Roadburn Festival 2016 – Afterburner Review By Guido Segers
It’s been a blast, this Roadburn, but it always hurts to see people go home and the Het Patronaat packing up. You want to somehow tell the workers that there’s a bit more of the festival left and maybe they can just leave the sound system, lighting rig and god knows what for now and chill out to what is affectionately known as the Afterburner, but in truth all good things end and so does this.
Luckily, this day the running order is less dense, which means less making choices and more just enjoying the bands. Onward it is then, to the Green Room where the day starts up to immerse oneself in some more great music.
An early start it is for Scott Kelly and his Mirrors For Psychic Warfare, who open the day in the Green Room. Droning effects accompany Kelly on this endeavour, creating more of an atmospheric setting. The guitar and voice of the Neurosis singer are embraced by sound, putting them into a more cohesive experience compared to Kelly’s solo work.
Sanford Parker from Buried At Sea is the man responsible for this brooding bit of ambient, which allows Kelly to have a completely different expression without altering or removing the strengths. Kelly and Parker both perform in Corrections House together, so this appears to be a side-project. Harrowing samples are played, but also massive drones that make the bottles behind the bar shake. It’s a good start to the day.
On the main stage proggers Green Carnation are playing there masterpiece Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness in full. The one track record was released in 2000 and still sounds like a wonderful dreamy experience. Bathed in light the band brings these beautiful tunes to life with conviction. It’s funny that of the people I spoke to before the set, none were really familiar with the band. Those who did see the band play, probably got enchanted by their progressive metal with folky elements.
Vocalist Richart Olsen has a rich and warm voice that takes you along like a storyteller would. The full sounding, complexly layered composition is easy on the ear and very accessible. It’s fairly easy to get captivated by the song, which is in fact one big soundscape of avant-garde metal. Green Carnation looks to be fully focussed on bringing their album alive. Unfortunately around Tchort, the band finishes early, leaving the crowd wanting more from the Norwegians. The day is young though, but Green Carnation was a gem that some should feel sorry they missed out on.
It takes a moment for Blind Idiot God to get started but it’s well worth the wait. The band name refers to the blind god Azathoth from Lovecraftian mythos, a blind and mad deity raging in the swirling chaos beyond the walls of sleep. I can find no better way to introduce this band’s sound with its free falling jam-like vibe. It’s more or less a jazzy experience of maddening riffs and rhythms that drags you along into that same chaos in a brimming green room.
Though in existence for more than 30 years, the creative flow has not stopped and often this instrumental trio has collaborated with none other than John Zorn, which says a lot. Blind Idiot God shows their disregard for puny things like genre definitions clearly with a sound seeped with funk, jazz and blues with heavy metal bravado. What’s not to like? The set is really one big trip, going in all sorts of directions. Jagged hooks, jazzy interplay and the most incomprehensive set of drums (and the guy playing them) you’ll ever see. Carnivalesque at one moment and a reggae jam on the other, its one hell of a ride with the band that just released their first album in 23 years.
The most beautiful part of the Jakob set might be what can be seen on the screens. The visuals delivered by Jérôme Siegelaer (known from his collaboration with Selim Lemouchi, which could be seen in the Nieuwe Vorst this Roadburn) display picturesque elements of nature. Trees and ponds, which supplements the sound of the New Zealand post rockers. The lush, comfortable sound of the band is on full strength, but leaves room for the listener to keep drifting among the tunes.
Eerie soundscapes are built up with patience, gently climbing to the peaks of their soaring sonic crescendo. There is little action on stage, the band allows the work of Siegelaer to speak for them while meandering guitar picking tells the musical story to accompany the visuals. That culminates in a dreamy unreality where sound and visual become one. The strong rhythm prevails giving a heavy foundation to the cold, autumn sound of Jakob.
Just thinking back to the performance of Amenra brings chills to your spine. Like on their previous acoustic ritual, the band does not take the audience in account. Colin H. Van Eeckhout is standing facing drummer Bjorn Lebon as he lunges himself physically into the first song. The performance of the band is one that feels completely exhausting, as if the band tries to collectively pump out whatever there is inside them. Black and white footage is displayed behind the band, adding to the grim experience already provided by the music.
A few tracks from the acoustic set are also on the set list tonight, but there’s no subtle or fragile elements to this show. The onslaught of guitars and walls of sound thrown at the crowd keep coming at a steady pace, while Van Eeckhout sings in his gut wrenching style with all the force he can muster. The black and white combination you can witness on stage reflects the bands leading themes of duality, but also evokes the right atmosphere for this powerful show.
The set closes with the favourite Silver Needle. Golden Nail. The band feels like a unit, all strengths melding together into a stream of sound that is the beast Amenra. When the band leaves after their final song, 10 minutes are still left of the hour set. The crowd however is too stunned to protest and after a few minutes of staring at the empty stage they slowly shuffle away.
Obviously, Neurosis is not going to do the same thing they did last night. Still, the band has a set list ready that is just as much a mixture of their thirty year spanning career. Somehow the performance sets of on a different tone, as if the band was holding back the previous night. This set is also spiced up with some rarely live played tunes, turning it into something special and unique.
The whole sound of the band sort of melts together. The twangy, brazen guitars and the venom-spitting vocals of Kelly, Von Till and Edwardson are just as much a unit of their forces as Amenra demonstrated before. The Americans are dominant, overwhelming and a complete show of force tonight during their absolute headliner show on this Roadburn. The band suffers from some minor technical issues early on, but those are easily overcome and possibly not even that disruptive for a crowd. In between the songs the band uses drones and effect to create a feel of continuity. Though the set is a similar mix, the songs seem to really catch on fire today like the haunting No River To Take Me Home. Songs like this seem to really grab the crowd and take them on a trip of wonder through the back catalogue of the band for almost two hours. On Saturday the roof may have come off a little, today the whole venue seems to be on its way to destruction.
So after a hellish ride the band also comes to a grinding halt when the final tones of The Doorway fade away. We’ve reached the summit and seen the Promised Land. We’re done, we’ve completed this edition of Roadburn completely and utterly. Sure, there’s still some bands playing, but when the show ends, a sense of finality comes over the visitors. A shout out to the men from Buried At Sea whom I had to miss due to train times, but have it on good authority they destroyed the last few standing to bring Roadburn 2016 to a close. Check them out, you will not be disappointed.
So, you want to go back a few days to do it all over again? You want to know when the next one is and see if you can get time off from work? Tomorrow people will head to the airports or to their jobs, with a sad face as reality kicks back in. But if you cross paths with someone, wearing one of those nice wristbands or t-shirts showing the Roadburn logo, you can look them in the face and smile. Nothing more needs to be said, you’ll both know exactly what no one needs to say out loud.
See you next Roadburn everyone!
Buried At Sea
Scribed by: Guido Segers
Photos by: Lee Edwards
Video by: super208productions