Well, I thought it would never happen again. But yeah, finally in April 2022 I went back to festivals. I have been far from the scenes since March 2020, when COVID became really a crisis, and the images of my native lands were terrifying. I have been scared of the consequences for a long time, but after three doses of vaccines and numerous depressive thoughts, I finally decided that it was the moment to face the real world again. Anyway, it would have happened: for the Netherlands, the Coronavirus doesn’t exist anymore, or it exists but it is controllable, therefore everything came back to normality, except the things I like to do the most. So, I drew a line and I decided it is time to slowly go back to normal life, or should I say a happy life? Because life without concerts or music was not so happy until now. My creativity disappeared and I became a sort of sad robot, waiting for better days to shine again.
Of course, it is not that I can suddenly start my 2019 life. I don’t have the stamina anymore. I gained weight, became lazy, I eat bad and I recently started to exercise again, so I knew that I could not face 12-14 hrs concerts and alcohol per day. By the way, this was possible only in my early 20s, you can imagine now in my 30s. Saying that I organized my visit to Tilburg in the most efficient way possible, planning scheduling in advance, taking the mornings for sleeping, and optimizing my trips (that also counts having a car as an old-fashioned adult).
On Thursday then I closed my laptop and I picked up my 2020 e-ticket to start a new adventure at Roadburn 2022. The festival was canceled in 2020 and came back for free a year later, under the name of Roadburn Redux: an amazing initiative, but at that time I could not receive my first vaccine dose, so I decided to skip it entirely, considering also the fact that the entire festival is performed in closed spaces and my fear of getting seriously ill was still really intense.
I was curious how much about the old Roadburn I could have found at the 013, how many venues would have re-open or simply would have been ok in regards to capacity and ventilation rules. In the meantime, do not forget, Brexit happened, and I was expecting a real low attendance onsite, since a lot of people are coming from the UK (big alternative scene there? Honestly I do not know).
So, what have I found? You can ask me. Well, something new, something old, something interesting, something boring. But let’s make some orders in my thoughts.
I would say here I have covered all the somethings listed above. I really enjoyed bands like GGGOLDDD, Liturgy, Duma, and Ggu:II but I found the lineup a little bit repetitive putting again Lingua Ignota, Alcest, Thou, and Emma Ruth Rundle. I had the feeling much more bands had several sets organized in four days, or they presented themselves in specific ensembles (ex: members from different bands, performances organized together with classical musicians) and I found it inspiring. I also realized how high thoughtful the program of the Roadburn is, considering bands that do not have only a strong musical and visual background, but also a narrative that completes the message that they want to share with the public.
I missed the small places like Cul de Sac and I honestly did not like the Program of Little Devil, which is a pity since is a very cool metal bar. What I did really like what the atmosphere of the Paradox. I have been there in the past for the last edition of the Incubate festival (another cool event that I don’t know why was so brutally terminated) and I must say it was my favorite venue for this year. I also loved the division of the Koepenhal into two smaller venues (The Engine Room and The Terminal) but I was a little bit sad that not the entire space of this industrial structure was used.
Ho.re.ca (Hotels, Restaurants, Cafe’)
Due to the fact I have been in this tiny country for a while now, I am not super impressed about how expensive food and drinks are here (it is quite aligned with ‘normal’ entrainment activities I must say ). Of course, this doesn’t mean I am happy to spend 7 euros for a crepe, even if the stand is just outside 013. Living close by helped me for sure to save some money on accommodation, and the nice thing about having an entire city around the concerts areas for sure helped me to make cheaper choices. Last but not least, what I love about the Netherlands, is that tap water is free and good (I myself drink tap water at home) and with the nice plastic cups that they give you inside the venues, you can easily have it filled with water in the toilet (and if for you it is too gross, you can ask one of the bartenders to fill it in for you).
Another thing that I LOVED this year is that finally Roadburn got rid of the nasty purple coins, and forced me to use cards to pay for every transaction. This not only helps not to spread diseases via exchanging money but also helped me to track my expenses via an online app, without considering that I will not have anxiety anymore about losing these coins and consequentially, losing real money.
Brexit cut off British from the Roadburn, I could hear it from the different languages spoken around me during the four days. I would say this year Roadburn stayed quite local, with several Dutch, Belgium, French and German people coming to visit it. As always, except the first day on which entering some venues was basically impossible, the rest of the weekend went pretty smooth and I felt quite relaxed standing in big crowds, considering that was always a place in which I could have some distance from the others so I could stretch my legs, dance or wandering around (I cannot stand still otherwise my low back hurts)
Big shout out to the Roaburners Facebook page that made me laugh during my travels back and forth from Tilburg. I saw there how much the community is united. It was also a faster way to connect with people that needed/offered help, especially who was a foreigner and he/she needed advice for some serious matter (ex: harassment, loss of goods, etc.).
And next year?
I honestly don’t know if the world will finally end or we will go back like Covid never happened, but I am sure about one thing: Roadburn will never stop. The 2023 dates are already released and people are booking hotels and making arrangements. And me? I will probably be there, and definitely, I will be more prepared on which band I want to watch (and not decide on the spot as I did this year).
People are already betting about which will be the next lineup. Thou will be there? Hunter Hunt-Hendrix will be one of the curators? Will we have the British and Cul de Sac back? I am happy to hear your comments. In the meantime, I will prepare for my next festival 🙂