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ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2024 • DAY ONE: Thursday, April 18th

- Nothing is safe, only ecstasy and obliberation -


I began every Roadburn day with a shower, breakfast, hanging around and getting ready in my hotel room. Only on Thursday I found the time, energy and right weather for at least a little walk in the beautiful area around the former monastery.

So there's no big analogue photography drop to be expected soon, since I still have to fill a lot of remaining frames on the two films I brought.

How the F did I combine the festival with so many tourist activities in the past? Is that what they call aging? Or has Roadburn itself just become too immersive? And is there even a thing like Roadburn getting too anything? Alright, it's probably the age thing. Bummer.

That made me hungry. Should have done that before breakfast. But now let's head over to Tilburg, where as always the first choice of the day was easy, since at 2 PM there simply was no other show parallel to the first performance in The Terminal, the bigger of the two Koepelhal stages.

On their recent album "Polar Veil", which Hexvessel performed in its entirety here, the Finnish band gets back to their roots and adds darker moods and Black Metal guitars to their catchy Sixties/Seventies-inspired Psychedelic Folk Rock. And does it work? Yes, it was a good show.

Good, but certainly not mind-blowing. While I must applaud Mat McNerney for varying the sound and presentation of his band significantly without sacrificing their recognizability, I don't think this show spoke to me more than the two club shows in Hamburg I saw in 2016 and 2020 (my last live music night before the pandemic). And it certainly wasn't even close to the A game they brought to the Prophecy Fest in 2017. Maybe it was me not being very familiar with the album, but somehow I had hoped for more, both musically and visually here. It was still good, but not an advertisement for me to see his commissioned project on the Main Stage the next day.

My next choice was mostly informed by the convenience of the band playing close in The Engine Room, as there wasn't much information to be found about Sunrise Patriot Motion and I had no idea if their show would rather suck or rule. Thankfully it was the latter - except for that one song which they had to restart after half a minute due to issues with the bass drum pedal, forcing the drummer to push the beat with the floor tom. "That sucked" the frontman rightfully put on record.

The rest however was pretty cool, an equally guitar and synth dominated, aggressive and desperate take on post-punkish Goth Rock, full of raw energy. Their show was so convincing that the tape of their 2022 debut album "Black Fellflower Stream" was one of only two pieces of merch I purchased on this still disciplined first festival day.

One good show, one great show... but now it was time for a sucker punch that left no doubt that I had arrived at Roadburn. Missing Body Void to see Julie Christmas had been one of the hardest clashes for me last year, so them returning so soon with a full performance of the indeed atrociously obliberating album "Atrocity Machine" was a chance I couldn't miss.

You can hardly play their frightening brand of Post Sludge Metal harsher and louder than these spiritual brethren of Primitive Man. Even when you thought that their wall of noise and distortion had already reduced everything between your ears to mush at some point within the "Cop Show" or "Divine Violence", there still was the incredible breakdown to break down all breakdowns of the title track left to completely disassemble you. My mind felt microvaved. This was sick, nasty and misanthropic.

Keeping at the routine, going back from The Terminal to The Engine Room again, my next stop was the first of three performances of this year's Artist in Residence, Noise musician Uboa. "There are way too many of you!" she joked in relatable anxiety, given that this show in a packed festival venue was her first time ever playing outside of Australia.

As soon as she started her forty-minutes sonic assault however she had even less reason to be nervous than I had reason to hope I could come down from the previous show here. In combination with her unintelligible screams and screeches her sample-based Noise actually sounded as if you had taken the bass, drums and guitars away from Body Void and added even more of the non-musical chaos.

Certainly not the kind of show to join in the middle and vibe to at the bar, but a wonderfully cathartic nightmare.

While rushing over to the 013 to see Void ov Voices aka Mayhem / Sunn O))) vocalist Attila Csihar continue on a similar path on the Next Stage was tempting, I rather allowed myself a break to eat something and afterwards found a good spot for my first Main Stage show:

No, they're too expensive... Who would have thought this could happen? Certainly not the Hip Hop trio's manager, who wasn't even aware that the band had been eager to play at Roadburn for years. And since I had been at one of their rare small club appearances in Hamburg last September and it had been one of my favorite shows of the year, I knew that - even though the timetable didn't make it easy - I was also eager to see at least the biggest part of one of their two performances in Tilburg.

The set-up certainly was cleaner and less sweaty than in Hamburg and the setlist less horror-centric, as this was their "party" show. With Clipping. that still meant a lot of booming experimental Electronic Noise - and of course the absolutely insane vocal performance of Daveed Diggs, whose bars defy any metric restriction or speed limit with an ease as if he could do it in his sleep. And when a pro like him teases a surprise with the warning that y'all not ready for this, it surely means something.

He was right, we were not ready for soul singer Counterfeit Madison, whose enormous voice smoothly throned above the noise of "All In Your Head", before she stunned the audience even more with a solo piano performance. She stayed for the rest of the show, which I sadly couldn't watch completely, since I had to cut it a couple of tracks short.

I'm not going to lie: as a whole the Hafenklang show last year all in all was much more intense. But this was not only very different, but also amazing. Roadburn has fully embraced the dark and heavy edges of Hip Hop and Clipping. just gave Roadburn a huge hug back.


Before I continue with the final three shows I attended on this day, let me tell you that coming up with my Roadburn schedule had been a special pain in the behind this time. Ultimately it was the third or fourth draft of my plan which I brought to the festival - and to my own surprise followed better than most plans of the past. Tonight for example I only ditched the very last show (Eye Flys) in favour of a surprise act on the Main Stage. 

The clashes had begun right after Hexvessel, where musically The Infinity Ring actually seemed more interesting than Sunrise Patriot Motion, even though I feel I made a good choice in hindsight. However seeing them and Body Void meant to miss the first Main Stage performance, which was Wiegedood not playing Black Metal, but a jazzy Ambient soundtrack to a Japanese silent film.

And while the beautiful Folk of Brigid Mae Power clashed with the beginning of Clipping. it was now, still during and after their show, that the decisions got really cruel: We had Duma vocalist Lord Spikeheart on the Next Stage, BHPL as part of the Offroad programme somewhere in town and most painfully of course the long-awaited show of the Ukrainians White Ward.
All of those shows had in common that (at least with commuting between stages) they overlapped with Chelsea Wolfe, who thankfully was easy to cross from my list, since I'll be seeing her later on tour in the not too far future anyway.

Despite all the alternatives I was very satisfied with going to the small stage of the Hall Of Fame for the first time to watch the likably weird duo Spill Gold, who I had previously seen opening the Right On Mountain in 2022 and who were about to play known and new songs from their upcoming second album.

My expectations would not be disappointed as drums, percussions, loops, electronics and ethereal vocals weaved their special nerdy kind of cosmic experimental kraut-tronic dream music. Once again beholding the creativity of Nina de Jong's drumming alone was reason enough to enjoy their performance. But also as a whole Spill Gold's show just was a joy!

The next show made me return to The Terminal once more for a dose of insane Dissonant Avant-Garde Black Metal by the Canadians Thantifaxath. The mind-melting action was all in the sick sick sick progressive music here. If you came to experience a wild stage show with movement beyond the actual instrumental and vocal performances, you were definitely in the wrong place.

The culmination of non-movement was the guy in the middle, who was also the only one whose face you could see under the hood, making him even more the centre of attention. He wasn't lazy though, but playing the theremin sometimes just requires to freeze a gesture just to hold a note.

The combination of that spooky theremin with the insane shredding and blasting arrangements in this sonic maelstrom for fans of bands like Blut Aus Nord, Ulcerate or Imperial Triumphant was absolutely magnificent. But even though I loved everything about this shit, I left a couple of minutes before the end of the show and could still listen to the music in the merch area, while scoring the last vinyl copy Thantifaxath had brought of their stellar 2023 album "Hive Mind Narcosis". Strike!

Given the big gap in the time table it was no surprise that there would be a surprise show closing the night on the Main Stage - which actually only was a surprise because someone had booked Backxwash again after the two much talked about performances of last year, without realizing she had an exclusivity clause at another festival, so it just couldn't be announced earlier.

The Industrial Rap artist's show came without any special Roadburn-only extras, but was a very successful recognition of the resonance she received in 2023. One could also say: a prolonging of her momentum and what she stands in the greater context of the festival, which is Roadburn opening up to and being accepted by both the experimental Hip Hop scene and the LGBTQ community, which saw a lot of representation in the line-up, as also seen in today's performances by Body Void and Uboa or Sonja the day before at The Spark.
There even was a certain gay wedding (including a hilarious mock-up of the official festival booklet), which is an absolutely sneaky boss move considering that these guys will probably be "forced" to celebrate many of their anniversaries at Roadburn.

Back to Backxwash: Her performance was as brutal, aggressive and engaging as expected, which resulted in me not feeling like squeezing myself into the Next Stage for more angry shit afterwards, so I called it a night and returned to my monastery in the woods, contemplating about all I had experiences in perplexed amazement that there were still three full days to come.

reviews of the other festival days:

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2024 • THE SPARK: Wednesday, April 17th

- Laser Jaguar Sex Vampire Rebellion! -

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2024 • DAY TWO: Friday, April 19th

- Where will you be when paradoxes burn the timewave? -

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2024 • DAY THREE: Saturday, April 20th

- The truth is a grave under a knoll,
fully covered in earth and blood -

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2024 • DAY FOUR: Sunday, April 21st

- Mijn maximalistische Zondag and
andermans lost in music faces -

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