Roskilde Festival 2019

author LL date 17/07/19

Oh, Roskilde Festival, the week-long challenge of surviving campsite chaos well enough to actually be capable of watching bands for four long days and nights. This year the biggest Danish festival celebrates its 49th edition at Dyrskuepladsen near Roskilde and we are covering it once again. Several changes have been made for the festival and camping areas this year, most notably the Avalon and Apollo stages have been moved around, and a whole new Central Park area has been created to integrate the camping and festival areas almost seamlessly (more on that below). You might have also heard of the new pant system with reusable plastic cups that has been introduced this year as well as a new chip in everyone's wristbands to be used for storing pant money and other functions. Finally, sustainability and cleaning up has been front and center for the festival's promotion as well, this year expanding the various designated Clean areas of the camping site once again. /LL

All photos by Peter Troest unless otherwise noted

The campsite showing off its good side


This year's poster

As Roskilde lineups go, the one this year sticks to the development of last year where the metalheads and rock fans might not see as many big names up there as they would like to. We have Bring Me The Horizon, Bob Dylan, The Cure, and Vampire Weekend that qualify on the Orange Stage but that's as much as it gets and even then its a bit of a stretch with at least one of them. And yet, there are a bunch of solid names celebrating the old days and making the trip entirely worth it such as Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters who will cover some Led Zeppelin songs, Philip Anselmo and the Illegals doing a Pantera set, and Johnny Marr also performing covers of The Smiths. For the more hardcore audience there's also Behemoth, Testament, Converge, Misery Index, Power Trip, Baest, Cult Leader, La Dispute, Petrol Girls, The Armed, Whores., Crack Cloud, Pardans, Heave Blood and Die, Shame, Amyl & the Sniffers, and Fontaines D.C., not to mention a rare Full of Hell x the body set to witness. Personally, I am also very much looking forward to some Danish rock in the shape of Speaker Bite Me and Baby In Vain, the latter of which will perform with the modernist ballet dancers of Corpus. In addition to all this, there are countless indie, psych, and electronic rock names bordering into pop territory as well as numerous singer-songwriters. /LL


Festival guests eating in front of the Rising stage


As mentioned at the beginning, this year a new Central Park area has been introduced, around the Countdown stage. As far as I can model it in my brain, this area cuts into the old festival area in front of the Orange stage and thus leaves more space for campers outside. During the festival days, four gates are easily set up around the area for entrances and as far as I can tell, it works like a dream. As per usual, there is also a lot of stuff happening around the campsite during the warm-up days. The Rising stage in West and the Countdown stage in East are still a thing, as well as the Flokkr tent being used for both performances and talks in East City. This year the Niels Bohr science institute has also been invited and have their own science tent at the festival, for instance hosting a workshop where guests can build their own little solar panel and then bring it to their camp for free charging. There are litterature happenings, a twerk workshop, sports, whacky Dream City events, and of course huge stereos galore that have the party going all night especially in West. /LL

One of the trashy parts of the campsite


The designated Clean areas like Clean Out Loud and Silent And Clean have been expanded again this year, as the festival is chipping away at the bad reputation the campsite has gathered over the years. In these days of environmental awareness there's a clear focus on cleaning up and reducing waste, so much so that it comes off as very parental and almost scolding. There are banners in many places and not least "clean up after yourself" reminders running on the Orange and Arena stage screens so often that it becomes a nuisance. Perhaps someone imagined that the teenagers barely out of school need this style of communication but I can't imagine it will make a difference with anyone here. /LL


Another focus is a "Let's talk about yes" campaign that has interviewers casually walking around the campsite and striking up conversations with the camping guests about consent. It ties in neatly with artist interviews about consent and feeling safe that the festival has released on its social media accounts as well, and really seems to get some good talks started among attendees. And yet, we know that the festival has experienced a doubling in reports about violence this year, so there's still work to do, but it feels like getting these subjects on the agenda amongst everyone is a great place to focus. As someone in my friend's camp mentioned, there's no choice but to put your trust in everyone around you at a place like Roskilde Festival where we live door to door in unlockable tents, and it feels all the greater when that trust is repaid. /LL


Good old Pavilion stage next to the Gutter Island Bar


The festival area this year is not quite the same as last year, although no stages have been changed as such. They have just been moved around. Whereas the Pavilion and Avalon stages where to the left of Orange stage last year, the Avalon stage has been moved to an entirely new area right of the Orange stage instead. Furthermore, the Apollo stage has been moved to Avalon's spot to make space for the Central Park area and more camping (a map can be seen here). It works well, and each stage feels defined in its own way. Avalon is still looking great with its hanging, red, theater-like decorations although the balconies are gone; Pavilion is simple but gains identity from a great and special lighting setup (see for instance our photo of Fontaines D.C. further down); Apollo has been shielded by a bunch of shipping containers that give it a very industrial feel that supports its mostly electronic artists well; Gloria is keeping its magical lighting design; Arena remains Arena but is lacking any decor this year; and finally, of course, the Orange stage lies at the center in all its glory. /LL

Relaxing in the Ambereum area


In addition to the stages, a club like setting called Ambereum has been set up in all orange and amber colours, recalling old Greek temples as well as, of course, the Orange feeling. It is opposite the food court and has plenty of chillout spaces and is used for talks and performances during the day as well as raves in the night. A see-through dome called House of Chroma has also made its entry this year, used for talks and art happenings. /LL


Other than those, the festival area feels more and more streamlined and this year it is actually possible to walk straight from Arena to Pavilion without having to find a way through the crowds gathered in front of the Orange stage all the time. Another sweet invention is the pit wristbands that were also in use last year and that can be picked up from 10 am each day. There's still a so-called 'chance queue' option for each Orange stage show, but it is so good to be able to walk right in for your favorite band instead of having to lie in wait for hours and hours, thus missing half what you wanted to see that day. /LL

Eating festival guests seeking shelter for the rain


There's a host of eating and drinking options around the festival, and it seems to me the food court has actually expanded to the area outside as well. Mainstays like Meyers, Hjaltes, Skiburger, Spaghetti, Gutter Island, Gringo Bar, and Stengade are still around and joined by all sorts of eco cocktails, craft beer barns, wine bars, and all the manners of cakes and snacks you can imagine. This year, Roskilde Festival has even made an Orange Tuborg beer with notes of citrus. In keeping with their environmentally friendly image, every stall should be able to offer a vegan or vegetarian alternative, there's a requirement of the food to be at least 90% ecological, and most food stalls also have a print out of the CO2 footprint of each dish they serve. Festival food has indeed become almost gourmet compared to older times. /LL


This year, a new sort of pant system has been introduced along with new reusable cups made of hard plastic. You pay 5 DKK for a cup when you buy your drink, and then you can exchange it and avoid paying the fee when you go to the bar for a new drink. In theory a fine idea, but as always, it seems, with systems like this, there's rampant confusion among the people manning the various stalls at the festival. For instance, I encountered not being able to change a beer cup for a cocktail cup, not being able to do it at all, as well as the fact that you can only hand in 1 at a time at the bars. That doesn't work very well, when you have suddenly gathered 3 from buying for friends for instance. In addition, the actual refund places were sometimes arbitrarily closed shut with nobody working around being able to tell you why. Also, the refund of everything not being switched is just 1 DKK which doesn't quite add up to the 5 DKK or more that you would pay for a cup or not least a pitcher. It resulted in pant collectors being very present everywhere as per usual, and the audience only semi-understanding the system. I hear the spokesperson of the festival has explained this 4 DKK difference as not a pant system but "an investment in sustainability". Go figure. /LL

The big "ME WE" sign at the open space opposite the Orange stage


The continued focus on sociopolitical issues is still present at Roskilde Festival. I noticed the huge "ME WE" sign at the free space at the back of the Orange stage area. This made me reflect about how the entire Roskilde Festival community should stay a community and a communion with emphasis on all the important subjects such as climate and sustainability, and of course the participants of the festival who, when combined, all make up the very core of what the festival is about. The festival should continue with its focus on all these important matters that have put Roskilde Festival on the map during the years. The festival-goers as well should keep this in mind. As a participant of Roskilde Festival, you’re part of a greater good, and as such we should try and think more like a collective unit. How I interpret this is that we - both the guests and the group behind the festival - should continue to evolve and develop these aspects of the festival, so we in collaboration as well as on our own can get even better with all those important matters at hand, and continue to make Roskilde Festival more than music. /RUB

Late night magic vibe in the rain



Arre! Arre!

Arre! Arre! @ 15:30 on Rising

This Swedish riot grrrl group sounded good to me on paper as well as on record so I have decided to let them be the first band of my Roskilde experience this year. There's a mighty wind blowing, though, and along with the vocals being low in the mix, it doesn't provide them with a great start. Their rock songs have a nice mix of surf, punk, and math riffs, and the guitars soon turn out to be the clear high-point of their performance. Especially during their uptempo song "Anthem" 20 minutes in, we are treated to some tight instrumentals. The women of the band take turns singing and stick to a clear punk aesthetic where nothing is meant to sound too pretty. Annoyingly, though, none of them have a voice that can really carry this attitude, and it only becomes worse through the set as one lets us know she is forgetting the lyrics and their crowd interaction remains sloppy and oddly arrogant. This is coupled with their increasing borrowing of vocal hooks like the Fugees "Ready or not, here we come, you can't hide" in "We're Gonna Find U" and Daphne and Celeste's "U. G. L. Y., you ain't got no alibi, you ugly", a "Who run the world? Girls!" session backed with marching drums, as well as cheekily letting the riff from "Breaking the Law" carry another of their songs. For me, it only spirals downwards throughout the set, although the riffs are redeeming and the small crowd gathered all the way up front are jumping and seemingly having a great afternoon. [5] LL


Konvent @ 18:30 on Rising

Reminiscent of last year’s Dirt Forge concert at the Rising stage, this Danish doom band takes to the stage drenched in sun, not the best setting for that particular genre. The crowd is rather diminutive which might be indicative of not too many of the guests during the warm-up days being familiar with doom, let alone a young band in the genre. This is my 5th or 6th time seeing Konvent in the last 18 months so everything is familiar territory to me, including the mainstay intro song, "Chernobyl Child". It immediately strikes me how confident all the band members look, especially looking back at the first time I saw them at one of their very first shows at Aalborg Metal Festival in 2017. After "Chernobyl Child" and "Tracks" from their first EP, there is a slew of new tracks that demonstrate a young band that has developed into a more mature one with more complex songs. During one of the songs, they are joined on stage by Tue Krebs Roikjer from their fellow Danish metal band Morild. This adds a nice change of pace and he adds even more energy to lead singer Rikke Emilie List’s already dynamic and impressive performance.


Throughout the show, the crowd has gotten progressively larger and there is much slow headbanging around. A lot of people seem to really enjoy the show but some seem put off by the sheer heaviness and the growling. After parading six new songs which I expect will be included on their forthcoming album, they finish off strong with "Squares" from their EP. [7] TK

After the show I catch up with the entire band for a short conversation in which they talk about the journey they have been on in the last two years and how they have improved both as musicians and performers. On their forthcoming album they remark: "It was two hard weeks in the studio. Everything was recorded live and the energy that comes from that is awesome. Furthermore, that process brought us closer together and gave us a chance to experiment. We have moved from a very minimalistic EP to a more layered album with a higher degree of complexity." And what does the future hold for Konvent? "Singles from the new album will be released in the fall and there will be touring in Europe and, of course, a release show for the upcoming album."


Wall of death for Xenoblight - photo by Jacob Dinesen

Xenoblight @ 23:00 on Rising

The Silkeborg-based extreme metallers Xenoblight have been doing a certified victory round lately, not least after they won the local Wacken Metal Battle of 2018. Roskilde has graciously granted them a perfect late-night spot at the Rising stage and sure enough, metallers and curious newcomers have gathered in great numbers to witness the mayhem. Rain has been threatening all day and black clouds roll in over the still semi-light sky as he band takes to the stage. They start of somberly but soon kick into gear and it only takes about four minutes before the first crowdsurfer appears, unable to resist the solid guitar riffs and thundering drums. They are clearly a no-nonsense band and throw themselves into their songs with great energy instead of wasting time on various crowd-control antics. At the same time, they are backed by a great lightshow, and as the rain falls, the strobes illuminate everything in flashes pretty much resembling lighting. Their front woman Marika Hyldmar has been hailed as a beast by several people in my social circles and indeed, she paces the stage while letting loose deep growls and rabid screams. The vocals are kind of low in the mix at first but through the set they are turned up and Hyldmar keeps impressing with one song sounding more furious and deep than the next. They get circle pits as well as a wall of death almost all the way from the stage to the sound tent and everywhere else, the crowd are banging their heads. As metal-shows at Roskilde Festival go, this is one to remember and it certainly proves another victory for the band. [8½] LL



Alkymist @ 17:00 on Rising

Normally, I'm not one for doom metal. Alkymist, however, have lured me in this past year because they are just so damn good at setting the most crushingly dark moods along with some absolutely tormenting lyrics. This makes it all the more painful that they are going to play on a sunny afternoon, especially as the horrible introducer makes yet another blunder and cheerfully rubs it in by telling us to just imagine that it's 3 am, dark, and cold. Luckily for everyone, the band members are experienced musicians and they walk right in and slam their songs in our faces in spite of everything. As their rock solid riffs and hammering drums pull us in, they are half-hidden in sunglasses and haze on the stage, and it's clear that parts of the audience here do not have the patience for this kind of show at this hour. Unapologetically and with immense confidence, they let each slow note ring out and for those of us willing to let everything take its time, the coldness of the music turns into a fire-hot smoldering of the circlings riffs and crushing atmospheres. Especially the opening "Myling" with it's relentless "I deserve... to leave this world" that sets the tone for the set, and "Paradise" with its downwards melody and riffs serve to pull us down with the band into a painful world of no hope at all. And yet, it's hard to remain there as the light keeps illuminating our surroundings and reminding us where we are. Towards the end, the eerie "Ghost" momentarily captivates us as well, and in the end it is indeed a solid set with a good sound mix to boot, but unfortunately not the magical one it could have been with better placement. [7½] LL


Ulver @ 18:30 on Pavilion

I know little about this next band. Only the fact that they used to play black metal and for that, colour me intrigued. As ambience fills the venue, I try to brace myself. Guitarist, and newest addition Stian Westerhus enters the stage, but instead of a regular pick he plays with a violin bow; still very intrigued. As the stage is bathed in red light and smoke, the remainder of the band enters as well. As the first song, a very slow-building piece with clean vocals, gets underway, I have a hard time picturing this band playing metal, let alone black metal, as this track reminds me much more of bands such as Depeche Mode. Elements of ambient, electronic and perhaps above all avantgarde genres spring to mind, but when it’s coupled with as much energy as this is, it would seem like every song has a certain theme to it. It is very atmospheric and chilled and definitely underlines the "…once were a metal band" described in the festival program.


As the music evolves, it gets more experimental and droning, and bands such as the Icelandic Solstafír and even Pink Floyd come to mind. With backdrops mimicking all from lyrics to figures of Space Invaders and even mixed with purple lasers, there’s always something spectacular to keep your mind focused on apart from the captivating music. My initial hope for at least a taste of metal vanes as the show progresses, but I don’t really care by now as the atmosphere is so absorbing. So, what makes a band change so radically in sound? I mean, you can still hear some of the roots of Opeth’s music under the many layers of organs and progressive songwriting. I don’t know the answer to this for Ulver specifically, but I’m still struck with a rare awe towards this band, which I have never seen and quite possibly haven’t actually heard (much of) on record. You get the feeling that something is lurking underneath their impressive soundscape. And although it all sounds so pretty to a seasoned metalhead such as myself, I still find myself very much intrigued throughout the entire gig. Even though the crowd starts to thin out during the end of the long and droning song towards the end of the more-than-an-hour-long set, a large part of the audience continues to stick around. Everyone from brightly clothed people to the black metal shirt-wearing ones are here. And for what? A clear mix of genres and styles neatly woven together for something special. Not magnificent, but special. But can you just imagine this at 1 am? That must be quite the spectacle. [8] RUB

Bob Dylan with his band @ 20:00 on Orange Stage

In itself, it's awe-inspiring to consider that the grey-haired man behind the piano here and now is playing songs to us that are spanning 50 years of material. There's no denying that he is one of the very biggest names in rock history as well as on the Roskilde Festival poster this year, and of course, the huge crowd here only serves to underline that. I have never seen him perform before but have heard both good and bad stories from people who have, and I simply have not known what to expect. Happily, we have a seemingly good-spirited Bob Dylan before us today, smiling and looking like he's actually having fun playing with his band, occasionally getting up to play his harmonica and taking little bows. After a while, though, he has managed to play "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Highway 61 Revisited" as well as a bunch of newer songs from the 90's, 00's, and even 10's, and made every one of them sound like the same blur of toothless and somewhat bluesy rock'n'roll.

Bob Dylan and his band - photo by Steffen Jørgensen

I am aware that he has a habit of changing up his songs, modernizing them and whatnot, but just a tiny bit of variation in style would really be refreshing. His talking-style vocals go on and on but back in the day, he certainly had much more melody in his voice as well. It's disappointing, to say the least, to see him sitting there with a crooked smile as if he is defiantly attempting to undo these iconic songs. Changing iconic songs can definitely work (just take a look at our Robert Plant review further down) but when I suddenly discover after 45 minutes that he has begun playing "Like A Rolling Stone" as well without the slightest change in instrumentation or style, I almost give up. His band plays well and of course they have a great groove going, but it’s just not as interesting as his legendary status would indicate. "Girl from the North Country" does come out as a soft, somewhat emotional ballad a little later, but honestly, nothing of significance happens until he ends 1½ hours later. [4] LL

Fontaines D.C.

Fontaines D.C. @ 22:00 on Pavilion

This UK post-punk group have only been releasing things since last year but with their connection to amazing live bands like Idles, Shame, and Viagra Boys, who have all played Roskilde Festival previously, I decide that they're worth checking out. To begin with, their apathetic style of music is nicely contrasted with the constant Ian Curtis-like pacing and odd hand-flapping of their lead singer and the music rumbles on in a certain punkish but groovy manner. Their very British enunciation and repetition of sentences makes me catch on to songs like "Hurricane Laughter" and "Chequeless Reckless" that appear early in the set and really gets the energy going. The guitar riffs break the mold at just the right times and they sprinkle some songs with more ballad-like qualities over their set for variation as well. Especially "Television Screens" with its twinkly and lighter atmosphere makes a great impression here. And yet, after a while the energy sort of fizzles out instead of culminating in a burst. It's still a very welcome break after the frustrating display at the Orange stage before, but it doesn't pick me up as much as I was hoping it would. [6½] LL

Power Trip @ 23:30 on Avalon

I know for a fact that the name Power Trip isn’t just one picked at random, since this crossover thrash band from Texas packs plenty of energy in their songs – and as I am about to find out, they also do so in their live performance. From the very first moment, the entire front area is just a vortex of legs, arms, and horns. Their thrashy hardcore style ensures that the pit stays at a constant level for the remainder of the concert. Lead singer Riley Gale even throws in plenty of humour: "I appreciate y’all being here since Cardi B is playing!", which sparks plenty of laughs around the crowd. The rhythm and beats of the songs are easily digested for the most part and instead the songs rely heavily on the atmosphere created by Gale thanks to plenty of interaction with the audience.

Riley Gale of Power Trip

The breakdowns and intense power are delivered close to perfection as the gig nears the end, and it is somehow difficult to put a finger on what exactly it is that makes it so good. Everything from the energy, the atmosphere, and the way Power Trip manages to make it all sound so good! As already stated the pit keeps growing and growing, and as the set nears the end I simply can’t resist anymore. I simply HAVE to participate, and this is where it gets interesting. I have been in quite a lot of pits in my life, but I have a hard time remembering when I have had as much fun as I did in this one. The circle pit was packed with such a good mood and great attitudes while it kept on going ‘round and ‘round, and hands down this experience might have earned them a whole extra grade. Gale concludes the set with an extra energy-starter: "Fist in the air – now pump it!" – as if there’s no way to make these Texans tired. This is a band you have to see live. Period. [9] RUB


Testament @ 16:00 on Arena

Finally! I’m about to see Testament again. Their album "The Formation of Damnation" is still one of my favourites and contains so much thrash metal power that few has managed to put out something of the same magnitude. As for the concert, it has some minor hiccups with the vocals in the beginning, both for lead singer Chuck Billy and the backing for that matter. The Arena stage is packed but doesn’t quite reach beyond the canopy. Starting things off with a few tracks from their latest outing from 2016, "Brotherhood of the Snake", the crowd is easily entertained and ready to throw a thrash metal party. When we’re taken back to the former album with "More Than Meets the Eye", the front pit where I’m standing seems up and ready for this early afternoon gig, and even a pretty massive circle pit is formed here too. After a few songs the band seems warm and clearly wants to join in making this grey, dull and rainy Thursday a little better. Old classics such as "D.M.R", "The Preacher", "Into the Pit" and even "Low", which is announced as the first time ever played in this part of Europe, makes sure that the die-hard fans don’t go hungry either.

Chuck Billy of Testament

As the gig is well underway, it’s clear to me that this will be a concert to remember as the band seems in top shape and when they play as tight as this bunch, it’s hard not to be amazed with their prowess. Both Hoglan on drums, Skolnick and Peterson on guitars, DiGiorgio on bass and of course Billy on the vocals, they all manage to pull this one off carrying the 80’s thrash metal flag high and proud. And even though the concert might be slightly hurt by the "standardized routine" as it is the end of their tour, ending the set with "Practice What You Preach" and of course "The Formation of Damnation" ensures that Testament delivers yet another rock-solid concert with a setlist sporting no less than 15 songs – although Billy kept referring to Copenhagen instead of Roskilde. [8] RUB

Cult Leader @ 18:30 on Gloria

Ok, Gloria is probably not the ideal spot for the chaos that is Cult Leader – or is it? I end up standing in line just to get inside the venue, which makes me miss the first few songs. Some 8 minutes later I am in, but sadly only on the very edge on the left side of the stage, but it still means I can witness this insanity. This time around, the insanity doesn’t come as much from the crowd as from the band. Not that the crowd isn’t trying, but since it is so packed, there simply isn’t room for much movement except for the raised horns which are soaring above everyone’s heads. The band on the other hand is, simply put, insane! Not in the way Power Trip was as this is a very different kind of madness and chaos. They have a huge and gloomy backdrop, which helps keep the atmosphere both dense and intense in the dark and clutch space. This suits a band such as Cult Leader perfectly as their entire image oozes of darkness, apart for when they resign to quieter passages and give room for Anthony Lucero on the vocals to sing some softer tunes. This, of course, is in great contrast to how insane and chaotic they generally are, but just makes it stand out all the more.

Anthony Lucero of Cult Leader

The chaos eventually returns in full force and as the stage is bathed in red light, blast beats and demonic snarls from Lucero send the crowd into a strange trance-like frenzy. I say "trance-like" because people are stuck in the same place banging their heads and simply stunned by the sheer force of the music. But wait, a small and dedicated group manages to start a mosh pit inside Gloria, which in itself is a rather impressive feat. This is only possible since some parts of the crowd has left through the show, leaving only the die-hard metal fans, but it is still very packed. The bass and drums are simply so heavy and loud that I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the very front feel sick to their stomachs and have to leave on that account. Not unlike the Danes in Hexis, who did something similar back when they played this festival a few years ago, Cult Leader brings the utterly impressive chaos to Roskilde. With the raging wind just outside, the crowd present at the Gloria stage is experiencing a different storm. One which people will be talking about for years to come, I’m certain. [9] RUB

Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters @ 21:00 on Arena

Quite surprisingly, at least to yours truly, this next gig is on Arena. I would’ve thought a legend and very unique and recognizable voice such as the one I am about to witness, should be playing the Orange stage. And judging by the impressive amount of people who have turned up, perhaps it indeed should’ve been. Anyway, on to the concert. I’ll be frank, my knowledge of Led Zeppelin is limited to the big hits and a few others besides that, and my knowledge of Robert Plant’s own songs is nonexistent. Nevertheless, I am eagerly awaiting the appearance of the one and only voice of Led Zeppelin. Much like the setup of Roger Waters with band, Plant is stationed center-stage and right from the start, you can easily recognise his voice as still being very potent and powerful despite him being a whopping 70 years old. This, of course, turns the huge crowd electric. Even when the lesser known (judging from the response from the crowd here) songs are aired in the beginning, the audience still cheer loudly and rock to the beats. They are clearly very blues and country inspired and give plenty of room for lengthier jams, sweet guitar licks, and tambourine by Plant himself. But this isn’t enough for Plant. "Roskilde, turn it up", he yells to loud cheers during the second song "Turn it Up". Already on song number three, we see a return to perhaps one of the biggest and best known Led Zeppelin songs in "Black Dog". Just hearing the easily distinguishable "Hey, hey mama" should be enough to send shivers down even the most seasoned rocker’s spine. But sadly, my hopes and dreams stops there, because it becomes a strange semi-cover song, where Plant is leaving out the equally distinguishable electric guitar and replacing it with a more blues-oriented version of acoustic guitar and plenty of organ jams and solos. I am well aware of how this is not Led Zeppelin, but I cannot be the only one thinking that we would rather see something closer to the original version. Don’t get me wrong, it is still great, especially considering that Plant’s voice is still as insanely charismatic as it was decades ago, but it just could’ve been so much better in my book.

Robert Plant - photo by Jacob Dinesen

What the crowd gets instead, is a very beautiful Robert Plant concert. With violin, Spanish guitar, and various keys, the music transcends into something otherworldly. This is, of course, mostly used during the plenty of solos where the band members are able to put their own touch on the many cover tracks, but even if you aren’t familiar with some of them, this makes them very much enjoyable. So is the entire soundscape which is really immense, thanks to the many different instruments, and it seems like new details are always emerging and new sounds appear to be noticed. After yet another lengthy instrumental section, we get "Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You", another great Led Zeppelin track, which in fact is another cover song. This time around, however, it resembles the original version much more thanks to the Spanish guitar. As "Little Maggie" is aired the crowd now transcends far beyond the edge of the canopy, which just underlines how much of a headliner this actually is. I was hoping for a more 50/50-orientated setlist with more Led Zeppelin songs, but it’s always hard and very difficult when you’re revered for a different band than the one you currently play in. Many of the songs aired from his solo project are good, but to me it isn’t close to "Communication Breakdown", "Whole Lotta Love" or "Kashmir", which sadly aren’t aired this evening. People next to me seem to think this is quite the magical experience. To me, it is still good, just a bit closer to earth than to heaven. [7½] RUB

La Dispute

La Dispute @ 22:00 on Pavilion

One of the top names for me this year is definitely the post-hardcore group La Dispute. Lately, not least on their new album "Panorama", they have started to evolve into much more than "just" the talky hardcore band they once was, and tonight we get a stellar set of many nuances and atmospheres. They start off with the emotional "Fulton Street I" and "Fulton Street II", and as their vocalist Jordan Dreyer breaks sentences like "Will I ever be half what I can be? Could I even be half of what you need?" and "I was waiting for the anger to change!", the die-hard fans up front are already jumping and singing along while pointing their fingers to the ceiling. While the Pavilion floor is not filled at all as they take the stage, it soon becomes more crowded as people take shelter from the relentless rain outside. It's a weird mix of people that come and go but nevertheless, heads are moving in time to the music whenever I look around me in the tent.

La Dispute

"First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice" provides us with a new classic before we are taken back to an older album with the trio of the fast and mathy "The Castle Builders", "Sad Prayers for Guilty Bodies", and the superior "New Storms for Older Lovers" that makes for a highlight of the set. When Dreyer is not running in place on the stage or playing the tambourine, he is down by the crowd and he is also smilingly threatening that he will "fall off the stage at some point tonight" to prepare the crowd although he never actually does. Come "Harder Harmonies" he is down shoving his microphone into the crowd for the fans to sing along and it only serves to rally the crowd for the last part of the show. The ballads that are spread around the set, such as "View From Our Bedroom Window", "Woman (In Mirror)", and "Rhodonite and Grief", help to pace the show and along with additional shakers, tambourine, toms, and trumpet-playing, La Dispute show themselves as an interesting and diverse band with a rich back catalogue already. Finally, "For Mayor in Splitsville" and "You and I in Unison" make for an explosive ending of a set that only makes me want to see the band again. [9] LL

Full of Hell x the body

Full of Hell & the body @ 02:00 on Pavilion

What do you get when you combine a grindcore band, a doom band of sorts, and a few hundred bleary-eyed, stubborn festival-goers at 2 in the morning? Madness and an experience few of the people there will ever forget, despite being inebriated and/or dead-tired. I myself have struggled to stay awake for this one and looking around at the few people that have stumbled into the Pavilion stage, I am not the only one. Like myself, I expect many of them have stopped drinking beer hours ago to pace themselves for this. I talk to a few people before the show, polling them informally on what they expect. "Something weird" seems to be the common theme. We all get a chance to see the two bands setting up and it is obvious that the stage is set for a battle. Each band takes up one side of the stage and then face the other, as if ready to collide in the middle of everything.

Full of Hell x the body

Without preamble, buttons are pressed and the electronic rumblings of The Body emanate from the sound system. After a while the screaming starts and then it gets weird and I am reminded of the late great Hunter S. Thompson quote: "When the weird gets going, the weird turns pro". Amidst all the chaos of grindcore and doom, it is obvious that we are dealing with dedicated and accomplished musicians, who are ready and willing to do their own thing at any cost and go that extra musical mile of mayhem and pandemonium. Is it good? Well, it is interesting, that’s for sure. Do I enjoy it? Yes, very. Will I recommend it to all my friends? Yes, but it won’t be for everybody. It is not an easy show to behold and it sure as hell ain’t pretty. But I urge you to go see this constellation if you ever get the chance. It is really something. [7] TK


Bring Me The Horizon

Bring Me The Horizon @ 16:00 on Orange Stage

UK's self styled bastards of metalcore played the Arena stage the last time they were at Roskilde Festival a few years ago and while they drummed up a party there, I have been wondering how on earth they will deal with the huge Orange stage. The answer is: with a full set of dancers in masks and percussionists like they were trying to be a poor man's Slipknot, a huge video screen with ridiculous visuals, plenty of CO2 cannons and fire-shooting guns, and seemingly not a care in the world for the integrity of their songs. Now, I already knew ahead of time that they would only be playing songs from their three most recent albums as their heavier days are way behind them, and I did not even hate their recent fan-dividing pop album "amo" that much. I just can't accept the blatant laziness of their infamous lead singer Oli Sykes when he's on stage. Half the time, he's pointing the microphone towards the crowd while not singing the most iconic choruses that we are here to hear. Instead, they increasingly opt for a massive backtrack to fill out his vocal duties, and this coupled with his crybaby demands about circle pits, "otherwise I'm gonna get very upset", is just ridiculous to witness.

Bring Me The Horizon

Instead, the spectacle keeps going with a million things happening to keep us from thinking too hard. After just four songs, there's even an interlude with a full costume change happening as the band leaves the stage for a while. They barge through solidly catchy songs like "The House of Wolves", "Medicine", "Shadow Moses", "Happy Song", and "Can You Feel My Heart" while I keep hoping for things to improve, to endless disappointment. Up in the pits everyone is happily moshing along, though, jumping and singing like this was the best show of their lives. As predicted, the crowd doesn't fill up the huge space in front of the Orange stage but still, they have a decent audience there. Everything culminates when Sykes invites a fan on stage for "Antivist" who promises that he will sing every word and proceeds to do a better job than the actual singer has been doing the entire show. Thus, we have our highlight of the show. It ends with "Throne", where Sykes, once again, does not even sing the line that's supposed to kick off the chorus, and nevertheless there's confetti and moshing everywhere up front. Of course if you insist on having a party for this, the instruments and breakdowns can carry you along obliviously, but for me, this band has finally died as a decent live act. [2] LL

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend @ 19:30 on Orange Stage

The sunny vibes of the New York City group Vampire Weekend fit perfectly on the Orange stage in theory and sure enough, they also succeed in getting the crowd moving early this evening. Their mathy and danceable riffs raise our spirits even as the weather has been cold and windy. On stage they play in front of a huge inflatable globe, echoing the design of their latest album cover. They have two drum kits on stage, one mostly used for percussion, and have a constant playful duel running between the guitars manned by front man Ezra Koenig and touring guitarist Brian Robert Jones.

Vampire Weekend

Everything has a fun but also melancholic vibe to it, and there are many little highlights around the set. These include "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and "Holiday" early on, as well as "Sunflower", "How Long?" and "Harmony Hall" from the new album "Father of the Bride". Furthermore, "Step" gives us a nice, synth-heavy break from the guitar-centric songs, and "Sympathy" excels with a longer solo guitar jam session. They keep the energy high for, to me, a surprisingly long time, but two thirds into the set, the appeal of the constant latin guitar riffs is wearing out. Everything only lifts again as they reach "A-Punk" and "Ya Hey" and the audience livens up for a final dance, but overall, I am impressed by the longevity of their carefree songs and happy with this lighter break on a metal-heavy day. [7½] LL

Misery Index @ 22:30 on Pavilion

On to this late evening show, one of the gigs I have been looking very much forward to here at Roskilde Festival. And with good reason, it would seem, because even though people have been drinking for more than 12 hours, the crowd seems both ecstatic and very vivid. Especially in the front people are seemingly enjoying the fast paced and very intense music, and when this transcends onto the packed stage as well, the recipe for a memorable concert seems to be in order. As the circle pits begin to emerge, one gets the feeling that people are simply melting to the music which is just so incredibly tight. Every single member is doing the works, but especially the revered drummer Adam Jarvis shows us exactly why he is known to be one of the best drummers in metal. The vocals shift between guitarist Mark Kloeppel and bassist Jason Netherton, which ensures the intensity stays at maximum level.

Misery Index

Every box seems to be checked and all is good for this concert to be able to reach one of the absolutely highest grades, but sadly the crowd here at the Pavilion stage never exceeds half-full, which is strange as there seems to be no noticeable clashes on the other stages. Nevertheless, Misery Index can be very proud of the display they manage to put on for the attendees, and I’m in no doubt that every single one here has an amazing experience. The band is simply too good and tight, and don’t let the attendance distract them from what is important: to put on one killer of a show. And as they queue one of their biggest hits as the last song of the evening, "Traitors", the crowd loses it one last time. This is indeed good, but I’m sure it could’ve been even better. [8] RUB

Baest @ 02:30 on Pavilion

A late slot for the Danish death metal darlings in Baest, but that doesn’t stop their fanbase from showing their support: the Pavilion stage is jam-packed! This impressive turnout just speaks to the band’s increasing popularity. Clearly, the band have grown very much, both matured in the way they perform and in the death metal hordes that follow them, ever since the first time I saw them only a few years ago. Actually, the crowd is so big that the turnout can barely fit underneath the canopy of this, the smallest outdoor stage at the festival; perhaps they should’ve been booked for a larger stage? This ensures that the audience manage to pull an impressive moshpit in the front, and when a few of their new songs from their upcoming sophomore album are aired, people cheer incredibly loudly.

Simon Olsen of Baest

I continue to be amazed at just how impressive this crowd actually is, and as "Marks of the Undead" is played, the crowd, including yours truly, loses it. As the show progresses the headbanging never ceases; not amongst the crowd, and perhaps most importantly not on stage. Baest understand this very important part of performing live, that you have to keep giving it your everything, and just like it has done with so many other performances, it rubs off on the people attending the concert as well. What has quickly become a trademark of their performances is how lead singer Simon Olsen hurls himself into the arms of the crowd, just to make the concert that more memorable. Luckily for the overall feeling one gets from this venture, is that it doesn’t feel forced, he genuinely looks like all he wants to do is scream his lungs out with the crowd surrounding him. A death metal concert this late at a non-metal festival like Roskilde is rarely a pleasant feast, but when it is done in such an impressive manner as the way Baest showcases to the people attending this late (or perhaps early?) hour, one can only stand in awe and acknowledge that their massive success is simply coming from hard and well-earned work - wow! [8½] RUB


The Armed @ 14:15 on Pavilion

So, for this early spot, Roskilde chose to book a very energetic hardcore punk act. Having not heard about this band prior to the festival, apart from a single song, the simple description in the festival pamphlet of the band initially peaked my interest. My decision to see this band half-hungover, with a couple of beers in my stomach and by myself is one I will forever be thankful for. First impression: Wow!. I have quite possibly never seen a band take such a massive turd on the festival rules. As of now, it is allowed by the festival to mosh, but crowd surfing is strictly prohibited on account of the safety of the crowd. I’m not sure The Armed got the memo about these regulations, as the lead singer probably spends about 80% of the gig in the crowd, with a wired microphone, mind you. In fact, he starts the concert amongst the crowd just going crazy. Then back to the stage, and then back into the crowd again, just as he throws a freaking chair into the pit as well! What is this madness?! Already after a few songs, I am quite certain that the crowd here at the small Pavilion stage are witnesses to something special and definitely some high-class hardcore punk. The concert has more mosh pits than I can count, and the floor in front of the stage is one open space throughout. With such an energetic singer as this one, what else could you expect? Apart from the singer, the rest of the band are acting quite energetic on stage as well, but every bit of attention is simply drawn towards the singer, because he continues to be all over the venue.

Singer of The Armed doing his best Andrew W.K. impression - photo by Christian Larsen

Apart from him, a few "extras" roam around amongst the crowd as well, trying to both hype the crowd and also do a bit of backing vocals. A huge guy dressed in camouflage is crawling on the floor (hello, security?) and a woman with a microphone is doing her very best to entice the crowd even further. This truly underlines the insane nature of the madness going on, because even though it is so early, it is impossible to stay still. I mean, the wires of the microphones must’ve been made of iron because they were dragged back and forth between the attendants as if they were wireless. The crowd could’ve been bigger, the sound perhaps louder and better, but man, oh man, am I going to remember this insanity for the rest of my life. Rarely have I seen such madness disguised as a concert at Roskilde Festival. With a thick stream of blood running down his forehead (not even sure what exactly happened there?!), the live-sized Andrew W.K.-guy manning the mic and the rest of The Armed conclude a set which will be remembered for years to come, if not for their high-powered and energetic hardcore punk, then for their maniacal live show that only has a few contestants in bands still performing live. Simply astonishing. [9½] RUB

Whores. @ 16:15 on Pavilion

The crowd has grown since The Armed left the stage. The crowd safety crew strolls the venue in search for crowd activity for this high-energy band, but not until main man Christian Lembach proclaims that if he has to do all the dancing himself, he will do so, the crowd starts to move; only in the front however. I’m not sure if the bigger crowd, or at least parts of it, are already tired after having just witnessed the colossal force of hardcore punk that was The Armed, but the intensity is nowhere near the same now. The energy is quite restricted to the front of the canopy, which is a shame as such an energy-filled performance with equally high-powered music simply demands more movement.

Casey Maxwell of Whores.

This gets worse as parts of the crowd already about half-way through the show recede to the outside skirts of the canopy, soaking in a few sunrays. This really hurts the performance even further, but I keep trying to focus on the positives. I’m not certain if it is on account of this, but Whores. throw in a few sludgy stoner tracks instead of the high-energetic noise rock they set out with. The trio still manages to stay somewhat energized on the stage, as they wield around their instruments, and keep putting on a very convincing show. They do their best but for obvious reasons, one cannot help but compare with the insanely energetic madness just witnessed on the same stage a few hours earlier. [7] RUB

Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals @ 19:00 on Avalon

When people say to me that the metal on the bill for this year’s Roskilde Festival is bad, I just shake my head in disbelief. Of course, it doesn’t have those massive Orange stage names as Slayer or Iron Maiden, since perhaps Behemoth or Testament this year are the biggest ones, but it still has plenty of smaller and more unique shows worth looking forward to. One of those is of course Phil Anselmo & the Illegals performing a Pantera show. Hands down, I’m a massive Pantera fan, so there is no way I am going to pass this one up. A total of 10 songs with the iconic frontman from the highly influential 90’s band is what the crowd is treated to. Starting with "Mouth of War" and "Becoming" there is little doubt as to what a strong start this gig is off to. The Illegals make very good characters of themselves, and even though it is hard to resemble the very unique playstyle of especially the late Dimebag, guitarist Stephen Taylor tries his best to mimic it; visually with a colourful goatee and cowboy hat as well as audibly in the way he handles the guitar. It simply just speaks to the ability and prowess of Dimebag that the Illegals have to use two guitarists as well.

Phil Anselmo showing off the back catalogue of Pantera

With songs as strong as the ones chosen for this setlist, it is pretty hard to mess up. The energy both on stage and amongst the crowd is kept at a very high level throughout the show, but still there’s room for passing the torch of the legacy Pantera left behind. Anselmo for instance gives a shout-out to a father who has brought along his kid to witness this chapter of metal history. Sitting on top of his father’s shoulders, he is able to witness the music of one of the most talented metal guitarists ever to have walked this earth, and with tracks like "Walk", "I’m Broken", "Fucking Hostile", and even "This Love", the show definitely serves up highlights from the best parts of their discography. Especially "Fucking Hostile" sends people into a moshpit-frenzy and the crowd just simply is not standing still. The show takes a heavy turn with "Domination / Hollow" before ending on yet another very high note with "A New Level" that ensures that little is left to the imagination for every Pantera fan here. Now that Vinnie Paul sadly passed away last year and joined his brother Dimebag in the halls of Valhalla, the idea and hope of a sort of "reunion" of Pantera seemed like it was no longer going to happen. It truly is nice to see a glimpse of what once was with performances like this, at least to the ones who never got a chance to see these torchbearers of the metal brand. [8½] RUB

Converge @ 21:00 on Avalon

Converge is the kick in the gentleman’s area needed on this last evening of the festival. There are not nearly as many people as for the Pantera cover-band that just left the stage a short while ago but the crowd grows steadily as the next kickoff draws nearer. And what a kickoff it is. Converge is a no-nonsense hardcore band that truly hits the stage running. Lead singer Jacob Bannon is a bolt of energy who is running and jumping around the stage like a four-year-old hopped up on sugar. They kick off with "A Single Tear" and never look back. There is a lot of screaming and yelling from Bannon and he is backed up by bass player Nate Newton, who sings both backup and the occasional bridge. Legendary guitarist and producer Kurt Ballou effortlessly goes through the chords and blast beats. After a while, the obligatory moshpit ensues and by the fifth song, it has grown fairly large. There is great energy on stage and Bannon engages the audience with light banter and encourages a little mayhem.


At one point Bannon trips in Ballou’s guitar chord and ends up flat on his back without missing a beat. During the next song, bassist Newton manages to trip himself in his own one and he too ends up flat on his back while still playing. He quickly gets up and laughingly sings his piece of the track. This makes me wonder if they are drunk on stage but as the song ends Newton proclaims with a huge smile "We don’t even drink!". Converge come across as extremely professional and well-rehearsed yet they also seem to be very much present and aware of the audience and their mood. The show gets even faster in the second half and Bannon is still a madman on stage. Most 20-year-olds would have been curled-up in fetal position and crying for their mommy, if they had to keep up with him for the 54 minutes he was on stage. Despite the incredible burst of energy that is prevalent throughout the show, they do a quick encore and the metal/hardcore crowd leaves the cavernous tent with big smiles. Beers must be had before mighty Behemoth takes to the Arena stage a few hours later. [7] TK

The Cure @ 23:00 on Orange Stage

The British alternative/gothic rock group The Cure has never been an obsession of mine even though it should probably have been in the cards for me. Still, front man Robert Smith's status as somewhat of a cult personality of rock is undeniable, only further enhanced by this interview that made the rounds as they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. On stage, what strikes me first is how brilliant a singer he still is. The man is 60 years old and still, his distinct voice sounds like it hasn't been a day since the release of any of their classic albums. It has always sounded strained to me but at the same time with an odd seamlessness from whispers to belting.

The band members with him are an odd bunch: the bassist dons a mullet, looks like a punk rocker, and paces the stage constantly like a rock'n'roll guy; the keyboardist looks like he should be in an artsy shoegaze band as he plays mostly in his own world, looking down at his instrument; the drummer is in his own world as well; and finally, the guitarist looks like the most ordinary dad in the world, with his round glasses and low-key rocking out to his own solos on the side of the stage. Of course, they play together perfectly, seemingly knowing each other's groove without even thinking, as proved when they seamlessly play on while Smith makes a mistake later in the set. There are plenty of solos in the songs and for the first time, I'm noticing how many lengthy instrumental intros they also include. In other words, there's more than enough to marvel at here for the next couple of hours.

The Cure - photo by Kristian Gade

And they waste no time whatsoever. We are in for a set of 2½ hours spanning 27 songs, and while they don't play anything released later than 2000, there's still plenty of albums and rarities to choose from. The 1989 album "Disintegration" is has been around for 30 years this year, and thus features slightly more heavily than the rest. The classic and dreamy "Lovesongs" from it provides one of the first highlights of the set as the dark finally sets, followed by "Last Dance" and "Pictures of You" that all get a great audience response. Overall, I'm surprised at the variration of their setlist, with "High" for instance setting a different kind of blue-sky happy mood, while other songs rumble more heavily, like "Burn" and not least the almost psychedelic and spacy "A Forest" towards the end. The upbeat twang of "Never Enough", the irresistible catchiness of "Inbetween Days", and the classic love song "Just Like Heaven" all make great impressions on me but towards the end of the regular set, I'm starting to get a bit bored as they fuzz out in what feels like endlessly long jams.

The last one is "One Hundred Years", though, and it has a differently dark and disturbing vibe that gets me paying attention again. As they return for the encore, Smith sheepishly comments that he accidentally repeated a part of the previous song, only because he loves playing it more than ever, but of course he's sorry since the band wasn't prepared for it. The audience greets this with spread laughter that turn into cheers as he announces a pop encore so we can leave the festival in a festive mood. And what an encore! They stroll through songs like the eerie "Lullaby", the dreamy hit "Friday I'm In Love", the tight and constrained "Close To Me" followed by the all-out "Why Can't I Be You?", and finally "Boys Don't Cry". The whole thing has been a wild ride and a veritable lecture in rock history for me, although I did space out momentarily towards its end. Smith seems a somewhat reserved figure but still very forthcoming towards the audience in his sparse comments so overall, this has been a great finish to this year's festival for me with not much lacking. [8½] LL

Behemoth @ 23:30 on Arena

As possibly the biggest metal name at this year’s edition of the Roskilde Festival, Behemoth was bound to draw one of the biggest crowds at the second biggest stage; at least I would think so. As I have seen Behemoth quite a few times by now, my expectations were sky-high as well. This band excels in the live environment and purely and simply dominates whatever stage they are placed on. With the experience of several decades and a tightness matched by few, this show had the potential to be one of the absolute best. The start definitely underlined this as the show began with force, power, and most noticeably at a Behemoth show: pyre and fire galore! As Behemoth nowadays are much about the whole anti-religious image and scenery, lead singer Nergal is bound to enter the stage sporting a huge "pope"-like hat, as he roams around the stage, simply owning every bit of it.

Behemoth bathed in fire

The majority of the setlist consists of songs from their latest two outings, with most from the latest "I Loved You at Your Darkest". This is both good and bad in my book as I’m prone to be more into the older stuff, not that either the former album or "The Satanist", obviously, are bad albums by any means. But what really strikes me as odd is the lack of people attending this so-called metal headliner. I mean, it is not even after midnight and yet, if one dares to look back over one’s shoulder, it is clear that the crowd doesn’t manage to fill Arena. But that doesn’t bother the people attending, because in the pits everything is as it usually is at a Behemoth concert. Well, except for one thing, because apparently during one of the many pits, as you might have seen online by now, a couple takes the meaning of "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" a little too literally as they engage in a good ‘ol round of oral sex in the middle of it all. This has caught Nergal’s eye and apparently, he has never seen anything like it. Neither have we, because that is truly some weird s**t. Anyway, Behemoth still manage to play and perform in style, so I don’t actually care if Arena isn’t packed or if people are having sex at the concert because in the pits, people are definitely doing what they can to make this last metal gig at Roskilde Festival 2019 count. And as the flames keep spewing upwards, I start to feel slightly tired, but still it is hard to take your eyes off just how impressive and dominant Behemoth are on stage tonight – like they always are. [8] RUB


And that's it for this year! As always, we enjoyed the festival with all it had to offer and hope to return next year, given even more solid bookings in the rock and metal areas of music. Finally, here's our traditional recap of The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly practical highs and lows at the festival:


  • The relocation of the Avalon stage worked really well and gave it a more special, secluded feel in the "corner".
  • Still real toilets everywhere - makes the festival feel so much more civilized, even after a week.
  • The road behind the Grand Stand has made it possible to walk in a direct line from the Arena stage to the Pavilion stage. Not only does it deal with the swarms of people walking in front of the Orange stage, but also makes it way easier to get about the general festival area.


  • Women's urinals being introduced that people can actually look into isn't the brightest idea although they did work if you were in a hurry.


  • The pant system not working or not being enforced right sucks when you actually want to help the festival recycle.
  • Also pant collectors jamming their huge bags of cans around crowds in front of the stages while concerts are on is just annoying for everyone. Since there is also pant on some things like pizza boxes we would also experience collectors almost taking them out of our hands before we were done eating - also not great.

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