Well, we sort of did. I went, and let me tell you this, eager pigeon-fanciers—it was bloody great. Here’s the thing: It’s a three-day (or four, if you’re a bit flush and fancy the now-traditional ‘Afterburner’ event on the Sunday too) festival in the lovely little Dutch town of Tilburg, which just happens to have a purpose-built, Brixton Academy-sized live music venue smack in the middle of it. Every year for the past ummm… quite a few years anyway, hordes of beard-faced outcasts descend on Tilburg in April to get absolutely doom-buggered by some of the finest riffmongers from all areas of the weird and wonderful side of music, and every year they all go home utterly sated. Some trick, eh?
How it works is pretty simple. Walter, Yvonne and their team basically go through their insanely-varied record collections and pick out a load of cool bands that they’d like to see play live. And most of them come and play, even the REALLY weird ones. Good or what? (yes, it is good, for the slow ones at the back). This year’s marquee acts included Electric Wizard, Godflesh, Ihsahn and Primordial—sounds great already, right? Well, as far as Roadburn is concerned, those are the bigtime, commercial bands. Yeah.
On any given day you can see a ton of crazy stuff that you’ve probably never heard of before—unless you really are some kind of music-obsessed shut-in case—and you’re guaranteed to have a splendid time doing so, thanks to the excellent taste of the people booking the bands. There are also art exhibitions, films, acoustic sets with the likes of John Baizley Off Of Baroness (what does all their lovely artwork and that) and even the odd discussion panel to get your head around, all within less than five minutes’ walk of the central venue (the 013).
So, how was MY Roadburn? Well, on day one I saw these things:
1) Pallbearer. Current darlings of the doom scene thanks to their album Sorrow And Extinction, they kicked off the main stage at a most agreeable 3pm and did an utterly captivating job of it. Lovely, lovely stuff.
2) The Atlas Moth. Part two of ‘The Profound Lore Plot To Dominate Roadburn’, following Pallbearer’s opening volley. They played in the second venue Het Patronaat, which is all of 50 yards up the road and is, in fact, a converted church. Their prog/doom/psychedelia mélange proved perfectly suited to rather a lot of peoples’ mood after their labelmates had done their best to depress everyone over the way, and they even (the bastards!) looked like they were enjoying themselves! Probably better grab their album mates, it’s a bit decent.
3) A bit of a wander about, time for some food and a very good Guinness in the Irish pub around the corner (it’s a very civilised festival, this), and a chance to actually say hello to loads of people I know that also made the trip this year. And then High On Fire in the 013, playing the entirety of their first album. I feel a bit like I’m showing off here, actually. I’m not sorry though, so shut up and just be jealous. Matt Pike was in good form for this show, sobriety seems to suit him rather well in fact.
4) Bloody hell, it’s Primordi…el? No, Primordial. Sorry. Despite being a little quieter than perhaps I’d have liked, getting to see Ireland’s finest metal band properly go for it on a big stage was a genuine treat. Vocalist Alan drinking two entire bottles of wine during their set and nearly stacking it in spectacular style over his own mic stand was a top bonus too.
5) The Psychedelic Warlords. Bits of YER ACTUAL HAWKWIND doing a recreation of their legendary live album Space Ritual. FUCKING HELL. FUCK. ING. HELL. Yeah, this was pretty (very bloody) good.
So that was Thursday, pretty much. I was absolutely exhausted by this point, so bedtime for me. Make sure you come back to see what I got up to for the rest of this year’s festival, won’t you?