Roadburn had no shortage of female musicians, generally being awesome. Whether it is the heavy bass work of Tamaki Kunishi (MONO), the multi-layered keyboards of Helen Stanley (Crippled Black Phoenix) or Amalie Bruun (Myrkur) achieving two critically acclaimed black metal albums. Of course, it seems redundant writing about female representation in heavy music today, let alone in regards to a massively diverse festival such as Roadburn. However, it isn’t all that long ago that bands were marketed as ‘all female’ or ‘female fronted’ as if this was something new. So even in this day and age, with those labels gradually gone out of hot shot marketers’ mouths, female representation is as important and relevant as ever. Enter Emma Ruth Rundle, who is prominently featured at this year’s festival and quickly became one of this edition’s most valuable players.
Editor: Merijn Siben / Photography: Paul Verhagen
Thursday: The Rise of Rundle
The visitors audibly complaining about long queues at the Patronaat wholly weren’t prepared for a packed Koepelhal. With a line all the way to the entrance outside, visitors scrambled to get a glimpse of Emma Ruth Rundle. Hailing from Kentucky, the songwriter, guitarist and visual artist comes to showcase all of those talents at Roadburn. And good things come to those who wait, because the patiently waiting visitors where greeted with a crushing, heavy performance. With her mixture of folk, post-rock and metal, Emma Ruth Rundle posesses a knack for diverse songwriting, one profusely featured on her 2018 album On Dark Horses. As a visual artist, she also has a spot at the Full Bleed Expo, showcasing her art inspired by her latest album, unique and otherworldly.
A thundering Thou on Friday
And yet again, a massive queue awaited visitors at the Koepelhal. And for good reason, because the early evening saw a collaborative performance by sludge metalband Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle herself. It seems like an eclectic choice, mixing their pounding, sludgy foundation, groovy riffs and harsh vocals with Emma Ruth Rundle’s angelic voice. However, it turns out to be one of the highlights on Friday. A surprisingly seamless synergy, with towering vocals and crushing sludge metal, like two colors bleeding together to form a new one.
Punk’s not dead at Ladybird Skatepark
One of the most intimate and special places prominently featured this year was Ladybird Skatepark. With beautiful yet unnerving performances such as Lingua Ignota or an exhaustive, cathartic hardcore gig by Great Grief, it seems only fitting that Emma Ruth Rundle would make another surprise appearance, located right between the Koepelhal and her exhibition. This results in another energetic collaboration with Thou, playing high-octane covers of punk legends The Misfits.
It only goes to show why Emma Ruth Rundle, and to an extent Thou themselves, became one of Roadburn’s MVP’s. Not only because Emma Ruth Rundle is extremely good at what she does, but also because she is changing the game, pushing boundaries in the heavy music scene.