Roadburn 2010, Sunday 18 April, 013 Green Room (Setlist: Not even the band knows.)

Eyjafjallajökull. Icelandic for ‘motherfucker’. It’s not, really (it’s ‘glacier of the mountains of the islands’, if you must know). But after 2010, when its eruption led to the chaotic disruption of the European air space and subsequently the Roadburn lineup that year, we should have earned the right to change that particular translation. Roadburn would go on to have such a wonderfully close relationship with the Icelandic underground, receiving the cream of their various crops year after year but back then Iceland had other plans. Why, Icelandic nature, why?

José Carlos Santos
Paul Verhagen (pics)

But, there was a silver lining. Several, even. First of all, Roadburn managed to get all of the bands that had to pull out because of the volcano back the following year. Secondly, many bands stepped up to fill those slots in 2010 with such a desire to help, such a passion to make up for all the losses, that their performances turned into something legendary. So, perhaps, we should actually be thankful to motherf… pardon, Eyjafjallajökull. During those wild hours of 2010, Roadburn really discovered what its community is made of, and bonds formed there are unbroken to this day.

One particularly endearing and representative story from the 2010 edition is that of Eyehategod. The legendary NOLA band had played on Thursday, on the first day of the festival, before the full reach of that fateful ash cloud had made its presence felt, Then they went on their merry way, to fulfil the remaining dates of their European tour. However, when Eyehategod heard about the depressingly empty lineup that Roadburn was facing for Sunday, they reached out to the festival from thousands of miles away and offered to come and help make it right with a second performance, even if it meant driving all night from the North of Italy to Tilburg.

“My memories from that year are a mess, it was so difficult to reschedule everything and to find all the replacements; everything was chaos,” remembers Roadburn’s artistic director Walter. You can tell it’s still rather painful to bring back those memories of the year when the sky seemed to have fallen in on Roadburn.

“I remember on the Saturday night of the festival, I got a call that was either from Eyehategod or their tour manager,” Walter says. “They told me they were in Italy but that they would drive up to Tilburg and get there in time to play as Eyehategod, if we wanted. Since the Afterburner [the name previously given to the Sunday of the festival] had almost completely fallen through, we were totally at a loss, desperate to find bands to cover all the slots, so that was a huge thing for us, especially as they said they could even play a longer set than usual to fill up a bit more time on the schedule. I was incredibly moved by the offer.  Of course we told them just show up whenever you can and we will make everything work. It was such a great thing they did for us, without asking for anything in return. We didn’t even discuss a fee or anything! All they wanted was to play, be a part of the festival and to help us out. They were super stoked to be there.”

Mike IX Williams’ memory of the event is, rather predictably, even hazier, but such a feeling is not erasable, not even by the many beverages the Eyehategod frontman was consuming at the time. “I was really drunk back then, man,” Mike says with a weary laugh. “I was drinking a lot of vodka at the time, so I don’t remember a lot of it. But what I do remember very well was getting word of what was happening, our tour manager telling us there was an opening, and asking if we wanted to go help out and play another show.

“I remember being really happy, because we absolutely love Roadburn, we’ve always loved playing there: it’s one of our favourite places in the world. We were very happy to do it. It was exciting. I think it was a day off that we had, so we decided to use that to travel back there and just play and have fun with the Roadburn people.”

After a couple of days of bonding together to overcome adversity as one, the Roadburn community was clearly, despite everything that was going on, at a high point when Mike and the boys got there.

“Man, we even played Fuckmouth, which should tell you everything about how that show was,” Mike laughs. “People still talk about that today. Fuckmouth was kind of a joke between me and Brian [Patton, ex-Eyehategod guitarist] and Joey [LaCaze, Eyehategod’s former drummer who passed away in 2013].”

Fuckmouth was the name given to what can only be described as something of a mutant sideproject. “We would just do these grindcore songs sometimes, we’d say it was Fuckmouth,” he says.

“Overall, it was a super fun show,” Mike says. “People were just yelling out songs, and we played them! I have no idea what songs we actually played, or how many; I just know we kept cranking them out for hours. We’re pretty loose anyway with that kind of stuff, we make up the setlists as we go along, but that show was like the extreme version of that. In a special situation like that, we thought we’d just keep playing until people were sick of us!”

We’re not sure that’s possible – if we had our way, they’d still be up there today, 11 years later, cranking out those wonderfully ugly-ass tunes of theirs.

“I just remember that everybody went completely berserk, it was insanity and it was amazing,” Walter says with a wide smile. “There was such a good rapport between them and the audience, it was a completely unified vibe. There was no difference between band and audience, it was all about everyone being there together in the room. It was a reflection of how that whole edition turned out in the end – the camaraderie was so strong and everyone was so connected: bands, staff and fans, and Eyehategod fit right in. The connection that band has with the Roadburn fans and with the whole staff of the festival is remarkable. They’ve always been completely in sync with us.”

The love, it seems, is 100% mutual. “We love Walter, he’s always treated us really well,” Mike says. “We haven’t played Roadburn in a few years, but when things are normal again we’d love to come back. The two shows we did with Corrections House [in 2014] were also so great, it always feels like a special place to be. Whenever we can come back, we will!”

As Mike talks about the 2010 Roadburn, more memories come trickling back; he even remembers a few post-show shenanigans that went on backstage. “Church Of Misery played that year, didn’t they?” Indeed they did. “I knew it, because that was the first time we actually met them,” Mike says. “We’re really good friends with them now, we’ve played with them a bunch of times, but we hadn’t met them yet back then. I remember being down in the dressing room area at the 013, and Joey started throwing bottles against the wall, there was broken glass everywhere, and the guys in Church Of Misery were looking at us funny and didn’t really know what to think of that. To us it was just having crazy fun and everyone was in a great mood, but it got a little too crazy, and the look on their faces was great!”

Karma was also kind to Eyehategod after their good deed, as they managed to nab one of the very few flights that made it to the US after their show. “We were nervous about being able to make it back home, but we got lucky,” Mike says. “Flying home after that happened, I remember we passed over near Iceland and they made us close the windows to the plane. I think they didn’t want us to see the smoke: that was really weird.”

All in all, Roadburn 2010 was all about unity, community, and facing trouble head-on. “That year was special because it cemented our community big time,” Walter states. “And Eyehategod was a really important part of that. Their attitude emphasised what Roadburn was all about. We faced adversity together, as a community, as a family, and we overcame it together. Everyone stuck together. And that show was the most visible representation of that feeling. It showed our true colours as a tight knit group. We’re there for each other, we have each other’s backs, always.”

A decade later, it was that same spirit of community that made Roadburners approach a festival cancellation due to a pandemic by communicating on a Facebook group where they pretended to be at the festival instead. A year later, we will keep going through it together with Roadburn Redux online. We’ll all be okay on the other side of this. Together.