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.

The Local’s ten must-see Roskilde gigs

The month of June has been quite a ride. With Distortion, Tinderbox, Northside, Copenhell and the general election now in the rear-view mirror, July is finally upon us, and with it comes the summer’s highlight for many, the Roskilde Festival.

Musically, Roskilde has shifted from its rock and metal roots to a more commercial programme this year with a lineup that’s heavy on the hip-hop. There is no doubt that its headline acts in the past have been grander, but there are still several exciting names to look out for and surely a few surprises lie in wait as well, as they do every year.

We’ll be covering this year’s edition, enjoying what promises to be the summer’s best weather thus far and maybe even contributing to future beer. With 169 acts catering to pretty much every musical taste, the Roskilde Festival will have something for everyone. Here are ten gigs that we are particularly looking forward to:

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
July 1 at 8:30 pm, Arena
Although Oasis’s ‘Wonderwall’ continues to be a karaoke bar staple, the Gallagher brothers’ days as a duo are now long gone. The feuds of Noel and Liam Gallagher are well-documented and both have tried their hands at solo projects. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds are musically not all that different from the seminal Britpop sound that he helped cultivate in Oasis’ 90s heyday. If anything, there is a more mature, comforting appeal to it – make no mistake, if Gallagher can recapture some of his previous magic, this has the potential to be one of the best concerts at Roskilde this year.

Young Fathers
July 1 at 8:45 pm, Apollo
Young Fathers hail from Edinburgh with roots in Nigeria, Scotland and Liberia. Having won a Mercury Prize last year, Young Fathers are steadily evolving into a force to be reckoned with. Flying the flag for British experimental music, Young Fathers draw on trippy universes flanked by a blend of sharp hip-hop lyricism and epic choruses. Their sound that draws quite a few parallels with the music of trip-hop artist Tricky combined with a witty dosage of J Cole-esque influences.

The War on Drugs
July 1 at 11pm, Arena

Some music seems like it was tailor-made for a summer night in Roskilde. Such is the case with The War on Drugs, whose particular brand of American rock mixes a retro feel with indie cred and sprawling sensibilities. Their 2014 album Lost in the Dream was hyped to the heavens with very good reason and should sound even better when infused with Roskilde’s famous ‘orange feeling’.

Sarabi
July 2 at 12pm, Pavilion
Sarabi (a Swahili word for mirage) hail from the Eastlands slums of Nairobi, Kenya and are one of Roskilde’s wildcard entries this year. Socially-critical lyrics alongside well-strung instrumentation and a talismanic lead singer with an exceptional work ethic on stage are what you can look forward to when they take to the Pavilion stage at noon on Thursday.

Steve Gunn
July 2 at 4pm, Pavilion
One of the lesser-known names in this year’s lineup, Steve Gunn’s music is artistic acoustic wizardry at its best. The sorcery behind it lies in complexly-woven guitar motions drowned in a dark tunnel with strange echoes and ticks flanked by comforting vocals every now and again. Gunn is a deft guitarist and his vocal techniques have a Bon Iver-type quietness to them; music for a more tender, comforting moment at Roskilde.

Mastodon
July 2 at 8.30pm, Arena

Roskilde Festival always delivers the goods for metal fans and this year is no exception. Perhaps the biggest name among the metal acts at this year’s festival is the mighty Mastodon, who should be coming with something to prove. Their 2011 performance on the too-big and too-sparsely-crowded Orange stage was something of a letdown and didn’t come near to the powerful performance they deliver in smaller venues. Better placed at Arena this year and having taken a trippier and softer turn since their last appearance, the progressive metal veterans are sure to be a tour de force.

Disclosure
July 3 at 10.30pm, Orange
The last time Disclosure played at Roskilde, they were billed as an interesting act to look out for. After countless gigs around the world since, the two brothers from London are now established festival headliners despite having a rather slim repertoire of their own music. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Basement Jaxx and Faithless, Disclosure have taken UK garage and dance music back to the top of the charts, which in an age dominated by trashy EDM is a welcome addition of quality to the electronic music narrative.

Chelsea Wolfe
July 4 at 8.30pm, Gloria

Chelsea Wolfe is something to the antithesis of Nicki Minaj, who will be playing Orange when goth queen Wolfe takes the stage on Gloria. Her music is both incredibly dark and beautiful and will take listeners on a journey that goes throws blasts of crushing rock into quiet and eerie soundscapes. Her unique style of gothic folk has been embraced by underground rock and metal fans and she earned herself wide exposure when her track ‘Feral Love’ was used to soundtrack the season four preview for Game of Thrones.

Paul McCartney
July 4 at 10pm, Orange
At 73 years of age, Paul McCartney is surely past his prime, if you ask most. Then again, once you’ve sold over 100 million records and won 21 Grammy awards, surely things are only supposed to go downhill from there. The only former Beatle to return to Roskilde’s Orange stage, Knight McCartney has recently collaborated with the likes of Rihanna, Kanye West and Nirvana and is back to touring the world. The Orange scene will be all his come prime time on Saturday.

Africa Express
July 4 at 11pm, Arena
Africa Express is a terrific example of how cultures can be brought together through music. Featuring a varied palette of artists from Africa and Europe, their shows have seen artists like Fatboy Slim, Amadou & Mariam, Paul McCartney and Rokia Traore perform in various venues around the world. Befittingly, this year, Africa Express will be closing Roskilde on Saturday, with names such as Trentemøller, Damon Albarn, Spoek Mathambo and other unannounced acts lined up for what should be a memorable performance.

Can Collectors Dancing At Roskilde Festival

Roskilde Festival is Scandinavia’s largest festival. Held in the pastoral town of Roskilde, the festival has hosted many impressive acts over the years. Unfortunately, the festival seems to have lost some of its original aims and as such, much of Roskilde today is all about drinking as much as one can and trashing the camping grounds, which are left in a miserable, tattered state of affairs at the end of it all. Part of the tidying up during the event itself takes place through the efforts of numerous bottle and can collectors who pick up empty beverage containers which they then cash in for money at different checkpoints around the festival. Such efforts aid the environment and the can  collectors themselves who rely on what they collect to earn a living. Many of these pant collectors come are part of ethnic minorities in Denmark, such as the Roma or Africans, the vast majority of whom are probably in the country illegally. In a form of money making in which there is little or no legislation to protect them, they often end up working under tough physical and psychological conditions. Furthermore, the sight of Roma or African people cleaning up after others only helps to reinforce negative cultural stereotypes in a world of racial hegemonies unjust, racially-influenced power structures. With this said, it was wonderful to come across two bottle collectors who broke the norms of their “roles” at Roskilde and joined in the party, like everyone else. Whether they put on this entertaining performance to earn more money through can collection or whether they were simply enjoying themselves as much as they could is immaterial. They spread some great karma at the Apollo stage, wowed the crowd and evinced the creative spirit that Roskilde festival is all about. I didn’t see Rihanna’s show at the Orange Stage create such a phenomenon, did you ?