Roskilde Festival 2009

author PP date 14/07/09

I guess global warming has finally rid our favorite Danish event Roskilde Festival of its "it rains every second year" reputation. Many feared the worst as the weather forecast changed on an almost daily basis between sunshine and rainy in the weeks leading up to the festival, but in the end, the 2009 edition turned out to be the warmest Roskilde Festival in 33 years, with an average daily temperature of 27 degrees Celsius (though it felt like an unbearable 35 degrees at times). Thank god for the artificial lake that was introduced in 2006 towards the south of camping area East. Without being able to run from the boiling saunas known as tents-in-morning-sun directly into the water in the morning would've meant a lot more heat exhaustions than was the case. With 110,000 festival guests (25k of which are volunteers whose only payment is the festival ticket) and a spotless blue sky above, the lake became immensely crowded especially during the warm up days, and subsequently it felt like it was becoming exponentially more dirty by the day. Hilariously enough, on Tuesday (or was it Wednesday?), everyone waiting for the lake to open noticed a rat swim right across the water frontier, and as if that wasn't enough, rumour says that someone took a shit whilst swimming in the lake. Quite disgusting indeed, but by that point of the festival there's just no way you'll care about minor details like that especially when you're still sweating your balls off from your saun...tent.

Anyway, I won't spend too much time talking about how the festival looks and feels like, as our 2008 and 2005 articles covered that to a great extent, and I'd just be repeating myself should I choose to write about it for the third time. Maybe next year. But there's a few points I'd like to make nonetheless, not least to BOAST EXTENSIVELY about how the festival fulfilled more or less every single one of our recommendations from the 2008 article. The queue system? Fixed (more on that in a moment). Food & Toilets at limbo zone? Check. More rock bands on the bill this year? Look at the lineup. Scheduling to avoid conflicts of similar bands? Much better job this year. Better selection of stages in relation to artist size? Research was, with one or two exceptions, spot on this year. Can all of this just be attributed to common sense and coincidence? Probably, but I'll take credit for it anyway, na-na-na.

Each edition of the Roskilde Festival has an overall theme which is promoted through a number of activities designed to raise awareness on the topic. Still as trendy as it was back when "An Inconvenient Truth" was released, the topic for this year's discussions was climate change, or "Green Footsteps" like the festival titled the cause, where the purpose was to send a signal to the world that the global climate crisis must be taken seriously. A bunch of hippie bullcrap hindering progress, I know, but I still think it's pretty awesome that a full 100% of the festival's energy consumption this year was powered by fully renewable energy sources. That's quite an achievement for what's technically one of the largest cities in all of Denmark for the duration of 8 days. Since that sort of thing can be difficult to perceive in practice, the festival had installed a huge ferris wheel on the festival area, which was powered solely by mechanical energy developed from a dozen bicycles. Each guest had to cycle five minutes in order to be allowed a ride on the wheel, and although I didn't try it myself, I can imagine how exhausting it must have been in direct sunshine and a 27 degree temperature. Point taken, Roskilde Festival.

Now the last two things (and perhaps the most important of all) that I'll blabber on about before we reach the reviews section are the price and the queue system. Lets have the good news first as they say, and say that the queuing system this year was nothing short of ingenious. Allowing people to change their wristbands at Tivoli, central Copenhagen, on the Friday morning starting from 9am meant that the hours-long queue was partially transferred to a place where you'd have a 7-eleven within a stone throws distance, plus absolutely no need to be carrying around 20 kilograms of festival equipment while waiting. The undersigned appeared at the queue at 8:45 in the morning, and was a happy camper with the light green/gray wristband in hand only an hour later. Because everyone who normally would spend a whole day queuing on Saturday had a wristband this early and were allowed into the limbo zone starting already from 8 o' clock on Saturday, it meant that those people who had no chance to swing by Tivoli on Friday had almost instant access to the limbo zone at the entrance. Absolutely brilliant, and I hope they'll continue to keep it this way in the years to come as well. There's no such thing as a free lunch though, there's always a catch, and this time it was fairly predictable as well: what happens to the fence separating eager people and the empty camping areas when these people are given an extra 14 hours in the limbo zone? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the fence is going to fucking break as soon as dusk begins to fall and people become more intoxicated, and as such 2009 now holds the record for the earliest breach of fence perimeter since the first festival. The moment the clock struck 20:54 a vast number of people ran against the fence, followed by even more people behind them, forcing the festival guards to lift the fence away to prevent another Pearl Jam incident. Oh well, luckily at least half of Rockfreaks.net camp was ready to run with red-and-white police tape securing a large enough area for the tents of those arriving later to our camp.

And so we move onto the bad news: the price. In the midst of the financial crisis (I love how everything these days is blamed on that), who was the genius in the festival team who raised the ticket price to 1785DKK + booking fee? I've heard countless stories of people who really wanted to come this year but just can't fit it in their budget anymore (~1200kr in 2005, what happened?). This is why the festival almost bankrupted itself until emergency measures were taken in place only two days before the festival: one day tickets were now available for all band days for the first time in the festival history. Somehow this managed to save the festival's ass though and miraculously they turned a million kr's worth of profit this year. I just wish they weren't donated to charity and were used for booking bigger bands instead (though no major complaints this year). PP

Camp Rockfreaks.net

Okay, so I was lying about the above two issues being the last I'll write about before the reviews begin. But Camp Rockfreaks.net was just too good this year to not be included in this article. Take it as an encouragement of why you should be coming next year. So, why was Camp Rockfreaks.net the best camp in Roskilde Festival this year, despite those gimmick-y camps competing in the 'camp of the year' competition? Oh my, where to start. How about the fact that we had an absolutely perfect mix of people this year from 9 different nationalities and a total of close to 30 campers? Or that we played every known drinking game known to man - twice - and the camp was in a full-on party mode by 13:00 on each day? Or that we had a girl in our camp nicknamed "Angel Of Death" for her ability to out-drink most males I know? Or that no matter when you looked out towards the fence, you'd see a beer-bong being consumed some direction? Or that one of the girls in our camp was absolutely convinced that the sun was IN her tent at nightfall? What about when a nearby camp was playing crappy techno/hip-hop music all night long that kept us awake at 6am, and a declaration of war was delivered to them in official uniform? They were later assaulted with 150 water balloons...it was like Normandy, we even had artillery. What about the retarded amount of "fællesskål"'s that occurred during the festival, even on the Sunday evening after Coldplay where almost everyone in the camp was still present in a great mood? It speaks volumes that 70% of the camp had no voice left come Sunday. You know people have been having loads of fun when you have to reinforce your pavilions with additional metal pieces every morning,

While other magazines (Gaffa, Soundvenue, Undertoner, etc etc) were busy typing away the nights after concerts to meet some idiotic deadline (seriously, why the hell would you need to have the reviews online the day after when only the fewest of attendees will actually be reading them before after the festival?), Rockfreaks.net staff did what we do best: slacked off, drank an unhealthy amount of beer and alcohol resulting in subsequent carnage and lots of lulz among other hilarious things, and just generally enjoyed the festival for what it is, a giant one week long party where you don't have to worry about anything like deadlines and other stuff that belongs to the real world, not Roskilde Festival. Writing all the stuff post-festival makes for a better article anyway (of which this is proof. Nope, I don't know "Janteloven"), and a much more interesting one to read. We've never been the most professional of magazines anyway and we like to keep it that way so we don't appear distant from you guys - our readers. After all, we're just pretending to know better than you guys while drinking beer and having fun the way a genuine fan of music does.

But if you still aren't convinced, you could take a look at yours truly (and others from our camp) being interviewed by the national television DR1 for the 21:00 news (TV avisen), make sure you notice the 'fællesskål' straight after. Or you could look at a picture of Camp Rockfreaks.net at the front page of Politiken.dk, a national newspaper in Denmark. Each year Roskilde Festival has an official 'see you next year' card, see this year's here. You guessed right, that's people from our camp as well. As if that wasn't enough, celebrities like Celina Ree, Sidney Lee, and at least a handful of promising Danish bands stopped by for a couple of drinks during the festival... so I guess I'll be seeing you next year in our camp? You won't regret it. PP

Warm Up Reviews

Scamp @ 18:00 on Pavilion Junior (Warm-Up Sunday)

Danish math-metallers Scamp had the honor of opening Roskilde Festival's warm-up program for this magazine, given how indie rockers Twins Twins weren't of much interest to anyone in the Rockfreaks.net camp. What a great opportunity for such a young band to display their live abilities, as we all know they've got the songs already to make it big time. On record, these guys play a twisted mix of Meshuggah-style hypnotic riffage and The Dillinger Escape Plan-esque chaos metal where ever changing time-signatures play a huge role in creating one heck of a wall of brutal sound. Since we all know how incredible The Dillinger Escape Plan are live performance-wise, anything less would come across as a disappointment considering how the music absolutely demands for the utter and complete destruction of the stage. Unfortunately for Scamp, most of their set was spent playing still, as if the band were completely unaffected by the crushing dominance that is their music on record. Where are the guitar spins, manic jumps, and a vocalist who endangers his own life for an entertaining performance? [5½] PP

The 20Belows @ 13:30 on Pavilion Junior (Warm-Up Wednesday)

If Scamp are good on record but so-so live, then The 20Belows are the complete polar opposite. These guys failed to impress me much on record with their Ramones styled old school pop punk, but live they seemed to have been injected with a huge dose of Confidence+, probably thanks to the hefty amount of touring they've done across the US. The moment they arrived on stage they launched directly into a song, following the track with four or five others in direct continuation without stopping for a single breather. Think of how Against Me! rolled out song after song in 2007, and throw in a much higher amount of feel-good vibes and mood-enhancing summer pop punk, and you've got a great punk show with no bullshit. This even though the band did engage in a "hey, ho, lets go" session at some point. Granted, the sound did become quite monotonous towards the end thanks to the d-beat, but since the songs rise into another dimension in a live environment, and the energy on stage was formidable all the way through, most people leaving the show did so with large grins on their faces. [7½] PP

Thursday - July 2nd

Wolves In The Throne Room @ 17:30 on Odeon

One and a half hours of atmospheric, grandiose experimental black metal may be enough to knock out a certain severely drunken scribe with a fringe, but not me. As soon as we arrive at the packed Odeon tent, we are met by a wall of sound so immense it's difficult to express in words. Seriously, I cannot recall having experienced such grand, overwhelming music ever before. Nothing is said on stage; there are no flickering strobe lights, just a few murky blue spotlights focused on each band member, clad in plumes of grey smoke, wrapping the stage in an ominous gloom. With a thousand words to say but one: this band looks and sounds fucking sinister. And the crowd is in trance, myself included, watching as the Wolves unleash never ending barrages of tremolo riffs at us, pierced here and there by Nathan Weaver's frightening shrieks and foreboding clean interludes, and ending in lengthy periods of distorted noise and feedback in what must be between the various songs (although it's difficult to tell given that most of this band's songs burst the fifteen-minute mark). Clearly this band knows how to immerse an audience in their soundscape, which is a kind of dark, endless mist that is so hypnotic it's impossible to move or speak; one simply stares and listens as the Wolves drag us down to hell for one and a half hours before exiting, again, without so much as muttering a word. [8½] AP

Social Distortion @ 18:00 on Arena

Having just been to a Social Distortion show a week before at the punk rock festival West Coast Riot where people had engaged in mass-singalongs of a greatest hits setlist, I couldn't help but feel disappointed over the crowd atmosphere at Social D's Roskilde Festival performance. Despite having been around for over 30 years now and having written more classics than most other Roskilde Festival bands put together, it was as if the only lyrics people knew were the chorus of "Ring Of Fire" and a bit of "Story Of My Life", which resonates the "punk's dead in Denmark" argument loud and clear in my mind. "Sick Boys", "Bad Luck" and "Mommy's Little Monster" received next to no singalongs from the crowd, despite Social D delivering their usual energetic stage performance with lots of jumps and movement across the stage, as well as Mike Ness sounding even more smokey-casual on stage than the week before. Thanks to the lack of atmosphere and connection between the band and the crowd, the songs passed by relatively unnoticed, which is a great shame considering how awesome soundwise almost every one of their songs was tonight. [6] PP

Alamaailman Vasarat @ 18:00 on Astoria

Since my first time at this festival, I have sworn to catch at least one Finnish band every year (of which there are always far too few on the bill) and this year the decision lay between Paavoharju and Alamaailman Vasarat (which translates roughly to hammers from the underground). Reading about the latter in the festival booklet cast them in a rather tempting light, with names such as Frank Zappa and Mike Patton mention in the description. What we have here is a band not unlike Apocalyptica: the group uses strictly classical instruments, albeit a much wider range of them than four cellos. There are cellos, but the amount of gear alternating between musicians on stage suggests this band arrived in Denmark with a container ship. There are trombones, saxophones, clarinets, a tuba, organs, contrabass... you name it, they have it. The music itself swings between heavy metal and blues, and everything in between, providing enough entertainment to cater for even the pickiest bastards in the crowd. Clad in a suit and tophat, the band's front figure (?) is charismatic and courteous, introducing each song carefully and sharing their stories with an unmistakably Finnish correctness. Where the classical instruments could easily melt together into a kind of wailing mess, drummer Teemu Hänninen ensures there is enough punch in the mix to keep the heads bobbing and the dancefloor moving. A wondrously strange performance to spice up a rock-heavy afternoon. [7] AP

Fucked Up @ 20:30 on Pavilion

Big, half-naked fat dude screaming his lungs off into the microphone right on front of the barrier for the majority of the set, suffering a bloody head injury in the process? That may not sound like your ideal hardcore show, but goddamn did Fucked Up bring it on tonight. Every foot, every head, every body I could see was tapping, bobbing, and dancing as the Canadians destroyed (literally) their way through an awesome set of hardcore punk which, contrary to most in the genre, was devoid of any clichés and bursting of raw and unrelenting attitude. Every member of the band was drenched in sweat as their energy on stage overshadowed every single other band on the bill this year (even Slipknot!). It was that unity, that feeling that everyone in the band was playing from their hearts that helped make Fucked Up's set the best show I've seen in at least 12 months. Because tonight, everything clicked between the band and the crowd: even though only a handful had heard "Crooked Head" before the show, somehow everyone in the tent was shouting along to the lyrics by the end of the song. "Oh shit we've got 20 more minutes left! Punk shows never get better after the first 20 minutes", Abraham called out, before launching into yet another piercing burst of experimental hardcore punk. He's absolutely right about that, but Fucked Up had set such a standard in the first 20 minutes that even if they dropped just a notch lower towards the end, the crowd was still eating from the palms of his hands for the whole show. [9] PP

The Gaslight Anthem @ 21:30 on Odeon

What, is Thursday like the official punk rock day in the minds of Roskilde Festival 2009 organizers? It certainly seems so, considering how both Social D and Fucked Up had already played decent and amazing sets respectively, and next in line were the soon-to-be-seminal New Jersey punk rockers The Gaslight Anthem. However, it was rather unfortunate that their relaxed, mid-western punk rock had been placed in such a dire contrast with Fucked Up's uncompromising energy just before, so it was inevitable that anyone coming straight from there was going to feel disappointed, especially because for some mysterious reason, the majority of The Gaslight Anthem set consisted of _all_ the slow songs from "The '59 Sound". I've said it before and I'll say it again, these guys are at their best when they've got some speed in the songs ("Boomboxes And Dictionaries" or "Great Expectations" for example), and appear sort of boring during the slow ballads, particularly when they play many of these in a row. Whilst the band didn't look or sound as hung-over as during their West Coast Riot performance, they still lacked the flair and the appeal of their club show earlier this year. The show had it's moments where large portions of the crowd were dancing, but these were brief sparkles in a set that seemed more like another day at the job than a passionate performance from the heart. [6] PP

Mew @ 23:00 on Arena

I like Mew. Apparently so do a lot of other people (not surprisingly, their fame in Denmark considered) because Arena is PACKED even before their performance, and as the local wonderboys come on stage, performing in odd monk coats for the first song, rumours of their great live shows do indeed seem to be filled with a great degree of truth. Starting out with some lesser known (new? right?) songs and then gradually giving us the hits we've been waiting for, such as "Am I Wry, No", "Snow Brigade" and "156" Mew's show turns into the kind of hit parade that really pleases a crowd, and you can hear it in the thunderous response they get too. One could argue that Mew are more than a little pretentious and that they spend a bit too much time here and there, on wanking around in intros and bridges that are longer than they need to be, but then to many, this eccentric over confidence is part of the bands appeal. Other than that, it's only really possible to give a small complaint about the mix, in which the guitars were a bit low while everything in general was a bit loud, resulting in a decrease in punch in Mew's few climatic noisy moments, and in eardrums on the verge of bursting when Jonas Bjerre's vocals cut into them. Like I said though, grievances were small and as the lingering beauty of "Comforting Sounds" sent us off into the night, Mew could still boast of being a fascinating band with an intriguing live show. Thumbs up. [8½] TL

Friday - July 3rd

Gojira @ 12:00 on Odeon

"Fucking bigger than that!" roars Joe Duplantier when the moshpit he's just requested doesn't quite stretch the diameter of the Odeon tent. And without the slightest exaggeration, the crowd becomes frightened for a second, so startling is this dude's voice. We obey in humble submission to create one of the largest circle pits in the history of the festival, crowd safety personnel powerless as the pavilion explodes into mayhem during "Toxic Garbage Island" toward the end of the set. Gojira played at this festival two years ago, albeit on a much larger stage, which prompted a series of not-so-flattering words from us about the entertainment value of their show. Having never heard of the band back then, I deliberately gave that show a miss, but if there's any truth in PP's thoughts on that show, then Gojira have gone to great lengths to hone their performance to perfection. Granted, it isn't perfect this time either, but as Joe Duplantier courteously takes us on a time journey through the band's discography, including such old tracks as "Love", "Clone" and "Vacuity", it is difficult to put a finger on anything decidedly bad about the show. The band just plays so seamlessly, transitioning between songs with improvised interludes and atmospheric samples to ensure there isn't a boring, quiet moment, and even a drum solo has found its way into the setlist. During the songs themselves all eyes alternate between Joe, whose passionate vocal delivery incites more than just a few oohs and aahs and horns from the crowd, and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie, who storms about the stage like a possessed child, all the while sporting a huge grin. And the crowd loves every moment of it; in fact, rarely has a metal band managed to pack such amounts of people into Odeon so early in the day to bang their heads to new classics like "Backbone" and the absolutely epic "The Way of All Flesh". What a fantastic start to a sunny Friday! [8] AP

Satyricon @ 13:00 on Arena

Wow, Satyricon are experienced show men! Satyr, Frost and the rest of the Norwegian black metal frost giants took a well packed Arena Stage and turned it into a, albeit a little slow, black 'n roll fest, even though it was in the middle of the day. With a set composed mainly from the two latest, dark rock and roll influenced albums, they quickly got the crowd rocking with set opener "Commando" from their latest effort "The Age of Nero". All the way through the show, frontman Satyr tried to get the crowd to sing along, flashing the devil horns, jumping and so on. And it worked - especially with a little coaching. They hadn't been long on stage before the audience chanted "Dragons! Dragons breathe - fire!" to "Commando" or "Now, Diabolical" to the song of the same name. Add to this several of the other great songs from the last two albums, such as "Black Crow On A Tombstone", "My Skin Is Cold" and "Den Siste" (which apparently was the first time they've played that one live), and a fan such as me who am mainly familiar with the newer was greatly pleased. There were, however, also a few older, blacker pearls scattered among the set list which seemed to please the old guard no end. All the time, Satyr was your guide through the darkness - sometimes it was almost too much. Every crowd loves to hear they're the best (or most evil) audience ever, but we were told it so many times that even the thickest metal head got a little suspicious. Nonetheless, a great show - with a capital S. [7½] AB

Mono @ 15:00 on Pavilion

The Japanese post rockers in Mono are another of three bands I'm reviewing here, that are located firmly on the latter side of the entertainment/artistry line most bands must balance on in order to put out the best possible liveshow. Their stage is mostly occupied by a drumset that includes a huge gong, in front of which their female bassist rocks out while the two guitarists sit on the front of the stage and chill while they dish out their notes. Musically, Mono are a study in how grand you can actually make an arrangement of quiet/loud dynamics, as their epic (in length) songs are half the time so subtle that you can barely hear anything is going on, half the time so loud it feels like you're standing under a giant roaring waterfall. Clearly, like a symphonic orchestra, they are the kind of band you come to hear live, rather than to see live. And the degree of awesome that you can attribute to that really depends on your mindset almost entirely. Personally I was greatly entertained when the songs exploded and close to dozing off when they were at their most quiet, but still, I have to admire the integrity and sincerity with which Mono performs their quite unique art. Obviously though, they are an acquired taste, but I do however think they would be better if the guitarists also stood up, so that people beyond the first row could see them too. [7] TL

Isis @ 16:00 on Odeon

Isis is not a band I'm familiar with. Yes, I know they play post-metal, but since that genre on its own never really did much for me, I didn't know what to expect. The day before I had been blown away by Wolves In The Throne Room, but they mix a score of extremity into their droning sound scapes, and I couldn't really imagine how much fun this type of music is without something to lead up to. How wrong I was! While Isis couldn't touch WITTR with a ten foot pole in extremity or heavyness, they were also a very positive surprise. Their long, droning parts were giant paintings of layer upon layer of sound, and I was quickly lost in the labyrinth. While the drawn out parts were good, especially in the first half of the set - the further we got into the show, the more they seemed to drag on - it was the fantastic build-ups that saved the day for Isis. Particularly one gigantic crescendo felt almost like a release from something terrible - one was shortly set free from the maze - as it exploded all over the place with fantastic guitar and bass work, crazy drums and the tormented wails of the lead singer. The only problem with that awesome moment of music was that Isis really couldn't top it afterwards, and as such, the audience found itself wanting. [7½] AB

Faith No More @ 17:00 on Orange Stage

One of the more exciting announcements last year was the reunion of legendary Faith No More, fronted by mad genius Mike Patton. And Rikke Øksner did the right thing booking these boys to kick things off on the Orange Stage on Friday, even if a later time slot would have done the performance more justice. You see, many of us had expected an experience not unlike Tool a couple of years back, with intricate, creative visual elements to accompany the eclectic music but instead, Patton had requested the stage lighting be turned off during his performance, possibly to spare some electricity in the vein of the festival's spirit (and like Gojira's performance earlier) because there wouldn't have been much awe to be inspired by floodlights drowning in the afternoon sun. Fortunately there is nothing a great entertainer cannot rescue, and that is precisely the kind of figure Mike Patton is, not forgetting that he is a praised vocalist, too.

Indeed, the diversity of his vocals is breathtaking, and we aren't spared any of it. Crooning, falsetto, death growls, rapping, beatboxing and scatting all find their place in a dream-come-true setlist which delves deep into the band's colorful history. Cover songs are aplenty as well, with Peaches & Herbs' "Reunited" appropriately kicking things off and the expected "Easy" (originally by Commodores) and the Bee Gees' "I Started A Joke" dotting the set among Faith No More classics like "Midlife Crisis", "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies", "Be Aggressive" and "Epic". Somewhere in there is an absolutely fantastic song, the name of which unfortunately escaped me, during which Mike Patton sends shivers down our spines with a vocal performance as powerful and engaging as that of an Italian tenor, proving once and for all that here is possibly one of the most inspiring vocalists in rock music.

But above all else the show draws its excellence from its entertainment value. The band performs with a hint of self-irony but with a pleasantly arrogant attitude, asking unsuspecting crowd members to sing songs they don't know the lyrics to and concluding that we must all come from the moon, such is our ignorance. Arrogant as the quintet may be (and why shouldn't they, it is no overstatement to say that this band is second to none in the alternative rock genre), the band plays with such enormous joy that they have a right to feel a little bit superior, extending their fun-loving attitude so far as to play a quirky cover of Lady GaGa's "Poker Face" before leading the audience into a fantastic finale with a "Chariots of Fire / Stripsearch" medley and the title track from one of the band's most revered albums, "We Care A Lot" wrapping things up. This, ladies and gentlemen, may well be the reunion of all time, and if not, well, Mike Patton's endless charm commands it to becoming at the very least one of the most memorable performances at this festival. [9] AP

Faith No More setlist:

  • 01. Reunited (Peaches & Herbs cover)
  • 02. The Real Thing
  • 03. Land of Sunshine
  • 04. Caffeine
  • 05. Evidence
  • 06. Chinese Arithmetic
  • 07. Surprise! You're Dead!
  • 08. Last Cup of Sorrow
  • 09. Easy (Commodores cover)
  • 10. Ashes to Ashes
  • 11. Midlife Crisis
  • 12. I Started A Joke (Bee Gees cover)
  • 13. The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
  • 14. Be Aggressive
  • 15. Epic
  • 16. Just A Man
  • --Encore--
  • 17. Chariots of Fire / Stripsearch
  • 18. We Care A Lot

The Mars Volta @ 21:00 on Arena

While much more entertaining on stage than Mono, The Mars Volta are still a band that will seem like brilliance to some, and like meaningless nonsense to others. With long and complex songs that are odd enough on their own, stringed together live with obligatory guitar solos, TMV simply are not for everyone. Their Roskilde Festival appearance however, contributes something positive to the band's show that they do not seem to understand themselves. Limitations. Where usually Omar Rodriguez-Lopez would prefer to let his guitar wail for eight minutes at a time as often as possible, dragging the show on for more than two hours, the one hour festival slot saves TMV from wearing off their novelty, and they are frankly all the better for it. Simply because it forces them to play only their best stuff and concentrate their energy. And while Omar is credited as the mastermind behind the composition of the almost autistic musical arrangements, his reputable guitar playing is the least of the shows highlights. Instead, singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala occupies the stage with a personality that few (none) other can offer, and even he is upstaged by the flat out inhuman drumming of Thomas Pridgen. It's not that he is playing fast, it's that he is playing fast ALL the time, and surely, the arms would've fallen off a lesser drummer within the first few songs. The drive contributed by the rhythmic work of him and bassist Juan Alderete is what really makes TMV's music move our hips, and it crowns a performance that is so unlike anything in conventional rock music, that even on a bad day I'd consider it worthy of little less than an eight. The only reason I'm not giving higher is simply that crowd interaction and response is hard to get to the highest level with music as intricate as this. [8] TL

The Mars Volta setlist:

  • 01. Goliath
  • 02. Viscera Eyes
  • 03. Cotopaxi
  • 04. Roulette Dares
  • 05. Halo of Nembutals
  • 06. Drunkship of Lanterns
  • 07. The Widow
  • 08. Wax Simulacra

Oasis @ 22:30 on Orange Stage

Now here's finally a band who are able to fill the giant shoes presented to them by the 60,000-capacity Orange Stage. With crowd filling the field all the way down to the back, you're guaranteed a good atmosphere, particularly during the hit songs and especially when it got dark and their colourful light show became better visible to the back as well. I've seen Oasis play before, but I've never seen Noel so excited about a show despite his arrogant chav image that he likes to keep up during shows (maybe because he really is that way?). I guess having close to 50,000 people sing along to "Wonderwall" does that to you, as I'll have to go back all the way to Black Sabbath's set in 2005 for a sing along as huge as that song was. Oasis may have started out slow with a few of their lesser known (though still excellent) tracks, but around seven songs into their 20-track setlist things started heating up. Sure, the Danish people seem to only know "Wonderwall" (not surprising considering the chart/single-oriented music culture dominating the country), but fuckin' hell did Oasis play more or less every awesome song they have written other than "All Around The World", "Stand By Me" and "Go Let It Out". If you came expecting for 20 songs of massive sing along, you came for the wrong reasons. Oasis are masters at writing dark (post "Morning Glory"-era) retro rock songs of great artistic integrity, and all these were delivered precisely the way they should've been: with arrogant-but-loud attitude supplementing a great sound quality. And Christ, just look at that setlist. [8] PP

Oasis setlist:

  • 01. Fuckin' in the Bushes
  • 02. Rock n' Roll Star
  • 03. Lyla
  • 04. The Shock of the Lightning
  • 05. Cigarettes & Alcohol
  • 06. Roll With It
  • 07. Waiting for the Rapture
  • 08. The Masterplan
  • 09. Songbird
  • 10. Slide Away
  • 11. Morning Glory
  • 12. My Big Mouth
  • 13. Half the World Away
  • 14. I'm Outta Time
  • 15. Wonderwall
  • 16. Supersonic
  • 17. Live Forever
  • --Encore--
  • 18. Don't Look Back in Anger
  • 19. Champagne Supernova
  • 20. I Am the Walrus (The Beatles cover)

Nine Inch Nails @ 01:00 on Orange Stage

Great art is born in the dark of night. Once again that statement echoes in the thundering volume of the Orange Stage sound system, pushed to its very limits by a certain Trent Reznor to ensure that even if the turnout was kind of low considering the status of his band, no one within the festival and camping area would be spared the music, nevermind the visuals. But to truly experience the magic of this show, one would have had to stand at the focal point of the speakers, directly behind the front pits (or even better, in them), where one was stunned by not just the crystal clear (and fucking loud!) sound, but also the breathtaking light show for which Nine Inch Nails is revered. In fact, just one band during my visits to the festival has managed to pull this kind of atmosphere off: Tool. And to compare the two feels entirely justified when witnessing the passion and energy of Trent Reznor and his session musicians on stage. Especially mesmerizing to watch is the supernatural talent (and energy!) of 21-year old Ilan Rubin behind the drumkit, who, despite the fact that he had barely been born when Nine Inch Nails released Pretty Hate Machine in 1989, inserts an entire new dimension into the band's back catalogue with his prowess. Songs like "Heresy", "Gave Up", "Wish" and "Suck" have never sounded better.

For almost two hours Trent Reznor takes us through an exponentially ascending curve of intensity toward a murderously effective finale with "Hurt", "The Hand That Feeds" and "Head Like A Hole" that crowns the band's performance as unparalleled and indisputably the best at this year's festival. No one knows where Trent Reznor is headed, only that "this is probably the last time Nine Inch Nails will perform in this country for, I don't know, ever", and if there should be truth in his words, the crowd would probably agree in unison that there is no conceivable better goodbye than the band's performance tonight. In fact, the only conceivable improvement to the show would not even have been an improvement as much as a bonus: had The Dillinger Escape Plan joined Reznor and co. on stage as has been known to happen on most dates this year during "Wish", the show would have gone from perfect to something sublime. Gripping, intense, entrancing and relentless barrages of sound meant mindgasms for those of us who understood that the infectious mix of rock, industrial and electronic music that Nine Inch Nails fires at us with psychotic strobe lights are beyond the reach of Röyksopp. [10] AP

Nine Inch Nails setlist:

  • 01. Somewhat Damaged
  • 02. Terrible Lie
  • 03. Heresy
  • 04. March of the Pigs
  • 05. Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)
  • 06. Metal (Gary Numan cover)
  • 07. The Becoming
  • 08. I'm Afraid of Americans (David Bowie cover)
  • 09. Burn
  • 10. Gave Up
  • 11. La Mer
  • 12. Gone, Still
  • 13. The Fragile
  • 14. Non-Entity
  • 15. The Way Out Is Through
  • 16. Wish
  • 17. Survivalism
  • 18. Suck
  • 19. The Day The World Went Away
  • 20. Hurt
  • 21. The Hand That Feeds
  • 22. Head Like A Hole

Saturday - July 4th

Dawn of Demise @ 13.00 on Pavilion

Only one death metal band out of the entire 180 bands playing at Roskilde Festival, and the music booking morons had chosen Dawn of Demise?! To me they are one of the most boring death metal acts in the Danish DM scene. The simplistic, dumbed down Suffocation worship that was their debut album "Hate Takes It's Form" far from impressed me. However, I have heard good stuff about their live performance, so I thought I should at least give it a shot. I wish I hadn't. Their set was one long trial of brutality in the "brootal" sense of the word. The drums were blasting, the bass was inaudible, the riffs boring (and, thanks to the sound guy, almost not there) and the (fat fuck of a) lead singer's growls were the shit fest of "BREE BREE" that normally only haunts the deepest crap pits of the brutal slam death metal and deathcore genres. Normally I wouldn't comment people on their looks (not here at least), but since the lead singer himself proclaimed that it was too goddamn hot on the stage and consequently took of his shirt and cuddled his enormous belly while proclaiming gold like "this is 105 kilos of evil" and "wet pussy and fat tits" he got it coming. That stuff was all they said on stage (except "muthafucka", they said that a lot too). However, the crowd seemed to love it, especially during the stupidest breakdowns ever, showing that, indeed, your average metal head has shit for brains. The highlight of the show was the half-a-song appearance of Danish metal head (douche) extraordinaire Jacob Bredahl (ex-Hatesphere) and his two lines of growling that, though sucky, still blew mr. Fat Master out of the water. That, and the one good riff from one of the two new songs ("Juggernaut"?) and a few nice solos from the lead axe handler. [3] AB

Cancer Bats @ 15:00 on Pavilion

The thing about all small hardcore punk bands is that their shows can be split in precisely two different categories: either they are mindblowing because of the jaw-dropping aggression levels and hyper-active stage performance, usually found in small clubs and stages, or alternatively their otherwise decent material blends together into one monotonous run of simplistic hardcore punk where no amount of stage performance is going to save the set. Fucked Up managed the former, and Cancer Bats unfortunately fell victim to the latter, as their songs just didn't have enough 'wow' effect tonight even if the whole band was doing its best to wreck havoc throughout the set. Yes, the vocalist spent much of the time at the barrier screaming into the crowd, and yes, there were lots of jumps, storming around the stage and the usual hardcore bits and pieces, but why is it that only a handful of heads were bobbing along, and many people were yawning in the crowd? The truth is that "Hail Destroyer" just isn't that good of an album in comparison to "Birthing The Giant", and with only one good record under their belt, it's hard to play a 40 minute set featuring only the good songs. Add in the overwhelming heat in the tent thanks to their mid-afternoon timeslot, and their fate was sealed. Bear in mind though that if you were placed in the middle of the mosh pit, the set was probably far more interesting than from the middle-right where us RF.net'ers were standing. [5] PP

Elbow @ 17:00 on Arena

Elbow was one of the last bands to be confirmed for this year's line-up, and their excellent credentials, not to mention their influences (Radiohead and Muse among others) tickled my curiosity enough to go check them out, albeit that they are hyped as yet another indie rock sensation by the British press. Walking into the Arena tent it's easy to hear where the Radiohead reference comes from, the band's soundscape just as, if not more elusive. But this kind of pedal-enhanced space rock has never been my greatest passion, and it certainly does not help that the band has created a distance to the audience, as if they're in their own world and not on stage letting us in. Fortunately vocalist Guy Garvey has enough charisma to entertain a pavilion of this size on his own (not to mention that he is an absolutely fantastic singer), which saves the show from collapse. It isn't all that interesting to watch, but even if Elbow has never made a commercial breakthrough like most of their peers, the music is original and captivating to listen to, and introduces a healthy dose of melancholy to festival goers drugged with the Orange Feeling - a kind of artificial coolant in the baking heat. [6] AP

Gogol Bordello @ 18:30 on Orange Stage

Gogol Bordello is another band I have heard much about, especially on the topic of good live performances, and they are another band I have simply never gotten around to getting into. However, like all good rock fans, I was über stoked to find that they would replace some rapper on Orange stage, so I loyally showed up to display my approval of this genre shift, and in retrospect I am extremely thankful that I did. You see Gogol Bordello are NOT a band who got their reputation by chance, instead they are a band who can get a crowd to move with such joy and excitement as only bands like Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and Turisas can normally manage. From front to back on the lawn before Orange, people were dancing wildly and carelessly in bigger or smaller groups, a larger one of about sixty-or-so people forming right behind the right barrier. Here we all gave hell in musical variety, as we gave in to the contaminating gypsy melodies of Gogol Bordello and danced under the raining water from the hoses of the festival staff, and it just wouldn't stop. In the end, we simply had to leave the dance'floor' as intense drinking had left us without the breath or the legs to keep up with Gogol Bordello, and while they may not be a study in artistic greatness, they sure proved their value as entertainers. As I'm sure anyone who took part in the massive choirs singing "START WEARING PURPLE WEARING PURPLE!" agree. [8] TL

Amadou & Mariam @ 19:00 on Arena

Some authentic African music seemed like a splendid idea in the glowing afternoon heat, and after all, isn't that what sets this festival apart from most others? A melting pot of different cultures and musical styles? Obviously my knowledge about such music is next to none, but the duo's blues and jazz ditties are soothing to listen to and the classical instruments and exotic dancers only add to the show's entrancing nature. One actually feels as if the concert were taking place in Mali, no doubt helped by the orange-yellow lighting. Dancing with the music comes naturally, even for someone as terrible at it as myself, but in the end the show falls short of the spectacle it could be and as the songs progress, they begin to sound more like lullabies, and that together with the damp heat inside the tent induces a drowsy atmosphere which even the joyous optimism of the two vocalists cannot redeem. Nonetheless this is a worthwhile and very different experience to the quaking rock and metal that has dominated my schedule so far. A calm before the storm Slipknot would unleash later in the night. [6] AP

Slipknot @ 22:00 on Orange Stage

Slipknot are like an institution when it comes to mainstream metal in Denmark. Each time they play here they go through the same formulaic stage show, but it's something the band has perfected over the years, a case of if it ain't broken don't fix it mentality, and I'm glad it's like that. Twice before have I witnessed Slipknot tear apart KB Hallen in a perfect 10 show, and their Roskilde Festival performance wasn't that far away from becoming the third perfect ten for the band from this magazine. Unfortunately as one of the only bands this year to experience terrible sound, the most important element from Slipknot was missing: the raw and industrialized guitar, which was almost inaudible during many parts of the show. Other than that, the band used their whole circus arsenal from rising drumsets, lunatic chimpanzee-like behaviour with people hanging from the drumsets, smashing the garbage can drums with baseball bats and general chaos to Joey Jordison's rotating drumset, lots of swearing and calling people 'crazy motherfuckers'...it's pure entertainment with little artistic value, but when the band delivers it this well who fucking cares? I know I don't. Even the band itself knows that as prior to their usual sit-everyone-down-and-then-jump-the-fuck-up routine Corey shouted to the crowd "Oh I think you know what's coming next.... even if you haven't been to a Slipknot show before... the rumours travel quickly". And sure enough, almost entire Orange Stage sat down and the forthcoming explosion was one of the biggest for the band to date. As a nice addition, there were lots of pyro effects that had me thinking that the right speaker tower was about to catch on fire any minute now, and people also knew the lyrics to songs like "People = Shit", "Before I Forget" and especially "Duality", which demonstrated perfectly that heavy music too can be appealing to the masses. Perhaps not as intense as their indoor shows, but still pretty freaking good. [8½] PP

Slipknot setlist:

  • 01. Iowa
  • 02. 742617000027
  • 03. (sic)
  • 04. Eyeless
  • 05. Wait and Bleed
  • 06. Get This
  • 07. Before I Forget
  • 08. Sulfur
  • 09. The Blister Exists
  • 10. Dead Memories
  • 11. Left Behind
  • 12. Disasterpiece
  • 13. Psychosocial
  • 14. Duality
  • 15. People = Shit
  • --Encore--
  • 16. Surfacing
  • 17. Spit It Out
  • 18. 'Til We Die

Sunday - July 5th

Neurosis @ 16:00 on Arena

A name that often comes up when talking experimental metal is Neurosis, and again I must shamefully admit that I had no familiarity with the band's music prior to this show. But that's what this festival is all about, discoveries, and here one more has been made. Unfortunately the band had been assigned a stage too large and a time slot in the baking afternoon sun which meant that the visual aspects of their show (particularly some twisted imagery projected onto a white sheet behind the band replacing the usual banner) drowned in sunlight and were barely visible from the front pits. That's a real shame because music like this cannot be experienced simply by listening to it: the experimental bursts are both visual and aural. Having said that, the music of Neurosis is of an extremely slow, droning nature, with lengthy passages of spaced out single notes and torturing the instruments to induce as much indecipherable, yet beautifully calculated noise as possible, so that not one second of the set is wasted on quiet pauses. When the songs eventually explode into barrages of extremely weighty guitar and bass and Scott Kelly treats us to his scream, it's like being pinched out of a lucid dream - so shocking and unexpected are the shifts. On the other hand, there is something missing in the music, something to grasp the audience and invite them along on the band's journey, and I suspect that would be because of the lack of intimacy that darkness would otherwise create. Now the crowd is left staring in wonder as the band descends into its own dark universe, thinking how it must feel - like watching someone tripping on acid sober. [7] AP

Eagles Of Death Metal @ 17:00 on Orange Stage

I have heard and read infinite praisings of Eagles Of Death Metal, but despite my being intrigued by their involvement with the awesome Josh Homme, I have never actually come into contact with their music, and thus I made a point to check them out as they played Orange stage, even if it was at the same time as White Lies. What I saw though, left me confused as to where all this praise is coming from? Maybe it was the suffocating heat that parched the band and the crowd before Orange stage, but aside from a convincing attitude from frontman Jesse Hughes, everything about Eagles Of Death Metal seemed entirely ordinary. In fact I'd say Denmark has it's own band capable of doing this kind of thing way more convincingly, that being Rock Hard Power Spray. So yeah, me and my compadres left early to see if White Lies had more to offer, and while I will respect them for covering Stealer's Wheel's good old "Stuck In The Middle With You", I can't really grade this band highly based on what I saw. If you saw more, feel free to add appropriately if the gig ever got good. [6] TL

White Lies @ 17:00 on Odeon

I've seen White Lies on MTV and I've heard rumours that they're supposed to be the next big thing in British rock, both of them things that experience has taught me to be ambivalent about. I mean, doesn't it seem like there's a 'new big thing in British rock' every five minutes these days? And these guys are also described as electro/rock, so the infamous 'new rave' words are even ringing in my mind as I make my way from the Eagles Of Death Metal show to catch the last twenty minutes of this gig. When I get there my fears are only halfway confirmed though. White Lies are a decisively British band alright, which basically means that their live performance is as dead as Michael Jackson. Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, White Lies, whatever, they all stand around like glued to the stage, seemingly thinking they can somehow passively emanate intensity (they do not), and the only communication with the crowd is an indecipherable British mumbling here and there. I know Brits that can speak understandable English, so how come all those that are in bands cannot? Anyway, their appearance aside, White Lies aren't half bad, in fact the stuff I get to hear reminds me quite a bit of another British band that I actually DO like. We Were Promised Jetpacks. Of course, White Lies are much lighter and much more electronic, but the songs built around the post-punk build-up-then-crescendo formula are similar and that's not a bad thing. Anyway, this is another of those shows that I didn't catch enough of for you to trust my grading as entirely accurate, but from what I did see, a little energy on stage would boost this band a long way. Till then I'll stick with WWPJ. [6] TL

The Bronx @ 19:00 on Odeon

Hardcore punkers The Bronx were an exception to the rule announced by Fucked Up on Thursday (punk bands never get better 20 minutes into the show). Because what started as a dangerously monotonous, boring punk set akin to that of Cancer Bats soon developed into an explosive and varying set straight after vocalist Matt gained some more confidence in their ability to get the crowd going. "Yeah? Yeah. Yeah." is more or less a summary of his crowd interaction, which puzzled most in the audience in the beginning, but once the crowd begun taking it as a "you like that? Want some more? I know you do" type of thing, the show started getting wild. At some point Matt threw himself over the barrier into the crowd, stealing a beer from one of the crowd members and the festival security definitely did NOT like that. About eight seconds is what it took for them to carry him back over the barrier, after which he proceeded to move about 10 metres to the side of the guards and repeat the same scenario. Now the guards went apeshit and told him not to do it again: "For some reason the security doesn't want me to get near you guys, so I'll have to try to do the same from here. I really want to be down there with you guys though", said Matt following the scenario. This, of course, was the best thing that could've happened to make the crowd go even crazier, and from here on, the band's songs seemed to be getting better and better as well. A positive surprise indeed. [7½] PP

Coldplay @ 22:00 on Orange Stage

Truth be told, I had no idea what to expect from a Coldplay show. Would it be a Hoobastank-styled mainstream pop show where the whole band is content at standing still? Would the band play their older and better material instead of stuff from "Viva La Vida..."? Would they use lots of props and close the festival with a blast? Would the band just put people to sleep on the last night of Roskilde? Well, lets just say that I was both impressed and positively surprised. Starting off with the familiar electro-tune "Life In Technocolor" and continuing through a great setlist (which, however, included far too few songs from their debut), the band looked extremely confident on the packed Orange Stage. The whole band was actually moving around, playing energetically and displaying plenty of emotion - this feeling reaching me even though I was standing way far back in the middle. And the props? Wow. During classic track "Yellow", huge yellow balloons were released to the front two pits to the great entertainment of everyone standing there and those of us who could watch them bob around in air above the huge crowd. Or what about the Mexican wave that was executed with thousands upon thousands of mobile phones in the darkness. Now that was a beautiful sight. There was a helicopter fly-by at some point of their show, and they finished off with a massive confetti-storm similar to that of Green Day in 2005, so it's fair to say that the band went for it big style (the light show was impressive as well). As if that wasn't enough, halfway through their set the band suddenly disappeared from the stage, only to re-appear in the middle of the whole field on a specially-built stage where they performed a semi-acoustic set, complete with a Michael Jackson cover of "Billie Jean". That they allowed drummer Will to sing "Death Will Never Conquer" was a nice addition as well. And scattered all around the entire set, words and phrases like "sing for the Roskilde Festivaaaal", "Come up to Denmark" or "goodbye Roskilde" and so on were improvised into the bands lyrics. I don't know if they do this at all shows, but tonight, this being the last show of the festival and all, it just felt so right and special after such an amazing festival overall. It really allowed for the band to connect with individuals in the crowd on great personal level, the amount of feeling present throughout the show was indescribable - a majestic finish to the festival. [8½]

Coldplay setlist:

  • 1. Life In Technicolor
  • 2. Violet Hill
  • 3. Clocks
  • 4. In My Place
  • 5. Yellow
  • 6. 42
  • 7. Fix You
  • 8. Strawberry Swing
  • 9. God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
  • 10. Talk
  • 11. The Hardest Part
  • 12. Viva La Vida
  • 13. Lost!
  • 14. Green Eyes
  • 15. Billie Jean (Michael Jackson cover)
  • 16. Death Will Never Conquer (sung by drummer Will)
  • 17. Politik
  • 18. Lovers In Japan
  • 19. Death And All His Friends
  • --Encore--
  • 20. The Scientist
  • 21. Life In Technicolor II

Final Words & Recommendations

If you've been reading this far, I salute you, for that's a shitload of text to go through. Or maybe you just skipped down here to find out what we're going to tell the festival to do better next year, and if our last year's recommendations are anything to go by, it is inevitable that each of these will be implemented as well. Fingers crossed. But before that, let me just re-iterate that this year's festival was a sensational success. The vast number of bands capable of pulling close to 60,000 people in front of Orange Stage without disappointing the majority combined with the spotless weather and an overall incredible Orange Feeling throughout the festival made sure that this was pretty damn near a perfect 10 festival. I've seen some 4/6 and 5/6 ratings in the more serious press (not that we're not serious, but in a totally different way), but remember that these reviews are written by people who spend most of their time in the media village. I've been there before, and trust me it's a rather boring place, for individuals who aren't into partying, and there's just no way you'll be able to capture the feeling of the festival without actually being right at the centre of it yourself, where everything happens. So before I finish off with some recommendations for next year, I'd like to extend Rockfreaks.net's thanks to Roskilde Festival for organizing such an amazing, totally unique event each year.

So here's a few bullet points on what needs to change for next year:

* Scheduling of metal bands: The only genres that benefit from a late night setting in terms of visuals and a light show are rock, metal, and, partly, electronic music. So why on earth are the countless indie rock, authentic music (reggae etc), hip-hop, etc acts playing at night time when bands like Darkane, Satyricon, Neurosis, etc have to play in pure daylight? It really doesn't make a whole lot of sense, even if darkness is a limited resource in Denmark during June. Having any of these bands play before 20:00 is usually a waste of both ours and the band's time (black metal at 13:30? Pfft.)

* Vegetarian Festival: This is just a rumour that circulated across the festival during the week, but I certainly hope it doesn't hold truth to it. Making the whole festival vegetarian would result in local pizzerias being overloaded by delivery requests, and perhaps even setting up temporary ovens in their cars right outside the festival perimeters. There are just too many of us who love meat.

* Price: The price of the festival ticket MUST go down next year. People just can't afford it anymore.

* Crowd control: Why is it that the security must break every single mosh/circle pit that they see especially at the smaller stages Odeon and Pavilion? I get it, a bunch of people died like 10 years ago, but come on, that's what the pit systems are for, and the smaller stages just don't have enough people to cause damage. If every single other festival can allow mosh pits without any complaints from crowd or other problems, then so can Roskilde Festival. Wake up.

PP

Photo credits: Rune Bøgelund, Charlotte Mai Jacobsen, Lykke Nielsen, Miki Horsbøl Petersen (Discretion Is Paramount)

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