Roadburn Festival
Tilburg, Holland, April 14-17, 2011

From Aural Innovations May 2011

Well, here we are again for the 6th year in a row. This festival has simply become a fixture in my life now and something that I look forward to as if it was Christmas! Last year was a very special event with the massive volcanic explosion in Iceland that forced a number of bands to cancel (and luckily many were able to come and play this year) and my own band, Øresund Space Collective had the honor of playing as the first band in the Bat Cave on the first day. Ironically, just yesterday (Tues April 12th) the day before I was leaving for the festival, the test pressing of the double vinyl, OSC - Live at Roadburn 2010 arrived! Cool.

April 10th - Dr. Space rehearses with Dragontears

14:00 - The amazing psychedelic rock band, Dragontears will perform their last two concerts for some time at Roadburn and I was invited to play with them at the festival. I had never played with any of these Baby Woodrose, On Trial, Spids Nøgenhat guys, except for Morten Aron, who played with OSC last year. We met up on the Sunday and had a beer in the sun. Anders (bass) overslept so was late but I had to leave to do the Roadburn Radio show at 18, so we had to set up and just try to get things going. There is a lot of gear in this room that On Trial uses and has been in for many years. I found a place in the corner so it was no problem. We had a lot of discussion about what to play and it was decided to just run through the songs from the Loppen set and we will just totally play it by ear at Roadburn and probably play 4-5 songs and the rest will just be jamming. We ran through Gensigtig Man, Time of No Time, My friend, Two Tongue Talk and Neonheaded Demon before I had to leave. IT was great fun and sounded really good. I recorded it as well. I made wind, bubbles, etc. I think Aron and Guf wanted me to really freak out a lot and really space it out. We will see. I fear it can just be too much.

18:00 - I arrived 2mins late and Jens put on Circle to start the show, a track from Alotus, I believe and then I took over for the next 1½ hrs. It was great fun. I played Stone Axe, Count Raven, Quest for Fire (all 7” records), VoiVod, Incredible Hog, Blood Ceremony, The Machine, Beaver and a few other tracks. I have no idea how many people actually listen to this Christianhavns Virus radio show but it is fun.

April 13th

10:45 - Met up with Jens and Martin at the security check and everyone was in a good mood. With in a few minutes we had met up with Ole. Sadly, Magnus will only come for the Saturday and Sunday as his grandmother passed away at 102 years old and they are holding the funeral on Friday. Bummer.

11:10 - We are in line to board the plane and Ole realizes that he is on the SAS flight that leaves at 11:20 and not the KLM flight that Jens, Martin and myself are on. Shit… It is unlikely he made this flight. He is staying at the same hostel and me, Sven, Nils and some of the others so we will have to meet up with him later. Bummer. The plan for Amsterdam this afternoon is to check out the record stores, coffee shop, and go see the special Kenji Haino - Stephen O’Malley show tonight! That will be super far out, I think.

12:15 - I am on the plane now and feeling really tired. A cup of tea is cooling off. It will be a great festival again this year.

13:36 - Ole was there when we got there. I have no idea how he managed that but that was great. We are all at the Central train station now and all is well. It is a sunny with clouds day but nice out. Just ran into Jussi from Finland as well. We will see him at the Kenji Haino show tonight. We plan to drop our stuff off and check into the hostel and then go out for some food and record stores.

16:10 - I had to pay for everyone in order for us to be able to check into the room. It was 212€. I will collect up the money later. Nils put a down payment but I don’t think this was part of it. Anyway, we had a nice meal at some Argentinean place and everyone had ribs except Ole. We saw a couple of record stores when we were walking around trying to find this place.

18:30 - Wow. I found some cool records. The two Bassekou Kayote LPs, both double vinyls. I got the new Gregg Allman double vinyl, the double vinyl first Gov’t Mule record, which has never been out on vinyl before, and Mom’s Apple Pie, a classic cover and ok blues rock record from 1972. This is an original it looks like for 20€. We are sitting in a park with one of Martin’s Dutch friends and having a beer and talking about all sorts of stuff. He has been in quite a few crazy punk bands. The Sausage Factory sounded bizarre and their 7” covers sound like they were crazy! Nice people. We will walk over to the club that O’Malley from Sunn O and Kenji Haino will play and find a coffee shop.

20:45 - We got some AK47 and Jens also got some Amnesia Haze at a coffee shop. We also grabbed a bite to eat and will now go get in line for the show. Looks like a cue has already started.

22:10 - The club is totally packed now but nothing has happened yet except some moving around of some gear, etc. Nils and Tom are trying to make it. It is going to be loud and Haino has a lot of pedals and 3 of these air synths. We are right up in the very front. We thought that they would play as three guitar players but O’Malley on bass, Haino on guitar and not sure who the guy playing drums is.

23:00 - Haino plays like he is possessed by a demon and he is a true guitar torturer! He plays very chaotically and in a not very trained way. Just plain far out. The bass was totally massive and you could not even hear Haino very well and then he turned himself up and it was much better but deadly loud. Over 115db on my sound meter.

23:45 - It is over and they played about 65mins of totally crazy stuff. No groove at all, just a drummer playing along in his own world, and the bass was a wall of sound and occasionally, they would cross paths and it would sound like they were playing together. Haino at the end of the show was really wild and the layers of feedback guitar were huge and then he added some of air synth screams. About ¼ of people left but most people were into it and it was wild. Some people would not consider this music at all.

00:45 - I went off to bed and Nils, Tom and Ole headed to another coffee shop and bar. I hope I sleep well.

Day 1

08:10 - I was up early and felt ok. Had some breakfast with Nils and Ole and then took a shower and everyone was in a good mood and does not seem too tired or anything.

10:38 - Martin and Jens were late and Ole had bought their tickets for the train to save time and they missed it. Tom, Nils, Ausi, Sven and myself are on the train to Tilburg. It takes about 75min with the train change and then we have to catch the bus to Hilvarenbeek. I just met some cool American guys from Portland. This is their 3rd Roadburn festival. Very nice guys.

01.15 - We just checked into hotel and the staff of course remembers us and they are so friendly. They did not charge me for the night I am not here on Sunday that we booked for the two nights that Magnus booked and is not here due to a funeral. I am in room 6 and the others are in 25, 26 and 27 but all on the 2nd floor. Everyone is rolling up for the show. We are all excited to be back again.

2:15 - We are all on the bus on the way to the 013 now to get our wristbands in good time and to relax and have a beer. We are talking with some Australian folks that are here again. Cool people.

16:20 - I could not get into see Quest for Fire so I ran back to catch the Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble in the midi and there was plenty of space and it was very cool spacey psychedelic stuff. They showed some dark films as well. It was violin, French horn, female vocal, bass, guitar and beats. I liked this stuff and had a nice chat with Jack from Toner Low.

17:00 - I saw most of the Acid King show and this was massive and the big hall was packed. I would really love this band if Lori were a better guitar player and could play cooler solos. Still, I really liked them a lot and they had these great biker films, which were also the same ones they showed 4-5 years ago as well.

18:00 - Ghost was pretty damn Cool. I caught the last few songs including a really good instrumental track. They are a pretty standard 80’s metal sound but then some small more progressive rock sections. They look totally far out in these hoods and the lead singer with a full mask and pope hat with the upside down cross. Pretty fun and cool. The place was totally packed.

18:45 - Nils and I met up and got pretty far into the room for Naam. Nanna, Christiana and others were there as well. They played some pretty cool stuff this three-piece from Brooklyn NY. It was a bit stoner rock, 70’s rock and some pretty cool psych rock guitar. He does not play that many mindblowing solos but still a cool style of guitar. Their songs were pretty long.

19:05 - We split to go see Blood Farmers. The CD is great and we hope they can deliver. Not a lot of people yet.

20:00 - Wow. Blood Farmers, the 30mins or so we saw were fucking great. This was my favourite band so far and the guitar player played monster guitar riff, far out solos and the new song 1000 Yard Stare was really great. As good or better than the new songs.

20:10 - Now was time for a classic band from the 70’s Pentagram. I had never heard them live before and was looking forward to this. Nils and I were just to the right for the sound mixer. Victor Griffin was super loud, wow. He was not really on top at this show. His solos got better and better. He did not know which leg to stand on because he was not on drugs anymore. We need him to do drugs again, to give the music a bit more edge. The first new song they played was really not good at all. The 2nd was pretty cool and the 3rd one so. I saw the entire set and left during the last song and ran over to catch what I could of Circle at the Midi theatre. I ended up near the front with Ole and Tom. Ole said that the band carried the singer onto the stage and everything with the show started in slow motion. They were still in slow motion when I came in and this last for like 10 mins before they really took off and played a very cool show. I only did not recognize one song but it was high energy, intense, madness.

21:45 - I was getting tired. Needed a red bull and to sit down. I went up to the top of the 013 and sat down to rest my legs while Godflesh set up and started. The intro was spaced out and they filled the whole hall with smoke but once the crushing volume and dark screaming metallic monotony started, it was not for me I left after like 10 mins and headed over to the midi theatre and spoke with Silvana and Roxanne while we sat in the balcony and waited for Wardruma.

22:30 - Wardruma started off the show really cool. I liked the music and the vibe a lot but the visuals were not that cool but when the music started getting too heavy and electronic, then the visuals were looking great but I needed to run off so I could get into the bat cave room for Carlton Melton. I bought their record, 7” and split 12” earlier in the day, just thinking this would be cool.

23:15 - Nils, Nanna, Ole, Christian, Jacob, and I saw a lot of the Danes at Carlton Melton. It started off with a two guitar space out and then the 2nd guitar player switched to drums and the drummer switched to bass and then they really played some cool psychedelic rock with some great guitar. The main guitar player also had a small keyboard set up that he would trigger some sounds now and then to add to the space out. They were really cool. This was probably my favourite show on this day. They had the bass player from Acid King play lead guitar for a monster dual soloing space out at the end of the show and then the main guitar player gave his guitar to another guy, who I am not sure who it was. Great show.

Nils and I ran off to catch a few minutes of Count Raven on the balcony and we caught the end of Destruction of the Void but the sound was terrible and his voice, he just can’t really sing the way he does on the record so it was not good, and a major disappointment as I love their records but back to see the end of Carlton Melton.

Solient Green was still playing on the big stage and the room was not that full when we left to go outside for some air. It was a long and intense day and there was no time for food. I did not drink so many beers as I had not eaten hardly anything yesterday.

Day 2

We are all sitting out in the garden having some food and beers and chips and everyone is in a great mood and no one seems to be suffering from yesterday’s abuses. The sun has been out and it was great and now it has clouded up but still pretty nice. Not sure when we will go into the town today or when the buses leave. People are not sure whether to go for Kenji Haino or Vampyr soundtrack played by Year of No Light from France.

13:30 - We are on the bus back to Tilburg and everyone is in a great mood. I will go and get my train ticket for tomorrow and then meet up with the guys.

15:30 - I got my train ticket for 9:14 on Sunday and just had a nice lunch with Sara and Benny and Ralph. Ralph was just sitting in a café having a smoke and coffee when I walked by. Nice people.

16:30 - Nils, Martin, Nanna and some others, we are all watching Kenji Haino freakout. He is loud, crazy and very expressive. He is doing very different stuff than he did two nights ago which is good but it is music for the extreme. I am surprised so many people hang in here.

17:00 - It was announced by Walter that Earth’s van broke down so they have switched with Circle-Pharaoh Overlord, who will play next on the mainstage and Earth will be later at the midi-theatre. Perfect. We will just hang out here for 15 mins more.

18:45 - Wow. That was very cool and totally different. 5 guitar players in this line up and they had Mr. Duffy over from jesters of Destiny so they could perform some of the Hollywood record (?, Sacrifice, Madman) and also Earthworm. They performed two Jesters of Destiny songs as well and the 2nd one was fantastic and they played a really cool space end to it as well. A huge surprise was the singer from the LA band, Night Horse. He came out and sang two numbers with them, one called Out of the Darkness. This was good rocking stuff but not the hypnotic stuff that people thought they were going to get. This was Finnish NWOFHM version of Circle. I dug it but I know a lot of people could not get into it, it was too 80s metal, somehow.

19:15 - I saw the beginning of Winter but it was too slow, doomy, depressive stuff. I had enough of that with Cough last week. I went over to check out Beaver. They said this was their first show in 9 years. I hung out with Silvana and later Tom, who was totally digging it. They opened with a really bad song and Jens and Christina split, which is a pity as the rest of the show and songs were really cool. They were not totally tight sometimes but that was ok. The female drummer was really great. She really pounded the drums. Private Stash was a killer track. They seem to play numbers from all their records and the crowd was into it.

20:30 - Corrosion of Conformity on the big stage. That was also really fun and it was not just all short fast songs, they really mixed it up well with heavy slower stuff and played damn cool and very tight. I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. I even had my Technocracy 1987 tour shirt with me. I never did get to see the band live though as the gig in El Paso that we went to was cancelled due to the venue change, collapsing stage, etc. so we ended up taking the band down to Mexico and we partied with them down there. They were super cool people. They probably would not remember this.

21:45 - I caught the end of Earth and it was a great sound and really melodic slow spacey music. I just wish the guitar player would do a bit more. He has a cool band laying down a great sound but he plays pretty unexciting guitar sometimes, I feel like he should push the boundaries a bit more, at least some times. Incredible Hog is next and I am very excited for this one.

23:15 - WOW. What can I say, me, Nils, Martin, Nanna, most of the whole gang was here to see this band from 1973 that only released one record! It will be rereleased on Rise Above Records later this year with some unreleased stuff. Anyway, they played a lot of the songs from the record and some stuff that was never released and a great version of the Willie Dixon song, Going Down. The guitar player and the whole band were really into jamming so it was excellent. Lots of cool guitar. They pretty much blew us away. Best band of the day for me.

1:00 - Wow. Another killer concert. Voivod was really killer today and very powerful and a great set of songs from nearly all the albums and they even tried out a totally new song that they had never played live before. The replacement for Piggy is just an excellent fit and Piggy was a very unique guitar player so this is really hard stuff to learn to play like this. Crowd was totally into it and they had killer sound. They dedicated Astronomy Dominie to Piggy as their encore song. After the show we talked a lot with the drummer and guitar player from Incredible Hog and I also spoke to Away and the new guitar player a bit. Such nice people. All the bands were just hanging out. What a killer day.

2:00 - We are finally back at the hotel and I am really tired. Magnus will show up tomorrow for the last day and the Afterburner. Tom, Jens and Martin were totally blasted and Nils had to make sure they all got back. I went back with Martin, his girlfriend and Ole.

Day 3

9:30 I am up early, nothing to do about that. Today I will perform with Dragontears at the midi theatre. This is going to be really fun. They arrived last night but I did not see any of them. I will also go see this special showcase at the Café Cul De Sac with a brand new band called Gingerpig with the guitar player from Gorefest. It should be some sort of 70s rock.

11:30 - I did not see many of them this morning and am on the bus to Tilburg. The showcase starts at 01:30 and I will get something to eat. They will give away a free 7” record as well. I am feeling a little out of it today after a hard day yesterday, not enough sleep and no real good meals.

1:00 - I had an excellent meal. A huge salad with fresh mozzarella and chicken. Feel better now. I am off to the venue soon.

1:30 - I just had a nice chat with Jussi from Circle and he filled me in on some of the details of Pharaoh Overlord, Circle, etc. They are very active with releases and stuff. I also met the folks from Earth. Very nice people. They are off to play in Malmo and then Finland today. I will meet the Dragontears guys at 15 to get the wristband, etc.

14:30 - Gingerpig are an excellent band, wow. That really caught me by surprise. The singer he has a great voice and they write some excellent 70s style songs and the keyboard player who had a Hammond with Leslie, fender Rhodes, and a Moog Prodigy. He played in a really cool spacey style. Anyway, the songs sometimes had a bit of a stoner riff and a great groove. I was very impressed and enjoyed the show a lot. I will for sure want to get their record. I look forward to hearing the 7” record.

15:30 - I have my wristband and food and drink tokens and have met up with Nils and the others and am ready for Candlemass. This should be great!

18:30 - Candlemass had a great sound and some cool visuals and put on a very solid show. They started with some old songs like Mirror Mirror, Bells of Achelon, Samara Thin, and then If I Ever Die and Hammer of Doom, the best songs from the latest record. Then the first singer came out and performed the entire 1st record with the band, including the acoustic guitar intro. This was great. He still sounds fantastic and has an amazing voice. I really like the new guy from Solitude Aeternus but I am pretty surprised he has to read the lyrics for every song from a book, even songs he has probably sung 200 times! I left after the classic record and caught the first 3 songs of Lonely Kamel from Norway. I was surprised they were so much like stoner rock. Their latest record was more bluesy. I still enjoyed it. Then I ran into see White Hills. IT was very very packed and super hot. They were really cool and the lady from Aqua Nebula Oscillator was playing with them but you could hardly hear anything she played. They played On and On and Dead and a few others I recognized but they were spacing out as well. I did not see the whole show as I needed to rest a bit for later. Pity as I was really loving this one.

19:15 - I met up with the others and saw a few songs of Weedeater. That was really intense stuff, very sludgy, dirty, heavy riff rock. The bass player he was totally crazy but having a good time as well. He even played a bit laying on his back with his feet in the air. He plays in Sourvein and actually stayed at my apartment some years ago and was a very nice person despite coming across as quite mad! Heavy shit!

22:15 - After Weedeater I headed over to the midi theatre and just rested my mind and legs and listened to Pharaoh Overlord’s set. They started with an old Spaceman 3 song, in a like 10 min version. Very repetitive stuff. Their was a decent crowd but it was not filled up. They played a very special set up extremely repetitive hypnotic stuff with 3 guitarists (one who sang all the songs) and Mika standing like a statue playing some drones on a small Roland synth. The crowd was into it. It is pretty far out and totally different than the other two shows the band played.

The Dragontears show was very cool and I had a totally amazing time. We played a long space out jam at the beginning, Time of no Time, My friend, Two Tongue Talk, Neonheaded Demon, Masters of War (Special spaced version) and ended with Gensigntig Mænd. The crowd loved it and the visuals looked cool but I thought there was too much light on the stage, it should have been darker. I feel like most of the time I played quite well and cool stuff. My stage sound was great and I could hear everyone but Guf seem to not enjoy the show too much, sadly. It was a great crowd response and several people said it was one of the highlights of the festival. Wow…I packed up my gear and am running off to see Stone Axe.

1:00 - I managed to catch the last 30 mins of Stone Axe and Martin and Jens were there and we totally rock out. They were really excellent and have cool songs but they do not jam at all. All the songs are like 3-4mins max. They played mostly songs I knew from their records, which I have, all of them, even the 7” releases! I left and headed over to see the rest of Ufomammut and I ran into Walter who was also going over there and he was in a great mood and the festival had been running nearly perfect this year so he was satisfied. The venue was packed and we could not even get in for a few mins so I only caught the end of Eve and the rest of the show. Eve was amazing and spacey stuff and my fave record by this band. They played a few ok songs after but the last track was really great. They had a massive sound and this was probably the loudest concert of the festival.

2:00 - I was able to catch 2 songs by Gates of Slumber and the end of Wolf People. I really liked Wolf People from the UK. Very cool rock music. They apparently had a lot of sound issues during their gig but it was great what I was able to catch. I will have to try to hear some more of their music. Roadburn is over for me and Magnus is totally blasted so I help him into a taxi and we head back to the hotel.

Day 4 Going Home

Sadly I had to leave the festival and go home for my daughter’s birthday which always falls on the Roadburn weekend the last 4 years, of which I have missed it two years and yes, I feel guilty. This year I had to go home even though the Afterburner just looks amazing with Blood Farmers, Black Mountain, Black Pyramid, The Machine, Samsara Blues Experiment, Dragontears, etc. wow….

It was a great festival and if I have to say which bands that I enjoyed the most it would be Incredible Hog, VoiVod, Carlton Melton, White Hills, and Ufomammut but nearly ever band was really excellent and only very few were below the standard I had hope they would be (Pentagram, Naam). Thanks Walter and the others for another amazing festival.

Reviewed by Scott Heller

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