Day Three: Saturday, April 12
After spending Thursday fighting exhaustion and experiencing prog heaven on Friday, Day Three of Roadburn was something I was really looking forward to: the day things got seriously nuts. As fun as seeing established acts is, discovering your new favourite band here is a huge part of the experience, and this day’s lineup was jam-packed with artists from both sides of the fence.
UK band 11 Paranoias started off in sensational fashion with its soaring hybrid of doom and space rock, sounding as dreamy yet crushing in a revelatory performance. A friend urged me to not miss this set, and I’m glad I didn’t, because it stopped me dead in my tracks. Over on the main stage, Noothgrush grushed their neeth as well as you’d expect. It was all well and good, but American sludge has been boring me as of late, and I was looking for musical discoveries on this day, which I found when I meandered into the Stage 01 room. Led by Kimi Kärki of Reverend Bizarre, the kosmische project E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr started off tentatively, but ever-so-slowly built momentum, with magnificent improvisation atop a hypnotic synth arrangement.
If there ever was a time when I was thankful I arrived early for a set, it was for Circle. After hilariously stripping down and dressing in spandex onstage, the Finnish innovators steamrolled through an hour-long set that veered wildly from krautrock grooves, Beefheart jams, to raucous rock ’n’ roll that echoed Blue Öyster Cult, Stooges, and Turbonegro. Possessing the chops to do that is one thing, but to pull it off so seamlessly is genius, and Circle was a joy to witness.
Doom upstarts Windhand captivated a full main stage audience, but quite frankly didn’t blow me away at all. Papir played some more laid-back jams in a sweltering Stage 01, but yours truly was still reeling from Circle’s psychotic set, and it wasn’t until YOB kicked into its performance of the album The Great Cessation that my energy returned. But that’ll happen when you park yourself underneath the towering monolith of PA beside the stage. YOB is extraordinary, its sound thick enough to seem tactile.
As intense as Indian is on record, it pales in comparison to the live experience, and it felt like the guys were about to level the Patronaat with their distinct, malevolent doom. It was shattering, and when I left early the lineup to get in was the longest for a Patronaat show I’d ever seen.
Next up was Finland’s Mansion, who blew me away a year ago with its debut EP, and whose devout doomsday cult songs and image was utterly convincing heavy rock theatre. The six-piece band was captivating playing old material and new, and when the set climaxed with singer Alma’s stern demeanour giving way to a complete breakdown, the audience was enraptured.
After that set, I dashed around the corner to the main theatre and caught the last hour of Loop’s festival-headlining show. Innovative for its use of psychedelia and krautrock repetition within the shoegaze milieu, it was hypnotic, flawless, and very, very loud; waves of guitars wafting, vibrating, flooding the big room. “Collision,” “Arc-Lite,” and “Fever Knife” were big highlights, and a gracious Robert Hampson dedicated “Burning World” to popular Roadburn organizer Walter Hoeijmakers. The foursome returned for an encore of “Breathe Into Me” and a cover of Can’s seminal “Mother Sky” that transformed the classic into a roaring, glorious jam.
As soon as Loop ended, the crowd in the Green Room, which was already full, overflowed well into the hall as Inter Arma played its experimental black metal. Drummer TJ Childers beat and flailed away with force, flamboyance, and precision, even using a big tree branch on a couple of surreal occasions. His personality gave this innovative, eclectic performance a level of charisma you don’t see enough in US black metal.
After popping in to see Harsh Toke jam away, it was a moment where you knew nothing would equal the previous four bands. In the end, the big bands (Circle, Loop, YOB) didn’t disappoint, and I now have a new favourite band in 11 Paranoias. Saturday’s mission accomplished.