Roadburn 2024: Notes From Day Four

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 22nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn 2024 sunday Becky and Walter talk

Before any of the actual sets, today started with the annual tradition of a sit-down audience with Roadburn’s Artistic Director, Walter Hoeijmakers, hosted by Becky Laverty, who not only puts the side-programme together, but has been a crucial part of pushing the festival forward stylistically and defining its ongoing mission. Mostly a Q&A from the people who crammed into the V39, where merch used to be, they covered a range of topics from the logistics of setting up the time table to why they’ve moved away from having curators like in years past. No, they didn’t say anything about who will play in 2025, but one assumes that will come in time.

I had a question I wanted to ask about the next generation of Roadburn taking shape in the last few years of lineups and where they see it all leading, but they sort of touched on it and since there was only an hour, I was in the back, etc., etc., I just let it go. But, a casual chat, and always interesting to get their insights on this weirdo behemoth that Roadburn has become.

Once upon a however many years ago, the last day of Roadburn was known as the Afterburner. They’ve dropped the branding — fair enough — but there are still fewer active stages today, some longer changeovers between acts on the main stage, and so on. A mellower vibe, perhaps, was taking hold, but plenty of anticipation in the air around the 013, that electric undercurrent running through. My trajectory was loose but there was plenty I knew I wanted to see, and felt a little less in-my-own-head than the day before. Hard not to be inspired though coming out of hearing Walter and Becky chat about the passion and care that goes into making Roadburn, top to bottom.

Secret shows announced for The Keening (at Little Devil, won’t make it; sadder because they’re playing a new song), Mojo and the Kitchen Brothers (skate park, 19.00, hope to make it) and Torpor (skate park, 21.40, would be awesome), but to start out, I headed into Next Stage to watch a few minutes of Belgian trio Use Knife. I’d been tasked with writing a small blurb about them previously and after taking a listen decided it was something Use Knife (Photo by JJ Koczan)I was interested in seeing myself. I guess I sold myself on it. Happens sometimes.

They touched on old-school industrial and techno throb, put together around Middle Eastern melodies and instrumentation and of course mountains of keyboards and programmed whathaveyou. They played behind three white sheets onto which varyingly manic projections were cast. I had sat on the floor to start writing and ask my wife for a picture of our daughter — got one, it was nice — and when I looked up, the room was full. It was somewhat of a later start today on the main stage with the Die Wilde Jagd & Metropole Orkest commissioned piece ‘Lux Tenera: A Rite to Joy,’ perhaps because of the need to set up a full 50-piece orchestra on the stage. Either way, Use Knife didn’t seem displeased from what I could see behind the sheets.

Metropole Orkest has had representation at Roadburn before — alongside Tom G. Warrior and Triptykon in 2019 (review here) — but the collaboration with Sebastian Lee Philipp of Die Wilde Jagd brought a full 50 players to the stage, so it was both bigger and presented in a different context. Ambitious, to say the least of it. Over the course of an hour, the piece evolved over several sections or movements, with conductor/arranger Simon Dobson leading as Philipp worked various synthesizer elements seated at a table or stood for a bit of ‘more traditional’ — which is only Die Wilde Jagd & Metropole Orkest 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)in quotes because classical music is actually more traditional — guitar and vocals.

Aside from the stunning visual impact of so many players on the stage and the huge drums flanking each side, the tiers for the chaired strings, brass, winds, and such, getting the notice to check in for my flight home tomorrow helped me put a few things into perspective, most specifically how fortunate I am to be here in the first place. Yeah, you might just see a thing that happens once, never again, and which is so fulfilling to the creator that the first thing he says on mic is that he can die happy having been a part of it. Could happen.

But even that’s only just a fraction of the thing, and true to the cliché, Roadburn is more than the sum of the sets that comprise it. They didn’t have to invite me. They don’t need me here now, and the truth is they never did, even in 2009 the first year I came. It wasn’t the first time this (long-) weekend that such a thing occurred to me, and I doubt it will be the last, but ‘Lux Tenera,’ in its subdued contemplations and moments of legit bombast, made me glad to feel alive. The value of that, I cannot hope to tell you. All I can do is to try to hold onto it for as long as possible, because I know in my heart that being here to experience it might not come again.

Dinner! I had dinner! The changeover between the commissioned piece and Grails afforded me time to go downstairs and have some food, sit down like the people do. There was Grails (Photo by JJ Koczan)cauliflower, even. I had that and greens and a bit of beef rendang for protein. When I’m not too dead on my feet to hold my head up at the end of the night, I have no doubt that will have been a factor in it.

Eating didn’t keep me from Grails, but I knew I wasn’t going to be staying all that long. Not lacking appreciation for the vast expanses of Emil Amos’ consistently-pushed creative reach, but there was that Mojo and the Kitchen Brothers secret show happening and I didn’t want to miss getting in to the skate park for it. About the decision, I’ll say this: ‘who haven’t I seen?’ has always been my first question for Roadburn time clashes. In this case, that meant heading up the street early.  The doors weren’t open yet when I got there, and it’s been chilly in Tilburg, but I was toward the front of a line that grew exponentially shortly after I joined, and a not-freezing wind was a small thing next to the fiery heavy boogie wrought by the Belgian six-piece. The second two-drummer outfit I’ve seen this weekend — bonus points on whatever imaginary score is being kept for one of Mojo’s singing — along with three guitars and a bass warm enough that it didn’t need more low end to keep it company.

They started about two minutes after people started to be let in, and what a blast. And like Heath, who I mention not as a sonic comparison — though if the 1970s are a genre, you could argue they’re both at least somewhat on branches of it — but just because they’re the other secret show I’ve seen, they were young. A clear look at the next generation’s take on the heavy of yore, but with a modern dynamic that didn’t ignore the five decades between then and now. With a bit of riff worship, an insistent shuffle, and an energy in their delivery that could not be faked, they swept up the skate park crowd and had people dancing on the ramps. It was fun, and as Roadburn has continued to grow beyond its foundations and, as the tagline says, ‘Redefine Heaviness,’ it’s encouraging to see them make room for a band like Mojo and the Kitchen Brothers too. I knew I was making a bet leaving Grails, but the payoff was easy justification. They can redefine heaviness all they want, Roadburn will always mean hard choices.

I took some pictures, but Mojo and the Kitchen Brothers 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)mostly just let myself hang around and enjoy it, which was why I was there. I had moved up to the balcony by the end — I’m iffy in crowds, and couldn’t see from anywhere else, really — but I watched the whole set and left the building a fan of the band, which for the first time seeing a group play is the ideal as far as I’m concerned.

The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s headlining set has been a ‘well duh’ kind of answer to the question of who people are looking forward to seeing since Wednesday, or to be more accurate, since they were announced. I was in high school when they were big in the ’90s, and while I could probably retire on the Gen-X cred that having seen them live afforded me and everybody in the room — that’s how retirement happens, right? — I was in no way rad enough to have been into them at the time. But aside from being Important in the capital-‘i’ critical sense and an obvious influence on any number of the acts on this bill, including Cloakroom, who were tasked with closing the main stage after them, they had more going on than established stage presence, colored strobes and a back catalog, and the room was accordingly full.

The reason I didn’t get (more) pictures was because they had a rule where you could only stand in a taped-off rectangle to shoot the set. It was my first time encountering such a thing since Queens of the Stone Age in Boston in 2013, and I wasn’t a fan of it then either, but it’s their show so fair enough. Compare that to the guitarist from Mojo and the Kitchen Brothers climbing up on the barrier — which I think is usually a grind rail but served well to separate band and audience for the secret shows — about three feet in front of my face to tear into an early solo, or, say, everyone else playing this weekend. Just two experiences to put side by side.

My original plan had been to watch as much of The Jesus and Mary Chain as possible before The Bevis Frond went on the Next Stage.The Jesus and Mary Chain (Photo by JJ Koczan) I think they’re the only band here who can say they played the first Roadburn in 2006, which isn’t nothing, and their sometimes heavy, sometimes spacy, sometimes jammy, sometimes poppy, sometimes psychedelic rock has always held an interest, so given the chance, it seemed like an logical place to end my Roadburn. They went on at 21.20 and were given a 70-minute set, so plenty of time to dig in, but they were already on when I got there, as Freeburn-wheeled up to the skate park to see what the deal was for Torpor. The deal was a line out the door (not open yet) that wrapped around the building and I knew that what I’d first intended had been the thing all along. The Bevis Frond welcomed me — no, not personally; existentially — with friendly vibes and a spirit of fun that went beyond the tunes they played, “Stoned Train Driver” among them.

There was room to breathe on the balcony, and so that’s where I stayed for the duration. I’d missed maybe the first 20 minutes, but they made it a pleasure to stick around until the end, and it felt in watching them like the show meant something special to them, particularly to founding guitarist/vocalist Nick Saloman. Even after being told they only had six minutes — it turned out to be 15 — his response was “Let’s make the most of it.”

And they did, covering The Open Mind’s 1969 single “Magic Potion” with due garage-psych flair and shouting “I’ve Got Eyes in the Back of My Head” from 1987’s Inner Marshland out to Rolf and Jeanette from Stickman Records. It was right on, a happening to-do. The guys from Full Earth/Kanaan were there, as was Stephen Smith from Virginia and a host of other recognizable faces, including the dude with the soul patch I know only as Capt. Stoner Rock, to whom I’ve never spoken but have seen at every loosely-riff-following set I’ve ever been to at this festival — he had a Hippie Death Cult shirt on the other night and I almost snuck a picture to send to their guitarist Eddie Brnabic with an explanation of why he should be so honored; The Bevis Frond (Photo by JJ Koczan) nothing but sincere respect for Capt. Stoner Rock — and people danced and smiled and the band seemed to have a good time and so did everyone in the crowd, myself included.

That was the note on which I wanted to end my Roadburn, so I did’ No disrespect to Cloakroom, who certainly gave me no reason not to show up when I saw them in 2022, but after The Bevis Frond, I knew I was done. A scheduled 9AM departure for Schiphol ahead of me, it was time, which I realized with no shortage of wistfulness as I walked back to the hotel.

I’ll hope to have more tomorrow from the airport, but in case for some reason I don’t end up with time or, more likely, energy, I want to express my thanks to Roadburn Festival for having me over, for making me feel welcome. Thank you Walter & Esther, Becky, Jaimy, Renske, Koos, Rian, Miranda at 013 and the multitudes of Roadburn crew whose professionalism continually astonishes. Thanks to Lee Edwards for putting up with me in sharing a room, Dante, Niels, Paul, Marco and all in the photo pit, and to everyone I talked to over the last few days. Thank you to The Patient Mrs., who made this entire trip possible the same way she makes everything possible, by being the least-fathomable human being I’ve ever met, and to my mother, who took The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan out for ice cream while I was gone, which I have no doubt was a welcome diversion, and whose support I treasure to the core of my being every single day of my life.

Madness ensued and I am grateful to have been able to find a path through it. Thank you, Roadburn, and thank you for reading. I’m fully Roadburnt at this point, but this has been amazing.

More pics after the jump.

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Roadburn Festival 2024: Chelsea Wolfe, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Hexvessel, Lankum, Cloakroom and Many More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Here be the second announcement from Roadburn 2024. The first one, made just over three weeks ago, brought skin-crawl legends Khanate as the first confirmtion, and really — I’m just being honest here — that was probably enough. Yeah, one band for a festival that’s like 10 days long now or something is probably a little light in terms of a general bill. But Khanate, you get one whole day to see them play three songs and then like five or six days to recover while you meander Tilburg in a stupor. Perfect plan.

This, along with irrelevance, poor networking skills and a general lack of utility, is perhaps a fraction of why I don’t book Roadburn. The groundbreaking Netherlands-based festival continues to push boundaries in their annual celebration of progressively-defined heavy. 2024 will make half a decade since I was last there — which I’ll tell you flat out is longer than I ever in my life wanted to again go, and while we’re honest I’m a little sad about it — but I carry a decade-plus of vivid and wonderful memories of the precise sort that I know those fortunate enough to witness it in 2024 will be making.

The lineup announcement came through the PR wire:

Roadburn Festival 2024 poster David Fitt art

Roadburn announces first names for 2024 including The Jesus and Mary Chain, Chelsea Wolfe, Lankum and clipping.

Having already announced KHANATE for the 2024 edition of the festival, Roadburn has today made its first broader line up announcement, including THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN, CHELSEA WOLFE, LANKUM, and CLIPPING. Roadburn 2024 will take place between 18-21 April in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Roadburn’s artistic director, Walter Hoeijmakers, comments:

“With this announcement, we are diving straight into the heart of what Roadburn 2024 is about. These artists that we are proud to unveil today are all of great significance for what the festival has become in recent times. We feel these artists represent the broad scope of Roadburn. With the first of the commissioned music projects also being revealed, we are as always, looking firmly into the future as well, presenting entirely new music. This is the start of many great things to come.”

It’s simply not possible to capture the true essence of THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN within a few words. They are a band who have made such an impact on the world within which Roadburn operates, their legend feels outsized, too large to fully comprehend. The Jesus and Mary Chain offer up a heady blend of fuzz and melody as a transportation device; whisking us a way to a different time and place of rose-tinted romance, wistful existentialism and just the right dose of hedonism.

Alongside the announcement of a new CHELSEA WOLFE album, we’re thrilled to reveal plans for her return to mainland Europe – at Roadburn 2024. In the twelve years since her first Roadburn appearance, this already remarkable artist has blossomed into an unstoppable force. As a songwriter and consummate creative entity incorporating evocative songwriting and unparalleled artistic vision, Chelsea Wolfe wraps the entire package in an ethereal, shimmering bow.

To witness LANKUM live is an intimate experience – no matter the size of the room. The four Irish musicians on stage play a dizzying array of instruments between them and possess a deep understanding of traditional folk, an appreciation of heaviness and deft hand for putting a twist on what has gone before them in the folk genre.

Experimental hip hop trio CLIPPING will make their Roadburn debut in 2024. A force to be reckoned with in the live arena, their minimalist onstage aesthetic belies the sonic complexities that they effuse. Experimenting with confrontation and heaviness within hip hop is part of what makes Clipping so exciting, and to our ears, makes them a band that belongs at the heart of what we do at Roadburn.

The first commissioned performance of 2024 to be announced will be crafted by the hand of MAT MCNERNEY. Music for Gloaming: A Nocturne by the Hexvessel Folk Assembly will be an entirely original composition, written and performed exclusively at Roadburn 2024. Evoking night-time mysticism, a realm where daylight bows to advancing darkness, unraveling both the external twilight tapestry and the internal landscapes of memory and thought, this commissioned work promises to be something truly special.

Additionally, HEXVESSEL will perform their latest album, Polar Veil in full at Roadburn 2024. On this striking release, a majestic shroud of black metal grandiosity is overlaid upon heaving doom and psychedelic flourishes that capture what is at the heart of Hexvessel.

Los Angeles based ecstatic black metal group, AGRICULTURE, will make their European debut at Roadburn, flying in for an exclusive one-off performance.

Mysterious Dutch black metal band, FLUISTERAARS will play their second ever show – their first in mainland Europe – at Roadburn, showcasing what has made them such an integral part of the underground black metal scene for so many years.

CLOAKROOM will bring their particular take on interplanetary exploration to Tilburg, playing tracks from their latest album, Dissolution Wave and more.

With the promise of a new album on the horizon, melancholic black metallers DÖDSRIT will return to Roadburn this coming April.

Delivering a dose of bloodsoaked blasphemy, DEVIL MASTER will make their Roadburn debut, traveling from Philadelphia to bring their malevolent magick to the masses.

The artwork for Roadburn 2024 has been unveiled; a striking video created by French artist, David Fitt is available to view in full via the Roadburn website. This extraordinarily talented French artist has been on our radar for some time now, and we had the great honour of hosting an exhibition of his portraits at Roadburn 2023. From there our appreciation for his work blossomed into a creative relationship that has resulted in the work that we’re thrilled to present to represent the 2024 edition of the festival.

4-day tickets for Roadburn 2024 are now on sale. Other ticket options – including single day tickets and accommodation – will follow on November 3. More artists will be announced in the coming weeks. For all information including tickets, please visit

Hexvessel, Polar Veil

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