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2017-05-05

ROADBURN Festival 2017 • DAY THREE: Saturday, April 22nd

- She's a droniac, droniac on the floor  / And she's droning like she's never droned before -

 


Gnod vs. Kuro

Compared to my previous Roadburn visits I had noticeably cut back my midmorning activities (which mainly means unreasonable long hikes with my film cameras) this time. One reason was that I already arrived in the Netherlands with aching feet from Wednesday in Cologne. And I've also kind of immortalized the periphery of my hotel in Oisterwijk several times now.

But on the third day I couldn't help myself and at least took a little photographic detour on my way to Tilburg for a relatively short walk through woods and lake shores.


bad sense of direction?

Oisterwijk woods


I only shot a couple of digital images besides my film stuff with one of my two tiny Harinezumi toy cameras, which - as you can see in these reports - I also had with me at the festival (one in each trouser pocket; they look ridiculous and I sometimes get recognized solely because of them).
Yet later, while I was waiting for the first band of the day to begin, I discovered that the counter of the other cam (which I hadn't used at all) to my surprise also showed over a hundred new images!
Turned out that I had produced an epic documentation of the total darkness in my pocket. Not too clever, especially since I had the suspicion, that the internal battery of the cam had lost a great deal of its rechargibility during the past weeks...


But we're already at the festival again now, in the Extase to be precise, where a serious black metal ventilation of the place was on its way.

Woe

Woe from Brooklyn initially hadn't been very high on my list of priorities while I was preparing for Roadburn, but since their show - as well of Ultha's - at the Droneburg Festival in Hamburg had been canceled last minute under embarrassingly stupid circumstances, I felt like making good for it today.

Luckily the show was longer than the typo on my running order had announced ("14.30 - 14.30") and it also was really damn good. I can't give a detailed recount of their style however, because I could only stay for twenty-five minutes and the impression somehow just got buried beneath so many other memories which followed. But I do know that right there I liked Woe's ferocious black metal very much, enough to mark them with a "wow!" in my obviously way too short notes.




The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson of Earth


I don't think I've ever heard of the electro artist The Bug before, but since the slow motion legends Earth are still on my to-watch-list and their guitar player Dylan Carlson was performing together with The Bug on the main stage now, I had to see what that was about.

The stage setup with the huge electric castle surrounded by speaker boxes and Carlson's strings roaming in the wide plain beside it, had a primal quality to it, like this was some place of worship under the stars, not unlike the setup of a Sunn O))) concert.
And of course the music, while being delivered in smaller portions by comparison, was a slow and deep drone which shook the walls of the hall.

While the cool wailing signature tone of Carlson evoke a sense of vastness, desert and western, the electronic bass and rhythms were in times close to Dälek - and thus once again hinting at one of several threads in the creation of the festival line-up -, but even more took me back to a show at my first Roadburn in 2012 when The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation had performed on this stage.

This was a show which didn't feel wrong to follow sitting on the stairs leading up to the back of the hall, and many tired fans were doing this. All the more mean was the occasional use of one of the searchlights on the ceiling to thoroughly scan through the audience like a police helicopter looking for a criminal. The sudden glare of the bright spot pulled you brutally out of your drone trance when it hit you in the face. A very powerful effect underlining the bleak post-apocalyptic vibe of the show.

"Not all drone is good drone." a wise person once said.

This was good drone.



Meanwhile the running order of the Cul de Sac showed a gigantic gap, where obviously some surprise was about to happen. Last year I had missed the secret show of The Vintage Caravan, this year it would be another band from Iceland, the black metal steamroller Misþyrming. I guess the short announcement was was only made online and since I am totally free of the internet during Roadburn week I didn't get the memo. That doesn't make me bitter though, since I already had the opportunity wo witness Misþyrming's killer live show at the Hell Over Hammaburg festival in March.
It will be interesting to see if it grows to a tradition to always let icelandic artists do a mystery show. So maybe one day there'll be the chance to see a surprise reunion of K.U.K.L. (raging advantgarde punk band from the mid-80s including an insane singer called Björk) in the Cul de Sac. Hey, a man can dream!
 



For the next show (that was really happening) I went back into the Extase.

like to keep things mysterious: hoods, a dark stage and very muddy arrangements, in which guitar noise and dream-like vocals flow together in one unfiltered stream. The nightmare of any sound engineer, but if you allow it their strange thick soup of black metal, folk, psych and ambient - or whatever the hell this is - works astonishingly good in leading you into a meditative state of transcendence.

All in all pretty much met the expectations I had from their recordings. So this wasn't a top highlight of the festival as a whole, but still another brilliant piece of the whole experience.


Speaking of recordings: The mystery around goes so far that the band doesn't have an own social media presence, and there are no announcements when they bring a new 7" on tour. There was one, but I delayed the purchase until their merchandise was already gone; in the same way I would later miss to buy the latest album of the Slomatics. Fuck. At least I saved money. Damn.


The plan was to watch a portion of Oranssi Pazuzu on the main stage now, before I would return to the Extase for Wolvennest, who promised to be a great dark psych mixture of Oranssi and Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand.

But that's not what happened. Oranssi Pazuzu had played a mind-blowing show in Het Patronaat last year, but so many people missed them waiting in line outside the building, that they were invited again to play the bigger room this time. And they also filled that room to the roof now. I had seen them last time wasn't in the mood to fight myself to agood spot in those masses, so I took a look at what was about to start any minute in the Green Room.



A small excursion (as if there weren't enough in my writing, I know):

There's one problem with Roadburn: When I talk about the festival to people who haven't been there I often fear that they think I'm totally exaggerating in my excitement all the time.
Similarly I can imagine that uninitiated people wo read interviews with Walter Hoeijmakers or his yearly guest curators, where they are talking about things like trying to tell a story with the artist selection and the running order, might think: Wow, those guys are really full of themselves!

But it is true. There are always themes and narratives to discover. And if you're hungry to see many shows and discover new music - which applies to a huge part of the Roadburn audience - you will find them and it will elevate the whole event in your perception.

A story needs time to unfold. Thursday was a great festival day with great individual shows. Friday got even better and I additionally began to notice the overall patterns and arcs of suspense, if you will. The frequency in which I was just floored by the fact that I was here and that this was really happing, increased rapidly.

But it was only now, with the show to come, that I crawled all the way into the Roadburn rabbit hole, that I fully arrived at the core of what was possible here.




Gnod vs. Kuro


"Not all drone is good drone." a wise person once said.

Printed in big letters this quote adorned the t-shirt of Agathe Max, female half of the experimental string duet Kuro, who opened the joined performance of Gnod vs. Kuro.

Kuro had played a set in the Cul de Sac the day before and the psych/noise/kraut/whatever collective Gnod was this year's "Artist in Residence", having already performed an electronic show in Het Patronaat and a rock set including songs from their fantastic album "Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Facist Industrial Death Machine" in the Green Room.
Since I couldn't make it to those shows I at least wanted to see their Sunday involment in the festival, but this show right now I honestly didn't really have on my radar.

But the shirt had made clear what was about to happen.

The violin played alone for several minutes, looping, building on top of the loops, forming what seemed to be one long, neverending, multi-layered yet minimalistic sound.
The contrabass joined in, doing the same thing, slowly, very slowly building and looping...

And in this way, always with a couple of minutes delay, one musician followed, always adding a little bit more. Some of them also switched their instruments while their old sounds were still orbiting around. If you had entered the room for a while somewhere between the fifth and the twenty-fifth minute you probably would have thought that they were all just playing one tune and this was leading to nowhere.
But after half an hour finally all eight musicians were on stage and you had violin, contrabass, theremin, effect pedals and other electronics, one electric guitar and two electric basses, percussions and drums and the whole thing had ascended into a droning, hard-hitting and grooving, hypnotic, magnetic psych jam that was just unresistable.

If this hour wasn't a masterclass in suspense and release, then such a thing doesn't exist. This was just perfect on every level. Excellent drone!

And yes, this was the other set besides Subrosa subdued which I'd love to hear on record one day.



It was too late now to get a decent spot at the Wolvennest show, so this would have been an opportunity to watch Warning from a distance performing their emotional masterpiece "Watching From A Distance". But I quickly realized that I wasn't in the mood for this kind of doom now, but rather for something a bit more forward, so I went back to the Green Room again for the Slomatics



Slomatics (with Jon Davis)


Even though I have one Slomatics album and their split with caveman battle doomsters Conan, I wasn't aware of their line-up, so seeing just two guitar players (no bass) and a singing drummer on stage was a little surprising at first.

There certainly was no shortage at the sonic deep end though. And their heavily Melvins-inspired space fuzz doom had the room under control right from the beginning. For the last song they were joined by Conan singer Jon Davis. Great music, great show. Full thumbs up for Slomatics!


After that I was a bit indecisive for a while, so I went to the V39 building (which hosted some of the merchandising booths) to see what was going on in its cellar. There was a screening of Melvins documentary, but even though noone was speaking loud I'm not sure if anyone was really following it from start to finish. I guess most were just here to sit and enjoy a moment of relatively silence for a while.
Speaking of basements: No, I still haven't been down the stairs in the 013 for any part of the side program or aftershow parties. Just no time for that. It's pretty safe to assume you could wallpaper the whole place with pics of my dick and I wouldn't ever notice it.


The plan was to see Ahab now, but with My Dying Bride later I feared to get overfed on doom bands playing full albums, so I decided to go to Slow Crush instead. It had been a while ago since I had marked them as interesting and didn't remember why I did it. As soon as I saw the effect boards of the two guitars and bass on the intimate Cul de Sac stage I had an idea of what would come.



Slow Crush



It shouldn't came as a surprise that the band was mostly slow and crushing, but at the same time they sounded very melancholic and dreamy. Jesu riffs and Mono leads. Distant female vocals. Post rock and shoegaze are the words.

Another show which I really digged and which offered just the right mood at the right time for me, but I can't think of much to write about here. A nice new discovery.


Time to finally return to the main stage, as My Dying Bride were about to time-travel back to 1993.


My Dying Bride


So My Dying Bride went through (almost) the full "Turn Loose The Swans" album plus a couple of extra songs from that era. Do I need to say more?

No matter if they play newer material or early classics like here, My Dying Bride are just a brilliant live band with probably one of the most dramatic and charismatic frontmen of their genre. Be it the glooming gothic doom or the dark death metal which they were pioneers in mixing together, Aaron Stainthorpe always fully lives it.
Two tracks of the album naturally had to be performed solo by him and it was handled in a good way, that wasn't awkward at all. Costin Cioreanu had created exclusive animation films for with show, which complimented the material perfectly. So it was a flawless, coherent show in all aspects.

And that one funny, unmistakable wrong cue of the singer near the end only added to the humanity.


The plan said to watch Disfear in Het Patronaat (where I hadn't been the whole day), but again... the plan was just a plan.

My feet were on their total low now. The ball of my left foot had been aching since Wednesday, so I had done a lot of unusual movements to compensate it, and because of that my ankles were in brutal pain now. So I rested one last time before the last adrenaline injection in form of a rapid and insane party.

And I'm not talking about the Mysticum show most reviewers seem to have attended. And they all are reporting how totally overwhelming the stage production was.
The music isn't mentioned that much though. For a reason I guess. At least for me their drum computer bumper car black metal was probably the least interesting thing of the whole festival.



An 80s synthwave extravanza however... yeah!

 
Carpenter Brut


Who knows how many comebacks the 80s have already seen? Does anyone even count anymore?

What is special about the current wave of retro synthwave is that it's mainly pushed by metal labels and seemingly mostly consumed by metal fans. And of course the musical quality isn't that bad either.
With John Carpenter in their name the influence of his movie soundtracks is a given. But Carpenter Brut also pull from more lighthearted movie and series soundtracks and the synth pop of the time in general and add a metal component to all this.

On stage this mix led to the wildest, most euphoric party I witnessed at the festival.
Carpenter Brut just tick all the great clishés and show elements you need: the e-drum set with the hexagonal pads, a keyboard player who boldly dominated the ever-pumping arrangements and a guitar player who acts as if he's the greatest rock star of all times.
Accompanied by a dazzling custom light show and b-movie scenes and fictional trailers on the screen the instrumental trio never felt like it was presenting songs, but just switched on to the next beat and theme without any real breaks inbetween.

So the whole show was a weird but totally engaging and just fucking rad action horror titty movie synths madness & metal riff disco destruction party for the ages.

And when they finally stopped and earned their well-deserved applause they had one more hilarious ace up their sleeve: a karaoke cover (with sampled vocals) of a certain hit from "Flashdance":

"She's a maniac, maniac on the floor. And she's dancing like she's never danced before."




The way from the venue to my car felt like I had never walked before. Pure excruciating pain. But hell, it was worth it!





reviews of the other festival days:

ROADBURN Festival 2017 • DAY ONE: Thursday, April 20th
Roadburn destroys minds and will not play Stonehenge again

 

ROADBURN Festival 2017 • DAY TWO: Friday, April 21st
The riverbed will run red with the blood of the saints and Magma of the holy

 

 ROADBURN Festival 2017 • DAY FOUR: Sunday, April 23rd
The silence of the wolves






Woe:














The Bug vs. Dylan Carson of Earth










 †:











Gnod vs. Kuro:


















Slomatics:



















Slow Crush:















My Dying Bride:


















Carpenter Brut:






















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