So, incidentally, a few hours from writing this, the Roadburn ticket sales goes live for the 2018 edition. And tomorrow finally sees the beginning of my string of band presentations for Roadburn 2018. Which is all kind of a great occasion for taking a look at the overall picture revealed so far.
2 great rounds of announcements have been made, comprising around a quarter of the bands at the festival and a couple of quite significant other tidbits of information. So, where are we at?
Well, one of the immensely pleasurable things about looking at the Roadburn lineup is, that it is always possible to put different focuses on the lineup of any particular year (a lot of different focuses – foci?), and already, with only 28 artists announced a few possible narratives seems to present themselves as foggy outlines.
So, let’s tackle one of those for now, and see where the future leads us as we draw closer to a full lineup.
The first lens I’ll examine Roadburn 2018 through would be what you might call Roots & Traditions.
Roadburn itself, nearly 20 years old, of course have a lot of traditions in and of itself, and those are of course also present in the lineup so far, anchored in the stoner/doom metal scene, but of course also a newer tradition of focusing heavily on the (almost all-encompassing) vibrant black metal scene. And of course, all bands so far can be said to wear emotions prominently on their music, not as an attachment, but rather as a prerequisite to musical existence in the first place.
But there are other interesting attack-vectors when it comes to roots and traditions. Perhaps most visible is the inclusion of the very interesting new project by Ivar Bjørnsson and Einar Selvik – a prequel/companion piece of sorts to their wonderful Skuggsja, delving even deeper into Norwegian history in a way that is so remote to what passes as nationalism in today’s western European climate that it seems a whole different ball park.
A different, but equally heartfelt look at musical and cultural traditions are delivered by a band like Sangre De Muerdago, bringing a piece of Galicia to Tillburg – and perhaps even going a long way to show exactly why such traditions are so important to hold on to, especially today. (And traditions and identity of course being highly relevant in Spain right at this moment in time).
And on different, perhaps less obvious routes, a band like Godspeed You! Black Emperor brings with them other traditions (apart from the obvious fascination with folk-musical roots in their music) – the tradition of popular resistance and struggle against the powers that be, deeply entrenched in both modern-day and historical music.
Or the Roadburn tradition of vibrant full-album live-sets – which this years lineup seems especially filled with. Or perhaps a tradition of featuring Mat McNerney, Scott Kelly or Steve Von Till whenever possible (mentionend only half in-jest – because it’s such a well-deserved platform for very important artists)
And I could go on – but I’m quite sure everyone will be able to lay down their own template of roots and traditions and find in Roadburn a hotbed of celebration and reverence of those traditions.
Which, in closing, brings me to a rather important aspect of modern-day Roadburn when viewed through the glasses of tradition: their unique ability to introduce new concepts, new genres, new adventurous ways of doing things – and then promptly, in no time, turn these into (almost time-honored) traditions of their own.
Like – introducing a lineup-subset at last years festival of up-and-coming synthwave/darksynth artists, and then continuing, expanding and broadening this for this year’s lineup, with the inclusion of the Bong-Ra headed Future Occultism event.
Which of course means the news that this year the festival has for the first time ever commissioned music from artists especially for the festival (not one but two pieces), opens up for a new tradition in itself. (And expect to see this copied by other festivals over the coming years – of course, not to the detriment of Roadburn which will (probably, likely) simply incorporate this in the Roadburn way and then set out in search for new, unexplored territory, yet again). And we’re forced to remember that before good things can become traditions, visionary people have done their jobs to perfection. Roadburn remains the pioneers as well as the protectors of tradition – and not a hint of schizophrenia to be seen in the cultivating of both of those roles ;-)