FESTIVAL REVIEW: ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2016 – Day 3 (Saturday)
This Saturday at the Roadburn Festival saw me knackered a bit from the excellent after-party the night before, so I sadly missed Nedra’s set. The sun still shined upon us as the temperature continued to plummet well below the normal average and we got added wind and rain.
I rolled in by the time Brothers of the Sonic Cloth were about to start their set. These guys were on the dystopian and oppressive side of Doom Metal; heavy, lumbering and smothering, it felt like a heavy blanket of woe was pulled over us during their set. The glum hopelessness the band sent rumbling out over the crowd found an appreciative audience, and worked incredibly well for the Roadburn crowd. However, I only had time to catch a short snippet of their set before moving on to another band I’d been meaning to see.
Dutch psychedelic rock pioneers Astrosoniq, who are greatly acclaimed but have been inactive for years, was playing live for the first time in ages here at Roadburn. However, this will most likely be one of the last times they play with their original line-up as their drummer, who is already in a wheelchair, will not likely be able to perform much anymore. The show was excellent though, and when your band is headed by a space Elvis who has his own distinct vocal style, a guitarist who has also graced the Devils Blood, and a wild-haired maniac behind the electronic effects, you’re sure to get the trip of a lifetime.
Converge played yet another acclaimed album – ‘Blood Moon’ – in their subsequent set. And for this they brought many friends, including Chelsea Wolfe and Steve von Till. I am personally not familiar enough with their back catalogue to discern how special, well done or even influential this show was. However, given the reactions of the crowd – which seemed more profoundly deep and emotional than the jubilant vibe for destruction witnessed the other day – this show meant a hell of a lot to the true fans, with some of them moved almost to tears. It did leave a profound impression on me nonetheless, and was an excellent show.
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are from the UK, as their awesome name clearly implies. I must confess that I wanted to check them out purely based on their name, but theirs turned out to be one of the most fun shows of the day. Everything about this band screamed Britain, from their name and stage presence to the music they played. They played something more psychedelic 50-60’s inspired, but clearly took more after the Beatles’ weirder and rougher bits. They padded things out with some heavier riffs here and there, but generally kept a strange, upbeat, almost Austin Powers-like feel. It felt like everything should’ve been covered in paisley print, and strange colorful cocktails should’ve been poured by ladies in beehive hairdo’s and heavy eyeliner. In general, ASCS just lifted our spirits and made us want to shimmy down.
Amenra are known for their intense, heavy and aggressive shows. Having seen them at Roadburn a few years previously and knowing just how harsh they are, I was intrigued to see what an acoustic set by them would sound like… and it is a thing of beauty. There was a core of delicate, beautiful intricacy underneath all the anger and noise, which created an experience that almost brought me to tears. The remarkable thing is that even though this is the opposite of what they usually sound like, you could still hear the familiar sound in their music. It was awe-inspiring to see the delicate beauty in this beast show throughout.
I know it is considered sacrilegious to say that I think Neurosis are incredibly dull. Yes, they created the premise for a ton of other bands to take and make into something incredible, and they were the first to create the heavy, low, slugging noise we all love, but since then, almost every band that came after has taken this wonderful idea to so much more interesting places. Neurosis are a good, solid live band and do what they do very well; it’s just that after about 10 minutes of their performance, I felt like I had seen the whole show. They just repeated the same moves and sound, and while we should honor them for opening the door for those who came behind, they just didn’t captivate me as much as the other bands do now. I understand their importance to their nostalgic fans and carry profound meaning, but for me, they just didn’t live up to that legend here.
Bottom line: we got some excellent heaviness on day 3 of Roadburn, but it did not weigh up against the delicate beauty hidden beneath Amenra’s normal aggression. The more cosmic bands on the bill – Astrosoniq and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell – took us so far out that it became hard to come down for the more grounded Neurosis, who ended up sounding underwhelming.