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ROADBURN Festival 2015 • DAY TWO : Thursday, April 9th

I had ordered my breakfast for 9 a.m., so I was all showered and ready, stepping out of the bungalow in which my room was and then... a closed door!
Got back into my room and switched on the tv. Oops, my alarm clock had somehow miraculously left the timezone during yesterday's drive and I was one hour too early. Damn, I must have looked like the total overachiever!

My hotel and even my room were the same as in 2014, located near Oisterwijk in an area where all kinds of hotels, camping sites, sport ressorts and whoknowswhatelse where planted right into the woods. I had spotted some potentially interesting landscapes where I hadn't been last year on Google Maps, so after I had eaten I grabbed my cameras and went for a little walk.

Thursday morning

beautiful landscapes

Oh, how I hate this...

fantastic weather...
The destination was farther away than expected and on top of that I lost my orientation for a while, so the little walk got a little longer than intended and so I warmed up my feet for the festival for about two and a half hours.
Considering my busy schedule for the following days that was certainly not the most clever thing to do. For the rest of the stay my tourist activities had to be cut much shorter.

But I'm sure the photographs will be worth it. (They're not developed yet.)

My photographic stuff for the touristic part of this trip consisted of the Kiev 88, a big and heavy ukrainian medium format camera for 6x6 cm square format pictures, and two lenses for it.
My other film camera was the La Sardina Sea Pride, a handy 35mm toy camera.

Yet the equipment for the festival itself however was even tinier.

Unlike on my two previous Roadburns I didn't have a photo pass this time, so I left my DSLR at home. I could have brought the Adox Golf (vintage folding camera) to continue my Roadburn 6x6 series , but instead I decided to minimize my luggage and save my carrying abilities for the records and merchandising I was probably about to buy.
So my only device was a very tiny, deliberately trashy digital toy camera, the Digital Harinezumi 3.0, which has proved to be a surprisingly good choice for live music photography - at least if there's more stage light than in the Cul de Sac on Wednesday.

But enough with the camera babble - time for church!

windows of Het Patronaat

The Roadburn Festival 2015 started at 3 p.m. on three (of five) stages. My choice was to let the main venue, the 013, wait for at least three and a half hours, because the first bands I wanted to see were all playing under the church roof of Het Patronaat.

Unfortunately the merchandise could not be outside on the street like last year, because there were constructions going on, so the V3 building and the ground floor of Het Patronaat had to serve for that purpose again. Even after three visits I am still amazed how incredible close all the festival venues are to each other, a circumstance that surely adds to the unique Roadburn experience.

Bell Witch

Bell Witch

The first hour of worship belonged to Bell Witch. The duo from Seattle unleashed a painfully slow and beautiful set of haunting funeral doom upon the audience.
I was extremely excited to see them live; and rightfully so. The atmosphere created only with a six-string bass (plus lots of effects), drums and two very distinct voices, one grunting and gargling, the other floating clerically, was just mesmerizing.
Bell Witch are probably my most important discovery via Roadburn this year. I love both of their albums with their up to over twenty minutes long ghost story compositions. These masterpieces have everything one needs in this dark form of doom and are - at least for me - milestones of the genre.

Luckily they pulled it all off perfectly live, so I couldn't have wished for a better start into the festival.




Bell Witch were followed by SubRosa, another doom band from the US with a comparable amount of gravitas, but a wholly different way to achieve it.

Optically only the long-bearded drummer gave the doom away. While the singer / guitarist came across as a gothic version of Florence Welsh, the two female violin players also pointed into that direction. Not totally wrong, because SubRosa's music has a strong melancholic and orchestral vibe.
This combination in itself is nothing new, so it's nothing but fair to mention the all-overshading early Paradise Lost and even more apparant My Dying Bride.

But with their mature sensibility for incorporating the strings in an un-kitschy way, a thick portion of devastatingly distorted, crushing sludge and a befitting blatant vocal approach, SubRosa have marked their very own, very heavy stylistic ground.

I grabbed the double-LP of "More Constant Than The Gods" after the concert and don't regret it. Sublime mighty stuff!

Ideally I try to watch the whole show of every band that interests me, but realistictly on a festival as packed with class acts as Roadburn that's wishful thinking. There will always be clashes.
However I managed to observe a respectable amount of complete shows this years, and if not stated otherwise you can assume that I've seen the whole or at least two thirds of the sets I'm reviewing here.

My first (and not too hurtful) clash was a slight overlapping of the next two bands.


Still in Het Patronaat there was no way I wasn't at least seeing a good chunk of Spidergawd.

Being the boogie offshoot of Motorpsycho, consisting of a guitar player, a saxophonist (both also providing vocals) and the rhythm section of Norway's finest there was a good load of fun, drive and energy to be expected. And Spidergawd delivered it!

The stage setup seemed medium insane with the huge double bass kit in the front and center of the small stage, like a big spider claiming its territory. But it kind of sent a message of immidiacy and urgency that went very well with the straight-forward rocking performance of the band.
And let's face it: Kenneth Kapstad is a beast and madman behind the kit who you really can't watch from close enough.

Spidergawd surely are not the most advantgarde band Roadburn has seen. But if you ever get the chance to invite these guys to your private birthday party, don't you dare to hesitate!

first look at the main stage

Russian Circles

Russian Circles
Now it was time for me to enter the 013 building for the first time. I headed right to the main stage where Russian Circles from Chicago were about to flood the hall with their tunes.

There's not that much for me to write about their epic walls of sound. They're just a premium instrumental post metal band with a distinct groove and some really beautiful songs in their baggage.
There was some nice multitasking when the bass player splayed out his little finger, so that he could play the bass and still continue a keyboard pattern at the the same time.
It was already 8 p.m. now and I took a little break before my evening continued in the smaller Green Room. But before we get there, it's time to mention that every issue of the Roadburn Festival has some artists which are especially involved, most famously those who curate their own big event on Friday. And then there's also the "Artist in residence", with one band or person and maybe some of their periphery appearing in diffucult shapes or projects.

2015's Artist in residency were The Heads, and the next band was a project of one of their guitar players, Paul Allen.



Anthroprophh didn't make it easy for me, and that's not only because of the strange name.
When the three guys set up the stage everything seemed quite chaotic; dusty instruments, used and unused effects and cables all over the place, a mic stand and no plan where to put it... I had the impression that this was the first gig after a long time...

Yet when they started I saw that they knew very well what they were doing - whatever that was.
With a german experimental film from the 70s looping on the screen the trip began. Paul Allen mainly provided keyboard patterns and guitar noises, while the bass player at first supported the drummer on an additional drum and cymbal, both creating a tight danceable groove.

All in all this was some pretty interesting krautfuzzy spacerock, not so much the kind to close your eyes and fly through your dreams, but more the strange weird professor style.
That was all fine and promising, until... until it was all about that bass.

As soon as the bass guitar set in, there was nothing else than this bass guitar, cutting through my ears like a one-man Swans impression, burying all the rest of the music.
Ok, I was in the front row, right in the line of the amplifier, so this may have been a very subjective problem of mine. But when I left, when I had to leave, it didn't get that much better. No, even for  this festival, where expect your share of crushing bass sounds, this was too much.

Apart from this fatal flaw Anthroprophh really were not that bad (ok, the few vocals were indeed weak), yet I wonder if Wovenhand on the main stage would have been a better choice for me...




Without doubt a good choice to watch were Kandodo back in Het Patronaat.

The band's line up was basically The Heads minus Allen (who just had his other gig) plus Robert Hampson from Loop, the instrumental music shared qualities with both bands.
Very repetive, hypnotic, rhythmic, very loud with many layers of Kraut and post rock, you could excellentely loose yourself in the massive soundwaves sent out by those noise veterans.

A flawless show!



Midnight. Only one band to go.
And who would it be? None other than the mighty Bongripper performing their fantastic 2014 three-song-record "Miserable" in the big main hall.

Anyone who knows the band and/or the album will need no further explanation.

Just a devastating doomfest of boneshattering kick-ass riffmastery! Bongripper are easily the heaviest monster in the swamps of doom metal. And even though their compositions seem to appear ridiculously long - they are really fucking good, they are catchy, and they are - did I mention that? - bodyandsoulcrushingly heavy as fuck. Bam!

Now try to just go to bed and sleep after that. Good that I always had my 1000 meters to the car plus 20 minutes to my hotel to come back down again.
And the whole time I just thought: Wow, this was only Thursday!

DAY ONE (Wednesday) here!

DAY THREE (Friday) here!

more pictures from Thursday:

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