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ROADBURN 2012, Tilburg (April 12th - 15th 2012)

Man, that was quite a memorable weekend!

And since it was my main language in Tilburg with most people I met there, I'll try something new and write my little personal report of the Roadburn Festival in english instead of german. I'm also sympathizing with all those non-german speakers here, who had to buy the german edition of Away's art book, because the english one was sold out.

So, where do I start? With my excitement last year, when they announced that Voivod would headline the festival on two days? Or with my huge disappointment, when tickets were sold out after only 7 minutes - yet none to me?

Thanks to the band I got the chance to visit Roadburn with a photopass anyway, and with a billing which apart from the Voivod döuble pack also featured one of my alltime-favorite guitarists and musical visionaires Justin K. Broadrick, who I unfortunately hadn't seen live since way back in the 90s, and the swiss thrash metal legend Coroner, which I had never ever seen, I didn't need to think twice to take it!

As for the rest of the bands - I must admit that there was none which I was really acquainted with in noteworthy depth. Yet even with this gap of musical education, the whole selection of artists sounded exciting on paper alone. You don't need to dig deep to understand that Roadburn isn't primarily interested in only giving you the easiest music to party to, but also to challenge you and broaden your horizon. If any of the terms doom, metal or avantgarde stirs up your interest, there's a pretty high chance that you can discover a lot of great stuff.
I did so, and watching videos of acts I missed on youtube afterwards, I still feel like I've only scratched the surface. Of course the range goes far beyond those mentioned three, as for example also stoner rock, prog and punk are covered, but most of the artists seem to have something in common, which ist kind of hard to grab. Maybe it's that certain amount of edges which sets them apart from the mainstream, or the accurate balance between artistic ambition and rebellious coolness.
Or another way to conclude this whole paragraph: Here's a festival which celebrates the creme de la creme of doom and other "outsider music" in a manner that just makes you pinch yourself to make sure it is really happening. Just think: where else could Voivod, who despite their undisputed worldwide cult status are still just too odd for many regular metalheads, receive this ackknowledgement, including being curators selecting a whole bunch of the other bands for the billing, and drummer Away having an exhibition of his art near the venues and designing the main festival poster? When I arrived in Tilburg and saw those voivodish Roadburn flags saluting at the street in front of the station, I already had a feeling that I might have arrived in a slightly off part of the Multiverse, and that this might very well turn out to be one of the best indoor music events ever...

And what can I say? It was!

One part in that had the venues. There were four stages, three alone in the 013, the main stage with a hall for about 2000 people that could be entered on three levels. I had seen it on several DVDs from Transatlantic and Neal Morse before and it really answered my high expectations.
The fourth stage could be found in another building just a few footsteps away on the other side of the street. Het Patronaat wouldn't be your ordinary live club, yet the wing of a real church. So on Saturday I went to church to see Jesu. Can't remember having done that before...
All stages had good light shows and a screens for changing backdrops or films, which added to the overall visual feast, which also contained lots of painted art, in huge parts specially made for this festival and its musicians. I already mentioned Away's exhibition, where you could meet the master himself every afternoon.

But now finally something about the concerts!

Instead of trying to cover everything in chronological order, I'll just start with the two Voivod shows.

Thursday saw SnakeChewyBlackyAway starting off with the unevitable hymn "Voivod" into a ride through classics from most of their phases, as well as presenting the new song "Target Earth" which was really welcomed by the audience and makes you eager for the new album to come out - hopefully this summer. After one hour of their unique cyberpunkthrashprogmetal (or whatever you call it - as long as it rocks the way it does, who cares?) I had this same feeling like in Wacken 2010 oder last year in Zurich, that this might have been the best Voivod show I've ever witnessed. Only this time that notion should only last for not even 24 hours...

On Friday the canadians performed the whole 1988 album "Dimension Hätross" in its entirety - well almost. They skipped one rather silly bonus track of it... Instead they invited Dan Kubinski, singer of 80s post-punk act and Voivod-influence Die Kreuzen on stage for one cover song of his former band.

And after that the unbelievable happened, which fans had been hoping to see for almost twenty years: the 17-minutes epic "Jack Luminous" from their underrated 1993 output "The Outer Limits" was played live for the first time ever!

I spotted grown men come to tears in the audience - as for me, I was especially surprised because I had just talked to two band members seperately about that song and those poker-faced bastards seriously assured me that it would not happen. Yet when I suggested to Dan (guitar), that playing "Jack Luminous" would be the next special thing to do, he just said "Nah! That would be Batman." With "Batman" being the left out "Dimension Hätross" track I guess I should have suspected something by then...

As another side note it's worth mentioning, that Voivod wasn't the only band playing one regular set followed by the performance of a complete album the other day, so did Yob (who I can't say anything about) and Bongripper.

My second personal headliner was Justin K. Broadrick, who as "artist in residence" didn't play two, but even three times in Het Patronaat with three of his projects.

Due to overlapping with Voivod I couldn't watch his first show as JK Flesh / White Static Demon, of which he himself stated on facebook that it managed to clear a good portion of the audience.

Luckily I could be there for Final on Friday, which was basically just him with his Apple, guitar and some effects generating a single one-hour soundscape not even underlayed with a single beat. I doubt that it's possible to describe the real impact of this performance or that internet clips could do it justice, because you really have to allow this wave of noise to wash over you. An astonishing amount of people did. Maybe my most intense Roadburn experience.

Compared to this one Jesu surely was more accessible, though I had to adjust to the fact that they appeared in Godflesh fashion as a two-piece with a drum machine, while I had hoped to see them in a more organic lineup with real drums. But I got over it pretty soon. Broadrick may not be the greatest singer on earth, but is overall vision just is a class of its own, and with a set that starts off with the debut album masterpieces "Your Path To Divinity" and "Tired Of Me" nothing can go wrong anyway.

And then there were Switzerland's finest (besides Triptykon, who already played at the Roadburn Festival in 2010). Coroner played on Sunday night as part as the Afterburner event, which took place in only two of the four stages as an extra treat, and I struggled a while with staying for so long, because work was waiting on Monday... Let me give you this one advice, boys and girls: If you visit a four-day-festival six hours away from home and you're driving alone, make damn sure that you have a proper place to sleep for all nights!
I had only booked three nights in my hotel and went home directly after Coroner pausing several times first to get some fresh air, then for three naps - always until I woke up from the cold - on some Autobahn rest areas. And I can tell you that the rest of my work Monday was anything but productive.

Back to Coroner - they delivered their signature thrash metal classics not only with razorsharp precision, but also shined with atmospheric parts and some of the most brilliant guitar solos of the genre.
A break due to technical issues was a little annoying, but I guess digging deep into the band's demo-days past with playing a Celtic Frost style song, which was originally even sung by the the master Thomas Gabriel Fischer himself back in the days made up to it. For the trivial gossip rate of this report I have to mention that Fischer, though not performing himself could be seen as a festival visitor.
And back to Coroner once again - the show was fully worth the exhausting night drive and I can't wait to see them as a highlight of this year's Wacken Open Air!

Another good reason to stay on Sunday which I didn't know beforehand was the discovery of one of the most impressive new bands for me, when the instrumental fourpiece Bongripper played their hilariously titled album "Satan Worshipping Doom". What a mighty concrete wall of extreme slow motion doom metal!
Too bad that a not very appatizing mixture of food and beer was spilled on parts of my leather jacket at the end of the show. That was really disgusting and spoiled the memory a little. Nevertheless I've ordered my digital copy of this great album today.

I won't go into detail about every other artist I watched - be it for one or two songs or a whole set, but some names deserve to be mentioned:

OM - doom minimalism, made of at least 80% bass, drums and one guy switching between tambourine and occasionally keys or guitar - and surely a little too much to smoke. Last - and long - song performed without light show in darkness. Can't imagine another place where so many people attend such an obscure performance.
Same goes with Sleep, the evil distorted twin of OM, where the room was packed. Four amplifiers and tons of distortion for one bass. Not sure if that's what german lyricist Das Bo meant when he said "Bass, Bass, wir brauchen Bass" in his poem "Türlich Türlich", but it definitely had something to it.

Killing Joke!

Ulver playing a concept show about love with cover songs from the 60s. Trippy!
Obviously too much for some fans, but those who stayed had a good time.

Nachtmystium surprised me. Who would have thought that I would actually stay and listen to a black metal band with the notorious cheesy keys and such an awkward band name.

J.G. Thirwell's Manorexia - a chamber orchestra on progressive krautrock? I have no idea how to label it, but it was a welcome diversion.
In retrospect I would have also liked to see more of The Mount Fuiji Doomjazz Corporation, which was another interesting fully non-rock music avantgarde act on Sunday.

Sometimes a little bit too repetitive, but still Sólstafir's mixture of metal and cool psychedelic rock was a late afternoon highlight as well as the gothic death metal of Celestial Season, which fitted very well into that clerical environment.

On Saturday and more so on Sunday I felt that my absorption capacity for new music began to wear out, so I spent a little more time outside the venues or with George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire", which may be a big book, but with its short pov chapters has proven to be a good read for short breaks, like while you're waiting for your pizza.

And anyone who knows me won't be surprised that I also took my time to walk around in Tilburg (and Oisterwijk, where I was sleeping) with some of my cameras, so you can expect that there's some tourist stuff Der Ohlsen style still to come on my flickr stream once the films are developed.

My Roadburn concert photographs can all be found HERE!

With the promise of Godflesh performing "Pure" I'm already tempted to visit again next year, but all in all it  is an expensive long weekend... and of course you need some luck with the tickets.
Concerning this I'm just realizing that writing a positive festival review might not really be helping. Damn!

Greetings to everyone I've met in Tilburg and Oisterwijk and again a cölossal thank you to Blacky and Voivod for the invitation!

 my personal fan package ;)

ROADBURN 2012 pics - days 3 (Sat.) + 4 (Sunday)

review coming even sooner than last time I mentioned it ;)






Bin ich zu verwoehnt?

Schneckennetz mit lahmer Vistagurke und Uralt-IE... Ich glaube, ich erzaehl dann nachher, wie geil es auf dem Roadburn ist. ;)

In einige Accounts kann ich mich eh nicht einloggen, weil ich die Sonderzeichen auf der niederlaendischen Tastatur nicht schnalle.
Und das hier sollte eigentlich nur ein fickbuch-Statuseintrag sein, aber sowas geht mit diesem Browser hier natuerlich nicht. *grrmpff*