Roskilde Festival 2018

author AP date 16/07/18

For the thirteenth time in a row, the Rockfreaks delegation has made its way to the biggest Danish festival at Dyrskuepladsen near Roskilde, although some of us have become too old for camping by now. The festival’s stages and the camping area look pretty much like they have done for the last couple of years, and the most notable difference this year has nothing to do with the music line-up, the bar selection or anything like that. Rather, the toilet facilities have been upgraded so that proper toilets are present everywhere, yes, even all across the camping area. Despite the longer queues at most places, it’s nice and serves as yet another element, next to constantly expanding areas, like Silent & Clean, which are also bigger yet this year, that slowly make the festival with the infamous dirty campsite feel more and more civilized.

Dust bowl initiate

With the excellent weather this year, there’s a constant haze of dust in the air from day one but the festival organizers do what they can, sending out water-spraying trucks and covering the ground in slivers of wood. Most days there’s a good wind gushing through the area that carries the dust with it so it doesn’t settle in thick clouds, and one day we even spot a whirlwind that rips through the camping site, ripping up trash, pavilions and tents from the unlucky camps it hits on its way through the L area.

It does get quite cold for the night-time shows that we stay up to attend, as they present some of the very best rock and metal names this year. In general, this year’s lineup still has more rock related names than we can cover with reviews, but the rising number of festivals in Denmark means that the heavier names are also being spread around more thinly than just a few years ago. For pure metal or punk fans, then, it seems that there’s not quite enough heavy-hitters on the poster this year to make the trip and the ticket price worth it. For those of us who appreciate a more varied experience spanning electronic, hip hop, and pop as well as rock, punk and metal, there’s lots of exciting names to check out once again. /LL

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest unless otherwise noted

CAMPING AREA

I’ve been camping every year I’ve visited Roskilde Festival; all 14 years. And personally, it isn’t a thing I would live without. It seems like every year there are shenanigans going on, all in the good spirit of the festival, of course. A small anecdote from this year is one that describes the infamous orange feeling and the camping experience quite well: A guy from my camp somehow got his hands on a huge banner from Århus Jazz Festival, and decided to do something with it. So he made a devious plan to decorate our neighbor camp with it. During one of the early days, in the covering darkness of the night, he started by spray painting their pavilion, hoping to get some response, or at least a “what’s going on?", but nothing of the sorts happened. Later, he made signs to put up saying that if you came to their camp, you would have a chance of winning tickets to the festival, but as most probably don’t know: the festival is free. Still, no response. During one of the last days, again during the mists of the early morning dew, he managed to cover their pavilion in the huge Jazz Festival banner, but still they didn’t come around to the surrounding camps to ask if anyone had seen anything.

The camping experience

So on the very last day, he went to their camp and told them what had been going on, said sorry with a huge grin, and invited them over to our camp for a beer or two. It so happens that the camp consisted of several youngsters perhaps on their first year at the festival, and they had in fact been very puzzled over what the hell was going on. We chatted for a few hours, talking about all sorts of things. Even though our camp was a metal camp, and by the looks of it, theirs wasn’t, we still got along swimmingly. And that is the power of the so called orange feeling that this festival is made up of. I am almost positive that we would never have talked to each other otherwise, but because of that little gimmick at the festival, we did, even though we didn’t seem to have much in common besides being at the festival. This is the reason I keep coming back, year after year, even if there are the bad and at times horrible experiences each year, too.

The camping experience

Before the youngsters left the camp, they took the banner with them. We don’t know what they will do with it, and it actually doesn’t really matter. But hopefully they will bring it next year, and hence be known as “Camp Århus Jazz Festival". If you see them, make sure you say hello from the camp who gave them the banner; we sure will, because we had so much fun planning our sneaky scheme. RUB

FESTIVAL AREA

One of the biggest changes at the festival area this year is bound to be the separate wristband required to enter the pits at the Orange Stage. Basically, you would have to stand in line during the morning hours on the specific day that your concert takes place, and then the festival would start handing them out from 9am and onwards. This is good in many ways. Most obviously, it makes it so much easier to get around the area in front of the stage, and therefore leaves more room for people during the concert prior to big ones that used to feature massive queues throughout the day for pit access. Also, the hardcore fans used to spend hours after hours sitting in line, before the security guards would let you into the pit for a particular show, which potentially resulted in you missing out on several acts on the different stages, whilst you would stay in line to secure the best possible spot in front of Orange Stage.

The iconic Orange Stage dazzling at night

Now it is possible to get a pit wristband during the morning hours, where no music is playing, which in the end makes it easier to see all the music you wanted to see in the first place. For bigger acts like Eminem or even Nick Cave, this would of course mean you would have to sit in line at a different time instead, so you either had to continue partying until 5 or 6 in the morning, to even have a chance of getting the much sought-after wristband, or simply go to bed early to make sure your alarm would wake you up. Whichever the case, I for one think it was a great addition. I never got around to using it myself, so I can’t comment on the practicalities, but on paper it sounds like a genius idea. RUB

EXPANDED ORANGE STAGE

The Orange Stage field, in anticipation of the biggest booking the festival has ever taken according to their press release, has been transformed to a larger version of itself to allow the masses to gather for the Eminem show. Rumour has it there were over 100.000 festival guests watching the man play. Similarly, two additional routes to Orange had been created through the Grandstand area. In the past it was only possible to enter Orange diagonally from back left or back right, but this year, they introduced two brand new routes straight at the back through the Grandstand area to help relieve some of the pressure for massive concerts like Eminem. It did come at a cost, though: the classic seating area where people used to hang out had been replaced by a mere plateau area, with additional drinks and other stands taking up some of the space as well. PP/RUB

FOOD SCENE: STILL DELICIOUS

One of the many, many things Roskilde Festival is revered for throughout the world is its many different types of food. Essentially, visiting Roskilde for music can be combined with a culinary exploration of almost Michelin star level experiences if you know where to look, so much so that there are even bloggers arranging foodie tours to check some of the more exotic options available to the standard burgers, wraps and Spaghetti that are there each year.

Even though it’s not by any means special to serve vegetarian food anymore, the bigger focus on free range animals and organic food still means a lot for the festival. Even at Food Courts it’s possible to find food from all over the world, and although some of it might be of more expensive variety when compared to the standard festival food mentioned earlier, you know that it is made with great ingredients. For example, the paella with a pretty large sangria was priced at 100 DKK, which by all means is a fair price for an alcoholic beverage and a decent size plate.

Politically charged grub galore

Another highlight that surprisingly stuck out this year was Tokyo Tokyo. Their chicken and vegetable stir fry with noodles may not have looked like much, but god damn it was delicious. PP mentioned that he couldn’t believe how tasty the meal was considering its low price and that it was served mass-manufacture style at a festival. But that just goes to saying what kind of festival Roskilde aspires to be: it wants to stick out not just through the musical experiences but also from the overall experience as a guest. So if you are still sticking to the classic Spaghetti, Ski Burger and Ox Burger variety, consider trying out some of the more exotic options available at Food Court and elsewhere for a surprisingly excellent meal. PP/RUB

Much more space & services around the Arena stage

EXPANDED ARENA SERVICE OFFERING

Last year, the Arena-area was expanded to include a craft beer bar among a couple of food options. It added a little life to an area that was previously more or less dead when the stage didn’t have any concerts on. This year, the festival doubled down on that area. With a multitude of smaller food shops, drinks stands, and other facilities, the area finally felt like it was a unique area at the festival instead of just a side-show. That’s a great addition and adds even more variety to explore, which now means you have enough terrain and cool bars to cover to last the entirety of the music days of the festival. Big thumbs up once again from our side. PP

THE TRUMP/EQUALITY WALLS

As usual, Roskilde Festival likes to highlight social and political justice causes in one way or another. We’ve previously seen the likes of Pussy Riot and Edward Snowden hold talks and events at the festival, and this year was no exception. Not only did we see the arts zone march around a giant, 25-30 people long black snake or Dragon, which was painted with anti-capitalist slogans and the like, but the festival had chosen to erect four life-size examples of the different walls proposed for the US-Mexican border by President Donald Trump. These mighty figures added some perspective to what people might be up against at the border going forward: they were truly massive and impressive in every way, visible from hundreds of meters away from all directions. But while that message was received loud and clear, it did mean the festival area was infested with Trump trolls left and right. Chants of “BUILD THAT WALL" could be occasionally heard by small groups making fun of the exhibit, not to mention the many red Make America Great Again hats and t-shirts worn by various members of the audience. PP

Gutter Island - a popular staple of Roskilde Festival

THE RETURN OF USUAL SUSPECTS

Aside from the new features at the festival, all your old favorites were back as usual. The piano bar by Avalon, the Malbec wine bar by the same area, the Gringo bar and Mojito Bus with their excellent variety of cocktails, and many others. After all, why fix what isn’t broken, right?

In the weirdo front, KlubRå returned with it’s “WTF" moments of abstract and avant-garde art exhibits, and I walked by least two different spoken word/poetry gatherings, which did feel a little out of place at the otherwise loud and festive festival area.

No stage changes this year aside from Orange expansion: Avalon still looks sick with its grand theatre like decorations; Pavilion is still a tiny but decent place to catch punk bands should the festival ever book some in this variety, Gloria is the much-needed indoor experience for hardcore bands and the like, and Arena hasn’t seen changes in as long as I can remember going to the festival. PP

REVIEWS: WARM-UP

Yannick Bünger Kristensen swinging his bass for Dirt Forge

Dirt Forge @ 14:00 on Sunday on Rising

Although not the official opening of the music program, there is nonetheless a certain prestige in being one of the two very first artists to perform at Roskilde Festival. This is not lost on the Copenhagen-based sludge metal trio, as they deliver their most energetic performance yet before a sizeable and enthusiastic audience. From the very first note of “Rust & Copper" (off last year’s “Soothsayer"), a couple of dozen fans upfront ensure that guitarist/vocalist Alexander Kolby, bassist Yannick Bünger Kristensen and drummer Nicolai Lomholt have their own spectacle to look at, pumping their fists and engaging in tireless moshing and circlepit action — which in turn inspires the two standing musicians to violently headbang and swing their instruments in tacit acknowledgement of the criticism I and others have had regarding their abilities as a live act until today. The band’s atavistic take on the sludge metal genre has always struck me as quite intense, but it feels like songs such as “Stone" and “Fortress Burning" receive an extra injection of raw power from the three musicians’ being so hellbent on delivering a set worthy of kicking off an iconic festival like Roskilde. Grim though the tone of Dirt Forge’s music is, and hard-hitting though the combination of Kolby’s muscular growls and Lomholt’s drumming may be, the trio’s tightly played set thus manages to paint smiles on the crowd’s faces by virtue of the sheer exuberance with which the band seizes this milestone in their career. [7] AP

WEDNESDAY

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs @ 17:30 on Gloria

For my first review, and first concert of this year’s Roskilde Festival, I had the distinct pleasure to check out the band called Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (or simply Pigsx7). The name alone managed to raise an eyebrow of yours truly and of course a few laughs, but when reading the band description, I was instantly intrigued. Apart from the strange name, this was straight up stoner: the music was droning, and an inspiration to the band could easily be found in stoner legends Sleep. As the band enters on stage, the lead singer yells “Let’s enter the pig yard!" to kickstart the Gloria stage, which is jam-packed. Tonight, the band only consisted of five pigs, but that doesn’t stop them from playing non-stop crushingly heavy and droning songs.

Since the Gloria stage is an indoor stage, the temperature and therefore the atmosphere and mood fits well with the stoner genre, as it is insanely hot and sweaty. The backdrop is very spacey, and it would seem that it is forever changing as the song progress. As the climax nears during the lengthy and droning songs, the vocalist continues to move around the stage at a steady pace. After a while, the song structure, the surroundings and the backdrop seem to hit a special climax around the same time. The temperature has now reached a level of such insane intensity, that by now it has become almost unbearable and freakishly hot in here. This is underlined by the vocalist as he rounds off the show with the line ”Very important to wear sunscreen – the sun burns!”. My level of climax as a viewer has also reached a maximum, so I quickly venture outside to get some much needed fresh air, but with an experience richer since Pigs x 7 made a pretty good first impression. [7] RUB

Laurence Vincent of Slaves screaming his crowd into action

Slaves @ 18:30 on Pavilion

For a Duo, Slaves make a hell of a lot of noise on stage. The aspiring UK noise punks have seen a meteoric rise to fame with their 2015 debut “Are You Satisfied?" and its 2016 successor “Take Control", and it’s not difficult to understand why. The drummer, for starters, is playing his kit while standing upright and singing. He doesn’t even have a hi-hat, which he makes perfectly clear to us during a funky bit of crowd-control: "People asked where’s your hi-hat…I grew tired of people asking so I started saying FUCK THE HI HAT", he screams, in effect teaching us the chorus lyrics to the next song. Most of their tracks are simple like that, with one-line repetitive lyrics, yet they are fueled by infectious energy and showmanship that few bands can counter. "When we started this band it was just us two, and nobody wanted to join our band.", they tell us, before continuing "well, the joke’s on them now isn’t it?". Oozing of charisma and confidence, their noise punk rubs onto the crowd more and more as the set goes along, so even though their interpretation of punk belongs more in the Soundvenue segment of hipsters and post-punksters, the atmosphere in the tent is electrifying. A solid set that compensates simplistic song structures with clever crowd control mechanics and a high-energy display of showmanship. [7½] PP

Clutch @ 19:30 on Avalon

It has been a while since Clutch last graced the Danish shores with a visit — two and a half years, to be precise — and even longer since the Frederick, MD-resident blues-rockers stood on the predecessor of this stage, Odeon, ten years ago. And with a new album on the horizon (“Book of Bad Decisions", out in September), it goes without saying that the Avalon tent is buzzing with excitement as the quartet makes its entrance without any sort of fanfare. Armed with an extremely bassy and punchy sound, which nonetheless allows Tim Sult’s lead guitar the space it requires in the mix, the band has trouble engaging the crowd at first, as the four musicians try to find their groove in the likes of “X-Ray Visions" and “Crucial Velocity" (taken from 2015’s “Psychic Warfare" and 2013’s “Earth Rocker", respectively). But once the pieces fall into place by virtue of an intense rendition of the brand new, politically charged single “How to Shake Hands", a symbiosis seems to form between band and audience, each egging the other on to muster up whatever reservoirs of energy still remain after days of hard partying and, in Clutch’s case, touring. It is near the end of this track that the ever-charismatic vocalist Neil Fallon loosens his hinges at last, flying across the stage as he spews vitriolic language about his current president, Donald Trump.

Neil Fallon of Clutch in high spirits

The show is truly in gear now, and as the titular “Earth Rocker" is aired to cast a spotlight on the dexterous finger picking of bassist Dan Maines, the audience responds by delivering two moshpits that never cease until the end. Instead, the proceedings seem to grow wilder with each passing song, culminating in probably the first circlepit that I have witnessed at a Clutch gig during “Sucker for the Witch", as well as a bizarre dance battle during an extended take on the bass- and harmonica-led bridge of “D.C. Sound Attack!". Admittedly, there is something of a lull between the aforementioned songs, but as the band starts to accelerate toward a finale via the mind-altering “Spacegrass" (off the band’s 1995 sophomore album, “Clutch"), all that is forgiven. What follows is a litany of classics and crowd-favourites that send the audience into ecstasy; I have a hard time believing it, but there is an actual, gigantic wall of death about to happen near the end of “Electric Worry" (which features on 2007’s “From Beale Street to Oblivion"), and once that unravels, side-to-side moshing ensues, ten metres deep from stage perspective, perfectly embodying the revered “Mob Goes Wild" (taken from 2004’s “Blast Tyrant") and sending us into the night on an euphoric high. [9] AP

Nine Inch Nails @ 00:30 on Arena

Eminem may have enjoyed top billing at this year’s festivities, but for the rock- and metal-of-heart, the main event is without a doubt Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails. Although the industrial metal icons have been downgraded compared to their triumphant show on the Orange Stage in 2009, no one is under any sort of illusion that the ‘Nails still remain a headlining act — and they place serious weight on the fact with an intense and hard-hitting performance again. “Wish" (off 1992’s “Broken" EP), “March of the Pigs" and “Piggy" (both taken from the consummate classic, 1994’s “The Downward Spiral") are all aired early accompanied by a barrage of blinding strobe lights, as if to underline that while Reznor’s music may have switched to a more electronic and atmospheric direction lately, the show tonight is going to be anything but mellow. Controlled chaos, delivered with the subtlety of a sledgehammer is the most fitting way to describe the barrage to which we are subjected for 90 minutes, yet amidst the violence (which culminates in a total breakdown of aesthetics in the lead-up to “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)", as Reznor engages a spectrum of effect pedals to create a deluge of disturbing electronic noise), there is, as always, a touch of beauty and elusiveness as well. “The Frail" and “The Wretched", when delivered together as they are on record (1999’s excellent “The Fragile" LP), would bring a tear to a glass eye — and if anyone claims they did not get the feels as “Hurt" brought this show to a conclusion, they’re either lying, or in a vegetative state.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails

(photo by Steffen Jørgensen)

Hurt is exactly what my feet are doing after a long day of walking and standing up, yet there is something utterly hypnotic about the (primarily) monochromatic lighting and feverish versions of songs like “Reptile" (another “Downward Spiral" staple) and “Copy of A" (taken from 2013’s “Hesitation Marks") that keeps me going despite the fact that a full day of work looms ahead. It is this same trancelike state that seems to affect most of the audience, counteracting the wild reaction that music of this nature tends to invite. Indeed, there is a strange contrast between the intensity of Reznor and his cohorts on stage and a crowd that refuses to move even during the hammering duo of “The Hand That Feeds" (off 2005’s “With Teeth") and “Head Like a Hole" (the only track tonight to represent 1989’s “Pretty Hate Machine") near the end, and ultimately it is this mismatch that settles the score between this and that legendary 2009 performance. By any measure, the concert here is phenomenal in its coordination of light and sound, in its completely destructive demeanour. But that extra boost received from an audience in tune with the music is sadly missing. [8] AP

THURSDAY

The Söderberg sisters of First Aid Kit rocking out

First Aid Kit @ 16:00 at Orange Stage

The Swedish indie-folk duo First Aid Kit is one of the bands that has climbed up the Roskilde stages through the years and for their fourth time here, they are finally ready to take on the big Orange Stage. With the soft country-tinged guitar music they play, I have my worries whether they will be able to fill it out but for this casual afternoon show in the sun, they fit just fine. The volume is turned up just right and their beautiful vocal harmonies soar over the numerous audience members that are standing or sitting all around the grounds. In matching zebra-patterned outfits, the Söderberg sisters and their band lead in with mostly newer songs from their two latest albums "Ruins" and "Stay Gold", the opener being "Rebel Heart". Sliding country vibes and lap steel sounds abound but just when I'm settling in for a casual show that I expect to be a bit bored by, they crank up the rocking qualities in their music with a dynamic end to "Master Pretender". In general, despite the relatively delicate music, they approach their performance with a lot of energy that really helps to carry the songs across and definitely justify their booking at the Orange Stage. Different elements are highlighted in the next couple of songs with "Stay Gold" focusing on the trombone in their lineup while "The Lion's Roar" showcases their voices beautifully with an acapella piece in the middle.

First Aid Kit’s Johanna Söderberg

Squarely in the middle of their set, the aggressive "You Are The Problem Here" appears as their edgiest element today with a more distorted guitar tone and more direct lyrics. As one of the sisters ends her explanation of the song's theme of empowerment, she remarks that they're through with being angry today and will go back to being sad again, getting a few chuckles out of the crowd. This seemingly also means, though, that the rest of the set is soaked in somewhat uneventful songs that are of course pretty but lack the edge or novelty that I experienced in the first half of the set. A case in point is their lackluster cover of Kate Bush's dramatic "Running Up That Hill" that doesn't exactly help my goodwill towards them. The soft hits "Emmylou" and especially "Fireworks" with its slow and heavy forward march make welcome appearances towards the end and succeed in creating a bit of that magical atmosphere that I have been lacking for a while in the set. Finally, we get an encore of the rumbling and party-like "King of the World" with an excellent trombone-solo before "My Silver Lining" ends the show. All in all, a fine show that fit its time slot especially well but could have been more intense in its demonstration of the blue vibes of Americana-influenced indie folk. [7] LL

Chelsea Wolfe @ 18:00 on Pavilion

Stifling heat inside the Gloria venue discouraged me from watching enough of Chelsea Wolfe’s previous concert at this festival in 2015 to form an opinion, but I still imagine that the indoor setting was a better fit for the dark and atmospheric ‘doom singer-songwriter’ music she pens with her trusty cohort, Ben Chisholm than the Pavilion tent in the early evening. Certainly the best concert that I have seen from Wolfe took place at an intimate venue — a converted church called Babel in Malmö, to be precise (review here) — and so it is with a certain skepticism that I take up position close the stage as the clock nears 6pm. But my concerns are eliminated with a firm hand as “Spun" (taken from last year’s “Hiss Spun") lands like slabs of concrete onto a back, lead guitarist Bryan Tulao’s wailing notes forming a beautiful symbiosis with Wolfe’s high-pitch singing. In liaison with the cloudy weather today, the canvas of the Pavilion tent provides just enough cover for the music to completely envelop the audience in an atmosphere of doom and gloom — especially when the pulverising “Dragged Out" airs soon after. Truly, the music is felt as well as heard, owing in no small part to the band’s prowess at building breathtaking crescendos out of the droning core of songs like the excellent “Feral Love" (the opener from 2013’s “Pain Is Beauty") and the deeply psychedelic “Survive" (off 2015’s “Abyss").

Atmosphere really is key to a successful Chelsea Wolfe show, and although a cynic might label the frontwoman's showmanship as non-existent, keen eyes can tell that her introspective presence is, in fact, extreme important in terms of conveying the mood that reigns in songs like the understated “After the Fall" and “Particle Flux". Subtlety thus also is key — and if such ways of performance are not to your taste, there is always the more energetic demeanour of Chisholm and Tulao to behold. The two move like marionettes, twisting and contorting their bodies when the going gets rougher and faster in tracks such as “Demons" (off Wolfe’s sophomore album, 2011’s “Apokalypsis"), creating a fascinating contrast to the subtler, slower antics of Wolfe herself. As such there is very little to criticise, neither in terms of the show nor in terms of the song choices that take us on a grand tour of Wolfe’ repertoire from 2011 to 2018. One concludes that her spells are bound just as effectively in a festival setting as they are at indoor venues, and starts to look forward to the next time that Denmark shall be graced with a visit from this truly unique artist. [8] AP

Stone Sour @ 21:30 on Arena

For many, this is perhaps the metal/hard rock headliner here at Roskilde Festival. The one and only Corey Taylor revisits the festival, after he laid the Orange Stage to waste back in 2009. Back then, the vocalist visited with Slipknot, but this time around it is with his other band Stone Sour. As I approach the next biggest stage of the festival, it sadly becomes evident that Stone Sour doesn’t share Slipknot’s level of popularity. Arena is not full; in fact, it’s not even close. It’s a shame as Corey Taylor looks to be in absolute top shape. He paces back and forth on the stage to try and excite the crowd, and even with old tracks like “Get Inside", which is an absolute heavy banger, the crowd does not share the same level of intensity as him on stage. That doesn’t stop Taylor with interacting with the crowd, as he seems very pleased to be back. “You can see all types of music here!". He truly shines like the top-entertainer that he is.

Corey Taylor of Stone Sour boasts plenty of confidence, even though the crowd is fairly pale and gray

The crowd is also treated to the classic “Bother" where Taylor -- in his trademark style -- grabs the acoustic guitar, but also newer songs like “Rose Red Violent Blue". These a delivered fine, but underline how much more low-key and easily digested Stone Sour is when compared to Slipknot. You have a hard time not comparing the two since Taylor fronts both. This particular concert sadly pales in comparison. The atmosphere is simply not the same, and the crowd size is only decent. Parts of the crowd tries to challenge the lax atmosphere with some different types of pits to the heavier rhythms throughout the show, but it doesn’t really work all that well. Overall the half-full Arena show doesn’t make a lasting impression, but the band still played with flair. Taylor persisted on going strong for the entire duration of the concert, and even blasted out confetti cannons and some sort of inflatable figurines towards the end, but the feeling I was left with was just not that impressive. Not because the band didn’t try, but perhaps people just didn’t realize who the vocalist actually was for this band. [6] RUB

Boris & Merzbow @ 23:00 at Avalon

For the first time overseas, the noisy and experimental Japanese acts Boris and Merzbow perform together tonight at Roskilde Festival after the release of their latest in a string of collaborative albums, "Gensho" from 2016. On the stage, Merzbow is placed to the left behind a laptop, synthesizer and guitar setup from where he lets rip his harsh, droning elements, while the three-piece that is Boris rock out as a unit to the right. Their drummer reigns over a kit as well a giant cymbal behind him that is frequently in use while one of the others dons a double guitar, and as you can probably imagine, the sound that comes from these four musicians tonight is immense. Their collaborative efforts across various records consist basically of reimaginations of Boris' songs and that is also exactly what we get tonight. They start out with a lengthy session of slow-moving doom metal while bathed in evil red lights that works somewhat as an intro to their set and the audience begins to slowly headbang and throw horns their way. As soon as this bleeds over into a more shoegaze-like and dreamy track that also includes some spacy vocals, the lights follow suit to twirling blues and looking around, the audience begins to mellow out already. While I'm not too familiar with Boris' songs due to the sheer magnitude of their album output through the years, I feel fairly certain that this is the reimagined "Farewell" from the aforementioned latest album with Merzbow. The group's drummer remains energetic throughout the set and often gets up and raises his hand fiercely in search of support but he doesn't get a lot of response as the audience is either too caught up in the soundscapes of the music or alternatively just too drunk and tired at this late hour. The recently re-released title track of the classic "Pink" album makes an appearance later on for a more dynamic noise rock-like section that is still insanely loud, making sure we're blown away by the barrage of sounds. The set fluctuates a lot between industrial-sounding sessions where Merzbow dominates the sound and more rocking parts where Boris are in the spotlight but overall, the focus is heavily in Boris' corner, which makes sense as their songs remain the structural framework on albums as well as live. Towards the end, we arrive much where we began, with a lengthier session of more brutal and slow-moving noise and it's in these heaviest of sections that the collaboration feels most well-resolved. Still, it's an intense set just as loud and noise-ridden as I had hoped it would be and no matter what, it feels like a huge privilege to be able to witness one of the very first live shows of this line-up outside of Japan itself. [8] LL

Nyt Liv @ 1:30 on Gloria

Quickly rushing over from the Avalon stage after witnessing the spectacle that is Heilung, I venture to see a band I had just seen at this year’s Copenhell. I know what to expect: a high, intense level of energy, which is packed with macho power and punch, and where the involvement of the crowd is quite crucial for a great show. Alas, the crowd in front of the stage is not very impressive. Therefore, it’s all the more impressive that the first couple of rows (more than half of the audience) are giving it their best in high energy fashion. These guys deserve more even though it is well past midnight.

Front man Michael Aagesen of Nyt Liv shows the small crowd how it’s done!

The music is still very aggressive and packed with plenty of hardcore rhythms, but it all keeps coming back to how few people actually bother to come out to the show. Perhaps it is because this is Roskilde and not Copenhell, because there were far more people at the show at the latter, which makes this appearance pale in comparison. The lack of people seems to rub off on the band, and even though they try to keep the intensity high, they doesn’t look as vibrant as they did earlier in June. The first couple of rows try their best with moshing, but it doesn’t really do much for the concert, because it ends as quickly as it had started. Towards the end, the band tries to interact with the crowd, but again the show falls short of what is normally considered a good hardcore show. Aagesen jumps down into the crowd during the last song of the set, in a last effort to kickstart the small crowd, which at least warrants some kudos, but the overall effort lacked compared to their appearance at Copenhell. [5] RUB

My Bloody Valentine @ 02:00 at Arena

This show by the influential Irish shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine marks the second day in a row that finishes with a nighttime set of noise for me, following yesterday's amazing Nine Inch Nails show. Today the music seems just as loud although this variant is more dreamy and melodic as well as immersive in a different way. Their set consists mostly of songs from their classic 1991 album "Loveless" but also includes one entirely new song as well as a few older ones. For a long while, I stand around and just let the distortion wash over me while getting slowly hypnotized by the spacy visuals that encompass the band members on the stage. "Only Shallow" marks a high point about midways through the set but it begins to annoy me that the loudness of everything almost consequently drowns out the vocals in every song to the point where I am watching the vocalists move their lips but can barely find them in the soundscapes. It helps slightly as I move further towards the middle of the room but the live experience remains one of sonic onslaught where the big melodic riffs are dispersed from the stage and bounce around the tent for maximum impact rather than one with a focus on the details in the music. Other memorable moments arrive, though, as first "Soon" and later "You Made Me Realise" from one of their early EP's end the set in the midst of several dives into what feels like some very extended sections of repetitive guitar riffage. In its own way, it is an impressive experience although it is also a little long-winded at times. However, anyone at Roskilde in need of being shaken through and through one final time today surely gets what they came here for and when the guitars finally ring out one last time, I stagger on home to my tent mostly satisfied and definitely with a new hunger for exploring the band's iconic records further. [7½] LL

Motorsav @ 2:15 on Gloria

The crowd has grown by a small margin, when the next Danish hardcore punk act Motorsav (Chainsaw) takes the Gloria stage. The crowd in front looks even more alive now than earlier for Nyt Liv. What I also notice is how much more punk this sounds when compared to the former band. The songs are sung entirely in Danish, but that doesn’t affect the aggressive nature of them. If you don’t speak the language you might not even notice, as the songs are so fast that it doesn’t really matter. This is how proper DIY sounds to me! There’s little to no interaction with the crowd, which in my book stays true to the more old-school type of punk Motorsav plays.

The entire middle section is just one big mosh pit which suits the music’s energy very well, but the overall expression isn’t as insane since the crowd still isn’t as large as one could’ve hoped for. But again, the band seem to make the most of it, and actually come out more on top than the previous band, although Motorsaw as well would look so much more intense, aggressive and insane in a smaller and more intimate setting at a different place than the one here at Roskilde Festival. [7] RUB

Ond Tro @ 3:00 on Gloria

The final band in the barrage of Danish hardcore punk at Gloria ends with Ond Tro (which loosely translates into Malevolent Belief). For the final act, the crowd has grown once again, even though it’s past 3am at this point. Although the crowd never reaches max capacity, Gloria once again hosts yet another intense show with mosh pits characterizing the crowd behavior.

Without much fanfare, the band jumps on stage. Now boasting around a half-full Gloria, they blast a fairly short set compared to the other two hardcore bands. It’s a fierce, ferocious set, but perhaps the crowd has run out of energy at last, because it doesn’t look anywhere near as intense as the showcase just before this one. After roughly half an hour, the band leaves the stage, and by the end of the set it looks like the crowd also has had enough. People are either way too drunk or simply just too tired after three straight hardcore punk bands, who all tried their best to keep the mosh pit going strong. The level of energy is sky-high in all three shows, which is necessary for music like this, but it might have been slightly too late or perhaps just the wrong setting for this to be better than just mediocre. [6] RUB

FRIDAY

Skeletonwitch @ 14:00 on Pavilion

A fair amount of people have shown up despite the rather early slot for Skeletonwitch. The stage area is not full, but with music as fast, aggressive and brutal as theirs, it might just be what the crowd needs to wake up properly for the second last day of the festival. It is a Skeletonwitch with a brand new vocalist since 2016, when the original one Chance Garnette featuring his iconic massive spikes on both wrists left in 2015. The new singer, Adam Clemans, has a tough time waking up the tired crowd, however. The band still looks fresh and ready to rock, and the show doesn’t lack energy at first, since every member is banging their heads to the fast thrash beats.

Skeletonwitch trying to wake up a tired Roskilde crowd at the Pavilion stage

After a few tracks, the crowd seems slightly more awake. The thrashy, almost black metal styled rhythms continue to be a barrage of blistering metal, and it starts to rub off on the crowd, even though the longer bursts of energy are still a rare sight. By now it seems to be a mutual relationship between the band and the audience, because when the band display a mediocre level of energy, so does the crowd, and vice versa. It’s a shame because the intense music demands it. I for one was happy when “Beyond the Permafrost" aired, but overall, the set still didn’t end up being that high intense and energy fueled concert one would’ve hoped for. What could’ve been an absolute blast and a great way to kick-start the day, ended up being just ok. People just weren’t that much into it, even though I don’t think you can blame Skeletonwitch for trying. The last track “Beneath Dead Leaves" managed to pull off a small and short circle pit, but you’re still left with the feeling “this could’ve been so much better". [6½] RUB

Dead Cross @ 15:00 on Avalon

To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to expect with this one. This was both due to the fact that I have little to no previous knowledge of Dead Cross in advance of the set, but also because the band is fronted by a madman in heart and soul, the vocalist of Faith No More, Fantômas and of course the insane posse of Mr. Bungle, the one and only Mr. Mike Patton. Oh, and who could forget the legendary drummer of Slayer fame Dave Lombardo?

Right from the first blast of the drum kit, Patton is a freight train of insanity and energy on stage. The music is rather strange with punk, hardcore, thrash and grind elements mixed together, but manages to become intertwined in a vortex between the four musicians. The style combination might seem fairly strange, but to anyone with any knowledge about his musical persona should know what to expect. Patton’s voice still manages to reach both the level of a madman, a skilled clean vocalist and a roar best described as a death metal vocalist; it’s just superb. The instrumental side takes the audience on a journey through all these various styles of music, and you can hear both the droning and complex passages of Faith No More, which suddenly explode in a sea of shrieks, drums, bass and guitar, and of course the aggressive drumming of the older Slayer, but also the band of the remaining two members, Mike Crain and Justin Pearson, of Retox comes to mind.

Most of the set Patton presents him as an actual front man of the band, and therefore the one who truly shines. He has an effects table in front of him with two different microphones. It provides both distortion and strange noises, but the trademark shrieks and screams are still all Mr. Patton.

Mike Patton of Dead Cross looking in absolute top shape, as he gets the Avalon stage into full gear

A very good example of Patton’s insane mind is when he decides to have a dance-off with three different contestants he spots in the crowd: a “Visor-guy", a “Cartel-guy" and a “King Diamond/Viking metal-guy" – it’s just so jolly and strange. It all works and the entire crowd cheers loudly. The spectacle of insanity ends with a medley of Slayer’s “Reigning Blood" going into Faith No More’s “Epic" singing “yooooou waaant it aaaall, but you caaaan haaave iiiit", and then abruptly stops; resulting in huge grins by all of the band members. Eventually the lead singer of Touché Amoré Jeremy Bolm jumps on stage from the back area, and does a medley of “Nazi Punks F**k Off" by Dead Kennedys. This is simply just impressive showmanship, insanely well-crafted stage presence and all this by a band who only existed for three years. With the aggression of Slayer, the madness of Mr. Bungle, the complexity of Faith No More and the attitude of both Retox, but also one Henry Rollins, Dead Cross pulls off one hell of a show, and definitely one of the best at this year’s festival. It screams of both experience, ability and jolly good humor, and is delivered in an extremely tight and very crushing and confident manner. So, what could’ve been done better, you ask? A longer set, a bigger stage or something else, I’m not even sure, but I’m sure that I will be at the next Dead Cross show, where I simply just hope this absurd level of insanity can take the last step towards the top. [9] RUB

Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amoré as his usual energetic self

Touché Amoré @ 16:15 at Pavilion

California's emotional post-hardcore group Touché Amoré is the absolute number one on this year's Roskilde poster for me even though I have already seen them a number of times. Always an intense experience live, today is no exception as they burst through a great mix of songs mainly from their three latest albums. Their humble vocalist Jeremy Bolm has warmed up already as he has just been present on the neighboring Avalon stage for a song with Dead Cross and, as usual, he is the one carrying the crowd interaction while the rest of the band performs in a more introverted manner. A super dynamic quartet of "~", "Rapture", "Just Exist", and "Pathfinder" kick off the emotional set with plenty of fast beats and raging melodic guitars and while the tent is not exactly filled, up front the pit is moving and audience members are singing along and raising their hands in celebration of the relatable lyrics quite often. There's a good mix between older, shorter and more fast-hitting songs from their older material and then their mellow and more "normal-length" songs from the latest album "Stage Four". The following highlights are too many to count on this extremely well-put-together setlist but include the surprisingly open-sounding duo of "Flowers and You" and "New Halloween", the gut-wrenching "Method Act", the iconic "Praise / Love" bleeding into "Anyone / Anything", and finally a couple of personal favorites in the shape of the rhythmically insistent and slow "The Great Repetition" and "Art Official". The varied guitar work that infuses their songs with more depth than might be clear on one's first encounters with them is a bit muddled in the sound today but nevertheless, the energy gets across just as well as usual. Unfortunately, punk legends Descendents are overlapping with the end of this set and fans begin to seep out of the Pavilion tent to get ready for that on the neighboring Avalon stage. Nevertheless the emotional "Displacement" and the busy "Palm Dreams" continue making great impressions, followed by yet another iconic stretch of "Home Away From Here", "Amends" and finally the closer "Skyscraper" that ends the set in more subtle and delicate fashion while building up its crescendo from Bolm's uncommon singing voice to more piercing screams. Overall, Touché Amoré seem unable to disappoint live but everything considered, it's one of the least intense shows I've seen by them due to the scattered crowd and the high stage that don't allow them to be where they fit the very best: face to face and up close with their audience. [7] LL

Descendents @ 17:00 on Avalon

As usual, Roskilde Festival has booked one token punk band to represent an entire genre that is almost always otherwise completely neglected by their bookers. As such, the audience tonight is mostly Roskilde veterans and punk fans who broadly cross genres and styles, hardly a Descendents core audience, because what punk fan pays 2000 DKK to see these guys and Touché Amoré alone? That said, nothing can excuse the lack of effort and downright boring set that they delivered this afternoon, one that is not representative of what they are normally capable of. Despite a solid selection of punk classic ranging from their early work on “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up" through middle-era of “Everything Sucks" to the latest album “Hypercaffium Spazzinate" with a few ALL songs sandwiched in between, nothing at all is happening on stage. The band are standing still and barely moving, and look older than dinosaurs especially when vocalist Milo casually sips his coffee thermostat that’s hanging by his side throughout the show. There’s a small pit in the front, but otherwise it doesn’t look like Descendents are hitting it at all with the Roskilde crowd. Halfway through their set, they’ve managed around 14-15 songs and the set looks like it’s heading for a disaster. Fortunately, the overall experience is rescued by the likes of “Without Love", “Coffee Mug", “When I Get Old", “Coolidge", “Thank You" that finish off the 28-song set in solid fashion. Otherwise, Milo’s remarks about the lightning bulb next to their name on the schedule, referring to it as a ‘high-energy’ show feel almost comically ironic when you compare it to how the band actually looked like on stage. [6] PP

The Minds of 99's Niels Brandt getting some air time

The Minds of 99 @ 19:00 at Orange Stage

Earlier this year, the Danish post-punk-gone-electro-rock band The Minds of 99 won Gaffa's "Rock album of the year" for their release "Solkongen (Del 1)". Since then, part two has also been released, only adding more far-reaching hits to their discography. We get almost all of the tracks from that tonight, as well as the very best from their previous two records, and the grounds in front of the Orange Stage are covered in party-ready audience members who willingly dance and sing along to pretty much everything. Their signature red color for this album cycle shows from the very start as red smoke starts pouring from the speaker towers and the atmospheric and chill-inducing "Ud Af Min Krop" leads us into their universe. It's obvious from the beginning that the band is having a great time although it's hard to imagine anything being wilder than when they opened this very same stage in 2015. Nevertheless, they are smiles all over and especially the usually cynical-looking frontman Niels Brandt is being almost uncharacteristically happy and humble while he sharply sings his parts with the same grit as always. Their set is dynamically put together and one of the first notable breaks comes with the titular "Solkongen" which Brandt performs sitting on the edge of the stage before they take the tempo back and crank the bass way up for extra party-focused versions of "Til Dem" and "K Før Ærlighed". The dark and wobbly "Ubåd" makes a welcome appearance with full autotune effect for Brandt's voice, just as it should be, and a little while later, the new smash hit "Alle Skuffer Over Tid" receives a loud singalong from the crowd and gets wild as the group's guitarist bursts into his characteristic solo and then goes crowd surfing.

Niels Brandt against the slowly setting sun

Again, a kind of dynamic break is introduced as Brandt performs the newly released acoustic version of "Hurtige Hænder" solo, turning it into a communal celebration by asking for more of the audience in his monitor. A heart-melting moment comes and goes as he introduces a slight break after the sentences "Jeg elsker den måde, du er dig på / Bare jeg kendte dig" while nodding ever so slightly towards the crowd before everyone dives into the emotional chorus together. More than anything, this kind of captures the essence of the show tonight where it's obvious that The Minds of 99 have surely won the hearts of the Danish audience. "I'm Gonna Die", "Stor Som En Sol / Flad Som En Pandekage" with its R'n'B vibe, and the drum'n'bass-like "Rav" carry on the party again in each their own way while the bass rumbles on a bit too loudly now. Finally, we get the hit single "Stjerner På Himlen" that has come to signify an entire generation of youngsters and here Brandt goes for the old sit-down-and-jump-up technique that doesn't do much for an audience that is already jumping along happily. "Hjertet Følger Med" sweetly ends their set while big red balloons fly out above and carry us further towards sundown. In many ways, this Minds show is a weird kind of bittersweet victory as the aggressive and struggling energy that made them hit so sharply before has all but evaporated in the sun tonight. As a fan, though, it's great to see them play solidly and get the praise and celebration they deserve and this communal show at Orange Stage definitely does that. [8] LL

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds @ 22:00 at Orange Stage

The Australian singer-songwriter and rock legend Nick Cave had quite an amazing show at Royal Arena in Copenhagen last year and already he is back to take on the Orange Stage at Roskilde. And yet, while every person over the age of 40 that I have spoken to these past few months have eagerly told me to make sure that I go see him, the grounds are surprisingly not filled to the brim with people tonight. Perhaps understandably so, as he does stick to a setlist very much akin to the one he played through last year. There's a slow flow to the set, starting off with the somewhat subtle "Jesus Alone" where spoken word elements abound and it doesn't take long before Cave himself is off the stage and down by the barrier to face his audience. The equally new "Magneto" follows with a bit more energy before "Do You Love Me?" cranks up the rock and sees the very active band explode around Cave who is jumping and singing his heart out all over the stage. As a relatively new fan, I have mostly experienced his latest couple of albums that seem very focused on ballads so I'm eager to see more of the edge that I hear so much about whenever fans talk with reverence about Cave. The first highlight of the set arrives with "From Her To Eternity" that has an uneasy vibe that evolves into a cacophonic mess in the best possible way. Piano and a big xylophone join in and Warren Ellis looks just as wild as Cave as he plays his violin wilder than I have ever seen anyone do before. Cave is pacing the stage while his voice cracks spine-chillingly in the edges before ending the song while slamming the microphone into the stage on his knees looking completely tormented.

Nick Cave putting on his intense show. Photo credit: Steffen Jørgensen

"Loverman" and "Red Right Hand" get the best response of the entire set as the crowd audibly cheers from the first recognisable riffs and Cave is quick to pick up on this energy, handing his microphone to an audience member during the latter who proceeds to scream his lungs out for a sentence or two. Their stage setup is simple and effectful here as well with the video screen showing just a huge red draped backdrop, giving a semblance of being in a concert hall rather than a dirty outdoor festival. The audience, however, already seem way too drunk to deal with the bunch of slower ballads the band breaks out and especially during the beautiful "Into My Arms" with Cave by the grand piano and the atmospheric and mysterious "Girl In Amber", the loudness of people talking seems on par with the sound level of the music. It's a shame as Cave and his band really do their best on stage although Cave does seem more focused on interacting with the audience in the pit rather than attempting to command the entire crowd. As we return to more rhythmic and edgy songs, the talkative crowd is luckily drowned out and we get a chilling performance of "Tupelo" with a gorgeous video of a tropical storm in black and white, as well as the narratively focused and impactful "Stagger Lee" from their famous "Murder Ballads" album. After this, though, the set ends in an anticlimax with the admittedly beautiful ballad "Push the Sky Away" that, again, doesn't quite cast its spell on more than the very front part of the audience. It's still evident that Cave is a great performer and I'm entranced enough that I choose to skip an overlapping show that I was otherwise very keen on attending. If the conditions had been better and the band's focus wider, there's no doubt in my mind that we would have reached consistently magical levels but, alas, this Roskilde show remains "just" solid. [8] LL

Celeste — cyclopian post-metal?

Celeste @ 23:30 on Gloria

These French sludge/post-metal fusionists have been generating lots of buzz in recent years, though one suspects that much of the hype stems from the red headlights the four musicians wear as more or less the only source of light for their live performances. I have to admit: it looks cool and creates a terrifying vision of the future as the backdrop to Celeste’s post-metal monoliths — especially as the quartet understands not to headbang, but instead move in a slower fashion so as to send beams of red laser cutting through the audience. But at the same time, when I divert my focus from the visual to the aural aesthetic, I start wondering whether this cyclops effect might be a smokescreen obscuring the fact that Celeste’s music is, in fact, not very unique as far as post-metal goes. Indeed, if those headlights were stripped off the band, chances are that no one would bat an eyelid, given the saturation that has washed over the genre in recent years… which sounds harsher than it should, because Celeste does pull off the chugs and crescendos in convincing fashion most of the time. What is missing is for the songs to really transcend and thus leave a lasting impression; as it is, the evocative effect of the songs is merely fleeting. [5] AP

Myrkur @ 00:15 on Pavilion

Myrkur is back where it all began; the Danish black/folk metal artist played her very first show on this stage three years ago, and although I did not watch it (Paul McCartney played at the same time and was unmissable), word on the street was that it was disastrous. Not only was frontwoman Amalie Bruun nervous, the concert was also marred by sound issues, and from what I understand, both she and those who did attend it would prefer for it to be wiped from memory. Tonight she has the opportunity to redeem herself, and having long since established herself as an artist worthy of the hype on her two studio albums, 2015’s “M" and 2017’s “Mareridt", she seems completely at ease now in her “Black Swan"-inspired makeup and delicate, snow-white Vibe Johansson gown. Her choice of attire perfectly embodies the juxtaposition between darkness and light that is so central to songs like “Ulvinde" and “Måneblôt", a primal evil always seething just beneath her angelic singing and the vast, beautiful post-black metal soundscapes constructed by her band of session musicians. She is at ease, yes, but also radiating confidence — for the first time ever, she does not actually use the second microphone, which modulates her voice into an icy scream, opting instead to trust her vocal chords and delivering those screams without any sort of help. But this also means that the aforementioned “Ulvinde", for example, is delivered in a rendition devoid of screams — a sign, perhaps, of things to come when Myrkur eventually releases her third record?

Myrkur — the Black Swan

In general, the song choices as well as Bruun’s special take on some of them result in a lighter Myrkur experience than usual, which, one imagines, could be off-putting for some of the fans attending here. But it is difficult to chastise Myrkur for this decision, as the atmosphere and choreography of the show are so elegantly designed. One feels spellbound by this mysterious and alluring performance, which mostly finds Bruun singing to us from a fixed position looking more like classical singer than a black metal artist, while her hired guns headbang and swing their instruments around her. The contrast is striking — again reflecting the nature of Myrkur’s music — and one of the many reasons why the concert goes down as one of her best yet in my book. [8] AP

Watain @ 01:30 on Avalon

Persistent drought, which has brought virtually no rain to Zealand since early May, has forced the Danish authorities to implement a ban on open fire, including pyrotechnics. But that does not seem to concern Watain, who, true to tradition, begin their late night concert by setting nearly all of the iron cast upside down crosses, tridents and other Satanic iconography littered across the stage alight — and finish off with a veritable inferno as “The Serpent’s Chalice" (off 2007’s “Sworn to the Dark") brings the mass to an end. Indeed, black metal has always been about danger, controversy and extremity, and Watain embodies this spirit almost like no other. The trio, which swells into a quintet in the live setting by virtue of session bassist Alvaro Lillo and rhythm guitarist Hampus Eriksson, looks and sounds absolutely terrifying in their corpse paint and tattered black outfits, red lighting and the volume cranked to a deafening level, as they unleash cascades of diabolical tremolo melodies and blastbeats in the likes of “Nuclear Alchemy" and “Furor Diabolicus" (both taken from this year’s “Trident Wolf Eclipse") and command their audience with humbling imposition. There are times, when vocalist Erik Danielsson, lead guitarist Pell Forsberg and the aforementioned Lillo take up position at the very edge of the stage to glare at us with pure menace in their eyes, that seem to drive the audience into a downward glance — almost a bow of submission, which is then acknowledged by Danielsson’s spraying blood from a chalice onto the frontmost ranks. Watain know the crowd is in thrall of them, and with the power thus skewed in their favour, the band’s performance becomes more intense by the minute, reaching its climax during the classic “On Horns Impaled" off their début album from the turn of the millennium: “Rabid Death’s Curse". Based on this infernal séance, there is a lot to look forward to when Watain returns for a headlining concert in Copenhagen later this year. [8] AP

SATURDAY

CV Jørgensen @ 16:30 on Arena

As I arrive at the Arena stage after witnessing the powerhouse of Dead Cross, Arena is completely packed. By now, it is not possible to see the stage unless you truly want to take on the throngs of the audience in front of you. Having not seen this legendary Danish singer songwriter before, I wanted to make sure I got to see him this time around, since his songs are very warm and cozy, and especially his smash hit “Costa Del Sol" always springs to mind when someone mentions the artist.

CV Jørgensen

The concert was about as Danish folk-rock-ish as it gets. The artist and the backing band doesn’t move much, but you can really feel the emotion and poetry happening on stage. Not unlike other Danish singer songwriter Peter Sommer, also here at the festival, he manages to mesmerize the audience into a trance of cozy happiness, and Jørgensen does that very well. However, I must admit, there’s simply too many people here to truly enjoy it. One could only hope that people closer to the stage, or even just inside the pavilion, had a much better experience. I wouldn’t call it a scandal that he played this stage instead of the much bigger Orange stage, because people were singing and enjoying themselves, but it just strikes me as weird that he plays at this stage. Perhaps it was a personal choice, I’m not sure, but to me he should’ve played a bigger stage. That doesn’t seem to matter for Mr. Jørgensen or even the crowd closest to the stage, however, as they cheer loudly and are clapping to the rhythms of the songs. This artist is what Roskilde Festival is all about, because he’s a perfect musician to play here. Hopefully there will be a next time, and then I hope it will be on the massive Orange stage, because this is what the Orange feeling is all about. [7] RUB

Veto @ 19:00 at Arena

The Danish electro/indie-rock band Veto were all the rage when they broke through with the albums "There's A Beat In All Machines" and "Crushing Digits" back when I was in high school. Since then, though, they have been kind of under the radar, at least for me, before they broke out a new and more mellow indie sound on this year's "16 Colors". Today they play to a fairly crowded Arena tent but while I recognize a few songs here and there, their emotional indie rock washes over us with weirdly next to no impact. The audience, at least in my part of the tent, just stands around immersed in their own drunk groups and nobody seems to really move to or even be the least affected by anything before, finally, "You Say Yes, I Say Yes" kicks off their harder electro-style later in the set. While I already knew what kind of music to expect to be their focus, I find myself mostly just confused by the lack of emotional punch in their performance here and the contrast to their older hits seems very stark. It's odd as the band is playing everything just fine and are even accompanied by both strings and brass instruments on stage that provide extra layers and details to the sound. Any kind of energy that might have been built up during the day dissipates the longer I stay and I end up leaving, deciding to give the group a live chance some other time, preferably in a more intimate setting that I hope will do their new music more justice than this very mediocre experience. [4] LL

Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite in the haze

Scour @ 20:15 on Pavilion

The infamous Phil Anselmo and black metal, there’s something I thought I’d never see in the same sentence. But after listening to tracks from their two EPs “Grey" and “Red", I was instantly convinced that Scour really works. What’s better is that it also works live very well. On stage, the members of the band are preparing, perhaps because the tracks are so new, or maybe Phil just hasn’t memorized the lyrics yet, because the song book is with him on stage, which sparks laughs throughout the impressive crowd. It doesn’t matter, because when concert begins it ignites the crowd in a huge mosh pit. In fact, the crowd is rarely standing still throughout the entire concert, and neither am I, because god damn Scour are good tonight.

After each track, Phil hurls the text out in the crowd, and gets ready for the next one. Even though he occasionally glimpses at them, it still feels like he is present on stage. It quickly starts to feel like it’s just a small stage gimmick, because he occasionally screams directly into the liner notes at times, so you don’t really take any notice of it. The music is as fast and aggressive as you would expect of black metal. It is therefore a far cry from Pantera, and actually more in the vein of Anselmo’s other band, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, it sounds more like Anaal Nathrakh or Cattle Decapitation than anyone else since it just is that brutal.

There has been much talk over the past decade on whether Phil was sober or not, but he lets the audience know that albeit he is a little high, he is also sober. Whether this was actually the case doesn’t affect his performance because he is simply in top shape. He seems happy and fresh, and this might actually be the best I’ve seen him in years, maybe ever. The intensity of the pit never ceases, and the band delivers a smashing concert. People only seem to slow down in between the songs where Phil would make people laugh at something random. But he also takes his time to get more serious, as one would’ve expected given the recent events. Towards the end the music stops, and Phil gets serious: “Listen very closely – this is for Vince, I fucking love you, man!" as an intro for “Slaughtered", a very underrated Pantera song. People cheer and then just lose it in a massive pit. This is topped by “Strength Beyond Strength", another Pantera song, and actually one of my personal favorites. The mosh pit is insane as of now, and people are simply just flying all over.

The entire show was a very pleasant surprise. Not only was Anselmo fit for fight, but the band played tightly and managed to put on a show I won’t soon forget. The crowd deserves a shout out as well, because with the energy they produced in the many, many pits, one could simply just feel how they managed to send off horns and fists to Vinnie Paul, wherever he is now. What a performance.

[9] RUB

Mogwai @ 21:00 at Arena

The Scottish post-rockers of Mogwai constitute the highlight of this final day for me and thus it is only all the more annoying that everything is still only being set up as I arrive a few minutes ahead of time. Their banner is raised around the time they should begin, but it is still twenty minutes further before the classic "Mogwai Fear Satan" starts off what turns out to be a great but sadly shortened set. Four white screens are set up on the stage behind the musicians, presumably for glorious visuals, but they are never used for anything, as that part of the show seems to have just been skipped in order to not make it even later which is appreciated but also a bummer. All this is quickly forgotten as soon as they begin playing their intense music, going through a varied setlist that presents three songs from their latest album, "Every Country's Sun", plus a number of favorites from across their discography that are pretty much all iconic contributions. Stuart Braithwaite seems extraordinarily chipper and thanks us numerous times through the set with a smile although we, of course, don't get more crowd-interaction than that. There's a good deal of variation in their set as we move from the indie rock like "Party in the Dark" with hazy vocals provided by Braithwaite, on to the electronic "Remurdered" with its iconic main riff, and yet further to the piano-infused "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead". The latter is sadly disturbed in its serenity by loud bass from the Orange stage but luckily this is the only time during the set that this happens. The groovy and hypnotic "Rano Pano" then makes an appearance and gets the audience moving a bit before the newer atmospheric single "Coolverine" really cements the set, both of them exhibiting loud rumbling bass lines tonight. The more wobbly "Hunted by a Freak" then changes the direction of the sound once more, before the tighter and more aggressive noise rock song "Old Poisons" shakes things up towards the end. The extensive "My Father, My King" finally ends the set in hard-rocking and extravagant fashion. Throughout the set, the audience acts as exemplary curious music fans which is not exactly a given, especially not on this last evening of the Roskilde festival. All in all, then, the show turns out just as good as it should in spite of the technical problems to begin with. It's loud and melodic as well as fairly hard-rocking for a post-rock set and it certainly cements the group's status as one of the genre-defining bands of the genre, still more than 20 years after their formation. [8½] LL

Madball @ 23:30 on Arena

So, Madball at Arena was either going to be a stroke of genius or a very, very bad idea. Sadly, it was the latter. With roughly 500 people at the second biggest stage at Roskilde, it was just sad, not to mention embarrassing. Luckily, this didn’t stop the band from going freaking mental! Right from the first chords, the band is jumping around the stage and going absolutely insane. Of course, they mention the lack of people, but it is with a smile and a grin, and then continue to throw NYC-style hardcore in our faces with a ferocity rarely seen at this festival. With high intensity and plenty of energy, every member paces back and forth on the big stage. Especially lead singer Freddy Cricien manages to keep the tempo intact, which in itself is quite impressive when he is staring out onto so few people. It doesn’t seem to bother him as he flies across the stage, which showcases the wealth of experience this band has, especially live.

Freddy Cricien of Madball keeping the spirit of NYC hardcore very much alive!

In retrospective, this should’ve perhaps been a concert at either Avalon or even Pavilion, but with a legendary status that Madball has, who could’ve guessed it wouldn’t attract more people? What could’ve been a very flat and dull concert turned out to solid; as long as you don’t look back over your shoulder and realize the emptiness of Arena, that is. The present crowd still throws quite an impressive hardcore party, with everything taken into account, and I clearly wasn’t the only one who had a blast; which a quite big circle pit towards the end of the show is a testimony for. I’m quite certain this would’ve been even better at one of the smaller stages, but I was still very much entertained. [7½] RUB

De Underjordiske @ 01:00 on Avalon

This isn’t actually a review of Danish psychedelic rockers De Underjordiske. It is a review of them and their partners in crime Fribytterdrømme, who are probably also best described as a psychedelic rock band. They’ve teamed up to make a joint special appearance at the last spot on the Arena stage. First up is De Underjordiske. Considering the late timeslot on the last day, it is actually a pretty impressive turnout. The stage is bathed in smoke, acting like a carpet for the stage, and it looks very theatrical and of course psychedelic, to say the least. People seems to be in a great mood, and ready for this gig, and so does the band. They sway to the music and the entire band looks like they are feeling the music. Whether the tunes are slow and droning or energetic, they are either moving to the slow-paced rhythms or going crazy to the faster beats. The music is still very spacey and dreamy, and one can beyond a doubt smell the weed in the air; which, of course, is quite fitting for this kind of music.

Peter Kure of De Underjordiske bathed in a huge carpet of smoke

You get that special ‘70s heritage and psychedelic vibe and though the crowd is rather slow moving, or simply not moving at all, it doesn’t really matter because the music is still so intense and mesmerizing, so you don’t even notice it. One simply has to soak in the dense atmosphere present at a concert like this – no matter how.

Fribytterdrømme @ 01:00 on Avalon

I’m not really sure where to switch over to the review of Fribytterdrømme, because the transition is so smooth. Starting with lead singer Lau Ingemann Vinther Pedersen, every member casually enters the stage and starts jamming along with De Underjordiske. After a few tracks of De Underjordiske, all members of both bands are now on stage; counting 11 men strong. This transition is the reason why I chose to do the review of the two bands together, but at this special appearance, they seem like a single unit. It is all so progressive and droning, and one can really see the evolution of the show, therefore it didn’t seem appropriate to divide the review of the two more than this.

Now with four guitarists, two bassists, two drummers, two singers and a single keyboard player, the stage is now packed and ready to get this jam party into gear. To start things off they play a cover of TV-2’s “Hele Verden Fra Forstanden" (“The Whole World Gone Mad"), which ends up being a jam session between the two bands, but still manages to keep a sort of synchronized mutual understanding between the entire ensemble. As the show continue to progress the members of De Underjordiske slowly leave the stage to make room for Fribytterdrømme, which just underlines the flow and liquid feeling this special concert has been oozing of.

Fribytterdrømme

Towards the end, the crowd starts to thin out, but to be fair the concert has been pretty long by now. That doesn’t stop the band for giving it their final best, and it’s still a very impressive showcase. Peter Kure, the vocalist from De Underjordiske, even joins Fribytterdrømme on stage again for one of the final tracks, and we even see one of the members stage dive only playing cowbells! The show also includes a Slipknot/Frank Carter-styled demand for the remaining crowd to sit down, and jump back up on their command, which emphasizes how well this band, or rather these two bands perform live. For the encore, they re-enter the stage only to play one of Danish punk’s early bands Kliché’s immortal classic “Masselinjen" (which translates into something like “Mass Row"). With a single lyrical line repeated over and over again about Mao Tse-Tung's philosophy about the people. With that, the concert slowly fades out in the epicly droning track. After well over 2 hours, this impressive and special gig had come to an end. I would sincerely hope I get to witness this collaboration another time, but if this truly was a special one-off show, this would be a concert I’ll never forget, because it simply was that good, and definitely one of the top-highlights of the festival. It also served as a perfect way to end this year’s festival, and although I missed some bands this year, I still saw many absolutely amazing shows, so thank you for that, Roskilde, and we will see each other again next year. [9] RUB

SEE YOU IN 2019!

Final Words

And that’s it for this year’s Roskilde Festival reviews. As you can see, we had several live experiences in the “8-9 out of 10"-range among the 30 reviews above, mostly thanks to the booking of a bunch of solid live acts as well as generally good sound at the various shows we saw. The excellent sunny weather made sure that the fabled Orange Feeling arrived early and stuck with us for the duration of the most civilized Roskilde Festival we’ve had yet. Still, the huge sound systems especially prevalent in West and L areas of the camping site were just as menacing as they have been the last few years and it’s nice to see that special options like Silent & Clean as well as Clean Out Loud are expanding steadily as they become more and more popular among the Roskilde audience. Hopefully we’ll see this continue in the future.

Finally, the last words of the article will be in our traditional The Good, The Bad, The Ugly format which summarizes the whole experience. See you all next year! /LL

THE GOOD

  • All toilets were flushable toilets this year - so civilized!
  • Cashless festival means reduced queues at the various booths
  • Great and varied food options as usual
  • New routes to Orange Stage were a much needed addition
  • The Trump Wall exhibit was impressive
  • The festival is still a glorious exhibit of vibrant culture, unique arts, events, and ‘more than music’
  • The area around Arena expanded with even more options than before

THE BAD

  • Still a way too prevalent sight with people tossing their more or less full beer cups into the crowd - we even saw a cup of strawberry daiquiri being tossed at one show. It would be great to see the festival take a stand on this going forward
  • The festival area looks like trash too quickly because the pant system isn’t working as intended - one suggestion would be to learn from Copenhell this year and increase the pant to 5 DKK at the festival area, and perhaps even cap it at 10 returned cups in total to remove the pant collectors from the festival area
  • The dust effect was really bad, especially on nights with no wind
  • There were too few water points apparent on the festival site itself making them hard to find
  • Quite a disappointing lineup for fans of rock and metal this year
  • The Grandstand by Orange Stage is close to gone now although replaced with new setups

THE UGLY

  • Nothing major to report on, for once!

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