Stakes are high during Roadburn. Whether you’re trying to get into your favorite show at the Patronaat or want a taste of that uniquely brewed beer. Get in on time to see a Q&A session or maybe squeeze into Hall of Fame for a show. But nowhere at Roadburn are the stakes higher than at the merch stands in the Koepelhal.
Editor: Guido Segers
It’s 13.28 on Saturday and on the sign of the door to the merch stands the time 14.00 has been scratched away. Now it says 13.30 and the cue is at least a hundred people. Let me say this again: the cue for access to the merch tent is a 100 people. A few minutes later it all surges in to spend hard-earned money on t-shirts, records and gear.
I’m standing in front of the booth with T-shirts from Dutch black metal bands. The sound of crackling Euro papers catches my ears and I look down. In a clenched fist I see a wad of cash being crushed. I look at my own hand and the same is actually happening there too. As we both look up and our eyes meet my neighbor says: “I’ve kept myself in check for two days, now it’s on.” Shrugging I sort of concur. No comment here… and a moment later I’m sixty Euros lighter, but in possession of two records and a T-shirt.
“We’ve all got enough stuff, we have full cupboards of amazing T-shirts and shelves too full with records. I went through the merch tent and everything looks good and I want it all!”, says Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski, during the panel on aesthetics. Everyone looks down, slightly ashamed. Thinking of our cupboards and shelves and the weight in my bag suddenly feels heavier.
Some of the items are just oddly priced. One Emma Ruth Rundle record went for 26 euros, which is a pain as now I have coins again. The limited tour edition of Sleep’s ‘The Sciences’ goes for 50 and so does the Sleep-branded grinder. “Who’s gonna pay that?”, I say to no on in particular. But I know the answer already: everyone, they just haven’t seen this item yet.
Buying merch is a ritual and it’s really more about the act than the thing at times. These are artifacts, solidified memories we will take home and cherish. They matter because they offer a physical connection to the festival we love. Even though our shelves keep sagging and our cupboards are stuffed. I guess we’re sort of hopeless.