Roadburn Festival: Two Decades of a Sonic Atom in Transmission……

Dirk Serries Set with Kodian Trio
Dawn Ray’d Wild Fire Roadburn Redux Performance

I remembered when I heard of Roadburn back in the early 2000’s. Mainly, because of bands like Neurosis, Red Sparrows, Jesu, and Isis to name a few. The first music festival I ever went to was Lalapolooza ’91. I was 16 years old metal punker living in Cary, North Carolina. I never saw so many punks, freaks like me at one event – even, I saw people from my high school – it was crazy I could connect with so many people at one gathering. I walked around wearing my Sabbat Dreamweaver tshirt (The UK Thrash Metal band), dreadlocks, my jeans, spike bracelet and combat boots. I thought I was back in California. This was the impressible factor about music festivals: introducing one or a group of people to the unknown, the taboo, or the next level in order to connect and learn from one another; one would hope?

Jo Quail Audiotree Worldwide performance

Roadburn Festival has been that next level for me. I have seen ISIS perform with Jesu and Zozobar in San Francisco back around ’07 or so. I just saw Neurosis with Bell Witch and Deaf Kids in Atlanta 2019. Also, the Red Sparrows with The Grails at Silverlake Lounge in LA back in 02′,03′(?). I have seen those bands in clubs, but I have not seen them at a Festival. I keep thinking of the Neurosis video clip for “Locust Star.” The emotion and passion they had driving people in to a frenzy in the pit at a festival like Roadburn. The soundscape: it’s all collective and communal through sound our subconscious adjoints outside toward one another. This builds community and culture.

On that note, Roadburn did something nice this year called Roadburn Redux. It was an online version of the festival with videos, live performances and interviews. It was the best virtual weekend I had so far. The interviews were done mostly by Marika Zorzi. She interviewed – from who I can remember – Big Brave, Lingua Ignota, Aaron Turner, plus there were other interviews with Dirk Serries, Full of Hell, Primitive Man etc. The Metal Matters Podcast had interviews with other acts like Youth Code, Aaron Turner, Greg Anderson, Lustmord and Inter Arma, etc.

Nadja Roadburn Redux performance

Lastly, the live performances were out of this world. I discovered new artist I never have heard of and others I listen to this regularly. I was able to watch Nadja, Dirk Serries, Dawn Ray’d, Aaron Turner, Knoll, Jo Quail, Body Void, Many Blessings, Primitive Man, Solar Temple, Territoire, and Wolf King, etc.

The surprise performances for me were:

  1. Territoire. That dude is a fucking juggernaut! His dark electronics is straight out of this world. I mean Surachais, Blak Moth and this cat need to work on touring together in the near future. It was 37 minutes of synth-modulated-noise madness. Territoire is one to artist who performance is better than a recording on a CD!
  2. Dawn Ray’d. I saw them live in Seattle with Ragana. That live performance was sick. This Roadburn performance was 10 times better; they performed raw black metal and folk metal version of the same song. It was right out of the black metal playbook; reminiscent of Ulver’s Klvedssanger or UK’s Sabbat Dreamweaver.
  3. Nadja. A dark room with a table, instruments/pedals/mixers, a minuscule of light shining over the table, a stage, big room acoustics, amps, and cameras jumping from one angle to the next. Nadja did not hold back. They went into the space many of us who perform or listen could never fathom unless we are those individuals. They played a live version of Seemannsgarn from their just release Luminous Rot. Watching them was like a lecture in studying masters perfect their craft. They were setting the mark for Ambient Metal/Dreamsludge/Doomgaze genre.
  4. Honorable mention. Aaron Turner His set was another lecture for how an experimental artist creates with his instruments a sound from an idea in a room on a platform within time and space. It was a great display of what he grew non-acknowledging until his later years while playing in projects like ISIS and Old Man Gloom. The improvised aesthetic of jazz is the basic play book for experimental/metal music. Sun Ra, Merzbow, Masonna, Thurston Moore and Hanatarashi would totally agree; they’ve used this same play book, as well.
Knoll Roadburn Redex performance

I’m angry I missed the Steven Von Till. I loved his first solo project when it came out around the Times of Grace period. Neurosis was expanding their sonic embryos. I love those guys. They are truly the foundation for the many bands and artist of this generation. I met the bass player Dave at an experimental show in Fruitvale area of Oakland before the Oscar Grant shooting. Those were some good times. Those times are not lost folks. Roadburn just confirmed that.

Steve Von TIll Interview

When my budget improves, I belief I will make a Roadburn Festival. Will I be alone or will I share this with some friends? It all depends on where the wind takes me or where the road leads. These artist all have something special: creativity and connectivity. It’s a blessing and curse at the same time. We all must learn to live and let die. In other words, we must learn in celebration of the wounds. We can all find our moment at a place to connect as one. What better event in the country of The Netherlands: Roadburn. It’s waiting….patiently for our presence, our spirits to hopefully connect as one.

The soundscape: it’s collective and communal source of connectivity from our subconscious toward one another’s spirit and soul. This builds community and culture.


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