Tuesday, 19 April 2011

What I seen and done at Roadburn 2011 by Paul, age 37-ish (Part one)

So, after spending a few years contemplating it I finally made it over to the Roadburn festival, mecca for all those who like it HEAVY. Thanks, mainly, to the generosity of Walter the genial festival organiser and general all-around mastermind, who gave me his last guestlist space after having used a number of my reviews from The Sleeping Shaman on the Roadburn site's 'Album of The Day' feature.

Now, over at T'Shaman there will be a more....'professional'...review of the whole thing, but for the purposes of this here blog thing I'm gonna be a li'l more rambly and personal about my experiences, 'kay?

I arrived in Tilburg, the site of the festival, in the early afternoon of Wednesday 13th April - the day before the whole shindig kicks off - after a wee diversion through Amsterdam, on my way through from the airport. Having never been to Amsterdam before, or even Holland itself, I figured I really ought to have at least a quick look around, since I had flown into Schiphol Airport anyway with my lovely assistant, the divine Ms Anna Calderbank. Bumping into friends - Doom hobbit Lyndon Renney, the ever-lovely Dawn Fildes and Ms. Kelly Duvall - in the queue for train tickets to Tilburg, we weren't exactly hard to win over with an offer to nip off 'round Amsterdam for some food before heading out.

My impressions of Amsterdam are only based on a brief visit of, like, an hour or so, but it seemed nice enough to me...although the continual avoidance of and negotiation around cars AND bikes AND trams struck me as something that the average stoner - cuz lets face it, that's the kind of person that generally goes to visit Amsterdam innit? - would have a really hard time dealing with, maaaaaaan. Personally, I had no such issues as I don't smoke pot. This probably explains WHY I've never been there before, along with my reluctance to pay actual cash money for sex - the OTHER thing that seems to draw the tourists in.

As it happened, the place we were going to for food was down near the red-light area, where the ladies dans la nuit plied their trade in the windows, so I got to see some of these 'lovely' damsels for myself. I quickly figured out that they must save all the real lookers for the evening crowds as the vast majority, no pun intended, leaning listlessly in the windows were, indeed, vast and oddly short. Hell, even if I was richer and blind-drunk, I'd STILL get the shudders just thinking of sticking any part of my body into the denizens of the windows I beheld that day. Uh-uh. no sir. Thankfully, the enormous apple pancake I tucked into was a vastly more appetising proposition.

Companions nicely toasted, grumbling tum sated, we headed back to the train station and got on the train to Tilburg. One quick change later and BOOM, there we were. Job done. Met outside by Sam Bishop, MR. Calderbank, we were whisked away to our place of residence for the next few days.....the JUNGALOW!

This deceptively small hut housed six people for the duration of our Roadburn experience, four of whom had been there since the Monday and would stay until the following Monday. Matt Wassell (who has just moved to Holland), Joe Allard, the legend that IS Evan Lawton and Sam - the afore-mentioned MR Calderbank - myself and Anna stayed here split across three rooms, sleeping in bunk-beds, with a central communal living room/kitchen and a small bathroom.

That first night there was no Roadburn-related activity to report, aside from a Keiji Haino/Stephen O'Malley/Oren Ambarchi show in Amsterdam that I would have liked to have seen...

...and a free show in Tilburg that I attempted to make it to but failed due to my not having ridden a bicycle for around twenty-two years. I collided with an exposed tree root upon remembering that the brakes on Dutch bicycles are operated by pedalling backwards at a juncture that was far too late. After the spillage and realisation that my stumpy legs are unsuitable for a tall bicycle with a crossbar, I gave up and decided to walk to a bus-stop. That was ALSO a total failure as I gave up walking when I reached the motorway and realised that i had no idea where I was. In abject failure I walked back to the jungalow, stopping en route to lie on a bench and look up at the stars through the branches of a large tree. This is something one cannot really do whilst living in a city, as there is far too much ambient light stopping the stars from being clearly visible. As I lay there, lost in my thoughts and the wonderful starscape wheeling above my head, some stupid idiot decided that I was a passed-out tourist and took a photo of me, laughing.

I was not best pleased, and called her a number of very unpleasant words.

I took this as a sign to go back, have a few more drinks, then turn in and get some rest before the big day.....the first day of Roadburn 2011!!

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