ROADBURN 2014 - PART 2
SATURDAY 12TH APRIL
I felt pretty weird even before the wonderful Terra Tenebrosa exhibition on Friday night and, sure enough, the following morning I woke up shivering and ill. Aware of a new bout of influenza sweeping across the Brabant region, I took a hefty dose of paracetamol, downed a whiskey from the mini bar to warm up and returned to bed. I woke up in the middle of the afternoon feeling better but realizing I had already missed 11 PARANOIAS, Adam Richardson’s new band whilst Ramesses are on hold indefinitely, which pissed me off slightly. I had also missed out on Walter Hoeijmakers' live interview, where he discussed the necessary passion and foresight and inevitable struggles in organizing a yearly event like Roadburn.
I rushed to catch my Eindhoven-Tilburg train (being located outside Tilburg was not too much of a problem as trains run every 30 minutes and late into the night) to enjoy a very captivating performance from YOB.
While I must be in a particular mood to appreciate their heavy and hypnotic sound, this year I dug every minute of their set also largely thanks to the splendid visuals by artist Jérôme Siegelaer (pictured below while conducting his show), which transported me into another dimension by focusing on the perpetual motion and strength of wild water.
I left for the Green room to catch the last excellent 20 minutes of Bavarian psych-stoners OBELYSKKH raising their hymns to Pan: with a drummer called Steve “The Krusher” Paradise, you really cannot go wrong!
Following on, Chicago's INDIAN destroyed a packed Patronaat with a vehemently intense show of the noisest, loudest sludge one can possibly imagine, which had many fans in rapture. Featuring past and present members of Lord Mantis, Nachtmystium and Wolves in the Throne Room, these is indeed a band with massive attributes.
But it was INTER ARMA that I was eagerly waiting for. They surely enough offered a truly unforgettable aural and visual journey with one of the performances of the festival. Their apocalyptic mixture of styles reached moments of pure catharsis, especially when diving into full-on cosmic black metal, which is where my spiritual home is. The Americans (incidentally, this year there was a particularly hefty presence of excellent Relapse bands) have crafted an intense, gripping individual style: on stage they are simply themselves, totally lost in the eclectic, often epic vortex of their own music, a stunning melting pot of sludge, black metal, post metal and what not, and the cozy Green Room was the perfect stage for such type of fiery, moving shows. A special mention must go to drummer T.J. Childers for an exceptional physical performance both during the blasts and the slower, crushing parts. (Note: I wonder why I never take notes at fests. I know I get irremediably overwhealmed by music, and yet I always think I won't forget something as odd and... memorable, like for example Inter Arma's drummer chucking his sticks to pick up a large tree branch to play the very last note of this supreme gig. But I did - hence this postumous note, for which I have to thank Miss Laverty). Anyway, I hope that the following selection of images I took will give you an idea of how powerful this experience was.
Finnish young trio HORSE LATITUDES closed my day with their fascinating drone/doom driven by yet another eye-catching tribal drummer, also on vocal duties (yey!), supported by two bass players (indeed, no guitars). As you can imagine, they built up a heavy, oppressive set which was gritty, dark, hypnotizing and very successful at bringing their vintage roots very much into the present. They created a great ambience in the Green Room from the beginning by using a very suggestive image of an unspoiled pine forest surrounding a lake as backdrop, so this was indeed a very good end to a mammoth Saturday which completely defeated any viral attack by sheer aural bombardment.
SUNDAY 13TH APRIL
Sunday is synonymous with Afterburner, an unmissable event within the festival, especially so this year since it opened with the commemoration of the late SELIM LEMOUCHI. His brave sister Farida was surrounded by 10 skilled musicians, with whom the very talented guitarist and lyricist had recently collaborated, for a stunning and moving performance. Positioned in a circle, as if two complete sets of bands faced one another, SELIM’S ENEMIES summoned his spiritual presence in the middle of the stage. Alongside the wonderful psych rock from “Mens Anumus Corpus”, on the 013 giant screen there appeared the slow-motion sequences of a poignant cleansing ritual filmed by Jérôme Siegelaer where Selim, beautiful and genuine as always, bathed under cascading, freezing cold water.
Selim’s tattooed body emerged from the waterfall with powerful vitality and his face, breathless under the force of the pouring water, at times seemed to move towards his sister, who watched, small and dignified, from below: truly unforgettable ... I cannot even begin to imagine the overwhelming emotions that must have felt Farida, Jérôme and all of Selim’s close friends, gathered for this poignant celebration so soon after he left. I chocked a few times, but eventually I surrendered to the embrace of some of the best music and poignant lyrics written in recent times. At the end of the performance a solar photograph of Selim appeared on the huge screen while an applause that seemed to never end saluted his huge talent and exceptional humanity: you will never be forgotten, sweet brother...
Ferocious Swiss duo BÖLZER brought me back down to earth with a kick in the teeth. Their blackened death metal, utterly primordial and ultra-violent, took me back to the barbaric and unhealthy roots of underground extreme metal, and that felt good. Yet again, a mesmerizing drummer, perpetually engulfed in abyssal dark-blue light, made the show gripping and fun. It was the only time when a few people in the audience attempted at causing a bit of a stir in front of the stage, but it all died down soon. Oddy, this year the crowds were a little less keen to instigate a moshpit (memorable the furious antics at the Black Breath RB gig in 2012) but still ill-mannered enough to steal artifacts from the exhibitions and vandalize the live-work of an artist in residence: most definitely NOT in line with the friendly Roadburn spirit!
Lastly, from the big stage, the dark metal of TRIPTYKON & Tom Gabriel Fischer, playing a mix of golden-oldies and songs from the new album, sounded old and devoid of stimuli to my spoiled ears... I used to blame the larger stage setting for my recurrent lack of interest in big historical bands, but the fact that I loved Voivod to bits in this very venue two years ago, and enjoyed Goblin this year, must mean that my conscience is clear.
So for me the curtain sadly closed before MORNE got to the stage: Roadburn 2014 was once again a fabulous, surprising and joyful marathon that will keep me charged with positive energy for a long time yet. Definitely until September for Incubate... see you soon Tilburg!