Waking after a cold night – actually seeing ice on the tent during the night – my first thought was “shit – is it really the last day?” – Well going through all the fantastic performances I’d had the privilege to watch up until now, it seemed like, yes, it could very well be the last day…
And Roadburn had found the perfect way to get this fourth and last day off to an effective start. The Scott Kelly/Sanford Parker project Mirrors For Psychic Warfare is in no way simply an ofshot of their collaboration in Corrections House, but rather an entity entirely of its own, with Parker doing odd enigmatic and alluring electronic noisescapes, on top of which Kelly adds guitar textures, creating a unique vehicle for divulging and refining pure emotion. In effect, a performance by Mirrors For Psychic Warfare is equally as naked and emotionally charged as for instance Kelly’s solo performance the other day, just playing to a quite different spectrum of emotions – or at least a different approach to the emotional understanding. Haunting.
With the foundation for another day laid, and all emotional receptors laid bare yet again, the next band to enter the stage was instrumental powerhouse Blind Idiot God. I’ve been a fan of theirs since around 1989, after hearing their album Undertow, and after the pleasant surprises of their reformation and subsequent release of an excellent album, it was definitely a great pleasure to be able to catch them at Roadburn. They played a great set balanced of course between their more aggressive work on one side, and their equally fantastic dub-work on the other. An immense joy to watch these guys play – they are so tight, and the concert seemed to be over all too soon (unfortunately).
So, a quick dash to the Cul De Sac to see if I could get in for the second Chaos Echoes set, where they would be playing some of there older stuff. I got in just 5 minutes into the set, and it was an even nicer experience than the day before, with hardhitting, dark, brooding and visceral experimentation threatening to rip our very souls apart. Chaos Echoes is to me an immensely important band to the development of experimental metal, and their live performances are not to be missed!
And speaking of importance – that’s the second day in a row I’m able to segue effortlessly into writing about Amenra – their electric behemoth of an performance today spoke volumes about their importance for the post metal scene. I would actually go as far and say, that this performance has elevated these Belgians to the very top of the game. Their ability to both turn the stage into a melting pot of emotionally drenched, hardhitting (but controlled) mayhem, while still maintaining the dynamics and the exploration that is so vital and important an aspect of post metal, is immense. And when you add the incredible visuals, and the perfect balance between introversy (if that’s even a word) and the outward, explosiveness of their performance makes them quite simply stand above the rest.
Which leaves one thing for me to cover – the second Neurosis 30 set. This was where it all came together for a lot of Roadburn 2016 attendees… the culmination of 4 huge days of the most eclectic, beautiful and well-organized of festivals. We all had something or other invested in watching the giants celebrate their long and fruitful musical history with us. We all had those moments of “Ooooh YES!” When they played a particular favorite. But in the end, what makes it all into a very special experience, is of course the fantastic stage presence of these 5 ordinary, but very, very special guys, who spent the 90s – when everybody else was chasing the grunge fad, or whatever – transforming music as we know it, and who’ve kept on releasing significant albums ever since. During the four hours of those 2 shows, we came widely around the Neurosis discography, which of course did mean something for the coherence of the sets, but I don’t think anyone minded a bit, because those guys up on stage thundering their vision out through the speakers were Neurosis. We were celebrating them. In a way they were celebrating us. It was one of those one-off kind of things, that everybody knows will never see the light of day again. And not one finger can be put on an impeccable performance.
In closing, can I just say, this was probably the loudest show I have ever been to, shaking both foundations, stomachs and earplugs – but the sound was as crystalclear as a Neurosis set is ever likely to be.
With the Neurosis 30 performace now being firmly placed in history, it was originally my intention to end my Roadburn 2016 experience by checking out PH, those wonderful Finnish sonic architects, but I’ll be honest. I wad musically totally 110% spent, with not even an inch of strength to draw upon – as I’ve never, ever been before. So I had to leave, sadly, but inevitable.
Roadburn – it’s been a huge, transforming, incredible experience, and I’ll make it my priority to attend again at some point in the future. Of that, there can be no doubt.