Yeah, yeah, I know it – using Metallica in this day and age?? And to describe a doomy festival like this??
Well, fact is, they do play a rather big part in my being here at all, so there – and I’ll do as I fucking please, so there!
Sitting in the apartment of my mother in law, eyeing the bottle of Gammel Dansk bitter she has so generously put on the table, ready just for me (huge thanks!), I feel old. Old like the ancient ones. Perhaps like Cthulhu himself (except he does not feel old – but that’s beside the point).
My ears are fucking ringing from the constant onslaught of yesternight – I dare not imaging how they had fared, had I not used plugs – I probably wouldn’t have been able to hear the bands of the coming night.
And I feel exactly like that song. Exactly! So I’ll use that title. So there!
My wife, had she been here, would have told me I’m just getting old. Well, she’s not here, so I’ll tell you, the reason is simply the complete and utter destruction dealt by the 9 bands of this evening. 9?! I can’t remember when I last saw 9 bands in one setting…
Everything started out innocently enough – well, innocently might not be the best word to describe what Ockultist were doing. Laying down a carpet of dread, they started pummeling our senses. If anyone came here with any kind of high spirits, this was the perfect antidote. Everything light and positive was effectively dampened. Heavy on the feedback. Ockultist meant business, they were here to lay waste and they did it. It was indeed a fine start for a night that would simply get better as it went on.
Next up was Confusion Master, who by their own account play “slow and boring music” – well – that’s just exactly how we love it, isn’t it. Their set laid down the doom admirably with just enough of the psychy effects to keep things interesting. And – doom has to be felt, not simply with the mind or the body. It has to be felt through the feet, implanting itself all the way up the body. And, that it was! Vibrations ringing through the entire building. Most excellent.
Next up – the body needs attention too. When we got out here, the nice surprise at the bar when ordering a beer and a cola was getting asked 2 questions: “which cola” and “which beer”. Turned out they had 4 different colas on the menu and, I think, 6 or 7 different beers – and not one of them the usual consumer stuff. Such a nice change from the usual Danish festival experience where you damn well have to drink whatever garbage the festival decides, of course based on any marketing deals they have entered into. I really, truly love the underground!
Anyway – the body does not run on fluids alone. So, we went to the food counter to be met by a truly nice bloke who asked as the most natural thing in the world, if there was anything we were allergic to or simply did not want in our pita-seitans. Once again, as it was in the “old” Ungdomshuset I remember, this is a perfect example of what you get when people are doing things not because they have to survive and earn enough cash to get by from day to day, but out of love and interest. Here we were, at a doom festival, celebrating the vision of completely fucked-up humanity, being reminded that there is indeed a single hope for said humanity – and it lies outside the reigning capitalist world order.
And the seitan – well, at any metal-tinged festival ever, the shout of “Hail Seitan” is a regular mainstay, but it never felt more appropriate than here. The kitchen of Ungdomshuset is just what any beaten-down doom-fan needs to build up resistance for the coming onslaught. Delicious!
While we were eating, Shakhtyor started their set, and the Germans delivered an absolutely mesmerizing set of post-laden sludge that will stay with me for a while. The Russian landscapes they are painting in their compositions translate eminently into their live performance, the trio seems incredibly tight, constantly knowing where each other is going and thus making their challenging music seem natural and almost easy. I would very much like to catch a headlining set by these guys some time. Or – perhaps we’ll see each other at Roadburn some time in the future – they’d fit in nicely.
Next up – a change of pace, of sorts. Japanese Guevnna seemed intent on making the evening even more enjoyable. The band seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves, as they delivered a set of bluesey (almost) death rock, underlined by the vocalist and his sunglasses. I remember reading once a lament from Tony Iommi, that Black Sabbath would never again have a frontman like Ozzy, a real song-and-dance-man (yeah, it was back when Ozzy being back in Black Sabbath seemed like it would never, ever happen – I’m feeling old now). Why do I write this? Well, singer Ryo genuinely seemed like a song-and-dance-man this night in Ungdomshuset. An unpretentious and completely in-your-face performance.
After the show, we got to exchange a few words with him at the merch-stand, while my son picked out a shirt – well, he made me out, asking if I was the guy who had written those preview-posts about the festival. Turns out he read them – much appreciated, mate. Glad to be of service :-)
Time to enter fuzz-land, as Cities Of Mars took the stage, to deliver a great set of psych’n’fuzz. They had a great on-stage presence, perhaps the band of today’s lineup with the largest amount of charisma, but downplayed just enough. As in being likeable and with no rock-star attitude. I have to admit though, as I told my son before the show, by mind was more at what was to come than it was at what was happening.
After picking up #13 of the 25 numbered Rural Filth bronze tapes earlier, my mind had started its own focusing excercise. Horse Latitudes were coming. Perhaps the set today I was looking forward to the most. And what an amazing performance those Finns conjured up. Of course, with an instrumentation of drums, 2 basses and some pretty nasty bottom-feeder Moog, they had already paved their way into my heart. Add to that a completely obliterating set of downright evil proportions, and you’ve made my day. And with the keyboard-effects setup having the keyboardist (is that a word?) seated at the front of the stage, it sent my thoughts towards the Yodok III set at Roadburn last year, where Kristoffer Lo was set up much in the same way. And Horse Latitudes mesmerized me in much the same way. Stunning.
So, the Finns put me in a kind of stupor that would last for the remaining evening (could also be partly a product of having go get up at 4:30 in the morning to go for another pointless day of shitty work?), but I would of course not let that get in the way of seeing a couple of completely downtrodden, misanthropic sets by Iron Witch and Come To Grief.
Let’s be honest here – I have no notes from these sets at all. They simply washed over me like a wave of so much despair, and left me wasted on the other side. I feel somewhat inadequate for not being able to describe it better – but have to admit, that might be right up those bands alley…
Last band of the evening were Danish stoners Demon Head. Well, my mind had more or less completely shut itself off at this time, and I’m not entirely sure that I didn’t at some time during this set, nod off standing up. The complete and utter mind-melting performances of this day, on top of that working day simply exhausted whatever mental resources I had (it definitely wasn’t the brews – no siree!)… But my son ensures me that Demon Head did an excellent set which he enjoyed very much…
And now, writing this with the sound of a roaring sea in my ears (nope, no sea around here, but the roaring is there anyway), I’m questioning myself – do I have what it takes to cope with yet another day of this. Well, having just gone for a short walk, with the sound of that incredible, underrated Laibach album Spectres (no matter what praise it would get, it would be underrated!), trying to blast away that roar, I think the answer must be a somewhat resounding yes. But the night might prove me wrong. No matter what, I intend to go down in flames :-)