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2014-04-30

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2014 • DAY THREE / Saturday, April 12th


*yaaaawn* Good morning again!

With two festival days behind me starting to take their toll, everything startet off a little bit slower on Saturday.

I tried to read in a book but failed to maintain concentration for more than a few pages. Went back to bed for a while. Had breakfast and a very brief walk in the surrounding misty woods. Went back to bed again...

Yet still I managed to drive to Tilburg way before the first band on my schedule started and fulfilled some more of my tourist duties. You can't visit a dutch city without snapping some boat shots. It's verboden!

15 cliche points for me

I went merchandise shopping on Veemarktstraat right in front of the 013 and then back to my car to tuck my purchases and - more important -  to change my camera gear from tourist to concert mode.

Now on that walk I got seriously worried, if I`d make it back again in time. The first band I wanted to see was Monster Truck - and here I stood, almost at my car, but I couldn't cross the street because of an endless parade of trucks! As I found out it was neither a demonstration nor a really big wedding company, but some kind of action for the good cause where those truck drivers chauffeured disabled kids through to city and people were waving at them.

convoy crossing
I admit I was bugged by the timing. Thankfully it all worked out in the end. When the trucks kept coming and coming I went around the corner to a Polish shop, where I came to know and taste that there's indeed an energy drink called "Tiger", named after boxer Darius Michaelczewski. Learn something useful every day!

Monster Truck

Monster Truck
Finally back at the festival I arrived in the Green Room of the 013 just in time for the Canadians Monster Truck, who kicked off the afternoon with an explosive performance of the purest straight forward Rock'n'Roll I experienced this Roadburn. Derived from a variety of great rock and metal classics they clearly have their own recognizable vibe. To my ears Monster Truck sound just like the name promises, only that the powerful lead vocals in the more bluesy parts reached an emotional depth slightly above what I would have associated with a giant horse power monster.


The guitar player was a show for himself as he seemingly aimed not only to kick our asses, but also his own - preferably with his spare instrument or some other thing on the small stage. A mad dog trapped in a canary cage. Luckily no leg was broken this afternoon.

A great gig. And just the right dose of adrenaline to power you up for the rest of the day.


Windhand
Windhand were certainly not bad. I would have noticed that when I watched them from the photo pit. On the other hand they didn't leave a lasting impression an me neither. Yes, it was some vintage doomsy rock thing with female vocals, but I just don't have any exploitable recollection of them.
Four days full of music, now already over two weeks ago... you must allow my memory this gap.


Yob

Yob
The US doom trio Yob is a regular at Roadburn and kind of the embodiment of what this festival is about. It's doom. It's metal. It abandones all that kitsch which is too often associated with metal. It comes with a massive shitload of devastating distortion, thus being much closer to Melvins than to Judas Priest.

But it's more than that. Honestly I can even put my finger on what exactly it is that makes Yob stand out so exceptionally. But it's undoubtly there, that emotional depth and multi-layered substance beyond sheer heaviness.

Although I wasn't one-hundred percent in the mood for them at that particular time and I'm still pissed that my copy of "Atma" has some fatal scratches on a track you can only buy with the whole album, I found myself very well entertained and can't deny that Yob  is a truly unique beast and that the praise they receive among Roadburn guests is well-deserved.

Old Man Gloom

Old Man Gloom
Now comes the riff parade!

Be it doomy, mid-tempo grooves, with an industrial edge or in faster thrash / hardcore pace, with Old Man Gloom it was all about throwing brutal and effective guitar hammerings into the audience.
The main  reason I went to see them was that some parts and expecially screaming vocals reminded  me of my all-time favorite noise gods Skin Chamber. And I wasn't disappointed at all.

The only flaw you could attest to Old Man Gloom is that you can hardly identify any songwriting. After the set I seriously had no idea whether they had just played five or twenty-five songs. It's just riff - yeah - next riff - yeah - now that's a riff - yeah - damn, are those guys angry - yeah...


But to be truthful, that's less a flaw and rather a feature. This band just works this way and it does it well!

Loop

Loop
Time for another chapter in the book of obscure cult bands which ceased to exist just when I started to seriously listen to music. Enter Loop.

Loop were originally active from 1986 to 1991 and are currently on a two-year-reunion-run. With the mastermind Robert Hampson briefly being a part of Godflesh in the early 90s, maybe I should have heard of them somehow. I didn't and I clearly missed something.

It's hard to categorize Loop's style, yet its simplicity on the surface calls back to former movements like punk, post-punk, no wave... you get it. The foundation of the band's sound is an almost hypnotic rhythm section enriched with endlessly circling guitar riffs. The name Loop really says it all.

In contrast to the repetive structures and parole singing there was a lot of psychedelic lead guitar action infusing the performance with additional energy. All components came just in the right doses, these guys know exactly what they're doing.

Another highlight among highlights on this incredible festival.

A Storm Of Light

A Storm Of Light
So far I had only seen one band - Conan - in Het Patronaat. Saturday around midnight was my very last chance to join a show there, when A Storm Of Light blew over the beautiful venue`s stage.

Their style is an apocalyptic postrock/metal melange, mostly played faster than the Roadburn average and even featuring some catchy (dare I say almost melodic?) moments. A Storm Of Light are far from being copycats of anything, but to my delight I found myself heavily reminded of good old "The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste"-Ministry at times. Right in your face!



And so ended DAY THREE of Roadburn, surely the day I was least prepared for, as I had not seen any of the bands live before and knew them only via some streams and YouTube videos.

Clearly related to DAY ONE / Thursday and totally different from my DAY TWO / Friday (where else could those things happen at the same festival?) this Saturday was a worthwhile experience on its own.

The last part of this review tetralogy will hopefully follow soon!


Meanwhile my black and white concert photographs on medium format film have been developed, so even after the next review there's still more Roadburn articles to come in this blog. I'm also still working on my digital pictures. You can already see a bunch of them HERE on flickr.


2014-04-22

52 Wochen | 14 | sleepy good friday

094/365 • sleepy good friday

Yep, das waren noch die Roadburn-Nachwirkungen. Arbeit nachholen, Bilder bearbeiten usw... ;)

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2014 • DAY TWO / Friday, April 11th



Good morning, Oisterwijk!

I got up ridiculously early for a festival visitor, had a shower, breakfast and plenty of time until the music would start again in Tilburg.

The weather was fine, so I took a few of my cameras for an extensive walk, shooting pictures like this:

Oisterwijk forest
or this:

6x12 cm Panorama of a lake
To simulate the time passing before Roadburn continued in the afternoon, I'll bore you with some camera babble. All in all I had five of my toys with me on this trip:

The Belair X 6-12 Jetsetter, a folding medium format camera to take some panorama photographs on my tourist walks.
The La Sardina Belle Starr, a wide-angled plastic lens toy camera for 35 mm film. On Thursday I had it with me at the festival, but from Friday on I decided to use a smaller bag and reduce my luggage, so it also mainly served tourist purposes.
The Harinezumi 3.0 is a very handy,  deliberately trashy digital camera. I have this challenge going on to take at least one picture with it every day for a year, so I had to bring it with me. It's not as useless for live music photography as one may think...

A special camera for live pictures with which I have mostly good experiences is the Adox Golf. Fill this original german vintage camera from the 1950s with some light sensitive film and you might get some unique worthwhile results. The main reason why I applied for a press pass this year was to take it into the main stage's photo pit. It's not the most practical thing, because often there`s not enough light to check the manual settings or the frame number of the film, and during the three songs in the pit with all the other photographers it's not guaranteed that you get the right moment and angle for it. I still have to to see how it turned out, those films aren't developed yet. Maybe it's all garbage and should have kept my mouth shut here. ;)

And then there was of course my digital DSLR, just with my standard 15-85mm lens and always on fully manual shutter speed and aperture settings, because half automatic shooting is cheating and against my code, haha.


But now fast forward to 15:30 h, to the main stage of the 013, where a very special concert day, curated by Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt, was about to begin with a 90 minute set of one of those very few bands which can possibly turn your whole understanding about what music is capable of upside down: the one and only, the legendary Magma.

Magma

Magma
I've been hoping to see Magma live for years now, so them playing at Roadburn was one of the prime reasons for me to come this year. And what can I say other than that it was a true revelation of Zeuhl greatness?
Zeuhl is the term for the style which the French band single-handed invented in the early 1970s (alongside the artificial language Kobaïan in which the lyrics are sung) and it's based on the fusion of wild rhythmic jazz with progressive rock, dark classical elements in the vein of Orff and Wagner, hypnotic repetive structures and harmonic choir vocals with operatic to shrill solo performances.

The band around the only founding members Christian Vander on drums and his wife Stella, who were both especially celebrated by the audience, delivered a flawless powerful ride, be it through the all-time classic "Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh", the 2012 album centerpiece "Félicité Thösz" or a new epic composition which hasn't been released yet.

I love the mixture of insane fast complexity and almost clerical, but never too serious gravity of this music. Magma is just one of a kind.
I could go on about the vibraphone, the electric piano, the energetic madness that Vander is behind is drumkit, his two vocal parts which marked highlights of the set... nothing about this show was anything less than stellar and jaw-dropping.
And this festival can get away with having them as an afternoon opener!

Mikael Åkerfeldt later joked that everyone who had not seen Magma was a cunt. I'm not only willing to second that, I also predict that one far day it will be written on his tombstone: He brought Magma to Roadburn. Because - let's face it - no matter how much he has achieved (or still might) on his own musical path; this is his single greatest deed, his true legacy that just can't be beaten.

Comus
The next act was just as ancient (founded 1969) as Magma and certainly more obscure, yet on the other hand probably easier to digest for unprepared ears.

Basically the British Comus  played a mostly unplugged mixture of folk and 70s progressive rock, with some odd or dark psychedlic edges.

With both male and female vocals, several percussions and a violin embedded in complex but still mostly catchy songs the range of moods was wider than I had expected. Although I deemed the setlist a bit anti-climatic with the strongest songs in the beginning (ok, those were the ones I had heard beforehand) this was quite an interesting colourful trip.

Claudio Simonetti's Goblin
Judging from the markings on my running order this was clearly my least creative Roadburn day, as I only had curls around artists playing on the main stage, precisely: around all artists on the main stage. But what can you do with the program there being such a cult fest?

I'm no expert, but I've heard of and listened to some tracks of Claudio Simonetti's Goblin already a while ago, so I had a rough idea of what they were doing and that I shouldn't miss their set. Or at least the bigger part of it, because ninety minutes are a long time and at some point a man has to eat.
I can say I saw enough of the show to make me happy.

Simonetti is an Italian keyboard player who composed lots of soundtrack songs for several Romero movies, zombie and other thriller / horror flicks, which were performed here in a classic rock instrumentation. Scenes from those movies were being displayed effectivly in the background.

Although the music of Goblin is mostly instrumental (apart from some vocoder vocal stuff) and 70s originated, this trippy stuff had a very modern - or better not retro - feel to it. The rhythm section plus guitar provided a robust backbone of hard grooves with funky vibe or a touch of metal, on which Simonetti could dance with his keys.

Music for good times - or for being eaten by zombies. You choose.

Candlemass
I've only seen them in the flesh twice before, but those were two of the finest sets the Wacken Open Air ever witnessed, so Candlemass has really grown to be one of my all-time favorite live acts in the whole realm of Heavy Metal.

The Swedish doom masters played a special show which celebrated the full "Ancient Dreams" album, maybe a strange choice given that it is more of a second row output in their discography and wasn`t always that well loved by the band itself, mainly because of some of its embarrassingly blatant dungeons and dragons lyrics, I guess. But the great curator Åkerfeldt wanted it this way, so Candlemass did it willingly - yet not without some humour.
And they left out that somehow strange Black Sabbath medley from the end of the record, just as Voivod had done with "Batman" on their "Dimension Hätross" show in 2012. I don`t think it was missed.

I would have loved to hear anything from the band, but "Ancient Dreams" is a damn fine album, so this naturally was an excellent show. Once again I must especially praise the vocal performance of Mats Levén who doesn't have to hide from his predecessors in any way. The philanselmonic guest vocalist Alan Averill (I confess I had to google him) on "Incarnation Of Evil" wasn't bad as a contrast either.

Great band. Great show. Earth to earth, aaaaaashes to ashes and dust to dust!

Opeth

Opeth
I've always struggled with Opeth in a weird way, because I wanted to like them more than I actually did. From their formula alone I feel that I should love them, but in reality I rarely listen to their albums and still am not really familiar with them. With some bands you just have these strange unfinished relationships...

Given that Opeth was the least important band on my Friday schedule and I actually left it open for me to maybe go to one of the other stages for a while. But than I weighed that I hadn't seen them post the "Heritage" album yet and that it also would be a matter of respect to watch them, as their mastermind had put together this memorable concert day.

In retrospect I fully stand behind my decision, because this Opeth set was clearly the best I`ve seen so far. It was for several reasons, one being that the setlist was just very well balanced, with the growling Death Metal attacks, the quiter folkier tunes and even some almost psychedelic stuff being there in just the right amounts. And also important: all incarnations of the Opeth sound were equally appreciated  by the audience. I mean, when I think of that concert in Hamburg I once visited because Cynic were supporting them, I just hated how the mellow parts were totally absorbed by just too much penetrant shouting. Whereas the fans at Roadburn actually were willing to listen to the music.

And then there was the context of the whole festival day on this stage. All the bands I had seen before had their part in shaping the sound or at least spirit of Opeth. This was not just a gig of the daily headliner, but a logical conclusion where elements of everything that had happened before came together and were then joined by the Death Metal component.

So Opeth not only played a great Opeth show, but also delivered the perfectly fitting finale for this longest of the four Roadburn days.


Bong's "Stoner Rock" album accompanied me on the nightdrive back to my hotel. And who would have thought? To my surprise the first snare drum was even hit before I got there.


Two down,  two to go - see you again for my review of DAY THREE / Saturday soon!

Good night, Roadburn!

more Roadburn 2014: DAY ONE / Thursday

2014-04-19

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2014 • DAY ONE / Thursday, April 10th



The initial plan was to start this year's Roadburn Festival right at 15:00h with the very first band in Het Patronaat (the second of all in all five stages), Locrian. Or at least to be there before 40 Watt Sun startet.

Screw all that! Of course it didn't work out that way.


After my first Roadburn visit in 2012, which I attended mainly for Voivod, Justin K. Broadrick and Coroner, without much knowledge of what was going on beyond those personal favorites, I had two strong feelings: 1. This festival is unbelievably amazing and I must, no I will definitely go there again, though it`s not really what I can afford to do every year.
2. (after reading reviews and watching several YouTube clips) Damn, how many great bands did I miss?

As the very existence of this review proves I did go to Roadburn again. I struggled for a while, because it's not the most ideal time for me to take a long Thursday-to-Monday weekend, and of course also not for free... But when not only Triptykon, but also the legendary Magma (who I had been wanting to see for years) were announced, there was no way I could miss this!

And to be be fair to myself regarding point 2: You can obviously never leave Roadburn with the feeling of having seen everything. The cluster of interesting acts and musical styles - there's so much more going on than the core component of mighty doom riffs - is just way too dense.
But I came prepared, researched many artists and filled my running order with many marks, not leaving any hour free. Obviously my schedule ignored the fact that you meet people, get into conversations, that you need to eat at some point and that - especially if you bear the right to wear cameras and want to use them properly - you have to be really early to get a good spot at the concerts which are not in the main stage of the 013 .

Which brings me back to Thursday and my initial plan.


My drive - I come from Northern Germany, a few villages away from Wacken - took a little longer than expected and of course I had to check in at my hotel first, a very nice holiday bungalow thing in the local recreation area around Oisterwijk, roughly fifteen to twenty minutes from the center of Tilburg.
Maybe I still could have seen Locrian - I don't remember the exact time of my arrival -, if I didn't have to get my festival wristband first. And then change it for a press band and pass. And then behold the wonders of Veemarktstraat.

Veemarktstraat
 
The street between the main venue 013 and both Het Patronaat (with a concert hall under the roof of a church) and the V19 (with a small cinema / clinics room and a press room) looked a lot more crowded than two years before.
The organizers now not only had the city's permission to set up a stand for food and one for drinks there, but also a whole merchandise mile.

So when I was finally ready to watch 40 Watt Sun they had already started a while ago and the place was much to crowded for a fat guy with a camera bag to get a decent spot. I tried to listen to their slow, gloomy and beautiful sound from afar, but with all the excited chattering of freshly arrived Roadburn visitors around me the mood didn't get to me yet.

Beastmilk


I decided to visit the local chicken wholesaler (Which part of Tilburg is Kentucky exactly?), before I entered the main venue, while Beastmilk were playing some kind of Volbeat-for-Joy Division-fans consent music. Not my cup of tea, but I patiently waited for the fine english flavour, which would be the grindcore godfathers Napalm Death.

Napalm Death
The grindcore blasts however were left aside for this occasion, as Napalm Death honored the doom tradition of Roadburn and played a special set with some mid-tempo (in other words: still fast) and also the slowest tracks of the band's history. The whole show foregrounded the Swans influence in Napalm Death's sound and had a strong Godflesh vibe, which as a fan of both I fully approve.
Yet although I liked it a lot, compared to many other artists here who are used to crush it slow, the performance clearly lacked routine. Not that they made any noteworthy mistakes, but you could tell that Barney and co. were challenging themselves here. All in all I think it was a bold and brave move for a band of their legendary status to do this thing.
Of course there were some people shouting "faster!", and I must admit that I sympathize with them at least so far, that I would have loved a traditional second set of Napalm Death on one of the other festival days.

Whitehorse
Time for my first visit to the Green Room, the first of two smaller stages inside the 013 venue, where Whitehorse added layers of thick deep noise and crunshy distortion to the most evil form of doom I witnessed this weekend. Forgive me the use of the obvious Roadburn beard cliché (just this one time, ok?), when I compare the singer to a very angry Gimli with a vacuum cleaner stuck in his throat, deliberately delivering just more low and high variations of the noise floor that builds the whole sound of the band. Yes, this surely is borderline stuff on the verge of too much, but for my taste the Australians dosed it just right.
The bass player had his very own little Spinal Tap moment, which some people may not even have noticed, when his amp gave up during the first song and the crew exchange the whole thing. All this took a while and surely felt like an eternity on stage. But finally everything was ready again and he could join in with the band - just in time for the very last four chords of the song. The front row on the right side was amused.

Conan
The first show I really experienced in Het Patronaat was performed by three hooded guys under the plain moniker Conan. Just having seen Whitehorse the pace didn't change much, yet apart from that this was a totally different mount.
The beauty - or better: the brutal grandeur - of Conan lies in its simplicity. Straight powerful  doom and midtempo riffs in the vein of Autopsy or Winter, played in a fashion to enjoy every crispy note. On top of that a straight and effective vocal duet consisting of a higher shouting rock voice and contrasting death metal-ish barking.
Kneel down before the barbarian! I'll definitely keep this band on my radar.

Bong
Not really interested in Crowbar and missing True Widow due to a chat in the press room, I closed my first Roadburn night with Bong.

Oh, how to explain Bong? If you just step into the concert hall for a minute to get a beer at the bar, you might have the impression that literally nothing is happening there. The stage is obscured in smoke, the band seems introverted with the musicians facing each other and not interacting with the audience. Maybe the drummer is doing nothing. Maybe the strings don't seem to play a riff at all, but only a neverending wave of deep drone, while some Indian sound (no, it`s not a sitar but a shaahi baaja) is lamenting to the slow pulse. If you really catch the right minute you might catch the singer calling out to some ancient transcendent powers. But this happens very rarely.

I purchased two albums of Bong. One side (on the vinyl version) equals one track. This music is almost beyond any kind of rock music. It's meditation, in which time doesn't matter.

Just think of one of those ultra super slow motion videos of a bottom being spanked (don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about - it's the internet) and all those shapes and waves you behold that you had no idea they even existed before. And now transfer this idea to the recording of a Bong being inhaled and played so slow that it streches to a full hour. You got the picture!

This band is truly inspired - and I say that not even being stoned.


I had to two next-door neighbours in my hotel, who were also attending the festival and had diverging opinions about Bong. One said that he had felt a little bit like being dragged to the opera, always thinking okay, now they're coming to an end... just a few minutes... no, the drummer starts to play again...

It's like they say: The show is only over when the fat woman stops to sing.


And on that thought I close my review of Roadburn, DAY ONE.

read on here: ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2014 • DAY TWO / Friday, April 11th



2014-04-18

Roadburn 2014 ... review soon ... hopefully



Yeah, the Roadburn Festival was unbelievably awesome again!

Im posting this just in case you`re looking for my festival review and / or photographs. You are in the right place, but not yet in the right time! ;)

I`m working on this stuff right now (and it's quite a lot), so please check in again.

Meanwhile on my tumblr Year Of The Hedgehog there are already some posts with digital toy camera shots I did at the festival, in the city of Tilburg and during my stay in Oisterwijk:


THURSDAY, April 10th

FRIDAY, April 11th

SATURDAY, April 12th

SUNDAY, April 13th

2014-04-09

LAIBACH über dem Hamburg (08.04.2014)

Jawoll! Nach Amsterdam neulich bin ich gestern also wieder bei einem Konzert der aktuellen Laibach-Tour gewesen, diesmal im Uebel und Gefährlich (also dem alten Nazi-Flakbunker, uiuiui hätte das in den 80ern noch Aufruhr gegeben...) in Hamburg.

Ich mache es mal ganz kurz, denn morgen früh geht es für mich wieder in die Niederlande zum Roadburn Festival und ich muss u.a. noch mein Kameragepäck sortieren.

Laibach waren wieder die Macht. Auch wenn im Detail viele Nuancen unterschiedlich klangen; vom Aufbau her war die Show natürlich identisch mit der in Amsterdam, also das komplette "Spectre"-Album (Review folgt... öhm... irgendwann), eine zehnminütige Pause und danach ein Mix aus aufpolierten Frühphasensongs, "Iron Sky"-Soundtrack, den Coverversionen der letzten Jahre und ganz am Ende zwei "WAT"-Hits.

Mir hat dieses Konzert noch besser gefallen, was sicherlich mit dem besseren Platz in der ersten Reihe und einer niedrigeren Bühne zu tun hat, aber auch damit, dass zum ersten Mal seit der "Jesus Christ Superstars"-Tour endlich mal wieder jemand den Arsch hochbekommen hat und mit mir mitgefahren ist. Auf Dauer ist es nämlich anstrengend, immer alleine von der Fabelhaftigkeit dieser Gruppe zu schwadronieren. ;)

Ein durch und durch großartiges Konzert! Europa ist erneut erfolgreich auseinander gefallen.


Meine Spielzeug-Mini-Digitalkamera Harinezumi hatte ich auch wieder dabei, also halte ich jetzt mal die Klappe und zeige ein paar meiner diffus pixeligen Bilderchen:




















Setlist:
  • Eurovision
  • Walk With Me
  • Americana
  • We Are Millions And Millions Are One
  • Eat Liver!
  • Bossanova
  • Koran
  • The Whistleblowers
  • No History
  • Resistance Is Futile
  • Brat Moj
  • Ti, Ki Izzivaš
  • B Mashina
  • Under The Iron Sky
  • Leben-Tod
  • Warme Lederhaut
  • Ballad Of A Thin Man
  • See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
  • Love On The Beat
  • Tanz Mit Laibach
  • Das Spiel Ist Aus