ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2017
20th – 23rd APRIL, Tilburg, Netherlands
Text & Photos: Kris T. Therrian / 17 seconds photography
DAY FOUR – Sunday
Before I even knew it, the final day of Roadburn has somehow crept in and caught me completely unawares. There was still some time to catch up with friends and take a spot for memorable performances, first of which was Temple of BBV. I came in to see a very busy Main Stage with two drummers and all in all counted some 11 people? This was another collaboration between the artist in residence, GNOD, this time with Radar Men From The Moon, their complementary fellow music experimentalists. They started off with “Butchers Tears,” a track I actually recognized from their upcoming S/T album scheduled for release this June. It appealed to me, but I’d definitely need more time to digest it all.
While I utterly enjoyed Pallbearer‘s previous records and caught their explosive performance in a sweaty and packed London club a couple of years back, watching them on the Main Stage was…strange. The set was dominated by the tracks from their freshly released record Heartless that still hadn’t fully sunk in and that’s all fine, but it seemed as if their magic was somehow lost on the big stage and the chemistry with the audience appeared to be lacking. I really wanted to love this, but I didn’t. Sorry guys.
It took me only six years to finally see Les Discrets live again. I saw their debut appearance at Wave-Gotik-Treffen and remember interviewing a very anxious Fursy in the light of his performance both with his band and first ever Empyrium show. In the meantime, their sound also changed and progressed, and from what I heard along the way, Fursy was also growing ever more confident with his stage presence. The 2017 incarnation of Les Discrets graced us with some new tracks from Prédateurs together with classics such as ‘L’Échappée’ and ‘Song for Mountains’, continuously shifting moods from the beginning to the end of the set. Someone called it ‘simply beautiful and emotional’. Let’s roll with that.
A roar of rolling thunder seem to have possessed the Green Room where I experienced a similar kind of epiphany as with Primitive Man couple of years earlier. Valborg, back at Roadburn after seven years, were presenting mostly material from the new album ‘Endstrand’ and I loved every second of it. Talk about teeth-grinding crowd and burdened riffs, these guys know the true meaning of heavy. Had to cut it short cos of my personal festival highlight – Ulver. They were announced for Roadburn before their latest album was even finished so no one really knew what to expect from this, fundamentally speaking, release show. However, the moment ‘Nemoralia’ was dropped, on the very auspicious and fitting Ides of March, I for one knew this was gonna be the grandestest thing ever. Cue laser beams, perfectly synced video projections and light show, ‘The Assassination Of Julius Caesar’ flowed as freely and effortlessly as wine during Saturnalia, quenching our aural thirst. When the last beats of outro died down, it felt like being at the end of the slide where you just want to rush back up and do it all over again. I hope it won’t be too long.
My festival night ended on the highest note with the ecstatically anticipated collaboration of David Tibet (Current 93) and Youth (Killing Joke) under the moniker of Hypnopazūzu who released their extraordinary debut ‘Create Christ, Sailor Boy’ last year. Both, equally monumental, musicians gathered an impressive troupe on stage to bring this otherworldly piece to life. David’s intensive and poignant lyrical interpretation soared through dreamy soundtrack of ‘Your Eyes in The Skittle Hills’ to dramatic culmination of ‘The Crow at Play’, displaying his impressive range through every ensuing song. The audience swayed in transfixion, jumped and danced in rapturous delight, cherishing the fleeting moments of intangible perfection that was Hypnopazūzu.
Thus concludes the 2017 edition of Roadburn, which also featured a rich side programme filled with exhibitions, panel talks, interviews, cinema, listening sessions and legendary after-parties. I made it to some of Nibiru’s ‘Road to Roadburn’ documentary, heard bits of Sólstafir‘s new album Berdreyminn and saw that much of Poppodium’s upper floors were plastered with sombre art of Fursy Teyssier.
As a final note, I would like to add a personal realization which was further validated in post-festival discussions with a number of attendees. Roadburn can in many ways be an overwhelming adventure, in the best and the worst sense of those words, and it often happens that you are just not in the mood or in the receptive frame of mind for certain music, or even your most cherished bands. The great thing about it is that you can always find the music which does suit your mood, or you can just take a step back, chill on the side, have a drink, see a film, join a panel discussion, talk to friends and the fellow festival attendees or whatever else catches your fancy (and is not illegal or detrimental to your peers). It’s all good.
Steadily over time, Roadburn has become the only music festival I genuinely look forward to every year. It’s a true celebration of music and art, festival done by music lovers for music lovers, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. I’m aware that I keep beating the same drum year in, year out, but if you haven’t had the chance to come to this festival in the past, now is the right time to start planning.
Also, I know no one’s asked, but it’s a fun thing to do – so here’s my wishlist for one of the upcoming Roadburns:
– Katatonia playing entire ‘Brave Murder Day‘ with Mikael on vocals
– The Cure doing entire ‘Pornography‘ (I can dream, right?)
– Art Zoyd or Universe Zero, or both in collaboration
– Rosa†Crvx with their breathtaking live performance including ‘Danse de la Terre’ and Rosa†Cordis choir (I can’t believe they haven’t been invited yet)
– Tiamat – ‘Wildhoney‘ in its entirety
– Amesoeurs – playing their S/T album