Day 2 of Roadburn arrived… A day for some hard choices again, of course – I still can’t quite fathom a festival line-up that has me choosing not to watch for instance Diamanda Galas.
But there you have it – Italian psych-blacksters Nibiru was up first, playing at the same time as the lady, so that’s what I chose to start up this day that would both be pretty eclectic, but also see me fall victim to my own whims, and hop around a bit from gig to gig.
Nibiru was definitely a pleasureable punch to the gut, playing the smaller Exstase stage. Focused on delivering a well-rounded set of both slower, more psychedelic, noisy tracks, interspersed with tracks a bit faster and heavier, they were an immense force live, which has to be seen. Scary, occult and gut-wrenching. Unfortunately I had to cut their set short, because of what was coming next – sorry guys!
On day 1 I’d noticed the queue for getting into the Patronaat could be quite big, so I definitely did want to show up for Steve Von Till’s solo-set early. And oh, man, am I glad I did.
In a room full of expectant people, after the initial applause when Von Till entered the stage, everyone went completely quiet, creating the best possible setting for Von Till do deliver his heart-wreckingly beautiful acoustic work. And for the second time during this festival I felt tears running freely, of course also because this music means so very much to me, but definitely also because Von Till delivered a magic performance that will long stand as a highlight for me.
Content to simply sit in a corner for a while, contemplating the profoundness of what I had just experienced, Roadburn had of course found the perfect way to follow up on Steve Von Till... A solo set by Scott Kelly. Together, of course, they’ve created the magic of my number one favorite band, Neurosis. On their own, their respective solo work has added an introspective greatness to the world, not to be missed.
Scott Kelly is a force equally amazing on stage with his acoustic guitar and his beautiful, ragged voice, doing renditions of his own soul-searching songs interspersed with select covers. And as was the case with Steve Von Till’s set, love and the deepest respect seemed to be flowing in the direction of Kelly, and he seemed deeply touched at times, as when he was thanking Walter for inviting them and for creating this amazing festival.
He did a completely devastating version of Neil Young‘s Cortez The Killer, at which point I did notice not being the only one having to let the tears have free reign. Amazing set, finished off with Tecumseh Valley, where he was joined by Colin from Amenra for some beautiful backing vocals.
I am so honored to have watched these guys put on such naked and honest performances – I’m quite sure it will be a long time before I get to experience anything of this level again, and I’ll keep the experience in my heart and treasure it!
So, in order to not fall completely into self-contemplation after this, I decided With The Dead might be a good way to move along. And boy, did I decide correctly. Lee Dorrian and his mates delivered and absolutely excruciating set, threatening to tear down the entire 013 building. With a backdrop of video-montages showing a world equally as bleak, ugly and grim as the music, With The Dead‘s set both gave us a glimpse of the real existing hell – and of the doom metal to come. Do not miss this if you get the chance!
I then got restless and wandered a bit between performances by Hills, G.I.S.M., and Of The Wand And The Moon, but nothing really seemed to grasp me on top of what I’d seen earlier on in the day – until Lychgate went on stage in the Green Room to play their incredible 2015 album An Antidote For The Glass Pill in its entirety with a full church organ.
An Antidote… is one of my favorite, newer black metal albums, profound in both its compositions and the story behind, and seeing the whole thing transformed into a masterfully performed live-rendition actually both gave the music more vibrancy, and gave a heightened understanding of the whole album and the story it portrays.
Truly amazing – and what’s equally amazing is, generally you come across performances as these every once in a while – but here at Roadburn they come like pearls on a string. I cannot praise Walter Hoeijmakers and the rest of the people at Roadburn enough for having this vision about a (to paraphrase Mat McNerney) sacred place for music to be allowed to exist on its own terms, and for sticking to this vision for all these years. This is the real magic!
My day ended with the classics – first Pentagram doing a really inspired set with the music on fire, Bobby Liebling standing tall as an incredible frontman – you’ve got to love the way he is swaggering across the stage, his mimicry, his everything – and the band generally just enjoying the hell out of being here.
And topped up by The Skull playing the entire first Trouble album (the one also known as Psalm 9) plus a few faves from the next 2 albums, in an amazing tribute to the longevity of these songs. It was definitely not subtle, but that would have been a mistake anyway, but it was devotional in a way.
Sometime during the show, I found myself flanked by two younger women – probably about half my age – who was headbanging and singing along just as fiercely as myself. And that was perhaps the most astounding experience of them all… Seeing this music which had such a profound effect on me so many years ago, having the exact same effect on young people today. And I again felt the sacred love of music that is Roadburn.