Roadburn is a special event. Besides moving some of the most dedicated fans, there’s a handful of things that really make the festival appealing. Be it the visual aspect, the album sets, commissioned performances, curators, the powerful stages or even the city dynamic, there’s just so much that makes Roadburn a dreamland. Those who’ve attended in the past need no introduction, but for those who are planning on going and are determined to make it happen, just know that the line-up is not the only reason worth buying the ticket for. Nonetheless, it’s not a challenge to pinpoint a 4-day festival with just bands, but this isn’t just a standard festival. Upon arriving, allocating things and trading the tickets for bracelets, it’s time to enjoy the view, take in the air and get to know where all the stages are. Then, get lots of rest. There’s a big weekend ahead.
Day 1 has arrived. It’s much colder than last year but one can still see the fuss in the streets, and at such an early hour there’s already a big current of people heading for the Hall of Fame. The new “permanent” venue is at the end of the Ladybird Skatepark and not only is it cozy and has a good claustrophobic atmosphere, it has a great sound. UK duo Bismuth got up on stage and made themselves be heard. Needless to say, this duo did a number on the packed venue with their crushing sludge. A perfect fit to what Vile Creature delivered next, at the legendary Het Patronaat. Immediately after, came the Brazilian dance assault to the senses, Rakta, making an impressive debut while rendering the crowd to total spiral cacophony.
Vile Creature and Bismuth
Molasses, Lingua Ignota and Rakta
Speaking of assault, Lingua Ignota’s Green Room saw nothing less than a legendary performance from Kristin Hayter. Beyond the cataleptic and surgical catharsis that was taking place at one of the smallest venues of the festival, there’s few words that can express the disorienting, emotive and liturgic demonstration from Lingua. Now more than ever, there’s a need to lighten things up. A sneak peek at Hexvessel’s performance of All Tree at the Main Stage should make things easier. Just a few minutes later, Emma Ruth Rundle was prepping to get on stage at the Koepelhal, but after not getting the best sound and having to deal with an unbearably crowded venue, maybe seeing the Danish Mythic Sunship at the Ladybird Skatepark was a better idea. A small stage that is equally spacy and welcoming, and somehow reminiscent of the smaller venues where all the underground local bands play. Magical is a word that can easily describe this instant in time. Only 300 people were present and every single one had their mind where Mythic Sunship wanted it to be: dancing. Roadburn’s aura really flourishes in moments like these. Memorable.
The night was already in motion when the Germanic collective Heilung rose to the Main Stage and delivered one of the most memorable rituals that one can recollect. After an awe-inspiring plunge to the past, one had the transport for a trip to a futuristic dystopia with Bliss Signal, an unexpected but great jump. Ovtrenoir received a pumping Hall of Fame with their infectious and atmospheric black metal, but the night would only be finished with the boys from Texas, Crypt Trip, giving the Main Stage a decent good night send-off. Hard to find better views than a small but passionate crowd dancing to the fuzzy desert sounds of these stoner rock lads.
Emma Ruth Rundle and Mythic Sunship
Hexvessel and Heilung
Bliss Signal, Ovtrenoir and Crypt Trip
The second day of Roadburn began full-steam ahead. One gets the feeling that either too many tickets were sold, or the so-called “small” venue bands really should be in bigger ones. The line for GOLD at the Patronaat made it impossible to catch the band on time. Not the first time, and certainly not the last one, this happened during the festival. But moving on, Seven That Spells began playing the first rendition of The Death & Resurrection of Krautrock at the Green Room. The room felt quite comfortable and welcoming to receive the psychedelic grooves from the Croatian four-piece. Exciting start to the day, followed by the epic second commissioned piece of music at Roadburn, with Triptykon’s intervention accompanied by the Metropole Orkest, presenting Requiem. The word “enormous” does no justice to this monumental performance.
On a side note, the idea of having Soft Kill play their two albums in succession sounded like a great one, but immediately turned into a nightmare when the band saw an intimidating 1500 capacity room empty to its stomach towards the end. That’s a depressing sight for anyone. At the Main Stage, the Swedish Anna Von Hausswolff was under The Burning Darkness curation by Tomas Lindberg. Not unfamiliar to this young lady’s raw power of emotion and atmosphere, the entire room was in awe after her performance. Speaking of raw, impossible not to mention Conjurer’s set at the Hall of Fame, where no one was indifferent to the UK sludge act.
Throane, Triptykon & Metropole Orkest and Seven That Spells
Vile Creature and Anna von Hausswolff
The Koepelhal was once again full, just in time to welcome Young Widows performing Old Wounds in its entirety, but after learning about Morne’s presence at the Ladybird Skatepark, this deemed itself unmissable. Crushing atmosphere and more than enough space to welcome a hefty amount of people. Seeing that the Patronaat will not be in Roadburn’s plans next year, this venue seems like the best option to compensate. Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle collaboration was up next, so back to the Koepelhal again. Everybody was astonished at the idea of having a power combo between the lifeforce emotion of Emma and Thou’s power house sludge delivery. It sounded and felt ten times more emotive and jaw-dropping than expected. With Emma’s beautifully radiant voice and Thou’s atmospheric framework, there’s just so much good things to take out from this.
While not finding a good reason to leave the periphery of the skatepark, Pijn was up next to close down the Holy Roar showcase. These Manchester lads hold one of the most well-measured balances between nostalgic “saudade” and bludgeoning sludge. Something that really did a lot of justice on their last record Loss. The day couldn’t have ended better with a dream sequence between Portugal’s own Black Bombaim collaborating with German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann at the Green Room. However, the definition of dream drives on the same plane of existence as Messa’s exquisite, fluctuating and nostalgic take on doom. Their presence at the Patronaat stage was a dream to the few that got to see their performance alongside a saxophone and other instruments. Those who stood in the endless line outside the venue (once again) had to deal with the wait, but those lucky enough to be present, stood on the receiving end of Sara’s beautiful and moving voice. Messa do not fail in creating a second layer to life with atmosphere, jazz, a lot of low-end and very simple, yet emotive, writing. With the Patronaat’s design, one could remember the venue forever alongside this body-levitating performance. What a way to finish the day.
Conjurer, Morne and Thou & Emma Ruth Rundle
Messa, Pijn and Black Bombaim