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ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • DAY THREE: Saturday, April 22nd

 - Resources of Suffering, Means of Catharsis -


Ok, since time and weather prevented me from going on any side quests, let's jump right back into the festival action, shall we?


Ever been woken up by Cyanide & Happiness' Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber?

No? Me neither. But I guess the Math/Grind/Hard/Insane Core of Pupil Slicer is close enough, right? With their wild dillinger escapist / hirsch effektive sound they swung quite a a wrecking ball through The Engine Room.

So maybe it was me, because even though I was impressed, the show didn't grab me as much as I would have loved. And I think that with the mentioned references in my mind I just had a bit too high expectations. I also wasn't the the biggest fan of Kate Davies' clean vocal performances in the new songs. But hey, I'm beginning to sound like I'm shitting on this show, while in truth this might just have been too much to take in for the time of the day, so we'd better just move over to The Terminal now!


Holy shit! I wasn't sure if I would dig KEN Mode or not, but the Canadians pleasantly suprised me with their maximum aggressive mix of Hardcore, Sludge, Noise Rock and Industrial Metal. What a wall of punishingly punching groove and misanthropy! Special props to the role of the synths and occasional saxophone, which as we all know always earns extra points in my book. Massive!


My first personal main event however took place back in The Engine Room with the first ever live performance of the Spanish/Scottish/German band Healthyliving, a trio on their debut album "Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief", but enhanced to a quartet on stage, where they played just that whole collection of Dark Alternative / Post Hardcore / Doom Metal etc. hits.

If this fantastic release hadn't already been reason enough for me to make the show mandatory, watching their singer play as Maud The Moth on the Next Stage the day before would probably also have done the trick. And here in this dynamic Rock environment between delicate dreaminess, creaky noisy bass and burst of blasting brutality, she utilized a whole different, yet equally as emotionally expressive range of her wide vocal spectrum.

A voice like that and immediately catchy but substantial songs, which can see eye to eye with the material of bands such as Brutus, Gggolddd or Dool - what could even go wrong? Of course the presentation wasn't nearly as confident as any of those, but this was the freaking debut of this constellation, so a little nervousness is highly understandable.

And not just the the staggering vocals, but also the musical performance was flawless. A paramount example of the striking level of quality in the choice of this year's full album shows. Wonderful!


No fancy video or interchanging artworks, just the documentary photo of a car that had crashed into a living room. This dry poetry of harsh reality as the backdrop of the Main Stage perfectly set the tone for the only show I saw in the 013 on this Saturday.

It would have been the European debut performance of Chat Pile, if they hadn't already played a secret show in the Hall of Fame the day before. (Couldn't see that, because I was watching PoiL Ueda.)
If that surprise gig did one thing, then it was multiplying the already great hype caused by the Oklahoma City band's sensational album "God's Country" - and of course establishing the simple question "WHY?" as this year's central Roadburn meme. And so the probably only group on this stage making their setlist up on the spot did the absolutely and only right thing and just started right away with the song of the same name responsible for the meme.

From there on Chat Pile had already won. With a "Hymns" era Godflesh tight rhythm section their Noise Rock / Justified Anger Core took no prisoners, while frontman Raygun Busch, whose performance often was closer to a grim spoken words routine than actual singing, hectically rushed his bare belly and feet around the stage with a frustrated divorced dad energy that rightfully should have felt like the downright denial of a proper stage show, but instead was the icing on the pile. It was as beautiful as I hope the movie "Cocaine Bear" (haven't seen it yet) is!

And since this band was not only charged with social and political awareness and a great talent for musical storytelling with seemingly primitive tools, but they were also weaponized with a healthy amount of humour - checking all the cheapest an American visits the Netherlands punchlines -, this show was just a complete win.

And please don't ask me WHY! I just fucking explained it.


Phew, this was another change of pace to a sound far from anything else I've heard at the festival so far! Schnellertollermeier from Switzerland were already supposed to perform in the Paradox club last year, but got held back by one member being severely sick with you know what.
And the seriousness of that sickness and the quarantine regulations of that time aside the very precise and particular thing these Avantgarde Jazz Rock deconstructors are doing, surely demands a healthy mind and body to pull off.

In principle the trio just plays repetitive hypnotic grooves between percussive clickidiclack, super funky Jazz Fusion and even heavy Post Rock, but somehow they are often surgically removing all those bits which are making it possible for the listeners to orientate themselves. So with maybe one, two, three seemingly random hits or notes per instrument Schnellertollermeier just start with the most unlikely micro elements and keep it going and going, steadily putting the pieces together, while you can't help but groove with this polyrhythmic beast, even though you never quite understand it, until the band finally decides to release all the cleverly built up tension in a cathartic explosion.

These dudes have perfected a uniquely crazy nerd shtick, and the audience absolutely loved it. If you were there and this was your highlight of the day - I won't object.

And this seems like the proper place to play another round of...


Parallel to Schnellertollermeier the synthwave show of Sierra was crowned as the surprise winner of Roadburn 2023 by more than one witness. And that one hadn't even been a big one on my personal radar.
Until now the most painful thing to miss had been the second show of Under The Surface
, where the Dutch group showed a totally different, yet also very exciting side of their versatile sound than together with White Boy Scream. I also omitted the commissioned project of Duma & Deafkids in favour of Healthyliving. And as tempting as it would have been to see the Sludge locals of Ggu:ll perform an Offroad show in Kafee 't Buitenbeentje, that unfortunately directly clashed with Chat Pile.

Immediately ahead at 8 pm lay maybe the most original of all clashes, which involved another Offroad show in the LOC Brewery featuring Dutch Black Metal commando Terzij De Horde and the "Dance Of The Seven Veils", a commissioned dance performance(!) in the Tilburg Theatre. Both of those however stood no chance on my schedule against the highly anticipated show of the Elizabeth Colour Wheel singer in the Hall of Fame:  


I can proudly say that I felt very in the know for counting Otay:onii among my most mandatory appointments of the weekend. On the other hand however I really had no idea what the hell actually to expect from this solo performance. Lane Shi is an interdisciplinary artist, so it would surely be more than just music. And would it be music from her amazing three studio albums or something else entirely?

Just like the Paradox the Hall of Fame was always cleared out between the shows, so you had to wait outside ("Why do people have to wait outside? WHY?") during soundcheck and would be let back inside a couple of minutes before the performance started.
This time when I got in front of the stage, on which the singer was still preparing, I immediately realized that whatever was going to happen now would be unlike anything I had seen before - just by her very deliberate look. Her elegantly ragged, clothed but also semi-naked appearance conveyed a confrontational vulnerability, an almost uncomfortable intimacy, which obviously had to be matched by a strong artistic purpose, if it didn't want to be reduced to the mundane notion "well, she likes her body". And you bet it did!

Watching Otay:onii was like stepping into another world and being caught by it for the entire performance. And for sure a rich source for irritating out-of-context images.

I wouldn't bet my life on it, but I'm pretty positive that at least ninety percent of the show followed her amazing second album "Míng Míng" and told a personal story of the struggles of Chinese-American identity, which became very clear, when after mostly wailing to the piano for the first part of the show, she build up a loop of noises and disappeared backstage, while the screen showed all her passports, visas, bureaucratic documents of dismissal and approval.

When she returned in an alien elephant woman look, which also subtle played with the racist Asian face idea, singing "Oh whoever there / Have you seen a sub human cry? It hurts/ It’s ugly as it is" you couldn't witness it without being profoundly touched. Later she played a keytar with all black keys, she put on a bustier with a spiky Noise nipple on it, walked through the audience several times... and of course delivered a stunning vocal delivery over her exceptional songs between fragile minimalism, cross-cultural beauty and crushing harsh Electronics.
I'm surely not the only one to claim that it was like watching Lingua Ignota on Mars.

While the idea of ranking shows in itself feels very contrary to the Roadburn spirit - for the abundance of so many incomparably different performances alone -, there is no doubt that if I had to choose one, it would be Otay:onii! No other experience was as immersive as this breathtaking, artistically complete statement. This will vividly live on in my head for a long time.

CLASHBURN (reprise):

The plan had been to take a break and see yet another one-woman project, Mütterlein, on the same stage, but I realized that I would only be able to get a small slice of that show if I wanted to be back at the Paradox for the final event there in time.

But since after the intensity of Otay:onii I was content with switching the first with the (almost) last row in the audience for once, it was very doable and obvious to check out the second gig of Backxwash in the completely crammed Engine Room.

Inspired by the movie(s?) "Suspiria" and appropriately titled "Nine Hells" the performance of the Sambian-Canadian experimental rapper / producer levelled the ground like Dälek, the first Hip Hop band to ever play Roadburn, once did with the former location Het Patronaat.

Backxwash, whose voice was hoarse and sounded extra brutal from talking to too many fans after her triumph the day before, dominated the stage and room with her presence. And it is said that parts of the building are still vibrating from the bass of her Heavy instrumentals (including sneaky Black Sabbath samples) right now. Boom!

Heavy Jazz Jam

Last year had seen a spontanously organized "Heavy Jam" close the festival in the Paradox. Now this idea has been institutionalized under guitar player / host Rainier Baas, and if I desperately wanted to write a bad review about this show, I would point out that the special spirit and energy of Kanaan and RRRags being thrown together without any preparation couldn't be reached here. This jam also didn't come close to the world-class Free Jazz inferno of the Martina Verhoeven Quintet on the same Sunday.

But the good news is this doesn't mean much, because what this zornish Jazz Rock quartet cracked into the room was still an absolutely worthwhile banger. Baas mostly cultivated a seemingly erratic chaos, while the role of the backbone fell to bass player  Jasper Stadhouders, whose choice of a forceful Rickenbacker sound was a central defining element of the whole endeavour.
Saxophonist John Dikeman either levitated warm and smoothly above the sonic jungle or burst into head-reddening multiphonics. The greates joy to watch however was drummer Sin Mi Ho, whose flow and facial communication really made you feel how deep she dove into this improvisation.

And as far as I know no other drummer destroyed the resonance drumhead of a kick drum during the festival. It was a show within the show to watch the tear in the skin grow and wander around, even though the extra *flap* sound over the bass drum wasn't the sexiest addition. Still - someone give that lady a championship belt, the Roadburn Medal of Destruction or whatever prize seems appropriate!

In good old Naked City Grindjazz tradition the last piece was just a quick blasted noise. Wish Barney Greenway could have been there to shout "You suffer - but WHY?!"

My head had reached the maximum capacity of sonic input by now, but my feet still took me to one last show in The Engine Room. Thankfully the action there didn't require the highest amount of intellectual attendance, you just needed to be alert to crowdsurfers and stagedivers - that one you can see on the pic above surprised everyone with a swift and hard landing.

The sound quality was clearly weaker than during most other performances I had seen, but in this case part of it may very well have been on purpose, because considering the snotty Punk attidude of Show Me The Body's show it was rather fitting and not a disqualifier at all. And by the way: The band played an ass-kicking mix of Hardcore, Sludge and Rap and even a bit of Country(?) I guess... What, you disagree? Well, blame it on the sound then!

On the way to my car I stopped for wi-fi at the 013 and then outside of the backstage area passed a pile of Chat Pile members chatting.

Too meta for me, that almost broke my brain. And I'm not even going to ask wh...

reviews of the other festival days:

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • THE SPARK: Wednesday, April 19th

- Canned Beer, Chlamydia and Digestive Disaster! -

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • DAY TWO: Friday, April 21st

- Redefining Eternity: A Journey Through Timelessness -

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • DAY FOUR: Sunday, April 23rd

- A Constructive Criticism of Jesus and Other Brave Sunday Musings -

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