Ten things we learned at this year’s Roskilde Festival

Among our findings: a heavy police presence might have resulted in a fall in crime, rap might have displaced rock as the festival’s new darling, and the Orange Feeling is alive and kicking!

Roskilde Festival 2017 was rainy and rowdyRoskilde Festival 2017 was rainy and rowdy (Picture: Krists Luhaers // @Kristsll)

1 The police meant business

IMG_1569There was a palpable police presence at this year’s Roskilde Festival (photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

This year’s Roskilde Festival had a heavy police presence in and around the festival. We saw sniffer dogs, police men with machine guns at the East entrance (a first) and patrol vehicles around the camping grounds.

2 The crime stats were lower

IMG_1589Less crimes were committed at this year’s festival than last year’s (Picture Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

Six rape cases are being investigated, one more than last year’s figures. Some 130 reported thefts took place this year – significantly lower than in the last two editions of the festival, which both registered close to 800. A total 20 arrests were made this year – a number also significantly lower than in previous years. And sadly there was one death: a 24-year-old volunteer for Muskelsvindfonden who was discovered where he slept on Friday.

3 The future is nigh

IMG_1466Roskilde 2017 was a cashless affair, which was good news for payment methods such as mobile pay (Photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

For the first time ever, Roskilde Festival was a cash-free affair, with mobile pay and credit cards the official payment mode. In general, the festival had a look and feel that was more organised than it has been in previous years. Will we soon see the implementation of digital bracelet systems that allow for pay-by-scan options and other innovative solutions?

4 It’s all about timing

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The Weeknd’s show, while epic, got off to a late start (Picture © ANSPressSocietyNews / Mr Krobath

A number of shows started later than expected – remarkably later in the case of Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan. The announcements notifying Roskilde’s guests of the new start times were not always clear nor properly delivered.

READ MORE: Our top five Roskilde 2017 concerts in case you missed them

5 Rap is the new rock ‘n’ roll

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West Coast rapper Ice Cube was one of several hip-hop heavyweights to make his mark at Rf17 (Picture © Eva Rinaldi)

Rappers are the new rock stars (to quote Kanye West). Roskilde Festival has deep roots in rock music and has for many years been known as a rock festival. This year, the headlining names and the names creating the post-festival headlines were drawn from the more mainstream avenues of R ‘n’ B and rap – the latter of whom hogged the spotlight at Roskilde 2017.

READ MORE: Beyond Illimatic – Nas gives festival a lesson in hip-hop

6 Roskilde is (still) huge

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The crowd at The Weeknd’s concert at the Orange Stage was one of the largest ever (Photo © Krists Luhaers // @Kristsll)

Some 130,000 festival-goers, 32,000 volunteers, 180 concerts by acts from over 30 countries across nine stages. Does it sound like a party? It was! All of the profits will, as always, be donated to charity work around the world

7 The Art Zone was more accessible for all

IMG_0601-768x576Roskilde’s art zone was interactive, hazy and accessible (photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

Art should engage, provoke and inspire. This year’s art zone had a laid-back feel to it thanks to an outdoor lounge-esque area that housed plant life, sculptures, smoke screens and other installations by artists such as Rune Bosse, Regitze Karlsen and ThinkingHand. The art zone was easy to digest and comfortable to be in.

8 Come rain or shine, the party went on

IMG_0607-768x576Roskilde 2017 will be remembered as one of the wettest in many years (photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

Friday’s perennial downpour saw the festival grounds doused in rain for most of the day and night. In fact, the rain started falling as early as The xx’s concert on Thursday night. Out came the wellies and waterproof garments, but even they couldn’t stop the rain from seeping in here and there and dampening the atmosphere – quite literally. A river of mud and a mess of broken camping gear, mackerel cans and memorabilia were left behind – the festival will end up incinerating 2,400 tonnes of it – but the party continued well into the night.

9 #Rfheroes – there were many

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Two of this year’s heroes at Roskilde Festival (Photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

Building on the success of last year’s event, in collaboration with the Tuborg Foundation, Roskilde Festival continued the #Rfheroes campaign – encouraging festival-goers to nominate their Roskilde heroes on Instagram. Five groups of heroes were consequently added to the Roskilde ‘Walk of fame’ brass plates. What is a hero I hear you ask? Essentially, one or more of the 130,000-strong crowd who’s walked the extra mile for the benefit of other festival-goers.

10 The Orange Feeling reigns supreme

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Rf17 was as colourful as ever as always (Photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

So we had mixed feelings about the line-up, and there was the odd technical glitch here and there, but at the end of the day, Roskilde is still Roskilde, and befittingly ‘The Orange Feeling’ has not been compromised.

Roskilde may have diverted from its rock roots in an increasingly competitive local festival market in which booking the biggest names can be a tussle, but there can be no questions asked about the quality of the performances of those booked.

We sat on the shoulders of strangers and danced together under a darkened sky, drank warm coffee with lovers and friends and bonded through the power of music and art. This was our Orange Feeling and we suspect there are a few out there who may have similar sentiments.

Roskilde 2017: Not quite an avalanche – but close enough in the downpour

4 out of 6 stars. Original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here.

Aussie sample kings, The Avalanches played a blend of music to suit all tastes (Photo Ercosid) Aussie sample kings, The Avalanches played a blend of music to suit all tastes (Photo Ercosid)

Australian sample kings The Avalanches rolled onto a drenched Apollo stage at Roskilde Festival facing a crowd that had endured one of the wettest days in modern memory at the annual event. Unfazed, the iconic Aussies, armed with the talents of Baltimore rap starlet Spank Rock and the moxie of vocalist Eliza Wolfgramm took to the stage backed by a witty, quirky, peculiar, lovable mash-up of sampled sounds.Not quite an avalanche
It was always going to be a hit or miss affair, as the torrential summer rain wept down, unrelenting against a backdrop of mud and wasted figures clad in wellies and waterproof garments. Under the circumstances, The Avalanches just about managed to get the evening’s festivities started with a show that began in lamentably inaccessible fashion (for all those for whom their music was unfamiliar). While seminal tunes such as ‘Frank Sinatra’ are indeed recognisable, their repetitive verses could arguably have been cut to get the fire burning sooner.

The show turned in the right direction, however, with a sparkling rendition of iconic cover track ‘Guns of Brixton’, which saw Wolfgramm swing a baseball bat in tandem with the music – a direct reference to the Brixton riots of the 1980s, epitomised with great effect by The Clash, who lay claim to the original track. This being Denmark in 2017, few recognised the symbolism in it, so its application was more peculiar than it was entertaining.

Perhaps The Avalanches recognised this (or their pre-planning did anyhow) – their tune selection thereafter yielded nothing but positive responses from a gumboot-clad crowd that kicked into gear with a bang. Synth delights such as ‘Subways’, the leftfield ‘Flight Tonight’ and thumping banger ‘The Radio’ definitely had the desired effect – The Avalanches owned the Apollo Stage (rain-strewn and haggled as it may have been).

What (sample) sorcery is this?
Theirs was a sampling act that spanned genres ranging from soul to hip-hop, all cooked together into one messy, blissful mash of curious tunes that got feet stompin’ and shone a welcome light onto a dark, drenched festival.

Yes, at times their profound samples made only sense to them and a handful of dedicated aficionados, but this is a band with two studio albums 16 years apart – an act whose versatility and eclecticism are a joy to behold. Bands such as Chinese Man and Hocus Pocus may have won younger audiences in recent years with their sample magic, but it is theses troubadours of the mould that leave spectators with something to think about long after the stomping, screaming and sing-alongs grind to a halt.

On Friday night they were seminal albeit patchy and inaccessible at parts. But who cares? They got a muddy party started and credit is due for this at the very least.

Roskilde 2017: Beyond Illimatic – Nas gives festival a lesson in hip-hop

6 out of 6 stars. Original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here.

 

Nasir Bin Olu Dara aka Nas at his illimatic best (photo villunderlondon / Zoe Klinck

Nasir Bin Olu Dara aka Nas at his illimatic best (photo villunderlondon / Zoe Klinck)

Following the cancellation of hip-hop heavyweights A Tribe Called Quest ahead of this year’s Roskilde’s Festival, the honour of flying old school rap’s flag high and dry fell, rather unanimously, on the broad shoulders of New York rapper Nas.The last name to guest Roskilde’s emblematic Orange Stage on Thursday night, Nas’s show was tainted slightly by the pouring rain which, flowing steadily since the performance of British band The xx earlier in the evening, had sent one or two festival-goers to the shelter of their tents.

The king of Queens

Nas is not a man who is easily swayed, however. With an air of natural nonchalance that many of today’s hip-hop greats don’t quite have, Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones rolled calmly onto the stage sporting a pair of aviator shades on a scene that may as well have been a rap booth in Queens.

Spitting to a James Brown sample of ‘Get down’ served with complements from the erstwhile Dj Green Lantern, Nas had the Orange Stage in the palm of his hand from the get-go. In contrast to other names who’ve played on the Orange Stage this year, Nas’s show contained all the elements one would expect from a show of this size and scale. A massive signature 3-D logo revolved in the backdrop, powerful, relevant projections beamed out on either side of the stage,  and a simple stage setup threw Nas and his smooth, well-timed rap lines and tip-top sound into the limelight.

No cheese, peerless breeze
Impassioned renditions of tunage such as ‘New York State of Mind’ and ’Halftime’ cemented the bold start, before tributes to greats such as recently deceased rapper, Prodigy from Mob Deep, showed Nas at his sentimental best, devoid of the cheesiness that tends to accompany these things. Similarly, the interjections he made to his stream of tracks were simple and honest – delivered without all the references to how great the crowd was, how wonderful the festival is and the usual fluffy language that we festival-goers have been accustomed to. For Nas, a curt “Thank You” and lines referencing the power of music sufficed.

Backing the peerless on-stage prophecy, witty projections of boom boxes and city streets from the rap heyday of the early ’90s took us back to the early era of a genre that we must admit has veered so far from these veritable beginnings today it can scarcely be compared.

A lesson in hip-hop
Thursday was about Nas and his deejay as much as it was about the state of music de jour. Thankfully for all of us, his performance was illimatic – beyond ill, beyond the ultimate. Roskilde did not see Nas, we experienced him – a music great at his best long past the golden days of old school hip-hop.

It is little wonder that he returned onto the stage for a flawless encore after a long break at the end of his show. Swapping a combat jacket and plain black shirt for a Roskilde 2017 t-shirt, Nas returned to ice the cake with a seldom-seen swag. This was the incarnation of ‘the orange feeling’ and a lesson in hip-hop history for today’s Millenial generation.

More than for the festival, they’re ‘Volunteering 4 Life’

There’s more to Roskilde than the music. Original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here

Skærmbillede 2017-07-05 kl. 22.36.57.pngVolunteering is a key part of Rokilde Festival (photo: Allan Kortbaek)

The patchy weather over the last few days has not swayed the tens of thousands of festival-goers who’ve made their way to this year’s Roskilde Festival for yet another year of merrymaking.  The logistics of organising a festival that houses a crowd of around 130,000 for a week of camping, concerts and debauchery are, as you might imagine, quite eye-opening in themselves.

Fuelled by the efforts of 32,000 volunteers each year, most of whom have volunteered for an average of five festivals, Roskilde Festival is, at its core, a non-profit fuelled by charitable efforts. The event also makes an effort to ameliorate global social issues through numerous dedicated initiatives. Befittingly, this year’s theme is hinged on focusing on cultural inequality, which it hopes to address through art, music, activities and donations.

One of the many organisations present at this year’s festival is the Settle N Share project – an experiment involving communities co-operating to strengthen the unique camp feeling at the event.

Volunteering 4 Life – a youth-based initiative that works to create cultural programs for youth within the fields of sports, music and European youth exchange with a focus on creating a link between Roskilde Festival and the Erasmus + program – is but one of the many initiatives in this year’s Settle N Share.

Propelled by Ishøj Ungdomsskole, this is the second time that the Volunteering 4 Life project will be at Roskilde Festival, having successfully run in 2013 (see below)

Onus on community sharing
This year, Volunteering 4 Life is focusing on educating the youth in volunteering in close collaboration with Roskilde Festival and other partners. According to Raymond Andrews, a benefactor of the youth exchange program, the non-profit, community-centred aims of Roskilde Festival are an ideal platform through which the volunteers of the initiative can gain a hands-on introduction to the philanthropic goals of the event.

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Community sharing is one of the core objectives of Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde Festival 

Essentially this entails its 52 volunteers at the festival being introduced to companies such as DXC – a tech multinational typified by high levels of employee retention and a hiring process that doesn’t involve hiring specialists but rather aims to hire based on matching skill-sets, informal or formal, which can be matched with its needs as a business.

The aim here is to inspire and equip the program’s volunteers with informal skills for their career development.

To orchestrate this, app-making and other tech-based knowledge sharing aimed at boosting the competences of the volunteers are central to the work of Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde. Similarly, it is hoped that festival initiatives such as Settle’N Share and REACT (a recycling system) will foster a strong dialogue between some of Roskilde’s aims and the Volunteering 4 Life program’s volunteers, who will work for a period between 24-32 hours during which they will support the needs of other festival-goers while engaging in informal learning experiences.

Beyond Roskilde Festival: providing skills for a competitive labour market

Volunteering 4 Life participants contributing to Roskilde Festival's "Orange Feeling"
Volunteering 4 Life participants contributing to Roskilde Festival’s “Orange Feeling”

Outside of the festival, the Volunteering 4 Life program links to the goals of the Erasmus + mobility program through which it aims to maximise the potential of the youth in an increasingly competitive labour market, typified by a lack of practical expertise and speculation emanating from global financial instability.

Via the aforementioned Erasmus + program, Volunteering 4 Life creates the opportunity for groups of young people aged 13-30 from different countries to meet and live together for up to 21 days – a project dubbed ‘mobility youth exchange’. Other organisations involved in the youth exchange include Battle IT (Estonia), Nordic Heights (Finland), Youth School Vilnius (Lithuania), H2o (Portugal), Atrendia (Spain) and Handicap Team (Sweden) amongst others.

During this time, joint programs centered around workshops, debates, simulations and other activities take place, with the aim of building competences and creating awareness around socially relevant topics.

Visit Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde Festival (you will find them located in the camping area ‘P’) or check out their website for more information about their work.

 

Roskilde 2017: More than something for The Weeknd

That’s what you call a second act! (photo: Kayla Johnson)

That’s what you call a second act! (photo: Kayla Johnson)

original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here

Canadian R&B act Abel Makkonen Tesfayese (aka The Weeknd) was always going to be one of Roskilde Festival’s highlights in a music line-up that many festival-goers contend is void of veritable headliners this year.
This notwithstanding, there was some confusion as what to expect from the show – would it be a masterclass in Tesfayese’s undeniable vocal prowess or would he wilt in the limelight?

Lukewarm start
Kicking things off later than expected, The Weeknd shook the partisan crowd to life with a performance of his flagship track, ‘Starboy’. A significant screen lag and palpable sound issues marred what was otherwise a befittingly bold opening. This was further diluted by the black and white screen projections against a dark, restless sky.  The lukewarm start dragged past the first few songs before a driven performance of ‘party monster’ changed the direction of the show.

Gone were the insipid black and white screens, duly replaced by rich colours and strong visuals. The sound still wasn’t quite right though and several punters questioned whether what we were hearing was playback or a tone maestro at his recognisable best – pushing his tenor range to the maximum with some mind-blowing falsettos.

Midway through and any doubts as to what we were hearing were consigned to mere memory compliments of an epic rendition of ‘Six Feet Under’ – another of the monumental tunes off Tesfayese’s 2016 album ‘Starboy’.

Cementing his popularity with the crowd, The Weeknd then rolled out a bold performance of  ‘Low Life’ (minus the grunts and barks of Atlanta rapper Future, who features heavily in the studio version).

Spellbinding magic
With the skies darkening and a crescent moon rising low over the trees around the Orange Stage, Tesfaye’s show peaked into top gear, as club grooves such as ‘Secrets’ and the iconic ‘Earned it’, off the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ soundtrack, worked a powerful, spellbinding magic on the indefatigable crowd.

A reminder of The Weeknd’s local popularity came towards the end as his popular party anthem ‘Can’t feel my face’ received unanimous backing from the crowd, who sang along for its entirety.

The Weekend came, saw and conquered Roskilde Festival 2017. If Tesfaye arrived as a Starboy, he left as a legend, carried by cheers for what was quite possibly the biggest crowd this reviewer has seen at the Orange Stage in his eight years at the event.

Roskilde Festival 2017 A-Z day one

Another year, another Roskilde Festival (my 8th one to be precise). Here are my shots from the first day of the event, along with a few general observations. #Rf17 seems to be a lot more formal but that doesn’t neccessarily mean it’s better organised. It’s early on but I have yet to figure this festival out (or I have grown old).

A- Authorities

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Rescue services are in full force, which is reassuring for us merrymakers

B – Beer bowling

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Beer bowling – a national sport at Roskilde, comme tojours.

C – Can collectors

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Can collectors from far and wide

D – Delights

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Delights – of the (charming) culinary sort – lots of em!

E – Epic Sax Guy

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We found him!

F – Foxes

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Where there’s foliage there’s foxes – this one was sat by the train tracks in Roskilde West

G – Gadgets

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Gadgets & gizmos galore – Fatboys and fidget spinners are killin’ it at Rf17

H – Happy times

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Keep em coming 😉

I – Illimatic fashion

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Rf17 is hip ville 2.0

J – Jams

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Traffic jams, music jams, people jams (like this one on the bridge over to Roskilde West)

K – Kicks

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Some stand out more than others

L – Loopey slogans

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You can thank Trump for them later

M – Mobile phones

IMG_1466There are mobiles galore and I am also guilty of reaching into my pocket for mine a bit too often

N – Nosh

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Nosh – lots of it, mostly organic

O – Old Gees

IMG_1515.JPGIt’s a festival for the young and old but young at heart

P – Police

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There is a heightened police presence this year. I saw police with M16 rifles ( a first), plain clothes police with labradors and police cars driving around

Q – Questions

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What are you looking at?

R – Rubbish!

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One (wo) man’s treasure, another (wo) man’s trash

S – Skate

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The skatepark is less flamboyant this year. Last year’s festival saw Red Bull host a range of engaging activities in my favourite corner of Roskilde West. This year, not much is happening there, though Game Denmark have taken ownership of most of the sporting activities in the rest of the area.

T – Tunnel

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The tunnel at Roskilde station – blissful at this moment in time but typically jam-packed

U – Urine

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Urine – urine everywhere (but there are more toilets and urinals around)

V – Vans – They are off the wall and über alles

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W – Woodstock

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Woodstock and Roskilde – not that many parallels but you will find the Woodstock Hummel bus parked in Roskilde West

X – X marks the spot

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We all love setting crosses by the names we’d like to see on stage

Y – YOLO

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You really do only live once at Roskilde. Cheesy? – it’s Y, give me a break!

Z – Zzz

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Beauty sleep – get lots of it at RF17!

See you out there for more action from the music days from Wednesday onwards. Which bands are on your hit list this year? Here’s a list of my favourites from last year. For more Roskilde Festival pictures, check out my 2015 photo roundup

‘There’s good money to be made here’

Original article written for The Local Denmark, available here

With over one million litres of beer consumed at your average Roskilde Festival, the mess from empty cans and bottles left behind is an issue that draws attention every year. Yet the revenue that can be generated by collecting and recycling the receptacles is significant, thanks to the Danish deposit system.
That promise of money literally being tossed on the ground draws hundreds of can collectors – many from Africa and the Roma community – to the festival each year. It’s estimated that a single collector can make up to 60,000 kroner in deposit money over the course of the full eight days.
Collectors can make good money, but they have to navigate an unregulated environment. Photo: Bobby Anwar
Collectors can make good money, but they have to navigate an unregulated environment. Photo: Bobby Anwar
Yet the life of a can collector, whilst well-paid and tax free, is anything but comfortable. Amongst the maddening crowds and mosh pit frenzies they bend, laden with plastic bags filled with empty soda and beer containers. Theirs is a life amongst an underclass in an world whose rules are far from fairly regulated.
Invariably, their work is not without racist abuse from time to time. Yet despite the grumblings of some festival guests, these collectors keep the Roskilde grounds and their environs far cleaner than they otherwise would be.
Like many a festival-goer, I will admit that it can be annoying to have bags of dripping beer spilled on one’s clothes whilst enjoying a good show or relaxing on the camping grounds. And the pressure of having a can collector waiting anxiously for one to down their beverage does create some frustration. All the same, the mess from all the merrymaking needs to be cleaned by someone at some point.
Meet Peter from Nigeria
In an attempt to understand the world of can collection, I spent some time with Peter, a bottle collector from Nigeria, who collected cans at Roskilde for the first time this year. I followed him around the camping grounds for a short while, as he introduced me to his working routine and shared some of his thoughts on the nature of his work.
Peter from Nigeria spends up to 15 hours a day collecting cans and bottles. Photo: Allan Kortbæk
Peter from Nigeria spends up to fifteen hours a day collecting cans. “Some festival guests are aggressive,” he says. Photo: Allan Kortbæk 
“The festival is amazing but at the same time I’m working a lot, sometimes up to fifteen hours a day,” he said. “There’s good money to be made here but you have to work a lot for it.”
“What is the most difficult part of your job?”
“Sometimes when you approach people – I can’t call them clients because we’re not selling, you know –  some are aggressive. This is normal, somehow we are inferior to them. We have to be strong so we don’t feel the impact of this.”
“There is also the fact that we have to return a maximum of 50 pieces per empty sack. When you’re out collecting, you don’t have time to think about this so you have to sort thing out a lot afterwards.”
I shadow Peter for a short while as he makes his rounds in the Roskilde Festival West camping area. On this brief journey, we manage to gather a few isolated cans and the odd bottle. The camping area is at its quietest, so this is fairly straightforward and without trouble. Peter remarks that this is not always the case, however, stating that it is obviously more difficult to collect cans when the party is in full swing.
The bottle and can collectors work all areas of the festival, from the campgrounds to the areas right in front of the stages. Photo: Bobby Anwar
The collectors work all areas of the festival, from the campgrounds to the areas right in front of the stages. Photo: Bobby Anwar
Collectors get their own VIP lounge
So the life of a can collector, at least from Peter’s perspective, is not without its challenges, even though, as he contends, there is good money to be made.
This year, Roskilde attempted to mitigate some of the challenges posed by the can collection process. I took a look at one of them, the VIP can collector lounge in the Art Zone. A product of the well-known artistic group Superflex, the Flagship Shelters/Bottle Collectors VIP project features several shelters made on designs based on the flagship stores of major fashion brands such as Prada and Miu Miu. The shelters are made from cheaper materials and downscaled from the original extravagant designs, in an aim to create a discourse on matters of consumption, social injustice and resource prioritization. The area is well staffed and frequented by many a bottle collector though the main lounge area does have more tired festival-goers than bottle collectors lying around.
 
Photo: Bobby Anwar
Photo: Bobby Anwar
The bottle collectors were given their own VIP lounge in the Art Zone, which doubled as an art installation at night. Photos: Allan Kortbæk
The bottle collectors were given their own VIP lounge in the Art Zone, which doubled as an art installation at night. Photos: Allan Kortbæk
On the surface, some of the issues of can collection are indeed raised by this installation. However, most of the festival-goers I met here seemed comfortably unaware of what it was and the palpable gap between can collectors and Roskilde festival’s guests was still painfully apparent.
This is not to say that the efforts of the festival should not be credited. Compared to previous years, Roskilde has indeed made significant attempts to address the issue of can collection, for example by ensuring that refund points are well staffed and that the process is more regulated.  The issue is indeed in focus, but can more be done to address the fundamental problem areas?
Throughout the eight-day party, the guests and the collectors complete a symbiosis as can after can is opened, drank, disposed of, collected and returned.
While Roskilde’s 100,000-plus crowd kept the good times rolling, can collectors like Peter continued to earn their keep beneath their dancing feet.
Collectors can earn as much as 60,000 kroner over the course of the festival. Photo: Allan Kortbæk
Collectors can earn as much as 60,000 kroner over the course of the festival. Photo: Allan Kortbæk

 

The best concerts of Roskilde Festival 2016

Befitting the diversity of the line-up, there are precious few overlaps in our three writers’ picks for the best concerts at this year’s Roskilde Festival. Performances from all six stages and on all four of the festival’s main musical days made the cut.
From legendary acts to Colombian experimental rock and UK grime – and just about everything in between – here are our selections for the best performances.
Justin Cremer’s top five picks
1. Neil Young + Promise of the Real (Orange, Friday)
Neil Young played a three-hour set on Orange. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix
Neil Young played a three-hour set on Orange. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix
From the opening keys of ‘After the Gold Rush’ through the 30-minute extended jam encore performance of ‘Love and Only Love’, Neil Young put on a commanding, thunderous performance. Mixing old favourites like ‘Alabama’, ‘Words’ and ‘Unknown Legend’ with newer tracks like ‘Mother Earth’, Young and his excellent backing band Promise of the Real put on a show that was quite possibly the best I’ve witnessed on the legendary Orange stage.
2. Kvelertak (Avalon, Thursday)
Kvelertak played a chaotic, cathartic late night set at Avalon. Photo: Justin Cremer
Kvelertak played a chaotic, cathartic late night set at Avalon. Photo: Justin Cremer
There were an estimated 7,000 Norwegians at this year’s festival and at times during this Stavanger band’s wild and raucous late night set, it felt like I was surrounded by all of them. This was without a doubt the highest energy interaction between band and audience that I had the pleasure of being a part of.
3. Savages (Avalon, Thursday)
A terrible photo of a great show by Savages. Photo: Justin Cremer
A terrible photo of a great show by Savages. Photo: Justin Cremer
When I saw Savages play the Pavillion stage in 2013, it was one of that year’s most pleasant surprises. Three years later and on the larger Avalon stage, the London-based quartet blew me away again with their mix of attitude, sexiness and intensity.
4. Sleep (Avalon, Wednesday)
The midnight set from doom pioneers Sleep was near the top of my list going into Roskilde, and it certainly did not disappoint. This was an absolutely hypnotizing set that provided the perfect ending to the festival’s opening night.
5. Gojira (Arena, Saturday)
Gojira kept the festival's final day going strong. Photo: Justin Cremer
Gojira kept the festival’s final day going strong. Photo: Justin Cremer
I had heard good things about this French prog/technical metal band’s live performances for years and now I know why. Even though the band apologized several times for being a bit “rusty”, their Saturday evening set was a blistering display of tight musicianship and crunching grooves. The band might not have felt like they had delivered their best, but for me Gojira lived up to the hype.
Chris Manion’s top five picks:
1. Sleep (Avalon, Wednesday)
Sleep at Apollo. Photo: Justin Cremer
Sleep played behind a wall of fog and lights at Apollo. Photo: Justin Cremer
I sceptically joined a group to see the band Sleep with no prior knowledge of them or ‘stoner doom metal’. As soon as we were about 50 metres from the show, I could sense perfect harmony between the music and the audience. It was this symbiotic relationship that some artists simply failed to capture in the same enigmatic style. The music was expressing a shared feeling, a collectiveness, and that is what Roskilde Festival is essentially about, being together for the love of music.
2. Neil Young + Promise of the Real (Orange, Friday)
One legend meets another: Neil Young on Orange. Photo: Justin Cremer
One legend meets another: Neil Young on Orange. Photo: Justin Cremer
The 70-year-old Canadian legend delivered a breathtakingly energetic performance. The show progressed from heartfelt renderings of classics such as ‘Heart of Gold’ to a full throttle rock’n’roll experience like no other.
3. MØ (Orange, Saturday)
Danish superstar MØ on Orange. Photo: Sara Gangsted/Scanpix
Danish superstar MØ on Orange. Photo: Sara Gangsted/Scanpix
The Danish international star came to the Orange stage on the final evening of Roskilde 2016. There were many festival-goers looking defeated and deflated, a tough crowd to bring alive. As soon as MØ came to the stage, it all changed. She brought a passion and energy that could not be topped by many other artists in the world.
4. Courtney Barnett (Avalon, Thursday)
Courtney Barnett at Avalon. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
Courtney Barnett at Avalon. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
A first-time Roskilde Festival experience for the young Australian singer-songwriter and she did not disappoint. She gave festival-goers a powerfully sincere performance. Many times throughout the show, you could see that this was still a 28-year-old playing songs that openly confess her deepest fears and regrets. That humility gave the performance a beautifully personal touch.
5. Mac DeMarco (Arena, Friday)
Mac DeMarco at Arena. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
Mac DeMarco at Arena. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
The cheeky Canadian up-and-coming star strutted on the stage with unabashed confidence, and then looked at the audience like a naughty schoolboy and gave his famous gap toothed smile. From then on, it was a fun, energetic and charismatic performance.
Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk’s top five picks
1. House of Pain (Orange, Thursday)
Old school rappers House of Pain showed that they still have the skills. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix
Old school rappers House of Pain showed that they still have the skills. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix 
The guys that brought us the legendary ’Jump Around’ tune rocked the Orange stage to its core during their Thursday afternoon performance. Who would have thought that a hip-hop mainstay such as this would play Johnny Cash’s ’Walk The Line’ in their set?  Schoolboy Q and Young Thug should take notes from these OGs.
2. Tame Impala (Arena, Friday)
Tame Impala put on one hell of a party on Friday night. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix
Tame Impala put on one hell of a party on Friday night. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix
Australians Tame Impala are a class act and have grown in presence and stature since their previous appearance at Roskilde a few years ago. Backing their performance with an impeccable light show and a ton of confetti, they were simply insurmountable on the Arena stage.
3. Los Pirañas (Gloria, Saturday)
Los Pirañas gave a commanding performance on the intimate Gloria stage. Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
Los Pirañas gave a commanding performance on the intimate Gloria stage. Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk 
Colombia’s Los Pirañas churned out an endearing stream of psychedelic rock fused with South American influences that blew the roof off the intimate Gloria stage. Hats off to the stage crew for outfitting the stage with an epic light show to match an assured performance.
4. Tenacious D (Orange, Thursday)
Tenacious D gave a weird but wonderful post-midnight show on Orange. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix
Tenacious D gave a weird but wonderful post-midnight show on Orange. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix  
Honestly, I’m not a Jack Black fan and even after his momentous performance at Orange, I still have my doubts about the man’s sanity. Credit is due to him, however, for providing a fun and at times mesmerising show amidst the rain. Where others would have stumbled, Tenacious D were sure-footed, weird and even wonderful.
5. Elf Kid (Apollo, Saturday)
Elf Kid's early afternoon set helped wake up the Apollo crowd. Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
Elf Kid’s early afternoon set helped wake up the Apollo crowd. Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
Grime’s renaissance was reflected in Roskilde’s bookings this year. Of those on the billing, South London’s Elf Kid was, for me, the most impressive of the lot. Backed by his DJ, the kid spat out one lyric after another before getting bare-chested in the early Saturday afternoon chill, encouraging everyone to banish their hangovers to mere memory.

From Russia with love: Snowden addresses Roskilde

Broadcast live from Moscow, Snowden seemed to be in good spirits for a man who has spent the last few years in exile.
Roskilde Festival announced Snowden’s address earlier this month, billing it as a perfect fit for this year’s theme of human rights. Critics have since hailed the move as something that has added depth to this year’s festival by creating a discourse around the subject of privacy.
Formally dressed and courteous in his demeanour, Snowden’s address was hinged on answering several questions pitched by members of the Roskilde Festival public and moderated by the performance art group The Yes Men.
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These queries had been raised in relation to several controversial privacy statements that had been deliberately placed around the festival with the intention of promoting the event.
The former CIA employee focused on the issue of privacy, arguing “it is not something to hide but something to protect,” and billing it as “the foundation of all other rights.” In his opening statements, Snowden also questioned governments’ Machiavellian “the ends justifies the means rhetoric,” equating it to the policies of Nazi Germany.
Snowden then went on to address questions on the power dynamics associated with the data gathering policies of the United States, which by and large can extract the private data of any individual without legal consent and simply by “knocking on the doors of Google and Facebook.”
Driving his point home, Snowden questioned the legitimacy of such privacy-violating policies, citing that whilst they have run for a decade, “they have yet to uncover any unknown terrorists. “
As a still and uncomfortable silence fell upon the festival grounds at Roskilde West, Snowden then used the example of the FBI’s spying on Martin Luther King Jr when he was labelled a threat to the political stability of the US back in the 1960’s.
The mood lightened considerably towards the end of the proceedings, as Snowden veered towards discussing solutions to some of the privacy issues that he had addressed previously. He jubilantly stated that it did not matter what one did, as long as one did something, before responding with a refreshing dose of humour to questions from a child in the crowd regarding the length of his jail sentence if convicted of the charges that the US government have filed against him.
The 45-minute address ended in a rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the partisan crowd in honour of the whistleblower’s 33rd birthday last week, followed by a chorus of “pardon Snowden.”

The Local’s not-quite-live Roskilde 2016 blog

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Roskilde Festival spokeswoman Christina Bilde previously stated that Snowden was a perfect fit for this year’s theme on human rights.
“More than anyone else, Edward Snowden has made us aware just how much human rights are challenged. This goes for a small country like Denmark as well where surveillance both in public and on social media challenges the right to privacy; where refugees make us question the right to free mobility; where the right to freedom of speech is debated heavily,” Bilde said.
“His thoughts and experiences will undoubtedly inspire reflection amongst anyone who cares to listen at the festival,” she added.
Earlier this week, Snowden lost a legal battle in neighbouring Norway when the Oslo District Court said it would not handle a lawsuit he filed in April as a way of seeking a guarantee that he will not be extradited if he visits the Norwegian capital to accept an award later this year
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8 key questions ahead of this year’s Roskilde Festival

Original article written for The Local, available here.

As some 130,000 fans prepare to descend on the festival grounds for eight days of music and merry mayhem, we take a look at some of the things we’ll be keep a close eye on during this year’s festival.
1. What will the weather be like?
Look at those blue skies! Will we get them this year as well? Photo: Per Lange
Look at those blue skies! Will we get them this year as well? Photo: Per Lange
Let’s start with the obvious: the perennial weather question that everyone asks themselves ahead of the festival. Festival-goers are particularly keen to hear the forecast for this year’s festival, given as Roskilde comes after a week that has provided both glorious sunshine and ravaging thunderstorms. Which of those will continue through next week? Well, at the time of writing the Danish Meteorology Institute (DMI) was predicting a cloudy albeit mostly dry week ahead, with the exception of Wednesday. However, as always, the unpredictable Danish weather will be certainly a force to be reckoned with.
2. Will the music lineup please or disappoint?
Wiz Khalifa is one of several big hip-hop names at this year's festival. PR photo
Wiz Khalifa is one of several big hip-hop names at this year’s festival. PR photo
Roskilde sold out in good time this year, indicating early signs of impending success. Its music lineup this year features quite a few major hip-hop acts, such as Wiz Khalifa, Action Bronson, House of Pain and Vince Staples. This is a lineup that is inclined more towards an urban sensibility than it is anchored in the rock and metal heritage that has come to define Roskilde over the years.
Still though, there is also plenty on offer for the headbangers, from heavyweights Slayer to Nordic upstarts Kvelertak, and there are acts like Neil Young that should be able to assemble the diverse masses in front of Orange Stage. Will this year’s lineup pay dividends for the organisers?
3. Will the Red Hot Chili Peppers redeem themselves?
RHCP need to redeem themselves in the eyes of Roskilde fans. PR photo
RHCP need to redeem themselves in the eyes of Roskilde fans. PR photo
The last time the Peppers graced the Orange Stage, they bombed abysmally. Their 2007 performance was so roundly slammed by audience members and critics alike, that it was all anyone talked about when they were added to this year’s bill. Will they be able to silence their critics?
4. How will the political message behind the Orange Stage’s opening act go down?
The Syrian National Orchestra and Damon Albarn. Photo: Mark Allen
The Syrian National Orchestra and Damon Albarn. Photo: Mark Allen
The festival’s legendary Orange Stage will be opened this year by the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, a clear political statement by the organizers given the hot-button issue of how Denmark has reacted to the Syrian refugee crisis. The musicians were scattered across the world as the Syrian Civil War erupted in 2011, but now the 90-strong orchestra will be reuniting for one of their first ever concerts together since fleeing the country. The orchestra, conducted by Issam Rafea, will be joined by none other than Damon Albarn of the Gorillaz and Blur fame, along with other special guests. The show could be one of the most breath taking performances of the entire festival (especially considering that Albarn had to literally carried off the stage the last time he visited Roskilde).
5. How will Roskilde fair against growing competition?
NorthSide, Tinderbox and Copenhell have all crowded in on Roskilde's territory. Photo: Michael Barrettt
NorthSide, Tinderbox and Copenhell have all crowded in on Roskilde’s territory. Photo: Michael Barrettt
Denmark’s music festival scene has really come alive in the last few years, and it seems like more and more huge international stars are gracing stages across the country. This year has already seen the one and only Iggy Pop headline Aarhus’ NorthSide, the multi-award-winning spectacle that is Rammstein come to Funen’s Tinderbox and the British music legends Black Sabbath including Copenhell on their farewell tour.
Roskilde has, of course, still brought some huge names to Denmark once again this year, but will the growing reputations of NorthSide, Tinderbox and Copenhell challenge the dominance of Roskilde as Denmark’s biggest and best music festival? Or will the increase in competition see Roskilde raise the bar to an unprecedented level this year? We are waiting with bated breathes, but only time will tell!
6. Will our Roskilde virgin survive? 
The Local's former intern Chris Manion will be attending his first music festival ever.
The Local’s former intern Chris Manion will be attending his first music festival ever. 
The Local has been covering the festival since we launched in Denmark in 2014, and some of our team have been coming since long before that. But this year, we will also have a ‘Roskilde virgin’ with us. Former intern Chris Manion has not only never been to Roskilde before, he’s never been to a music festival.
“Since coming to Denmark two years ago, my 24-year-old festival virginity seems to be a thing of sheer unbelief,” he said. “Upon informing the inquisitive Dane of my disinterest in music festivals I summarily receive a noise akin to  a dying sea otter, followed by a fantastically enthusiastic ‘ROSKILDE IS THE BEST EXPERIENCE YOU WILL EVER HAVE!’. So this year I’m going to do it, take the plunge, get down and dirty, and see if this Roskilde festival is all it’s cracked up to be.
Don’t worry, us veterans will look out for him.
7. How much of a mess will be left behind?
Another perennial Roskilde query. Once the maddening crowds have left and the camping grounds resemble an apocalyptic dystopia, the question of who will clean up the mess always arises. Roskilde Festival incurs significant expenses each year in mopping up after its hedonistic guests, who leave behind everything from fully functional tents to rich stocks of tinned food. Much of what is abandoned is donated to worthy causes.
8. Will Roskilde fix its ‘collector problem’?
Continuing on the same tangent, Roskilde’s guests drink over one million litres of beer every year, resulting in millions of beer cans spread around the festival grounds. Denmark’s can remuneration system ensures that many of these cans are recycled, thanks to an influx of hundreds of can collectors primarily from Africa and the Roma community at events such as Roskilde. Those collectors help recycle cans and bottles while earning some money for themselves, but their interaction with festival guests isn’t always as happy as in the video above.
The collectors become an underclass that works in poor conditions, often marred by racist overtones and abusive reactions from merrymakers. They have also faced notoriously long lines in recent years to collect their deposits but organizers have worked hard to improve conditions for those who clean up after the rest of us.
The Roskilde Festival begins on Saturday, June 25th and runs through Saturday, July 2nd. The first four days serve as “warm-up” and feature a number of up-and-coming Nordic acts and scores of activities on the campgrounds. The main music line-up begins on Wednesday, June 29th.