Roadburn Festival and its celebration of queerness on the latest Hell Bent for Metal

Hell Bent for Metal this week sees both hosts voyage to their first festivals since the Before Times, with Matt having gone to Primordial General Mayhem in Lincoln, England, and Tom heading further afield to Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands. The guys chat briefly on their highlights from each and how it felt to be back in the field after so long away (well, technically both were indoor festivals...), before the latter becomes the main focus of this week's show.

Tom spoke to three members of the LGBTQ+ community that attended this years' edition of the one-of-a-kind festival to ask about what made it so special. The first of the three, Benjamin, touched on how the festival always pushed boundaries and explored things in an interesting similarity to queer life. They also noted how so many of the crowd were expressing themselves aesthetically just how they wanted and no-one would bat an eyelid. Next up, Sebastian touched on the diversity within the bill compared to other heavy festivals made him feel more welcome, compared to how he feels quite detached from the crowds elsewhere.

Finally, Douglas spoke about how Roadburn 2022's tagline 'Redefining Heaviness' was so appropriate and how the diversity in the lineup translated to the attendees. He also discussed how there's something for everyone there with more focus on accessibility, as well as in that the music itself allows for more emotional states and personalities to be explored through its breadth of openness and topics. Douglas goes on to mention that there seems to be much less elitism at Roadburn than elsewhere, and notes how that's interesting given it could look a fairly pretentious festival itself from the outside.

Back at Hell Bent for Metal HQ (their houses), Tom and Matt discuss the panel that Tom hosted at Roadburn, The Queer Side of Heaviness, featuring guests Hunter Hunt-Hendrix of Liturgy, K.W Campol of Vile Creature, and Meredith Graves formerly of Perfect Pussy. The hosts discuss how it was such a success with queer fans of heavy music turning up in droves to a space designed for them and how important that is. They also recognise how nice it was that most of the panel's stories were overwhelmingly positive - a refreshing change.

The queer Roadburners return to discuss how much it meant to see Roadburn giving queer folk a voice on the stage and the panel, and Benjamin stated that it was the only place on Earth outside their home where they felt they could truly be themself. There was also brief chat on how seeing patches of bands that aren't particularly welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community, and hearing slurs casually thrown around can limit one's enjoyment of a festival significantly.

Finally, the question is posed as to what other festivals could learn from Roadburn about making queer people feel more heard and seen. Roadburn clearly books artist based on merit rather than tokenism, and the fact they do such unique and exciting things with a focus on the music rather than popularity or ticket sales, and this naturally results in not only plenty of queer artists on the bill, but also fans discovering new favourite bands. Everyone else should take note.

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