Invisible Oranges’ Official Roadburn 2022 Guide
The scent of spring hangs in the air, a feeling of hope and renewal stands round the corner and the leading light of Roadburn Festival begins to fade into view as we near a weekend in Tilburg that is powerful enough to change your perception of reality and perhaps even your life. The aura that surrounds the festival is one that is spoken about with great reverence by all those who have had the opportunity to attend and those who still dream of heading to The Netherlands for four days of musical discovery in late April.
Now that the schedules are published, it is time to comb the line-up for "must-sees" as well as bands you would like to experience and bands you would be interested in catching live. Of course, most people's best laid plans are thrown out of the window on the first day as they soak up the atmosphere of the 013 and the Weirdo Canyon - the affectionately named strip of bars and cafes that line the main street before heading around the corner to the venue that houses the Main Stage and the newly monikered Next Stage (previously known as The Green Room) - and find themselves going with the flow of the Festival rather than sticking to a predetermined timetable. That’s where the beauty of Roadburn lies, the discovery and the surprises. Sure, you could rigidly follow your plans but you may miss out on some of the most exciting and absorbing music the world has to offer.
In recent years De Koepelhal was an added as another larger venue and is the home to The Terminal and The Engine Room stages, while a short walk from there is Hall of Fame and a skatepark which has hosted secret shows such as Thou’s Misfits cover set in 2019. De Koepelhal is a brisk five minutes from the main area the Festival is set in and the route will become second nature by the end of the first day. If you’ve got time, stop off at the little ice cream shop on the way and get some delicious frozen treats and rest a while in the sun.
The Pandemic brought 2020's edition to a halt but in 2021 we experienced the Festival in an online capacity as Roadburn Redux which was a glimmer of light in a world which is still recovering from some of the strangest years most of us have ever known.
The year 2022, though, brings the Festival screaming back into the limelight with acts both known and underground, handpicked curations and commissioned music as well as a brand new venue–Paradox–in which the most abstract and unusual performances can be seen. Curating this year is GGGOLDDD's Milena Eva and Thomas Sciarone who have chosen several acts to perform across the Festival such as Liturgy performing Origin of the Alimonies, Wiegedood playing their most recent opus There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road as well as a takeover of the Hall of Fame venue on Sunday 24th. GGGOLDDD will themselves be appearing on the Main Stage at the 013 in order to bring their Roadburn Redux commissioned piece This Shame Should Not Be Mine to a live audience for the first time. This is sure to be a performance for the ages and while their Roadburn Redux presentation was powerful, hearing Milena’s words in person and her transformational story is guaranteed to be a cathartic moment for all.
Commissioned works have been a staple of Roadburn for a number of years and in this year's edition we finally get to hear the sounds created by Cult of Luna's Johannes Persson and Perturbator's James Kent which was originally to be played at 2020s Festival, titled Final Light. This pairing may seem curious on the surface but delve deep into their respective band’s and musical history, and there is a common thread of experimentation that will be found on April 22nd. Another 2020 piece which will see the bright light of day this year is Vile Creature and Bismuth’s work, A Hymn of Loss and Hope which promises to be both crushing and exhilarating given their work on their own projects - prepare to be annihilated on April 21st.
As well as curators and commissioned works, Roadburn also invites an Artist in Residence which this year sees Full of Hell play four times over the course of the Festival. They'll play Trumpeting Ecstasy and Weeping Choir in full before joining forces with Nothing for a collaborative set and ending the weekend with Primitive Man's Ethan McCarthy, here performing as Spiritual Poison for a full rendition of new album Garden of Burning Apparitions. French trio SLIFT and Dirk Serries (himself a staple of Roadburn over the years) will expand the Artist in Residence side of the Festival with special performances and collaborations over the weekend.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Tilburg earlier than the “official” start of Thursday 21st April then you can check out Radar Men From The Moon at the pre-show party The Spark alongside Maggot Heart and Bad Breeding and if you like to sit down and listen to interesting talks then the Roadburn side programme has you covered. Here you can join in Q&A’s, hear about the industry and take in the knowledge of your peers. If art is something that piques your interest then there are several exhibitions held over the weekend featuring Roadburn’s artwork creators Valreza Collective, Manuel Tinnemans and William Lacalmontie.
For personal picks and recommendations, the list is too long to go into fully but there are some bands that have been high on the priority scale since they were announced, some that I am intrigued by and many I have never heard of but would like to check out. There is far too much to entertain the possibility of seeing everything on the list but the intentions are there, at least. For brevity's sake I won’t mention every single band that appeals but the following, broken down by day, are certainly one’s to watch. So, let’s get into it and remember, it’s just my opinion, man.
Thursday 21st April
Essentially opening the first full day of Roadburn Festival 2022 is Canadian trio Big Brave, fresh off the release of two records in 2021, they are bringing their brand of slow burning amplifier worship to The Terminal stage at 1400. Sure to be a rousing beginning to the weekend, Big Brave offers the chance to experience a new kind of heaviness before Forndom channel ancient Scandinavian rituals over at Next Stage in the 013.
Vile Creature & Bismuth are the first band to grace the Main Stage on Thursday and will be premiering their commissioned collaboration A Hymn of Loss and Hope. While the piece had been written ready for the 2020 edition of the Festival, the two bands have been using their time since to refine their creation and this performance promises to be one that is intense in both emotion and sound. Switching back to The Terminal we find Year of No Light following up the release of Consolamentum with a set that forms part of a label showcase from Pelagic Records while a quick change of venues brings us to Messa playing their new album Close in full for the Main Stage audience. Messa’s atmospheric doom is catchy enough to carry you away into the next dimension as the Italian’s presence is as magickal as it is entrancing.
De Koepelhal’s Engine Room hosts Cloud Rat’s first set of the weekend which leans into the more extreme metal side of their catalogue, whereas on Friday they’ll play a set centered around their electronic work Do Not Let Me Off The Cliff after which there’s a choice to be made between The Devil’s Trade, Spiritual Poison and 40 Watt Sun. For this attendee, the latter is the most attractive of the three and it is certainly not possible to see all three and immerse yourself in any of them. A large part of Roadburn is making decisions and to be honest, it is better to watch all, or most, or something rather than stretching yourself too thin between venues, walking back and forth and being too tired to watch it anyway. So, The Main Stage wins out this time as 40 Watt Sun’s Perfect Light is already a favorite release of 2022 and Patrick Walker’s brand of emotional catharsis is one that has to be experienced in the flesh.
If you’re feeling adventurous then you can head to Paradox for a performance from Autarkh III, a special presentation of Autuarkh’s more ambient and experimental side that began to take shape after they were asked to be a part of Roadburn Redux last year. Now fully realized, Autarkh III are a band of their own and they will surely take you to new heights with their avant-garde structures of sound. Icelandic cowboys Sólstafir perform 2011s Svartir Sandar on the Main Stage on Thursday evening and if you can tear yourself away from the soaring melodies then Full of Hell will be waiting at The Terminal to blow your mind clean apart as they hit the stage for their first set of the weekend with a runthrough of Trumpeting Ecstasy. You’ll have a number of other chances to catch them over the Festival as they play every day in Tilburg so missing this one isn’t the worst thing that can happen if it means surrendering yourself to the atmosphere of Sólstafir or mesmerizing tones of Wyatt E. at the Hall of Fame. As long as you’re still on your feet and exhaustion has yet to set in then the last acts of this first day are sure to keep your head in the game. Russian Circles close out the Main Stage with The Bug featuring Flowdan & Logan bringing the Next Stage to its end, perhaps literally, as the legendary musician mixes dubstep, dancehall and grime to an explosive effect —the 013 may not survive the night.
Friday 22nd April
Friday starts strong with LLNN performing as part of the Pelagic Presents showcase with their latest album Unmaker. The Danish band are a heavy proposition on record and live they promise to throw down the gauntlet for most destructive band of the weekend. Primitive Man will surely challenge that crown, though, as a quick switch from the Engine Room to The Terminal brings us to the Denver trio and their claustrophobic energy.
Another of Roadburn’s commissioned pieces will see its debut on the Main Stage on Saturday as James Kent & Johannes Persson join forces to create a work that holds no genre boundaries and digs deep into the inspirations behind the two band’s the creators are a part of. Exactly what this piece will sound like is cloaked in mystery as Kent and Persson have shared little about the experience with the wider world yet it is this secrecy that entices the most. This exhibition of innovation clashes somewhat with the late addition of Svalbard to the line-up and a tough decision needs to be made at around 1530 on Saturday afternoon but regardless of the choice, both of these performances will be talked about for the rest of the weekend.
In 2019 many musicians belonging to the Dutch underground came together to celebrate the unique textures the local scene creates with a special commissioned performance that was known as Maalstroom, as a result of that collaboration the artists behind FREJA came together and Roadburn 2022 marks their debut live performance. Formed by C. of Witte Wieven and W. Damiaen of Laster, the duo will shine a light into the darkest corners of black metal in order to navigate the curious patterns of the world. If taking a break is far beyond the radar then the Main Stage hosts Wiegedood and a playthrough of this year’s incendiary full-length There’s Always Blood At The End Of The Road before GGGOLDDD perform This Shame Should Not Be Mine and Alcest step back to 2010 with a performance of Écailles de Lune that is set to be a highlight of the Festival for many (this attendee included). Their wistful black metal is filtered through the lens of an otherworld experienced by frontman Neige as a child and the imagination of its creator is laid over the music in delicate touches.
Heading into the dark of the night is Cloud Rat who bring their electronic set to The Engine Room, Karin Park at Next Stage and if you can get into the room afterwards then Gott make their live debut. Featuring a veritable who’s who of the Dutch scene (Farida Lemouchi provides vocals while the band boasts members of Soulburn, Dodecahedron and Radar Men From The Moon), Gott showcase the inner workings of the mind with a musical dance through contemplation and stardust.
De Koepelhal’s Engine Room and Hall of Fame host HEALTH and Faceless Entity, respectively and practically at the same time making this a tricky decision, although the close proximity of the two venues should allow for a taste of each band during their sets. If your brain hasn’t melted out through your ears by the end of these performances then Sum of R and their hypnotic new album Lahbryce on the Main Stage or TAU & The Drones Of Praise should certainly do the trick at the end of the night.
Saturday 23rd April
The largest piece of advice most Roadburner’s give, aside from giving yourself over to the flow of the Festival, is to take a seat when you can and wear some good shoes. The street that makes up the main run before heading down to the 013 is nicknamed the Weirdo Canyon for its collection of, well, weirdos, that inhabit the bars and cafes over these few days. The locals are always super pleasant and its often where attendees congregate in downtime and in the evenings. If you find yourself heading further out then make sure to keep in mind the location of the infamous Little Devil bar — this is where the occasional secret show happens and it’s worth doing some quick recon before the Festival starts.
Other secret/surprise shows tend to pop up over the weekend so keep checking the social media accounts for Roadburn as well as noticing the large gaps in the stage schedules — that big slot on the Main Stage on Friday looks interesting as well as the yet to be announced replacement for Lustmord on Saturday that was a part of Pelagic Presents that would see Karin Park join the performance before being followed by Årabrot on the Next Stage. Watch closely for whoever this band is because it is guaranteed to be a strong addition. While you wait you can begin the day at De Koepelhal as Midwife and Divide and Dissolve, both chosen by Milena Eva and Thomas Sciarone for their curation, play with their hearts on their proverbial sleeves for what will surely be enraptured audiences.
Jo Quail’s commissioned work The Cartographer is finally showcased on the Main Stage, having been originally announced for the 2020 edition of the Festival, and is followed by Emma Ruth Rundle and her new album Engine of Hell. One of the highlights of the year in terms of albums is A Loner from Frenchmen Hangman’s Chair who will be playing the record in its entirety before they join Regarde Les Hommes Tomber on Sunday for a collaborative project that premiered in 2019, was played once, and then given time to grow for reasons we don’t need to discuss here.
Another addition to the curated portion of the Festival is Liturgy and across the weekend the band will play twice. Saturday sees them run through H.A.Q.Q., while Sunday allows for a group of classical musicians to join the proceedings as Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and her band showcase Origin of the Alimonies and its celestial grace. Liturgy are either deeply loved or deeply loathed but having seen them on the tour that surrounded The Ark Work, the live show is something to be experienced, and indeed felt. Before joining Full of Hell much later in the evening for their much touted collaboration, Nothing play their own set on The Terminal stage while Silver Knife check into the Hall of Fame for their live debut. Composed of members of Wolvennest, Laster and more, the black metal they create is born from mystery and the darkness of the evening will be slowly settling in as they leave the venue breathless and praying for more.
A short walk brings you to the Engine Room and Icelandic "doom pop" magicians Kælan Mikla performing their latest work, Undir Köldum Norðurljósum, which, if we are lucky, could also feature a guest appearance from Alcest on their song together “Hvítir Sandar.” Indonesian experimentalists Senyawa follow them in The Terminal before the Main Stage is taken over by the electronic stylings of Ulver and their 2020 record Flowers of Evil. That album is forty minutes long and the proposed set length is over one hour so here’s hoping we hear a collection of “greatest hits”—I wouldn’t hold your breath for any black metal Ulver are masters of surprise, after all.
If your legs can still hold you up then next up are Swedish blackened crust maestros Dödsrit who are playing Roadburn after the release of their 2021 full-length Mortal Coil at Hall of Fame and the unusual partnership of Nothing X Full of Hell on the Main Stage. Whoever came up with that idea is either a genius or completely mad, but this is a show to stick around for and will likely be talked about until the next bonkers collaborative project is announced. After this KANGA’s dark synthpop brings the night almost to an end and should dancing still be on your mind then stay at the Next Stage for a DJ set from Jameszoo and plenty of moments you’d rather forget.
Sunday 24th April
Sunday used to be traditionally quiet by Roadburn standards, with many leaving the Festival either on Saturday night or Sunday as fewer bands would play. After a few years of being known as “The Afterburner,” Sunday soon took on a fuller role and now rounds out the weekend with even more exciting acts. Opening the day at De Koepelhal’s The Terminal is a work between Dutch underground legends Terzij de Horde and Ggu:ll. Whether this is two bands working as one, or merging into one another is yet to be seen but this is a strong and enticing start to the final day of the Festival. Following up this destruction is Liturgy’s second performance, Huntsmen performing their latest album American Scrap on the Next Stage and then Embers Beget The Divine a collaboration between Solar Temple x Dead Neanderthals to round out the first few hours of the day.
The next portion is a mad dash between the Main Stage and The Terminal every time someone finishes their set as 6pm-9pm is packed with thrilling propositions. Mizmor head up the time slot with a live performance of 2019s Cairn, originally slated for Emma Ruth Rundle’s 2020 curation, Vitriol performs Nihill as an audiovisual experiment and the electrifying promise of Hangman’s Chair x Regarde Les Hommes Tomber ignites the Main Stage. The main draw on Sunday for many (and certainly me) is the European debut of enigmatic raw black metal project Lamp of Murmuur who are headed by M. and feature an expanded line-up of European musicians for this performance and the following tour. Playing last year’s Submission and Slavery in full and adding some extra surprises, Lamp of Murmuur are going to be THE band to see on Sunday. Luckily The Terminal is big enough because this is one of those sets that you’re going to want to say you saw.
Closing out Sunday, the Main Stage and the Festival is the Radar Men From The Moon x Twin Sister collaboration, Mirrors for Discharge and before we say goodbye to Tilburg for another year, there is plenty more music to be seen and experienced. Full of Hell round out their Artist in Residence series with Spiritual Poison and a performance of Garden of Burning Apparitions, Green Lung play Black Harvest for our pleasure and Belgian’s Alkerdeel replace the unfortunately canceled Koldovstvo on The Terminal stage with a rendition of their latest release, Slonk.
By midnight, Roadburn Festival 2022 will be officially over, yet the experiences, the people, the bands and the music will live longer in the attendees hearts. Roadburn has to be seen to be believed and after one visit, you’ll be hooked for life. Remember, plan but not too much, wear good shoes, eat well, drink water, find the ice cream and perhaps partake in the local delicacies (you know what I mean) but most importantly, immerse yourself in Roadburn and all it has to offer. You won’t regret it.