Netherlands-based instrumental practitioners Tank86 are getting ready to record a new long-player and follow-up to 2011′s surprisingly metallized Rise(review here), and before they do, they’ll be heading out on a quick run of German and Swiss dates, joining forces for the last two shows with Rising Magma labelmates Pendejo, who have a new album called Atacamesout on April 25. Serendipitous timing there, and no doubt the two Dutch groups will make for a formidable pairing in Luzern and Schongau when they meet up.
Tank86 will begin the recording process after this tour, and they’re also slated to play with Greenleaf at the beginning of June, which seems as valid an excuse for interrupting work in the studio as any I can think of. That show is June 7 and more info is available at Tank86‘s Thee Facebooks, should you happen to find yourself in Nijmegen over the summer. Hey, stranger things have happened. Look out for more info on the Tank86 record when it’s done, and in the meantime, dates for the tour that links them with Pendejo are below, fresh off the PR wire:
TANK86 spring tour and new album recording
In preparation of the recording of the follow up to TANK86′s highly acclaimed album “Rise”, the Dutch instrumental band heads on tour to Germany and Switzerland to test-drive their brand new material. They are joined by their Rising Magma friends Pendejo on the last two dates of the tour. After the tour the band heads straight into the Quarantine Studios to start recording. The new album will be released in the fall of this year.
The tour schedule is as follows:
01-05-2014: Hühnermanhattan, Halle/Saale (GER) 02-05-2014: Subway to Peter, Chemnitz (GER) 03-05-2014: Tiefgrund, Berlin (GER) 04-05-2014: 119FM, Esslingen-Zell (GER) 09-05-2014: Bruch Brothers, Luzern (SWI) – with Pendejo 10-05-2014: G2, Schongau (GER) – with Pendejo
I stood for a couple seconds last night in the air outside the 013, trying to inhale it, thinking if I kept my wristband on maybe Roadburn could just keep going.
Someone told me yesterday that you project your negative energy, that people feed off it and respond to you based on it. That’s true in a sense, if New Agey, and I might quibble with the phrasing and put it up to unconscious cues of tone and body language more than energy, but the one is as valid a means of expressing the idea as another in the end – the point’s the same. Smile, stand up straight, like your mom told you.
That’s easier for me at Roadburn than just about any other place I’ve ever been. Words like “special,” “magical,” “vibe” get tossed around, but they’re pale shadows of the thing itself once you’ve managed to soak some of it in. A popular refrain for Roadburn 2014 was, “This one is special,” and it was to me too. The kindness and generosity shown to me by the Roadburn crew not only made me feel validated for the time I’ve put in covering the fest these last six years, but like I, as a person, mattered even in some small way. When I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to be able to go, they reached out and not only made it happen, but brought me behind the scenes in a way I’ve never been before. There I sat in the office with Walter, Jurgen and Lee Shaman, putting together the fanzine with my tired eyes, talking about bands and who we saw the night before and so on. It seems greedy to hope I could have the good fortune to do it again, but I do.
First and foremost, thanks to Walter, Jurgen and Yvonne for bringing me in to even in some small way be a part of the Roadburn festival, editing that fanzine. My heart goes out in appreciation to Rianne, Sanne, Miranda, Brent, Gijs and the entire 013 crew, who were so welcoming and helping my clueless ass find where it should be, which printer to use, and how to operate Windows 7 in Dutch, which is a beautiful language that, six years later, still makes me happy every time I hear it spoken by a native.
In Lee Edwards of The Sleeping Shaman I felt like I found a kindred spirit, and not only his efforts for the ‘zine, but just the company was something I looked forward to each morning, swapping stories about shows, talking about reviewing and editing and the joys and trials of working with a staff of writers. I realized somewhere in the making of the third issue of the ‘zine that this could very well be the last time I ever do that. I hope it’s not, but there’s nothing guaranteed in life and I’m thankful for every opportunity I have. To Costin Chioreanu, Paul Verhagen, Walter (yes again), Adrien Begrand (who I wish I could’ve met), Kim Kelly, Paul Robertson, Saúl Do Caixão, Sarah Kitteringham and José Carlos Santos as well for their communication and the work they all put in. The Weirdo Canyon Dispatch was easily the best staff of writers I’ve ever had.
To my family for their continued and generous support, thank you. There are so few people who understand or give a shit about how much this means to me personally, especially this year, and it was incredible to just have it known.
Especially to The Patient Mrs. as well, who even when I lost my job said to me, and I quote, “I think you should still go to Roadburn.” I’m forever astounded at her tolerance, her acceptance of the wretched creature I am and her seemingly endless depth of understanding. She knew I needed this more than I did.
So many others. Stephen Flam, Mike Scheidt, Tom and Will from Rozamov, the Gozu dudes, the Hull dudes (how great it was to see those two bands back to back days and have tastes of home new and old), Vania, Désirée, Aris Tombul, Daan Toner Low, everyone I met and re-met over the course of the weekend who had heard of the site, as well as Claudio, Vanna, Susanne, Falk-Hagen, Iñaki, Christian and all the other familiar faces in the photo pit. I’m no photographer, but to even be around such talent is inspiring.
Anyone who read, liked, commented, posted, retweeted, or shared any part of this whole thing, consider yourself responsible. I am so grateful for every response, whatever it might be, and I am humbled endlessly by the support this site and I personally continue to receive as the years roll on. Thank you so much for being a part of it with me, for making it happen for me.
Each of the headers in this series with a quote comes from either song titles or lyrics. The references are as follows:
“…This heart of mine” is from the first verse of Fatso Jetson’s “Jet Black Boogie.”
“Descend to the place…” is from Young Hunter’s “Welcome to Nothing.”
“So much still lingers…” comes from Crowbar’s “All I Had I Gave.”
“Spirit of the Staircase” is the title of a track from Dwellers’ new album, Pagan Fruit. It was chosen in honor of the stairs up to the office at the 013.
“Death means just life” is taken from Candlemass’ classic “Solitude.”
“Clearing the path…” derives from the title of YOB’s next album, Clearing the Path to Ascend.
“I know where to go…” is from Gozu’s ultra-catchy “Jan-Michael Vincent.”
“Altar Made of Red Earth” is a song title from Beast in the Field’s 2013 album, The Sacred Above, The Sacred Below. Picked in honor of the red coffee cups in the 013 office.
“Walk in the Blue Light” is a Pentagram classic available on their First Daze Here collection.
All of the posts in this series can be found cataloged together under the tag Roadburn 2014 trip.
I keep thinking at some point the novelty will wear off, but it doesn’t. Six Roadburns later, I feel luckier to have been here than I ever have, and more fortunate and privileged than I ever have. It was an honor to stand in that building once again. I feel like these words don’t do justice to how much, deep in the core of what makes me me, this festival meant.
The plane that will take me first to Reykjavik and then home from there – named Hekla, which I can only assume is another volcano – just pulled up to the gate. It’s about two hours to Iceland and then another six and a half or seven to Boston from there, but I’m ready to go home, kiss my wife and sit down to dinner with her, crash out on the couch with the dog. Shower in my shower, sleep in my bed. It’s time.
I think I might have a job interview sometime either this week or early next. I’ll let you know how it goes.
04.13.14 — 22:38 — Sunday night — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
I own one really nice pair of socks. They’re black, a name brand, and I don’t know when I picked them up, but they breathe, they’re comfortable, and most of all, they fit my silly clown feet. As someone who doesn’t usually wear shoes that require socks let alone the socks themselves if he can help it, these socks are where it’s at. I took them out of my luggage on Friday and went to put them on and I was like, “What the hell am I doing? I’ve still got three more days here! I can’t waste the good socks!”
Well, today I wore the good socks. The occasion was as fitting as any: the Roadburn 2014 Afterburner, a stripped down, laid back incarnation of Roadburn proper that closes out each year. Three stages. For me the big difference was in how I decided to approach the schedule. Apart from needing to be at the Main Stage in time to take pictures, I didn’t worry about getting up front, or getting somewhere 25 minutes beforehand. I let myself be a little freer to roam around. I don’t have up-close shots of everything I saw, but it was good to experience the fest like I think a lot of people do, just wandering back and forth between the rooms, enjoying the music in one, going back to the last, going back to the next and so on. In any case, I’ve no regrets.
After finishing the final issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, the day began with a moving tribute to former The Devil’s Blood guitarist, the late Selim Lemouchi from players who knew him, including his sister and ex-The Devil’s Blood frontwoman Farida Lemouchi, billed as Selim Lemouchi’s Enemies and playing the 2014 Earth Air Spirit Water Firealbum from Lemouchi‘s post-The Devil’s Blood project, Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies. There were 10 people on stage — two drummers, four guitars, bass, two keyboards, and Farida Lemouchi on vocals, honoring her brother by playing his songs. It was a powerful experience to be sure, in part because of the otherworldly feel of the music, but even more just on the emotional level of those involved, still clearly grieving the loss.
It felt somewhat voyeuristic to be taking photos in front of the stage. I’d never flatter myself into thinking that being in the photo pit, particularly on a stage so high, effects the performance one way or another, I just mean that these were people in mourning. His sister especially. I cannot and would not imagine that loss, and to have it so soon after, when all people still just have nothing more than dogma and hollow epithets to offer for the sense of injustice you feel. In a way it was the heaviest set of the weekend, but it was also beautiful, the band playing to images of Selim projected behind the songs with which he was moving on from The Devil’s Blood and into unknown sonic territory. I’ve heard from several natives how much he’s missed, And you could tell watching the players on stage that Lemouchi was well loved, even by his Enemies.
There was what felt like a moment of exhale when they were done, a picture of Lemouchi left on the projector screen on the empty stage, and in the Green Room, extreme Swiss duo Bölzer went on seemingly with the intent to blast their way through the reverent spirit with a filth-caked maelstrom. To be fair, they would’ve blasted through any kind of atmosphere; hardly seemed like a personal thing. It was kind of a jump from one end of the spectrum to the other, and they were a standout on and otherwise psych-heavy Green Room lineup of Aqua Nebula Oscillator, who opened, The Papermoon Sessions, New Keepers of the Water Towers, Harsh Toke and Lumerians. Coming out of the Main Stage room still wowed by the raw human spirit of what I’d just seen, my head wasn’t in it for Bölzer, but I was in a clear minority. Not only was the Green Room full, but the hallway outside was full too. Couldn’t get near them.
That would be a kind of running theme soon enough, but Avatarium were next on the Main Stage. The Stockholm natives released their self-titled debut last fall on Nuclear Blast, and are notable also for boasting Candlemass bassist and principle songwriter Leif Edling in their lineup, but Edling was absent owing to illness so Avatarium played with a fill-in and treated the crowd to their progressive melodic metal, vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith borrowing cadences from Ronnie James Dio (a better source than most) and leading the five-piece into a set that sounded ready for any number of summer festivals over here. A little clean for my personal tastes, but well performed by the band, who were not long in distinguishing themselves from Candlemass. Pretty much immediate, actually.
Papermoon, the collaboration between Electric Moon and Papir, was happening in the Green Room, and I caught some of that while simultaneously wishing I had been in two places at once to see more of the Sula Bassana set the other night as well as Papir on their own, but every Roadburn requires hard choices. The Papermoon Sessions(review here) debut full-length from the combined unit was a jammer’s joy, and if what I caught of them tonight was anything to go by, it’s worth hoping they do another. YOB were getting ready to go on the Main Stage playing three out of the four cuts on their new album, Clearing the Path toAscend as well as others from the back catalog, and particularly after watching them nail The Great Cessationyesterday, it wasn’t something I could stand the thought of missing.
I debated even typing this, because it sounds like hyperbole, but it’s honest in terms of how I feel about them so I’m going with it. YOB are a once-in-a-generation band. Every generation you get a few landmark acts who not only distinguish themselves from their peers and become influential, but who take the creative lessons of their forebears to a genuinely new place. Sleep did it. Neurosis did it. YOB are doing it. I can’t think of another act from the US who’ve left such a mark in the last decade of heavy. Tonight, guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster greeted a crowd as much theirs as any they’re likely to encounter and treated them to essentially the next step in their ongoing progression, taking the lessons of 2011′s Atma(review here) and breaking their own rules with a languid, psychedelic opener and a classic rock finish the sprawl of which is worthy of the entire vinyl side it will no doubt receive upon its release.
Every Roadburn I allow myself to watch one band from the side of the stage. This year it was YOB, and not for the first time. Each of the new songs stood out for a different reason, whether it was the hook of the one that opened their set (track three on the album if I’ve got the order right), the maddening churn of Foster‘s drums leading the way through what I was later told is called “Nothing to Win,” or the patient unfolding of the album opener, played third, which brims with tension and meets a payoff no less rich. They backed the new material with “Adrift in the Ocean” and the title-track from Atmabefore closing out with “Quantum Mystic” from 2005′s classic-to-be, The Unreal Never Lived, which they also performed in full at Roadburn 2012 — that set, like the Candlemass Epicus Doomicus Metallicus set, is out on vinyl now — and giving everyone a moment to let their brains reconstitute. Two nights of YOB in a row. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish there was a third to be had.
Now. Triptykon would be starting their headlining set soon on the Main Stage, but Carlton Melton and Øresund Space Collective keyboardist/all-around aces human being Scott “Dr. Space” Heller were doing a collaborative jam at Cul de Sac that had been on for a couple minutes. I shot over to catch some of that hoping maybe for a place where I could see the band. No dice on that, but I stood in the back for a couple minutes and closed my eyes and grooved out to the ultracosmic vibes. I don’t know if it was all recorded, but Roadburn could do a series of releases just of the jams this year, between this one, Lenny Kaye and Harsh Toke, Niklas Barker and Reine Fiske, Oeds Beydals, Papermoon and so on. Maybe not the best marketing move. I’ve never had much of a nose for business.
Back in the reaches of the 013, the Tom G.Warrior-fronted Triptykon made ready to once again darken the skies of Planet Roadburn, now celebrating their new release, Melana Chasmata, as they celebrated their debut, Eparistera Daimones, by playing their first live performance at the Warrior-curated Roadburn 2010 event, “Only Death is Real.” Three cuts from Warrior‘s prior band, Celtic Frost, were aired — “Messiah” and “Circle of the Tyrants” — but with a brand new record and as the new band moves further away from the old, it only makes sense the focus would be on Triptykon. Joined on stage by guitarist/vocalist V. Santura, bassist Vanja Šlajh and drummer Norman Lonhard, Warrior (né Fischer) was statesmanlike and seething in kind, and while I’m sure they’d already gotten rid of plenty of copies of Melana Chasmata, set-opener “Black Snow,” “Tree of Suffocating Souls,” and “Altar of Deceit” made a compelling argument toward purchase. As release parties go, it was formidable.
About halfway into their set, San Diego’s Harsh Toke – whose jam with Lenny Kaye on Friday has already become a Roadburn 2014 landmark in my mind — hit it in the Green Room, and I decided a little more of the ol’ back and forth was warranted to see them play their own material. I think they made a lot of friends this weekend, and not just by passing out beer cans from the stage (though that never hurts). Their heavy push was right on with or without the psych legend accompanying, and when it came time for me to do so, I decided they were how I wanted to end the night. I stood for a few minutes inside, then a few minutes in the doorway, then I went back to the Main Stage, then back to the Green Room, then upstairs, then back down, then around the foyer of the 013, then back to the doorway of the Green Room, and that was when I got that sinking, nagging feeling that I couldn’t avoid it anymore and my Roadburn was over. Time to leave.
I have many, many people to thank and it’s hit the point where I’m starting to nod off, so I’ll save that for the travel tomorrow, but as an initial blanket statement that I hope provides some warmth: Thank you. So much.
Posted in Features on April 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
04.13.14 — 13:25 — Sunday afternoon — The 013, Tilburg
Got to watch a minute or two of Triptykon’s soundcheck. No surprise they were a churning barrage of devastating buzz, but strange to see them on stage with lights on. Can’t imagine it’ll be that way later on when they headline the Roadburn 2014 Afterburner.
Today’s a more laid back atmosphere. Fewer stages going, but it’s still a sold-out crowd and plenty to see. Shaman Lee and I came in this morning to finish out the last issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. The PDF is here if you’d like to give it a look. I wrote an essay to finish it basically nerding out on how killer the vibe of the fest has been all weekend, and Adrien Begrand did the review of yesterday with Paul Verhagen’s photos. Simple fact is I’m sorry to see it end.
How do you make a ‘zine at the Roadburn festival? With a garbage-can full of coffee cups.
The work is done now, issues are folded, and all that really remains is to wait for the Afterburner to start. Walter and Jurgen were in the office before with Lee and I, the four of us sitting and talking about music and the festival, just kind of laid back before the craziness of the day takes hold. It’s things like that that I most enjoy remembering. Bands are great, and I’ve seen a few here I’d consider friends, but it’s the moments that stay with you more than this or that set. This weekend has had a few for the ages.
I’m proud of the work done on the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, and I’ve taken a few copies to go home with and I’ll look forward to having them on my shelf somewhere I can walk by and see them and be reminded of this place, the space we got to work in, the coffee, voices up from the loading dock below, the hum of soundchecks, the heat from the sunlight coming through the windows — Jurgen: “It’s always warm in here, isn’t it?,” Lee: “That’s why it’s the CEO’s office” — the ridiculous printer and all of it. I’ll have the ‘zines to keep me connected. A souvenir of the silly thing we were able and fortunate enough to do this weekend.
Things are pretty quiet in the office. I should probably get out of here.
04.13.14 — 07:28 — Sunday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
Morning in Tilburg. Got back to the hotel last night and tried to get writing immediately but kept falling asleep at the keyboard. I’d wake up a couple seconds later and find a string of semi-colons a line long. It’s been a while since that happened. It finally came to the point where I semi-consciously reasoned that I’d be better off sleeping than having it take seven times as long to write because I couldn’t stay awake. I guess we’ll see how the reasoning works out.
Roadburn 2014 Day Three started for me more or less immediately after I closed the lid of my laptop in the afternoon. It was a day of kickass bands, noble intentions, and in my case, dragging ass. Some tough decisions. Will it be Indian or Old Man Gloom, Loop or -(16)-? Mansion or Horisont? A lot depended on my energy level at any given second, and a telling moment was when during YOB I was upstairs on the balcony of the Main Stage room and I opened the package of a protein bar only to have it be broken and two-thirds of it fall out of the wrapper onto the floor. Oh, I was a sad little monkey. I went and got myself dinner and said it was going to be okay. And it was, but for a second there the god damn world was about to end.
Better news is that all the bands I saw yesterday completely destroyed. In very different ways, to be sure. I watched more full sets than in the prior two days, bands like Noothgrush, Gozu, YOB, and Old Man Gloom offering thrills to the dedicated many who stuck around for the duration. When Noothgrush came out to open the Main Stage, vocalist Dino Sommese — in addition to referring to his band as “DIY punk; kinda angry, kinda slow” and backing up his punker perspective by talking some shit on corporate sponsorship — set about unleashing some of the nastiest screams I’ve heard the whole festival. Real, crusty, sludge. It wasn’t “post-” anything. It was visceral.
They’re a West Coast band, were gone for a while and came back a couple years ago. 11Paranoias were on at Het Patronaat, but Noothgrush set the tone for the day in both their unbridled riff-led filth and the fact that it compelled me to stay where I was for just about the whole time. Admittedly, I did poke my head into the Green Room to check out the beginning of Monster Truck – stoner rock; good for the soul — but from there I basically sat tight until Gozu were going on in the Green Room. For them, Roadburn 2014 is the start of a European tour that’ll go until they hit Desertfest in a couple weeks, and for me, it was a pleasure to watch them kill it so hard in that space.
Because that’s the thing about Roadburn. Well, one of the things. You can see a band 100 times, then see them at Roadburn and know it’s different. I’ve had that happen in years past and itwas the same with Gozu. Every band is on top of their game and from the lights to the sound to the projections behind, the 013 crew is so professional that it all looks and sounds great. I could not tell you how many times I’ve seen those dudes — Marc Gaffney, Douglas Allen Sherman, Joe Grotto and Mike Hubbard – play a song like “Meat Charger” from 2010′s Locust Season(review here). I suppose it’s less with this lineup, but still, no matter how many more times I catch Gozu at places in Boston, I will have seen them at Roadburn and know that means something.
I had a moment with Gozu similar to watching Hull the other day, and I realized that it was being happy for hometown guys making good at Roadburn, and that’s the first time I’ve really thought of Boston as being my hometown as well as New York (or New Jersey, but in the Netherlands, you just say New York). One more reason the 2014 fest is special to me. Getting to see YOB twice — and getting to hear their forthcoming album, Clearing the Path to Ascend, didn’t hurt either. It’s their third time here, and each time, the Eugene, Oregon, trio have played two sets, which is efficient if nothing else. Yesterday was The Great Cessationin full. Seems redundant to say it was fantastic, or at least needless, but YOB on the Main Stage at Roadburn. If there’s ever a band who ever fit in a place, it’s them and there. What a pleasure to watch.
The Great CessationI would count as the angriest of YOB‘s record, and especially in the context of hearing the new record a couple hours before, it’s material and a method of writing they’ve progressed beyond. Anger is still a factor, but The Great Cessationis so rife with disappointment, with frustration and rage. Of course that only made the songs more vicious. I was genuinely surprised when I walked out from the balcony to go back downstairs and closer to the front that it was still day outside. If anything was ever going to darken the sky, it would have to be “Silence of Heaven.” I look forward to seeing them again today and to becoming acquainted with their new songs. The second track on Clearing the Path to Ascend has some of the most furious drums I’ve ever heard from Travis Foster. We’re talking Through Silver in Blood-level. Can’t wait to see that live.
There was a bit of a break before Old Man Gloom went on. I thought I’d check out Carlton Melton instead, but they’re doing a jam with Dr. Space today and I started remembering the good times I had with Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionismand stuck it out in the Main Stage room. I haven’t listened to much Old Man Gloom since, and probably should’ve picked up their 2012 return outing, No, but for funds. They were fairly incredible and, as I thought just about no one would be able to do, managed to follow YOB. That shouldn’t be such a surprise with the all-star lineup of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner (Isis), guitarist/vocalist Nate Newton (Converge), bassist/vocalist Caleb Schofield (Cave In) and Santos Montano (Zozobra), but at one point I had to stop and say to myself, “So this is probably what it was like to see Neurosis 15 years ago.” Not a bad response for a band to evoke. “To Carry the Flame” from Nowas a particular highlight, and had me wondering if Roadburn might see an Isis reunion maybe in 2015 or sometime in the future beyond.
Part of the appeal of seeing Old Man Gloom was that I’ve never seen them before and may or may not ever get to see them again. That’s what kept me there the whole time. With Finland’s Mansion, the situation was similar. Their 2013 We Shall LiveEP (review here) intrigued with its cultish leanings and semi-psychedelic churn and the new single Congregation Hymns Vol. 1 has only furthered interest. Dressed all in black, in turtlenecks save for their bassist, who had a button-down (heathen!), Mansion projected religious righteousness well, and that’s cool since it’s part of their aesthetic, but it was really the songs I was there for. Vocalist Alma Mansion had a calm intensity that came to bursts of energy in the title-track from the EP, the band behind her following suit in both atmosphere and presence. I think a lot of people were getting ready for Loop to hit the Main Stage, but the Green Room was still pretty full as Mansion got going, and they delivered something I’ve seen no one else here have on offer. Chalk their new single on my list of records I wish I’d bought.
To be fair, Loop are touring the US this coming week — especially after seeing them play here, I can’t help but think that’s the wrong choice, and not because of the band– but to see them headline at Roadburn, particularly after their reunion came about following Loop guitarist/vocalist Robert Hampson sitting in with Godflesh last year, seemed fitting. I won’t profess to be an expert on Loop‘s records, Heaven’s Endand A Gilded Eternityare certainly top quality psych-gaze and were decades ahead of their time, but they’re not something I put on every day or every week, so for me it was more about just watching the band and seeing Loop for what they brought to the show. They seemed aware of the gravity of the situation, but handled themselves expertly and where Old Man Gloom had been about bombast and urgency, Loop were a more patient, gradual vibe. It worked well, but I was about ready to close out the night and so headed over to Het Patronaat for the first time of the day to catch Los Angeles noise rockers -(16)-.
I caught wind of Zoloft Smilearound the time it was released, and the sludgy outfit’s return over the last several years has only furthered appreciation. They were West Coast hardcore intense, but with thicker tones right on the edge where noise rolls into sludge. Fast. Mean. Loud. Perfect for Het Patronaat‘s relatively compact stage, incredible volume and otherworldly vibe, the stained glass church windows, woodwork, all of it covered in -(16)-‘s spilled guts. They were a steamroller from word one, vocalist Cris Jerue bounding from one side of the stage to the next while founding guitarist Bobby Ferry and the relatively recently-added rhythm section of bassist Barney Firks and drummer Dion Thurman did likewise. Their energy was infectious, and brought fitting symmetry to the crust with which Noothgrush had started my day.
That bookend in mind, I decided it was time to call it a night and headed back to the hotel, exhausted by grinning. Today is the Afterburner, which cuts the number of stage from five to three, and while it’s supposed to be the laid back finish to Roadburn similar to how the Hard Rock Hideout on Wednesday eased attendees into the festival mindset, I’ve got no real letup in terms of bands I want to see, from Selim Lemouchi’s Enemies honoring the fallen The Devil’s Blood guitarist to YOB again and Triptykon. Plus a fanzine to put together. Much to do this last day here. I better get to it.
Posted in Features on April 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
04.12.14 — 14:02 — Saturday afternoon — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
Seems like a groggy start this afternoon in Weirdo Canyon, things mostly quiet. I expect a lot of people hit it pretty hard yesterday, and as the final day of Roadburn 2014 that has all five stages going, looking at the schedule of what’s coming up, I can’t even argue with wanting to sleep late. Me, I’ve been up since 07:30. Rolled over and the tiny engine that runs my likewise tiny brain started put-putting and before I knew it, I was conscious. That’s about three hours of sleep. Whoops.
I won’t lie and say it was a pretty process, but we got the third issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch done well in time. Shaman Lee hadn’t slept much more than I had, but Paul Robertson’s review and Paul Verhagen’s once again stunning photos came in early and that helped. The PDF is here, which obviously I recommend checking out whether you’re in Tilburg or not. It’s been absurdly satisfying putting this together as both a passion project and a print publication. Since it’s not something I’ll be able to do for work anymore, as I did until a couple weeks ago, and as I’ve been kind of leaning on the preparations for this ‘zine in the wake of that, I will miss it when it wraps up tomorrow even more than I thought I would. These have been good mornings and have made the festival all the more special for me. Again, I’m lucky.
The rush was on double this morning as well because there was a listening session for YOB’s new album, which according to Neurot postcard flyers strewn about the festival is called Clearing the Path to Ascend. It was played through a P.A. — not quite the same as popping in the headphones and closing your eyes — so I won’t say much about it other than I damn near wept. Even hearing the last song playing back in my head now has me choked up. Fucking beautiful.
YOB plays later before Old Man Gloom and Loop on the Main Stage, doing The Great Cessation in full. That’s something I doubt very much I’ll regret watching.
I’m sore, I’m tired, and I miss my wife, but being here I wouldn’t trade for the world. I had resigned myself to missing Roadburn this year and was even sadder than I want to say at the thought. It’s been a rough couple months and I feel like this is the only way to get my head back to where it needs to be, back to what it is that matters to me and to what makes me feel human and alive. I don’t know if that makes any sense and I’m not sure I care if it does or not. Just so, so glad to be where I am right now.