Legends playing before a criminally half-empty De Helling. That’s how we’d sum up our fourth and final day of the 2015 edition of Le Guess Who?. Before getting there, we started with some bad news and some bad luck to boot, as The Secret cancelled their show and while being replaced by Grime, that happened on the slot originally meant to go to Big | Brave, meaning we missed our doctor recommended dose of Italian sludge. Therefore, our story of this day ends up being much shorter and starts with Swedish quartet Martyrdöd and their ultra catchy breed of crust infused metal. Similar to what had happened with the Agrimonia show at London’s Desertfest, the performance was underwhelming to say the least, leaving little of worth to write home about.
To wrap up the astonishing Sunn O))) curated side of the festival, O’Malley and Anderson saved two absolutely legendary acts, too bad most of the crowd didn’t seem to get the memo, as that meant Goatsnake and Today Is The Day didn’t get to play in front of a packed De Helling. Fronted by the always contagiously happy Pete Stahl, Goatsnake didn’t seem disturbed in the slightest by that fact and presented us with their usual high level performance, drawing not only from classics like “Slippin The Stealth” but also presenting some themes from the new “Black Age Blues”. Depending on where you were in the room, the vocals were not always as sharply heard as one would have wished for, ending up swallowed by Greg Anderson‘s guitar, which unsurprisingly sounded excellent, reaching a tone as thick as a concrete wall and grooving like few can, let alone within such a heavy manner. The selection of songs from the new record was rather different than the one they picked in Amsterdam back in June and while having the amazing “Coffee And Whiskey” being left out would never bring a smile to our face, the excellent rendition of “Killing Blues” will stick with us for a long while, as did the words “Lightning! Thunder! Wash my soul to the ground”.
Shortly before putting out a demolition job on stage, Steve Austin had mentioned in passing that he’d “give everything I got” during the show and damn it, here’s a man who makes good on his words. Intense would be an understatement when describing the visceral level reached by Today Is The Day on top of a stage. The new formation with Trevor Thomas on bass and Douglas Andrae on drums is by now a well-oiled machine, thanks to a relentless touring schedule over the last year and we got to reap the fruits of their labour by merely standing in a mix of awe and furious headbanging in a setlist picked and choose from all over their illustrious career. From “Mother’s Ruin” to “Masada”. The final came straight from 1991, more precisely from Melvin‘s legendary album “Bullhead”, with Today Is The Day reprising the sheer heaviness of the cover of “Zodiac” they recorded for the vinyl edition of “Animal Mother”. Legends playing legends in a festival where they were invited by other legends – we sure as hell ain’t complaining.
As we sat down back in the Grote Zaal of the Vredenburg (we couldn’t really leave the festival without a last visit to this venue) and rested our weary bodies to the comforting melodies of Annette Peacock, we started looking back at the four days we’ve now been describing over here. Despite the small issues that always happen in an event of this magnitude, this edition of Le Guess Who? can only be viewed as a big success. It’s the kind of festival where it’s easy to meet someone who had as much a good time as you did while not having seen a single common show, which is impressive not only due to the variety and quantity thus implied but for the quality level they were able to amass and distribute throughout these days. We went from getting crushed by Bölzer on the first day, to a completely unique black metal event of the second, to what can only be described as a whirlwind of different degrees of awesomeness on Saturday and ended up spending our Sunday afternoon watching Goatsnake and Today Is The Day and still managed to miss a ton of concerts we wanted to see. As should be obvious by now, we can’t wait to return to Utrecht in 2016.