Having safely returned from the danish Roskilde Festival 2004, gotten some sleep and a shower, I think it’s safe to tell the story. It involves buckloads of rain and mud, beautiful clouds and a concert with the Pixies.
First of all, you should know that the Roskilde Festival is an annual danish event located in, of course, Roskilde. It’s a giant camp-out with some 110.000 visitors, and over the years it’s been visited by big names like Bj?rk, Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead. The festival is no less than 33 years old.
Upon arrival, it was quite clear that all tent-space was already consumed. In fact, the geekiest of festival-geeks arrive up to 5 days prior to the beginning of the actual music. Fortunately, one of my friends was one of these geeks, and brought my tent there with him. Luxury.
Then The Rain started. Actually it had already started a few days before, and I’d been hoping for a clearing. When The Rain finally stopped, it was only for a couple of hours before it started again. Combine that with the feet and boots of 110.000 people and you have Insta-Mud™.
That first day in the tent with the rain, one couldn’t help feel a little bit stupid for bringing this on one-self—and paying for it too. It had better be some good concerts. Fortunately, that would prove to be the case.
The first concert I saw was in company with a band called “Blonde Redhead“. I had never heard of it, but the programme for day 1 was a bit scarce, so I thought I might as well try it out. It was a very positive surprise. Their music was a sort of synth-rock, a genre I’m a big fan of. It was well played and the lead vocalists complimented each-other very well. I will definately look into this music more. Here’s a sample to listen to. Edit: more samples.
“TV On the Radio” later on, wasn’t worthwhile though, and I purposefully avoided the “Korn” concert.
The second day started with “DJ Krush”. My friends liked it, but I have the feeling it’s the kind of music I should’ve listened to in earphones first.
We proceeded on to “Graham Coxon”, former guitarist in “Blur” if i’m not mistaken. Great concert, definately something I’ll look into.
I would’ve liked to see
icelandic faroan/danish “Teitur”, but ultimately decided to go for danish “Blue Foundation“. While some of their music was an almost direct “Massive Attack” ripoff, other pieces were great. The concert on the whole was good. It was only later on I discovered that one of my colleague acquaintances played in the band.
One of the downsides of having 5 stages and throngs of bands playing simultanously is that you’ll inevitably have to choose between two bands you’d both like to hear. In this case, the melodic Bj?rk’esque danish “Under Byen” (samples) vs. the giants—The Pixies. In this case, the choice was easy, but I’m sad I didn’t get to hear both.
The Pixies were nothing less than great. Frank Black and Kim Deal were both in great vocal shape and performed all the classics, and some of the rarities including a song for David Lynch’s Eraserhead. “Here Comes Your Man” was a collective sing-a-long and actually worked better live than I think it did on the album. “Debaser” and “Where Is My Mind” topped it off.
The concert wasn’t great because Pixies is a huge name and well-respected band re-united after 14 years. It was great because of a great backlog of musical pearls, a good performance, and “that feeling”. Suddenly the mud didn’t matter so much. Phew.
This was also the day when David Bowie should’ve played. Unfortunately, due to a shoulder injury, he couldn’t play, and was replaced by Slipknot. Not my interest at all. Avril Lavigne also played this day, at the same time as the Pixies played. She got a one-star review in the newspaper.
I missed “The Hives”, which my little sister will probably kick me for.
The third day started out with “Jomi Massage“, a band that holds a special significance. Not only is it great Sonic Youth-inspired music, but I know personally and have worked with the drummer. Naturally I was there to support the band, which was fortunately quite unnecessary as they could draw an audience themselves. Great concert, great sound, very impressive vocals.
This was also the day when I was late to discover that “Slow Train” had played. I’ll have to see them another time. Instead I saw a bit of “I Am Kloot”, which was somewhat disappointing.
More disappointing was the fact that the great “Bergman Rock” (formerly “Bob Hund”, see a video sample), played at the same time as my all-time favourite techno duo “Plaid” (which replaced LFO). This was a painful choice, and while Bergman Rock delivered an indescribably great and flawless performance/live show, I can’t help but feel that I missed out. Damn you Roskilde Festival! Why did you do this to me? What was worse, a good friend of mine was at that concert and told me later how great it was. Way to salt my wound!
Later on I managed to catch a bit of “Morrisey”, only to proceed on to my favourite danish synth-pop band “Love Shop”, who delivered the best concert I have yet seen them play. A fantastic way to top off an evening.
On my way home to my tent, I slipped past “Fatboy Slim”, who had a lame Ibiza thing going on. Later on I heard from friends that it was a lousy concert, and that he hadn’t played any of his hits such as “Praise you” et al. No loss there.
By this time, the battle damage of a few days in the mud eating bagels started to show. We wanted to go home, badly.
There was only two bands I really wanted to see: “Ralph Myerz & The Jack Herren Band“, who played at 21:00, and “Scissor Sisters” at 00:00. The latter was a promise to another good friend of mine. Unfortunately, the mud really itched, so we went home before seeing them. I’ll have to take the kick that’s coming.
To spend the day we watched “Ben Harper”, and later on “Franz Ferdinand”. The latter was a positive surprise. I’d only heard their hit, and wasn’t really into it, but much of the rest of their repertoire was great! Definately something I’ll revisit.
I’m so glad I stayed and watched Ralph Myerz. Their concert was great, much better than expected. The music is kinda techno/drum/remix oriented, with emphasis on the drums and beats. Thus they also had two drummers, one with added bongos. Let me tell you when they got started, there was no stopping them. They jumped around on stage, balanced on the bongos, threw around drum-sticks and did small drum-solo showdowns. An energetic and wildly entertaining live-show, not to mention some good tunes. “Think twice”, my favourite from their “A Special Album” didn’t disappoint. The last 15 minutes though, seemed to kinda loop their sound and the tracks were indistinguishable. All in all a fantastic end to a good festival.
Just after this, we migrated north via a lift, and later on train. I was home at twelve, and took a bath right after.
Thinking back, the festival as a whole was worth the ticket-price… and, I guess, the labour of the mud. It rained several times a day, all the days, but ironically the bulk of rain that fell came from the most beautiful clouds I have seen in a long while. I managed to identify both huge Cumulunimbus clouds, but also Cumulus Castellanus clouds (pictures) . The sunsets were like matte-paintings, and to a cloud enthusiast like me, it did soothe my aching legs. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos. Not only was it illegal to bring a camera to the concert area (although it would’ve been the easiest thing to smuggle it in), but I figured the photos I would manage to take would’ve been blurry and not really interesting anyway.
It is great to be back, and I’m glad I came out of it alive. I’m especially glad I rememberd boots and earplugs.