Friday’s expectations were mostly directed towards this year’s curators’ band GGGOLDDD and their performance of “This Shame Should Not Be Mine”. For the first time in front of a live audience after the incredibly emotional, goose-bump inducing show at last year’s Roadburn Redux (I am not gonna lie, I have watched that performance 4 times back then).
This didn’t take away the attention from a whole lot of other very interesting acts performing throughout the day, starting with LLNN, who gathered already a sizeable crowd in the early hours of this second day. The band performed the new “Unmaker” in its entirety, and overwhelmed the audience like a sudden slap in the face with their heavy and powerful sound.
After a short walk towards the other side of the venue, to The Terminal, Primitive Man took it one step further. Engulfing their fans with their dark and heavy riffs, while simultaneously engulfing themselves into thick smoke – which made it pretty hard to see the trio on stage. Definitely a must see for the fans of the genre, and I was glad I could finally catch a glimpse of this band live.
After a quick pit stop to try and taste the official festival beer (the aptly named “Knuffel” or “hug”, by Uiltje brewery – well representing the spirit of this weekend I would say), it was time for one of the many collaboration shows of the festival: James Kent (Perturbator) and Johannes Persson (Cult of Luna). An unique, commissioned work that perfectly embodied the two parties while perfectly merging into something original. In the 30 minutes I watched this show I could tell this was a very good match and I hope this collaboration will go beyond Roadburn.
Next was my first show at the replacement “tent” for the Hall of Fame – currently undergoing renovation. More than an actual tent this was a wooden structure just outside of the building. The space was big enough to fit a couple hundreds of people (perhaps more?) but also felt quite crammed when full and having just one entrance/exit point at the bottom did not really help in that sense – but not the biggest of inconveniences. I am always curious when it comes to atmospheric black metal, so I had to check the Dutch Freja. I have to admit that the band struck some right chord with their show and made me want to dig more into their record “Tides”. The dynamics of the duo made of C. (Witte Wieven) and W. Damiaen (Laster, Willoos) made for a tight and enjoyable performance. Maybe not of the stunning kind, but something to keep under the radar.
On the way back to 013 I quickly got a glimpse of Zetra from the sidelines (the beauty of having multiple shows in multiple locations), but not enough to form a proper judgment on the show.
Instead, I headed towards Wiegedood (meanwhile Messa was going to play a not-so-secret show in the Skatepark). In a very packed venue, the Belgians performed in full their new “There’s Always Blood At The End Of The Road”. Wiegedood plunged the atmosphere into darkness with the violence and aggressiveness that their musical delivers. Like Messa on the previous day, Wiegedood was another of the highlights and pleasant surprise provided by this incredibly rich weekend.
Shortly after, it was time for some more doom with Warhorse, who also offered a very tight show despite the forced inactivity just shortly after being re-activated in 2019 – in memory of the late guitarist Todd Laskowski.
It’s a pity I couldn’t see more of the show as GGGOLDDD (a.k.a. the band formerly known as GOLD) was about to start on the main stage of 013. What started as a commissioned piece for Roadburn, became an overwhelmingly acclaimed performance from last year’s streaming event. And ultimately culminated in a full-length release at the beginning of April, to be played for the first time in front of an actual live audience here today. “This Shame Should Not Be Mine” is a brave and bold project and I have immense respect for Milena and the guys for creating and sharing it with the world. This is an incredibly emotional and personal work and it was still visibly hard on the singer to perform these songs – which kept having a tearful look. You could feel the emotional connection while listening to the music, and at the same time appreciate the evolution of the band – all this accompanied by a string orchestra recruited for the occasion. All these new layers of synths and electronic elements further enriched their sound. Once again I got literal goosebumps during the show, and it’s one of the few performances in the entire festival of which I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a second. The response of the audience was absolutely deserved – the support and the applause were incredible at the end of their performance.
When I walked in to the balcony of the Next Stage to watch a glimpse of Karin Park’s solo gig I was still metabolizing the earlier show so I couldn’t really get into the right vibe.
Taking a short dinner break thanks to the nearby food trucks while waiting for Alcest to take over the Main Stage. This was a return back in time, “Écailles de Lune” is in fact the record that introduced me to the band. Back then, it was all small club stages and the thoughts and rage of this young, shy French musician who created this project as an outlet for his thoughts. Many years later, Neige and the band as a whole, has progressively come out of the shell and become more confident (and successful) – which it can really be seen in the attitude on stage. Like is often the case, it’s been fun to see this band grow over the years, but sometimes nostalgia takes over and you start thinking about how things were different back then. This for me was one of those times, without diminishing the band’s accomplishments or the quality of their show, which still left a mark on this intense second day of Roadburn.
Staying in the same premises, Alice Hubble was performing on the smaller stage, but again the time was too tight because another collaboration with some familiar faces – previously unannounced – was about to begin.
Thou and Mizmor had plenty of reason to be matched up in this event due to their collaboration in “Myopia”, which they of course performed for the occasion. This is the secret show you didn’t know you wanted to have, or you hoped would happen. And it was excellent. The kind that in the aftermath keeps you glued to the record while trying to recreate the show in your mind. In my opinion, easily the best collaboration of this Roadburn, keeping in mind that neither of the two artists were done entertaining us over the weekend.
We later enter the territory of raw black metal with Faceless Entity, chosen to represent the pool of talent in the Dutch underground black metal scene. The trio had the opportunity to showcase their sophomore effort “The Great Anguish of Rapture”, and they do so while sounding convincing but not so much out of the ordinary. Yes it’s a lot of blast beats and energy and the guys play with good enthusiasm, but they somewhat miss that extra step to totally win me over to their side. Still a pleasant half an hour before closing the night with the two final shows of today at Poppodium 013.
Sum of R the Swiss/Finn creation of Reto Mäder, joined by Marko Neuman (Dark Buddha Rising, Waste of Space Orchestra, Convocation) and Jukka Rämänen (Hexvessel, Atomikylä, Dust Mountain, and also Waste of Space Orchestra, Dark Buddha Rising), is a strange creature. Mixing asphyxiating ambient drone soundscapes with doom and psychedelic elements, it’s quite hard to approach, but once you get into it, it’s also hard to not appreciate it in all its “hypnoticness”. The songs from “Lahbryce” captivated the remaining audience, which has since dwindled in number from the earlier shows on the main stage – mainly due to the late hour and weekend partying at the local bars.
But unlike most, there is still something I want to witness for tonight, one of the many positive surprises from last year’s Roadburn Redux was in fact Tau & The Drones of Praise. And their folk music is perfect to sing along and dance off in the night thanks to the distinct hippie vibes and meditative mind-tripping melodies that surrounded the fans filling the Next Stage venue. Truly the best way of ending this action-packed day, despite missing the female backing vocals that would have added that extra touch to the sound and the show.