Commentary: Roskilde Lineup 2007

author PP date 24/04/07

Just under a week ago, Roskilde Festival announced their full lineup and their website received same treatment as most ticketing websites do when they are about to release tickets to a major tour. It was brought to its knees from over 75,000 festival guests visiting the site, all keen on finding out whether or not their favorite band was signed up to the bill this year or not. Although the lineup isn't 100% set to stone, about 95 to 98% of it is now officially confirmed, and the "plakat", or the poster with all the band names listed on it, has been released. Now that we've all had a weekend's time to absord the lineup, we can now without prejudice write a commentary about it.

In the last five or six years, the tendency has been to compare the lineup to the mid-90s glory when the festival had an amazing lineup year after year, and then complain over how "this years lineup is the worst lineup in the history of the festival". But realistically, back then the price of booking a massive band was at least half or probably even cheaper, than it is today. This is in part the fault of the major label music industry, who have steeply increased the fees for booking their big acts in recent years (yet another sign they are only interested in the money). This is an endless cycle and unfortunately means that like this year, the future Roskilde Festivals won't be able to book as many high profile names as before, simply because they can't afford it without either cutting the length of the festival or the amount of bands on the bill. And since Roskilde relies so much on its great camping atmosphere and the ability to experience names from pretty much every possible genre in music, neither of those cuts are likely to happen. So keeping this in mind you can hardly blame the festival for not booking as many big names as in 95 or 96 for instance.

But even with the aforementioned taken into consideration, the argument for voicing our disappointment seems somehow more justified this year than it did in the past two years. I'll be the first one raising my hand to the question "who thinks the lineup was great in 2005 and 2006?", just as I'll be the first one raising my hand to the question "who thinks the lineup sucked in 2004?". And scarily, the 2007 lineup reminds me a great deal of the one in 2004, where nu metal acts dominated together with boring metal acts and, oh dear lord, Avril Lavigne.

So lets take a look closer at the major names the lineup boasts of so far:

Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, Basement Jaxx, Beastie Boys, Björk, Cold War Kids, Cult Of Luna, Dizzee Rascal, Eagles Of Death Metal, In Flames, Katatonia, The Killers, Klaxons, LCD Soundsystem, Machine Head, Mastodon, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Nephew, Pelican, The Psyke Project, Queens Of The Stone Age, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Sounds, Strike Anywhere, DJ Tiesto, Volbeat, The Who. Hardly anyone's dream lineup.

Now, lets take a look at the Orange Stage. To justify having such a big stage, you need to have some activity there as well. During previous years, the stage has seen minimum three, usually four big acts per day. Over four days, the festival would need to field minimum 12, but maximum 16 orange stage bands, where the realistic number is probably somewhere in between, for example at 14 or 15 in total. But how many bands do we have in total that are big enough for the Orange stage?

Arctic Monkeys will certainly be at Orange Stage, given how they had to close one of the entrances near Arena last year because the band attracted an insanely big crowd. Basement Jaxx, being one of the biggest electronica names, will surely also be placed on Orange. In terms of melodic death metal, In Flames is the only metal act known enough to draw enough people to Orange stage, even though Mastodon is closing the gap year after year. Muse will without doubt be one of the more mainstream names together with Red Hot Chili Peppers, emo rockers from My Chemical Romance and stoner rockers from Queens Of The Stone Age, although it is disputable whether the latter should be placed to Orange instead of Arena. Volbeat, having burst into enormous success in the last 12 months, will also be a definite Orange name, and lets not forget about Beastie Boys either, who are without a doubt one of the biggest names at this festival. And then there's of course pop queen Björk and The Who, the oldschool rockers from 60s and 70s.

Unless I should've failed elementary maths, that makes only eleven names, shortfall of at least 1 if the festival was going to field only 3 bands a day. But the number is likely 4 a day if we follow the 4-band model the festival has used previously. Of course the festival could field DJ Tiesto, The Killers, Klaxons and Nephew on Orange stage.. but especially the first would be a mistake. Who would want to dance out to some tunes on the Orange stage instead of the Metropol stage or Arena? Kind of takes away the whole "clubbing" atmosphere in my opinion. The Killers aren't big enough in Denmark and Klaxons just aren't that big in general as they are so new, and we all know how terrible Nephew are live, let alone how little known they are to the international guests (which there are many).

So what does this mean? My guess is that Roskilde has at least one, maybe two or even three surprises in the bag. One of these could be the long-rumoured koRn who still have that weekend empty in the tour diaries and are listed to perform on several fan sites. Another could be a massive band, bigger than anybody else this year, which would explain the lack of truly big names like last year's Guns N Roses, Tool, Roger Waters etc. Maybe the festival has been saving up in booking fees to confirm the most phenomenal band thinkable? If that's the case, the band in question would need to be absolutely massive in size. I'm thinkin Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, or a reunion of At The Drive-In or something. But chances for the first or last to happen are next to none. In terms of the thrashers... well they still have two empty dates before their Wembley show on Sunday. Lets wait and see.

Overall, the lineup is lacking the really big names. None of the currently announced ones, aside from perhaps Red Hot Chili Peppers and Beastie Boys, are up there with the legends. But more importantly, the festival is lacking the really important medium-size names. Sure, confirming Mastodon, My Chemical Romance and In Flames is cool, but where are this years Bullet For My Valentines, Wolfmothers, Lagwagons Placebos and Death Cab For Cuties? If you're into hip hop, you can hardly be satisfied with Dizzee Rascal as the biggest name after Kanye West last year? I could go on and on. In this sense it is justified to say this is one of the worst lineups this decade. But on the other hand, the fact that there are so few amazing bands this year opens up space to go see something new, something you would never have thought of seeing. During last year, I wouldn't have seen Basement Jaxx had they been on the bill. But maybe I will this year. And it will also give space for some of the big names to really surprise, here I'm thinking of My Chemical Romance's stageshow, which is likely to be filled with theatrics on the scale never before seen in Denmark, or Queens Of The Stone Age possibly pulling off the show of their life this year. But even so, as the editor of the fastest growing online mag in Denmark, I'm not too impressed. Yet. What do you think?

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