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my ROADBURN After-Afterburner: KAYO DOT + BOTANIST live at the Hafenklang, Hamburg (13.04.2015)

See you next year (hopefully), Oisterwijk!

Wow! Monday morning and four full festival days of Roadburn (plus the warm up on Wednesday) madness were behind me.

I had managed to to see a respectable portion of my ambitious running order. Actually I had posted my planned schedule on facebook before the festival. Now I've added some markings.
circled RED: I want to see this!
circled PINK: Also interesting, but how without splitting myself up?
GREEN:  the shows I actually saw (Or at least parts of it. But of most shows I had in fact seen all or more than two thirds.)

Not bad, eh?

But as I already mentioned in my review of Saturday, I still wanted to see Kayo Dot and Botanist on their stop in Hamburg. I was leaving at ten in the morning, doors open was ten hours later.
Of course the drive doesn't even take close to that long, but in post-Roadburn-condition it comes pretty easy to add a little extra time at lunch or power-nap breaks.

Speaking about lunch: After I had had a traditional swedish meal at IKEA Hengelo, I killed some time in the neighbouring MediaMarkt and was really impressed about the size of their vinyl department compared to those of the MediaMarkts in Northern Germany.
Browsing through the records had a touch of a flea market feel, because most of them were stored in cardboard boxes, due to construction works. Those works included some really devastating noise, far more crushing than almost everything I had "endured" the week before. That speaks for the sound guys in Tilburg - and shows you that it can always get more brutal.

Though I was seriously tempted by Herbie Hancock and some others, I didn't buy any record.

Yes, you know why...

Botanist, Bongripper, SubRosa,
Fields Of the Nephilim, Bast,
Kayo Dot, The Osiris Club, White Hills,
Virus, Slomatics, Napalm Death, Bell Witch, Zombi,
Bell Witch, A Storm Of Light, The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, King Bong,
Vattnet Viskar, Spidergawd, Goblin,
2 x King Dude

All great stuff, some nice special editions... hard to choose favorites.

White Hills are stuck in my head almost 24/7, both Bell Witch albums are absolutely stellar doom masterpieces for the ages, Virus and The Osiris Club are fantastically freaky. Everything here is praiseworthy, even the free King Bong promo CD-R.

I got the Spidergawd 7" the day after they had played, and luckily among the few of the 200 hand-numbered pieces there was still my year of birth number 77.

This picture still misses: one Roadburn cap, one free The Heads poster and one Kayo Dot download card.

And the big B for Botanist wasn't purchased at Roadburn, but in Hamburg.


I still arrived early, parked my car at the Fischmarkt and walked to St. Pauli Landungsbrücken with my medium format camera. As soon as I had put in my film roll and before I had taken a picture, I was approached my two guys interviewing people around the harbour.
What do you like especially about the harbour? Why do you shoot photographs here?
I hadn't been there for years and I just happened to be there, because the Hafenklang club is in that area... Man, this encounter was too complicated for me right now.

Ate a little fish in the Haifisch-Bar and then it was finally time to wait for doors open at the Hafenklang, where Kayo Dot were announced not quite in their recent line up...

one, two, three, four, four, four... wait

Even though the Hafenklang is only connected with memories of great concerts for me, I must admit that it was a harsh step back into reality from Roadburn into the dim lighted club (no useful live photos this time), waiting for the room to fill up with people, which unfortunately didn't happen in the scale this package deserved.

Monday in Hamburg, relatively obscure bands... There must have been around thirty paying fans. Certainly a whole different kind of gig that what both bands had experienced in Het Patronaat on Saturday.

But they both delivered great performances, starting with Botanist and their strangly entangling black metal on hammered dulcimers and harmonium (plus bass and drums).
With those massive string instruments on stage, the also unusual green-brown Sunn O))) hoods and the roughly four meters tall singer croaking with his face hidden behind a black veil Botanist already looked like no other band out there. Musically the familiar raw darkness, blastness and occasional bumpiness of black metal contrasted with a trancendent, ethereal quality, which in itself varied between crystalline clarity and dreamy haziness, like magical pollen that educes hallucinations...

I liked it immediately. But even as I stood there enjoying the music, I wasn't really sure if it was more the quirkiness and bravery of this whole concept (of plants destroying mankind and reclaiming Earth) or the actual qualtity of its delivery which drew me into this.
After the show I bought the "Flora" record and it still grows on me. So now I know for sure that the music actually is very good.

Botanist is a band capable of unique unheard grandiosity, enwrought with a very weird underlying humour. A good combination if you ask me.

Kayo Dot, successor of Maudlin Of The Well, has seen a great variety of personnel and musical styles over the years - and it has never been a group that's easy to grab or to describe. Not even close.
But no matter where Toby Driver drove his ship - ambient waves, orchestral deeps, infernal black storms, falsetto singing or bellowing -, it has always been music which demands the listener's attention to fully experience all of its compositional flow and jazzy sensibility.

As always the current album "Coffins On Io", which built a good portion of the live set, introduces some new ingredients. There is a strong pop appeal, which does not mean, this would have any chance of bringing a big commercial breakthrough. No, it's sounding as if someone had taught pop bands of the eighties how to play smooth jazz. Accessible, yet still very advantgarde.

All this translates wonderfully into the live setting. So many different states of mind and emotion, all expressed with so much musical passion and highest instrumental prowess. It's useless to highlight one of the four musicins, as they all were constantly on top of their game and having their special spots. Yet I have to mention that whenever the keyboardist switched to saxophon, that was when it couldn't get any better.

Between the songs it got akwardly silent after the applause. I hope the band didn't get that wrong. It was Monday, we were only thirty people - and people were just too stunned to chatter.

The only real flaw of this concert was that after half of the set I just couldn't stand on my feet anymore. The rest however was fantastic.

So that was it! Six days of live music action and just a one hour drive home ahead of me.
This was one of the biggest musical marathons I've ever gone through. And it was all worth it!

I haven't drawn comparisons to my previous Roadburn experiences yet, because it's just pointless. Maybe the Afterburner of 2014 was stronger, but to say that would unneccessarily diminish the performances of White Hills, Bongripper, Goblin, Bast and The Osiris Club.
There also was no band like Magma this time, but hey - there is no other band like Magma.
And on the other hand: There is no other band like this year's Fields Of The Nephilim either.

So each Roadburn is its own unique thing. What indeed got better from 2012 to 2014 to this year is that I personally watched more and more of the great artists performing there each time.

And I can't wait to see what Roadburn-Walter pulls out of his hat for 2016.

So see you in Tilburg then!

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