Intro | ARCTANGENT

Well, since Brexit was announced, I thought it would be better to use my EU freedom to visit England before it becomes an isolated island in the ocean. I decided then to fly there and see how English make festivals, checking Radar and, the week after, ArcTangent.

In particular, those guys are so nice to welcome me as a REAL journalist, that is something I really appreciate (I mean, the fact that someone is nice to me. I know I can’t call Pandemia a real online magazine, since it is now a bunch of things that I like and collect, but I will try to do my best to cover it).

So, what is ArcTangent? It is one of the cool place to be between 15th and 17th August in Europe, of course. The festival is taken place in Fernhill Farm not so far from Bristol, and it counts 61 bans in 3 days and 5 stages.

For the 2019 editions, Coheed and Cambria, Battles and Meshuggah are headliners, together with Russian Circles, Cult of Luna, Zeal and Ardor, Caspian, The Ocean, Toska and many more.

For more information, check the website. Here below the official playlist of the event:

 

RADAR FESTIVAL

First edition of Radar festival and here I am, planning this out of nothing one month before the event, and thanks to a Facebook ads. Which is not bad, by the way, since I am quite thrilled to see together Monuments, Agents Fresco, VOLA and Animals as Leaders, but as every new festival, you never know what it will happen. There will be band cancellations at the last moment? Roadie will put the system on fire due to an unexpected short circuit? Police will come and shut down at 8 pm? Only time will tell.

 

Introduction

The first editions was held in Guildford, in the Surrey, at one hour by train from London. A quite place medium-size city in the countryside, with a crazy car traffic in the center and a mild nightlife. I did like it much more then London, with its fairy-corners and 16th century old houses:

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Guildford, UK

The festival itself was in a very creepy place called Corner House, that looks like a striptease place. Which is something doesn’t bother me so much – I saw much worse in East Germany – except the fact that I felt in cage all the time. So, when you enter in the main stage, the space is quite large – and the bars (2) are located a little bit separated, which is nice for avoiding drunk people throwing beers on you while are trying to stand still. The problem starts when you go to the second stage, when the entrance is a narrow stair that goes into a basement almost full with the stage and the bar at the opposite side. Luckily there is also a space on the right, but instead to be a chill out place (full of couches and seats) this area is left to the merch area and the Long Branch records stand. Another thing I don’t like (but I saw it unfortunately in many indoor festivals) is to refuse re-admission to the venue after a certain. Probably a rule made by the city government, deeply hated since I get easily annoyed when there is only an active stage and the band there is not interesting at all.

 

Secret Act, Heart of a Coward, Monuments

Anyway, we are there in this place forgotten by God and I am on time on Friday to see the Secret Act advertised in the timetable. I was hoping to see Arch Echo, since they are about to tour with VOLA pretty soon, but I was not really disappointed to see this NNN guys. What I liked about them was how they built their show, using different tricks to engage the crowd and make a crazy party, and they did it with a music that looked for me a mix between Marylin Manson, Combrichrist and Rammstein, with some reminiscence of dirty rockabilly.

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NNN with weird apocalyptic crazy guys

After the Secret Act, I did not find any interesting band until Monuments. Sumer was really boring for me, while Heart of a Coward, despite was giving tons of energy to a responsive crowd, was in my opinion a standard deathcore band (with a progressive structure of the songs, but still the style is pretty ‘core). I was also quite surprised I did not like Toska, since they are part of the instrumental prog that I use to listen a lot in this period. Maybe because I did not know the songs at all? Maybe.

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Toska

Regarding Monuments: I should admit that one of the reason I went to Radar was to see Chris Barretto performing, and I was quite disappoint when I read he left the band one month before. Still, I was curious to listen his replacement, Andy Cizek, a talented Millennial that makes video on Youtube singing covers of famous songs. Well, I can tell that this guy knows how to sing. I could see that he really prepared himself for this challenge he tried to do his best to sing on vocal lines that were not made for him. I did appreciate the efforts and I believe also the public did. For me it was the best show I have seen since the one in Wacken on 2016, the one in which I felt in love with them.

After the headliner I run out of the main stage even if there was the afterparty ongoing. The reasons I did this were two: first, since I woke up at 5 am to catch my flight to go to the festival I was really tired. Second was the tremendous heat created in this hell of a nightclub, in which there was no airflow system and most of the doors were kept closed in order not to make too much noise outside. Which for me was ridiculous, since it was weekend and every pub around us was noisy. At a certain moment on Saturday, the air was so warm and smelly that I was able only to stand closed to the smoking areas, the only place where to take fresh air since it was outside.

 

VOLA, Agent Fresco, Modern Day Babylon and Animals as Leaders

Speaking about Saturday, I had a very nice start of the day with VOLA, which I discovered last year and I love since that moment. These guys are growing professionally and their fanbase is doing it also at the same pace. Most of the time people were singing their songs and the main stage was really packed, even if it was only 5 pm.

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VOLA during a break between songs

I do not have so much to add about Car Bomb (also pretty packed), Rolo Tomassi (that I definitely removed from my personal list of band to follow, since their music doesn’t tell me anything) and other bands of the night except 3: Agent Fresco, Modern Day Babylon and Animals as Leaders.

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Agent Fresco – with security guy and photographer

Finally I got to see Agent Fresco after the disappointing live I saw in Eindhoven while touring with Leprous. It was one of the last shows and the sounds was terrible, so I really appreciated the fact they gave 110% on this 40 min. Even if they said they were having technical issues, I did not notice big mistakes during playing Destrier (because they are basically doing this, over and over, and still promising to release the next album even if they said was due this summer). Also here, the public was so into the songs and involved until the end, when – as always – Arnor took his long cable for the microphone and just into the crowd singing The Autumn Red and greetings the people around him. Quite a standard gig for an aficionado as me, but still worth the price of the ticket.

At the last two bands of the night I was really tired and the heat was almost unbearable. I got to see almost all the Modern Day Babylon set, that was also extremely powerful and followed with the passion by the small public of the second stage, but when I went back to the main stage I had a moment of despair. For the last band of the night the place was completely packed of people. From my perspective there was no place available, and taking pictures of Animals as Leaders from my side was not possible. I was not even able to see the band until the last two songs – which was fine since I was waiting Physical Education, their most famous closure. Surprisingly the crowd (one of the most proactive I have ever seen) sang even this instrumental piece.

 

In conclusion, I must say that this was a successful first edition of the Radar festival, mainly due to two reasons: the line up and the public. It seems there is a quite active and connected scene in this area – even if small – ready to support this kind of activities. Let’s hope they will keep it up.

 

ROADBURN | Day 4

It has a been a long time since I visited the Roadburn, but finally my story is going to an end.

Sunday was a beautiful day. I managed to take some rest during this crazy crazy weekend, and I was almost full of energy to live the last day of the festival. In general I also like Sunday because, even if the quality of the music remains constant, the atmosphere here is more relaxed, also because of less people wondering around the venues. Most of them leave to come back to their countries: I actually read that most of the fans (I believe 75%) that attend the Roadburn are from outside the Netherlands, and definitely from outside the Tilburg region. For me this is a quite peculiar fact…

 

MJ Guider

The first band I saw was MJ Guider. The band itself plays an electric echoing of synth/guitar/bass mix that creates a sort of foggy 80’s fine atmosphere. It feels like we are drowning in the blue-colored air of the Green Room. There is not so much crowd, so it happened to me to assist at the concert without being pushed and in a place with a very nice view, so I enjoyed the complete experience.

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Stuck in Motion

After listening a little bit of Daughters in the Main Room (only to kill the time for me next band I was interested with, since those guys are not doing anything that can shock me or give me reason to stay, even if their work is quite valuable) I come back to the Green Room to check Stuck in Motion. Those Swedish guys are quite interesting, considering the fact that are three and seems that everyone is able to play every type of instrument, not mentioning the singing part. They entertainment us with pure psychedelic pieces, shifting from dynamic synth solo to romantic ballads, and they do it enchanting the public.

 

Thou

Another concert I really enjoyed is Thou‘s. There is so much destructive energy in this band, that the whole Main Room is simply mesmerized by vibrations are coming from the stage. One of the visual choice (as you can see from the picture, the three crosses) is so powerful when is accompanied by their sludge. The impression is people are so focused on it that look like statues from where I sit:

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Ulcerate

Well, I admit it. Thanks to the fact on Sunday there were less people I intentionally spend most of the time in 013. But in the case of Ulcerate, it was ages I wanted to see them live: and for this performance I could see the crowd in the Green Room. Not for nothing those guys are monsters in their sludge-death. The energy level is maintained quite high, and few people left the room, at least until I was there.

 

Bossk

The last I heard during this Roadburn is Bossk, a real nice post-rock project. Their songs are fresh and bring the listener to enjoy every nuance of the composition and astonishes him with the violence of the lead voice, that seems so distant and also so close with the essence of the song, that just give a sense of confusion.

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Here we are, at the end of my journey. It is a long story of my four days that could have been longer and with more bands on my personal running order. However, I do not think that the Roadburn is only a place to go to hear some cool music, or better is not only that. I believe that Roadburn is an experience, a rite of passage through a new music concept and mind paradigm. Roadburn is a gathering with who, like us, is doing this changing, and it gives the opportunity to even expand it. Roadburn is, basically, the spiritual trip into music that everyone that loves the underground needs to do.

ROADBURN | Day 3

After a quite short Friday a rich weekend started. I managed to arrive around 3 at Het Patronaat to see Turia, and of course arriving just when the show begins is not a good idea. I had to spend 30 min in the cold (with little bit of snow) before I got into the venue

 

Turia

I saw Turia last year in Little Devil (another venue in Tilburg, specialized in black metal mostly), and I was positively impressed by them. As I mentioned in the previous post, I listen black metal but I get quite bored unless the idea behind the project is different than the standard I am used to. One thing I like about the band is the female screaming, that I find more fascinating due to the pitch; but also the intensity that the band radiates. I must say their concert looks like a ritual, which can tell you a lot about the performance.

 

Break

The second band in my personal schedule is Sumac, but I got disappointed when I arrived at 013. One of the two corridors next to the Main Stage is closed because of the crowd, and in the other people are so packed that going inside the room is not an option. I decided then to walk to the Koepelhal, to take a coffee and to wait for Mourne.

At the Koepelhal I tried the Koffie & Koek, a cute bar made inside a train wagon. Even if their philosophy of using bio products is something I quite like, I did not enjoy the coffee so much (but I am Italian, and I always say that each coffee I take beyond the Alps tastes like dirty water, so…).

With my warm drink in the hand I started wandering inside the building, finally having time to check the painting exhibitions by Marissa Nadler and Emma Ruth Rundle, as I mentioned in the live report of the first day. I also gave a sight to the Full Bleed area, where the Roadburn poster artists could show and sell their own products.

I believe that the success of the Roadburn is based on two main pillars: one is – of course – the captivating mix of underground and cool music, while the second one is the astonishing graphic design. Not for anything the festival t-shirts tend to finish quite early, almost the first day of the event!

But let’s come back to the program.

 

Mourne

Morne is an American band hailing from Boston, that plays a damned atmospheric doom metal. I enjoyed their concert, the music was nice fresh air, but I found them not really involving the public. Basically: nice to listen in the car or while chilling at home, a little bit less to see on stage.

 

Glerakur

After dinner I went back to Koepelhal to see Glerakur, that became my personal best band in this edition.

Let’s start with the stage: imagine my surprise to see three guitars, two basses and two drums. Normally, when I see this kind of non-standard band compositions I immediately think that the project is shit. You know, apparently a lot of ‘musicians’ think that if you have something eccentric in clothes, stage effects the music doesn’t need to be special. But this is a different story for Glerakur.

I personally love ambient and post rock. It is difficult to state which one I love the most, however I can tell that in this case there is no point to make comparison. The band is a right mix of the two genres, with an hint of melancholia in the songs that makes everything….perfect?

Sadness and wonder are the words that give the immediate feedback of the band, and together with the visuals made the performance great.

 

Agrimonia

After this concert I was bored of the station area (Koepelhal and Hall of Fame were previously train storage buildings) and I came back to Main Stage. I gave a quick look to Sleep (main event of this Roadburn 2019) and as the same speed I went away. Not because the band was not good, but simply because I didn’t find anything more interested than the average stoner sludge metal. Considering the age, they probably invented the genre, that is the reason why so many people are fulfilling the Main Stage in 013, but I am more interested in new sonority.

I think that this is the Koepelhal edition for me, since most of the bands I decided to see played there. Last band of the night (for me) was Agrimonia, a swedish-black-female-fronted metal band. Nice to hear (also, I love extreme female fronted bands, I think it is obvious) but nothing special to record, except for the energetic and funny singer.

I gave up the night after them because of the unsustainable situation at the moment. Indeed Saturday is the day that has the highest participants at the festival, as you can imagine (headliners, weekend night, etc.). This brings problems in the classic venues, considering the small capacity of the 013 and Het Patronaat. I reached a moment in which I was trying to figure out which band it was more convenient to see, instead of to choose respect to what I wanted to listen, which made me kind of angry against the festival and made me take the decision to go home.

ROADBURN | Day 2

I know I should take vacation when I decide to follow a festival as the Roadburn. As I admitted in the previous post, it was a matter of luck I go the ticket, then it was too late to call holiday. The result was that on Friday I arrived even later than on Thursday. What did I have the chance to see then?

Svalbard

From the train station I directly start to walk to the Koepelhal, the biggest venue of the Roadburn, to see Pijn, a sort of angry post-metal band. I was too late to spend some time to other concerts in the classic venues (take in account the time you need to queue) but to early to just sit in the Koepelhal and get bored. I decided then to quickly go and see Svalbard in the Hall of Fame, the fifht venue placed next to the skate park. Still, I was not enough in time to have a good spot there, so don’t ask me how the musicians looked like. I can tell you that the person was screaming was a girl, that’s all. For the rest, it was something that I normally define post-punk, quite atmospheric and good for me for maximum 20 minutes.

Lingua Ignota

When I was going out from the Hall of Fame, I noticed that something was happening at the skate park. I still don’t know if it was scheduled or it was a sort of secret show, but for me it was completely a surprise to see Lingua Ignota again, this little girl (that for me look a little bit like Lady Gaga without make up) try to connect her keyboard a the amplifiers when kids are skating around her. I waited for her performance, and finally I got the chance to see her (I finally had a nice spot) singing in a microphone with a light hanged on it. Well, in a completely dark room makes its effect, but after a couple of songs I left: it was the same set of the day before.

Drab Majesty

I have been interested to Synth Pop lately. ( I hope I can release the compilation soon in the year, but you already see my productivity level). For this reason I put on my to do list  Drab Majesty, an American duo which a quite peculiar apparence.

This is the year of Marriages apparently: on Thursday I saw Emma Ruth Rundle play in her solo project (and exhibit her art) and on Friday was the turn of the drummer, and its electonics with a touch of 80s atmosphere. I did not have the chance to live this decade, however I have the feeling that the white wigs and the crazy glasses come exactly from that period.

L’Acephale

The last band of the day was for me L’Acephale, that is not an ritual French band, but a more complex American black metal project. The band doesn’t hit me particularly: the music they play has quite of variey but there is nothing that can shock me or make them remind me in the future. I am pretty peaky with black metal, not because is my favorite genre. It is because for me is all much the same that I struggle to find new interesting proposals: to be captivating they must have something that really differentiate from the other projecs in the panorama.

Click here to see Day 1

ROADBURN | Day 1

Here we are with the 2019 edition of the most interesting and experimental metal festival in Europe: the Roadburn. Also for this year we will assist a never ending names of astonishing bands, such as – just to say the most important – Heilung, Mono, Myrkur, Thou, Tryptykon, At the Gates and Sleep, that comes back after 27 years to celebrate their music path on the Main Stage of the 013.

Introduction

I must admit that I didn’t even plan to come to the festival this year: I made the wrong decision to wait until January to buy the ticket, and I realized it was too late. On the other side, I could expect it: the Roadburn is an indoor festival, which means that the capacity is strictly limited due to logistics reasons, and at the same time is THE place in which every metal fan would like to be (or at least, every elitist). The ticket race is therefore unavoidable.

Anyway, I got lucky and a friend of mine managed to find me an entrance. For me was a big surprise and I saw it as a reward for all the good actions I do lately (I am joking, of course). I also though it made even more important to  write about the festival, and let the people were not able to make it feel a little of the Roadburn magic through my humble words.

For this reason I studied the running order and I made the clever plan to see as many cool bands as possible. This turned up catastrophically, as the decision of taking my camera and try to pictures my experience via first-hand photos.

Lingua Ignota

On Thursday I managed to go out from work soon enough to arrive just in time for Lingua Ignota. Behind this moniker there is the performance artist Kristin Hayter, a tiny super blond American girl with an amazing strong and expressive voice. She performed in the Green Room that, as I should know in advance, was so packed that at the beginning of the concert I am not even able to see stage. This is not really important, considering that Kristin is actually playing her piano in the crowd, in front of the stage mix.

The songs are shifting from one to another, without any stop, and this make for me difficult to understand if every piece has a particular style or is a mix of different influences. In this hour of music I could hear machine noise, heavy loops, vibrato voice and even the romantic and dark cover of Jolene, one of the most famous US song that I know.

Emma Ruth Rundle

After the claustrophobic atmosphere of the small stage of the 013 I went to Koepelhal to see Emma Ruth Rundle. This artist is not only a musician, but also a painter, and during this Roadburn edition she exhibits some of her works in the Koepelhal itself:

What appears to me when I listen to this young lady, is a sort of Cure type of songs, which I like a lot. Her music is dark and dreamy, but the difference compared to the giants of the 80s is the roughness of the guitars.

Territoire

Coming back to the 013, I decided to sneak inside Territoire concert. I did not have the chance to hear them more than 10 min, however I did like a lot the atmosphere, the breaks of silent, low and high volume sounds, the slowness of the performance and the use of distortions to elaborate the human voice.

Heilung

Another project I told myself I surely wanted to see was Heilung. I have heard a lot about them and I needed to see if they were so unbelievable as people told me. I did not dive into their music before I reached them at the Main Stage, and I was expecting a traditional folk viking band, but when I entered the hall doors I saw the first extravagant thing: the members of Heilung were standing in circle, silent, hand in hand, in something that looked like a pray. They basically ignored everything that was going around them until the moment they had to start to perform, and even in that moment, there was the impression we were looking at a ritual and not a concert.

Just imagine a bunch of inhabitants of Northern forest during some primitive middle ages singing and making music to thank their Gods, using historical instruments, bones and drums. Extremely fascinating, but for me more a theatrical piece that actual music.

Bliss Signal

I left the room quite early to grant my spot in the Green Room to see Bliss Signal. I have a ‘musical’ crush for James Kelly, since I had the chance to see him performing his WIFE project. Which I consider one of the most brilliant experimental artifacts I have encountered recently. After that, I discovered Bliss Signal also casually, wandering in Cloud 9 when this duo was performing during Le Guess Who? festival. If you tell I like WIFE you can easily say I madly love Bliss Signal, so you can imagine my excitement when I say Kelly wandering around the small stage of the Green Room, checking every cable was in his view. Quite a perfectionist? Maybe, consider the fact that everything was ready in no time and the only things he needed were the cable connected to his pedal. I am joking of course (such a funny girl eh?), but this was something impressed me, together the awkward taste of his clothes.

I do believe that, due to the sound management at the mix, the show was not so powerful and inspiring as the one at the Cloud 9, which made me a little bit disappointed, however I was happy to see this duo playing again on stage.

EUROBLAST 2018

Photo by Euroblast. All credits belong to the respective photographers.

Almost one week passed, and I will try to put some of the ideas are going through my mind related to Euroblast, the best progressive/technical indoor festival in Europe. This year was the second time I went to Essigfabrik and I decided to leave the experience in full, staying there three days. The overall impression that I had – besides the music – is that the place seemed more a big gathering of old friends, and not because people knew each others – some of them for sure – but because the atmosphere was so warm that looks like you are going to meet the family that you were not seeing for some time.

This was really a nice edition, with a beautiful weather that gave us time to enjoy the outside spaces and socialize, a relaxed atmosphere and the possibility to hang out with some of band members, that were possible to see around the stage exit. Another good point is definitely the nice line up was organized for the 2018 edition. As I wrote in this post, Monuments were again headliner for one of the 3 days, and there is no true Euroblast if no Monuments, Textures or TesseracT are there. And thank god we had them, since there are just few singers that can lead the stage and the crowd as Chris Barretto. I don’t really know where he finds such energy that guy, seriously. People can just look at him and fell in love because of his charisma and vocal talent. Not just a singer, but also a showman.

Monuments

Photo by Andre Symann

It was also nice to see again our friends VOLA, that seems are going to conquer the hearts of the progressive community all around the world. Those guys are really promoting themselves in the best way as possible, giving their music the attention it deserves; I realized it when I saw how the public knew them very well even if their presence was not so massive on social and concerts (but they chose a group of nice festivals to show up, as the Complexity in Haarlem and the TechFest in Newark). Or Caligula’s Horse, that has different type of charm when you see them indoor respect into the sun of Barcelona at the Be Prog! My Friend, but still they maintain their peculiar epic aura.

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Photo by Marvin Ruppert

But if I need to talk about my discoveries, I need to talk about two German bands: Long Distance Calling, a prog/post rock band from the region that inflamed the end of the festival with their instrumental vibrations, and Lake Cisco, about I liked a lot its ethereal and kind of romantic atmosphere explosive melodies.

Long

Photo by Heiner Bach

For the rest, many good bands run on the two stages, from the funky style of Sordid Pink to the tech black-death of Humanity’s Last Breath, making enough variety during the day and keep the interest high. A good location, an interesting line up and amazing people: Euroblast didn’t betrayed us also this year.

Click on the image to find the playlist of the line up for 2018:

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Leave a comment below about your favorite moment at the festival. Everyone was there this year probably heard the battle cry of ‘Cookie dough’ at least 10 times per day, and is probably one of the funniest moment I had, especially the last day in which people were so tired to hear it that they buy it. What about you?

Meakusma Festival 2018

What a wonderful pearl I discovered – by chance – in the middle of Europe. The Meakusma festival is a place where the sound itself is the main character, without any border or preconditions, celebrated for what it is, the basic pillar of many forms of art.

I don’t know if it was the beautiful weather that welcomed me, or the vibes of the Meakusma community, or the shock to see such impressive underground artists, but this festival will stay in my heart for a long time. It is amazing how the organization made everything so cozy and exiting at the same time. In this weekend I can say that I was never bored, listening to so many different projects in different stages.

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Meakusma is a festival at its 3rd edition, and takes place in Eupen, one of the few Belgium-German-spoken cities at the border of these two countries. The main venue of this gathering is the Alter Schlachthof culture center, placed not so far from the center of the town, the first weekend of September.

Personally, I cannot say if there were big names on the line up, I am not really into this world, but I will give some impressions about the musicians I had the chance to see and hear:

  • Brötzmann | Leigh: this duo brought on the scene a magnificent exhibition of free jazz using a variety of sax/clarinets and a pedal guitar (that I have never seen in my life on a live stage). The density of the performance was palpable and people were genuinely fascinated by the intensity of Peter Brötzmann combined with the loveliness of Healther Leigh‘s sound.

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  • Bruce: how can I define Bruce‘s work as not as collage dance music? I really cannot find a standard definition for what he plays. It doesn’t mean that it cannot be sensational thou: the atmosphere inside the Halle (the main room of the Alter Schlachthof) was intimate and concentrate, but was still shacking people to dance.

  • Am Vision | Lambert Duchesne: these AM Berliners performed in Kesselraum a mix of digital and electronic music, telling a prophetic story towards the images of a video screen. The show was very peculiar and sometimes extremely powerful in the message it was bringing.
  • Ben Ufo: one of the curator of the Festival, Ben Ufo had his moment at 23:00 in Halle, with a huge crowd ready for his original contemporary dance music. Unpredictable and dynamic, Ben‘s idea of rhythm is quite fluid, but it never let us down.
  • Hinosch: when Osaka meets Düsseldorf, Japan meets Germany, Asia meets Europe, then a synthetic-unsyncronized sound decorates the air thanks to the experienced engineering hands of Hinosch and their performance in Kesselraum.

  • Radian: amazing experience with the Austrian trio and their music, a sort of minimal rock drone, extremely dense and theatrical. In the Kühlraum those guys made the public silent and few people dared to leave the room:

Other interesting facts about the festival:

  • the Alter Schlachthof was in principle a slaughterhouse; however it doesn’t really look like a place of death, since the building are beautifully realized at the beginning of the XX Century;
  • the festival hosted one of the work of the Belgian artist David Helbich, a transcendent and meditative audio guide to listen while walking around the culture center;
  • a beautiful installation from Floris Vanhoof is made hanging geometrical metal structures with gongs that vibrate when the wind passes. It is amazing to walk in the street and listen to this unexpected music.

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A festival created for the music, but not just made of music. A really nice small event that it should be followed, since it hosts such fascinating avant-garde and experimentation. The exact opposite of what the uncritical mass of our modern society likes: and also because of this, a reason more to visit it next year.

Photos are kindly shared by Meakusma Festival

ROADBURN 2018

If we talk about the Roadburn, there is soooo much to say. The venue, the entire line up, the concept, and also, the food, the facilities and the Netherlands in general… I have heard a girl saying that Friday ticket were completely sold out and is not difficult to imagine that also the other days had the same result, considering the amount of people everywhere, from the Hall of Fame/Koepelhal to the bar street next to Cul de Sac and the 013 buildings. The weather helped a lot (we had 30° on Thursday, and 4 sunny days in a row, something quite special here) and I am pretty much sure that the profit largely increased due to the raise of the sold drinks .

But we are not here to discuss about the profit of the organization, are we? In fact, now that is over, let just go through the music we discovered there, keeping it in our Spotify account to listen during difficult times. For who was not there, a nice playlist was made by the curator of the festival, but in this post I would like to give the selection of the bands I mostly liked during these four days: one band per day.

P.s. headliners are intentionally left out.

Thursday | Ex Eye

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Photo by Niels Vinck

It is quite difficult to define the genre of this band, and their music is difficult to approach as well, I must say. Not because the listeners expecially in the Roadburn are not open minded – is actually the opposite – but because the mind cannot relate this sound to any other sonority already released. The specialty of this project has fascinated many in the super-crowded public of the Green Room (the smallest stage of 013).

 

Friday | Minami Deutsch

Minami

Photo by Susana  Martins

I came back to the Green Room the day after to have a look of the Psychedelic Japanese rock band Minami Deutsch. They were quite shy to talk to the public, however their music was catchy and cathartic and obtained a quite positive result.

 

Saturday | Greenmachine

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Photo by Paul Verhagen

For the special occasion of the Roaburn festival the grindcore-punk band Greenmachine decided to bring their album D.A.M.N. on the stage. However, after a brief announcement (something like “Now D.A.M.N is finished. Stop.”) they brought to long distance fans something to dream about.

 

Sunday | Wrekmeister Harmonies

Wrekmeister-Harmonies-2

Photo by Paul Verhagen

I love the atmosphere of Wrekmeister Harmonies. The use of the instrument, combined with the thoughtful lyrics and the disturbing videos projected on the wall while they play, made their performance something unique and impressive. It is a pity that they were put as opening band of the day in the Patronaat.

COMPLEXITY FEST 2018

Complexity is a Dutch booking agency that for the last 3 years organized the self named festival in Haarlem.

Feature image by PitKings.

All photos in the post by Quinten Quist Konzertphotographie.

Complexity is a Dutch booking agency that for the last 3 years organized the self named festival in Patronaat, Haarlem, not so far from Amsterdam.

Since it was described as the festival of the underground and experimental harsh sonority, and counting in its line up for 2018 bands like Sikth, VOLA and Ulsect, I decided to give it a try and during the – probably – coldest weekend of all winter I traveled to the west part of the Netherlands to check it.

I arrived at the club during the performance of Ulsect. This newborn band from Tilburg released its first full-length album last year and it seems doing pretty good. Of course, they are set in the second stage around 8 pm, but still a lot of people are quite interested to their performance, that will show what the combo is capable of. I really enjoyed their time on stage, and I like how the singer Dennis Maas is virtually fulfilling all stage with his tall presence (it is a pity thou that he uses some Mitch Lucker‘s moves, but no one is perfect). I felt a sort of atmospheric black influences inside the different pieces, and I loved the slow distortion wall of guitars with a continuous rhythmic double pedal in the background, a sort an infinite sludge loop, at the end of the show.

I switch to the main stage (call it for the occasion Aristide stage, in honor of the biggest supporter for the festival) to see the performance of Oceano, busy touring Europe with Carnifex. The bassist and the drummer are the two members that impressed me the most: the first because of his ballerina influences, while the second because of the total absence of passion while playing a very good drum part. Oceano exists thanks to the singer, that has a super strong voice, clear and constant in power. Good performance, but I don’t like the choice to place deathcore bands during a festival like these: it seems more a try by the organization to collect enough money in order to have enough payback to cover the expenses, and to do it they guest the most mainstream genre nowadays.

Let’s come back to the second stage with John Frum. I found the band quite boring, and the fact they have to put a costume while they play they just enforce me this idea. I am often doubtful about bands that use clothes or masks during their shows, sometimes is like that they are not able to create impact with their music, so they have to find other ways to do it. Anyway, John Frum‘s music seems sometimes a sort of obscure rock’n’roll, but is everything so overrated and deprived of any new idea that I leave before the end.

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Finally we have the headliner of Friday night: Carnifex are playing for an hour in front of the saddest moshpit I have ever seen. I liked the show, the singer is really energetic, able to lead the public with tons of charisma. Is a pity the fact that he has to close every song with “Fuck yeah” or “Hell yeah”, something that makes me crazy, however is very talented and resilient. A good concert but I would have not done the choice to have such band as headliner, since they are quite stereotyped into the genre.

Last band of the night is Dodecahedron, in which we found members of Ulsect and Ggu:II. This band is the perfect closure of the night: they are so obscure, deep, theatrical, … that is difficult to explain. There are so many emotions involved in what they play, that you cannot define a genre, a concept or a main current in music that they follow. They are totally brilliant to propose this music, so complex but at the same time you like it at the first listening. Not so many bands can do it.

On Saturday I started in late afternoon with the Danish progressive band VOLA, that unfortunately began not in the best way as possible, considering the fact that we were not able to hear any keyboard or voice for a couple of songs. Surprisingly, in front of band a consistent group of people started to sing their songs and I realized how much waited this band was. The main hall is not completely crowded, but the public is there just to see them, and this is probably the only band (together with Carnifex and Sikth) that had the same warm welcome during the festival.

I attend at the performance of Poil from the bathroom over the third hall of the Patronaat, and if this situation seems quite weird you never heard this band. It is quite difficult to describe their music, that is defined by them as “impressive and delirious”. I kind of agree with them, consider the fact that the idea I had looking at them playing was that they were doing everything they wanted and were passing into their heads. Dressed as freaks and playing a delirious rock, their conquered the public.

After lunch I go back to the main hall to see the last gig of the Faceless tour. This band did not give me any remarkable emotion, considered also the fact that the musicians gave also the impression not to be really happy to be on stage (and now we understand why). Not even the featured with the old singer gave significant change to the atmosphere. Better results had the co-tour band The Voynich Code, which stage was completely crowded from the beginning to the end of the performance.

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Last band to perform on the main hall, Sikth, received a super positive hospitality from the Patronaat. They played pretty well, and the crowd response was quite good (but not so good as the day before). With a good combination of old and new songs, the concert went smoothly to a predictable end. Nothing really special, except the fact to listen to one of the best experimental progressive band that exist in the actual panorama.

Final band of the festival, at least for me, are the English Three Trapped Tigers, that brings a real cool and dynamic instrument on one of the small stages. Those guys are impressive in their solos, and their virtuosity – especially at the keyboard – make me finish the festival in the best way as possible.

The Complexity is a very cool festival, full of new proposals and colorful combinations. We will see what the next year will bring – in the meantime, check the playlist we made for 2018:

 

EUROBLAST 2017

Thanks to Maite Ramis for the pictures. Here you can find much more:
Maivisualart Flickr
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The more I get older, the more I am picky. I remember when I started to visit big festivals, and I can still feel how much I was excited, thinking about to gather thousands of people with the same passion in music and see my favourite bands play live. After 10 years I lost a little this excitement, but I can’t deny I am still in love with the idea to go and see music live, that gives me still a lot of feelings.

I have seen more or less all my favorite bands (except Type O’ Negative, one of my biggest disappointment) but I continue to go to concerts searching new sounds that capture me. That is why I decided to join at least one of the three days of the German progressive festival Euroblast. The gathering is at its 13th years, and for this edition has counted as headliners Textures, Twelve Foot Ninja and the master Devin Townsend. The success of the Euroblast is based on the fact that the most important bands for avant-garde progressive metal reunites here, and particularly we can see a defined pattern in the roster, considering the fact that bands like Textures and TesseracT are participating quite often.

It was ages that I wanted to check how good is and finally, on Saturday, I picked up my ticket and I arrived at the place just before Car Bomb started. This mathcore band has something to teach, since they have quite a long career, and it can be easily seen when they performed on the stage. However, they do not have a powerful impact, even if their music is performing quite good on stage. Michael Dafferner has an easy going way to growl, but he should totally forget clean parts, much better when modified on studio. Anyway, is not a real faking, since his strength is the scream, as it should be in the genre. The band is quite solid and the show had a good impact, even if sometimes the distortion was disappearing in the hall. The only point that I would like to challenge them is that they could give more for involving the public…

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Let’s go further. I reached, under the Essigfabrik, the entrance of the Elektroküche, another important place for the nightlife of Cologne. The idea to use the near club to guest the festival is really good, however a concert is starting just after the other, and it is difficult to someone to grab a beer or smoke a cigarette when you really want to see the end of a concert and the start of the next. In the Elektroküche I see The Interbeing, a Cyber but still Progressive band from Denmark, that do not impress me, since I never stood this genre, however there is an improvement in the public involvement, since a small group of people in front of the stage seems to support the band from a long time, and they also started an idiotic crowd surfing, considering that the ceiling is very low and the club is basically a basement.

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The Interbeing closed the show announcing to be in tour with Twelve Foot Ninja in that period, and they played immediately after them at the main stage. Twelve Foot Ninja is one of the most brilliant thing that I saw in music: never I would have imagined  it can be possible to mix djent with reggae or funk style, but with them I realized that it really works and very well. The result is to see a lot of people enjoying the music dancing, something that normally don’t happen in a metal concert. But this is what I liked of Euroblast: is not afraid to cross the border, because the limits are not included in a genre as Progressive is.

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It was a pity not to see Devin Townsend the day after. I really like Essigfabrik as venue and the yearly booking plan is always great. I will definitely will come back the next year to see which new experimental bands are coming up, and -why not- discover again bands as Monuments on the main stage.