The Local’s top ten Roskilde concerts

Original article published in The Local Denmark

Roskilde Festival 2015

The Local's top ten Roskilde concerts

Whether it was at the expansive Orange stage or one of the festival’s more intimate settings, there were no shortage of good concerts. Photo: Sophia Juliane Lydolph/Scanpix

The Local’s top ten Roskilde concerts

Published: 05 Jul 2015 21:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Jul 2015 21:34 GMT+02:00

Roskilde Festival has once again come and gone, leaving a trail of smiles, laughs and memorable experiences in its wake. This year’s lineup was more commercial than previous years, with less rock and metal on the billing, but there was still more than plenty to satisfy all musical tastes.

A testament to the Roskilde Festival’s diversity can be found here in our picks for best concert. Our two writers, Justin Cremer and Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk, have quite different tastes and there isn’t a single repeat among their respective choices for the year’s five best performances.

Justin Cremer’s top five 2015 Roskilde Festival concerts:

5. Africa Express
Arena, July 4

Photo: Torben Christensen/Scanpix

I caught parts of 28 different concerts at this year’s Roskilde Festival, so getting it down to five picks is no easy task. Several others could have just as easily taken this spot – Dolomite Minor, Father John Misty, The Gaslamp Killer Experience or Mastodon, to name a few – but Africa Express gets the nod as it is where I closed out the 2015 Roskilde Festival, surrounded by good friends and treated to an impressive international jam session that had been going strong for nearly three hours when I packed it in.

4. St Vincent
Arena, July 2

Photo: Simon Læssøe/Scanpix
Photo: Simon Læssøe/Scanpix

I knew basically nothing about St Vincent before strolling in to the Arena stage on Thursday afternoon and when I left I wasn’t quite sure how to describe what I’d just seen. I think my feeble attempt to explain it to a friend later was something along the lines of “robot pop-rock” and perhaps that’s as good as anything. This was a tightly-performed – even occasionally choreographed – and very high-energy performance, highlighted by a final song played on the shoulders of a security guard with St Vincent sporting an ear-to-ear grin that revealed that she had just had as much fun as the audience.

3. Chelsea Wolfe
Gloria, July 4

Photo: Justin Cremer
Photo: Justin Cremer

The intimate Gloria stage was the perfect setting for an absolutely hypnotic performance by Chelsea Wolfe. Her particular mix of dark folk mixed with occasional blasts of rage may have on the surface been a strange pick for a hot and sunny day at Roskilde, but the enchanting Wolfe delivered one of my best musical experiences of the four days.

2. The War on Drugs
Arena, July 1

Photo: Simon Skipper/Scanpix
Photo: Simon Skipper/Scanpix

This was the show I was looking most forward to heading in to the festival and Adam Granduciel and company certainly did not disappoint. The setlist was very heavy on last year’s stellar album ‘Lost in the Dream’ with the performance putting just enough new nuances into the songs to really bring them alive. This was a powerhouse rock ‘n’ roll performance.

1. Goat
Friday, July 3


Photo: Justin Cremer

It is perhaps fitting that I don’t have a particularly good photo to go along with my top choice. The late night performance from these costume-draped Swedes who mix experimental psychedelic rock with African beats didn’t seem to be on the radar of too many, but those of us who were there were treated to what felt like a blissful mix between occult ritual and raging dance party. In a Roskilde Festival full of unexpected musical surprises, this one was the best.

Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk’s top five 2015 Roskilde Festival concerts:

5. Timbuktu
Arena, July 1


Photo: Bobby Anwar

Consistent, calm, confident. Those are the words that underline the show of veteran Swedish rapper Timbuktu. It’s never easy for Swedes to perform at Roskilde and earn critical acclaim, but Timbuktu put on a solid show good enough to scrape into our top ten anyway.

4. Kendrick Lamar
Orange, July 3

Photo: Bobby Anwar

Kendrick Lamar epitomized the booking policy at Roskilde this year: bombastic, commercial and appealing to the youth. Orange stage host Per Vers introduced him as the man he thought is the best rapper at the moment before his show and whilst some of us may disagree with such a grandiose claim, Kendrick did put on a top-notch performance before a packed Orange stage.

3. Mew
Orange, July 3

Photo: Simon Læssøe/Scanpix
Photo: Simon Læssøe/Scanpix

Danish rock band Mew played at Roskilde’s Orange stage missing one of their frontmen, guitarist Bo Madsen, who left the group just last week after 20 years. On their sixth appearance at the festival, this time as a trio, Mew were brilliant and endearing, backed by the solid Danish following that they’ve built over the years.

2. Die Antwoord
Orange, July 2


Photo: Bobby Anwar

South African duo Die Antwoord brought the Orange crowd to its knees with an emblematic, raucous performance that few expected would be as good as it turned out to be. Given that they are not well-known locally, their psycho blend of Afrikaans rap and trashy shrill vocals proved to be an even bigger hit. Frankly, Roskilde has rarely seen something of this nature.

1. Florence and The Machine
Orange, July 2


Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – not only is that the title of indie band Florence and The Machine’s remarkable new album, it’s also a good descriptor of their show at Roskilde’s Orange stage. The voice of Florence Welsh, the singer at the forefront of the band, is a force to be reckoned with – she found herself at home at a packed Orange stage, with the big, blue beautiful sky above a sea of smiling fans.

Rf15: Sustainability never tasted so good

Roskilde Festival 2015 reaches its closure on Saturday for one last day of revelry under the summer sun. Temperatures will reach their highest point of the festival and this year’s biggest name, Paul McCartney, will lead a massive sing-along on the Orange stage.

After three full days of music, we’ve seen acts like Pharrell Williams, The War on Drugs, Goat, St Vincent and Sarabi play to popular approval whilst others like Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Mastodon have disappointed somewhat.

But Roskilde is more than just music, as the organizers of the annual event constantly reaffirm.

One of the increasingly important aspects at the festival is its focus on quality food and beverages. Last year’s event saw 700,000 kilos of food and approximately one million litres of beer sold. Given Roskilde’s environmental focus, the organizers of the event have become stricter when it comes to the sorts of food products that are sold on the festival grounds.

According to Mikkel Sander, Roskilde Festival’s sustainability leader, the festival has for many years “explored different avenues and set higher demands with regard to sustainability initiatives.”

This has entailed an inclination to donating leftovers to charities, in an effort to curb waste. Last year alone, over 27.5 tonnes of food was donated to the homeless in the form of 65,000 meals – an initiative that earned special praise at the European Festival Awards.

See also: Leftover festival food feeds thousands

At least 45 percent of the food stalls at Roskilde Festival sell organic food. This figure is set to rise to 90 percent by 2017 and as you may expect, is easier said than done. Organizers say that it is harder to procure organic products and suppliers than traditional ones. This is is especially true of beer, one of the most consumed products at the event.

In addition to its ambitious organic agenda, Roskilde has also made an effort to integrate the consumption of food and beverage into the overall festival experience. To this end, the festival has staged several food events, from a communal street kitchen during the warm-up days to educational palette-tickling experiments by Michelin-star chefs. The Local was particularly impressed with the Food Jam in the centre of the East city. Now a fixture within the Roskilde experience, the food jam presents an opportunity for groups and individuals to cook together, using high quality organic ingredients and costing a mere 50 kroner.

Roskilde’s organizers were kind enough to take us on a guided tour of some hand-picked initiatives at the festival. Here is some of what we saw on our culinary foray:

Dixie Burgers: Lean production gurus Dixie Burgers are located in the food area by the music stages. With over 315 volunteers, they produce up to 12 burgers a minute. The profits generated from sales at stalls such as these are reinvested into the association that staffs them. One of the challenges of meeting the organic demands at the festival is that most associations contract volunteers to operate their stalls. These volunteers, while incredibly hard working, tend to be less experienced than food industry professionals, which can complicate matters when it comes to ordering exact quantities of organic products.


Big A’s Diner: It may lack the Pulp Fiction-like diner seating, but Big A’s is about as good as it gets when it comes to the American culinary experience at Roskilde Festival.  This stall, located by the Avalon stage, is run by professionals from the food industry and outsourced to 140 volunteers. Fries, deep fried chicken and milk shakes are some of the items on their menu. A good place to grab a bite on Saturday, which in addition to the final day of the festival is also the major US holiday Independence Day.

Bus Bus: Located near the Orange stage, Bus Bus serves traditional Danish meals such as the revered Flæskestegssandwich (roasted pork sandwich). Their version has been heralded by several foodies as being the festival’s best. Our insider tip is to queue in the line on the left-hand side of the building (looking away from the Orange stage) as it moves way quicker than the one on the opposite side.

The Food Court: Offering a lot of different food concentrated in one place, the food court houses 18 stalls and two bars. Of these, two are Michelin-star eateries, a fact that takes Roskilde a cut above many other European festivals, The organic produce demands in this particular area of Roskilde Festival are higher than the overall demands: 60 percent of the ingredients used by each stall have to be organic.

Peter Larsen Coffee: Located in the food court area, the folks behind Peter Larsen Coffee are masters in the coffee department. One of their specialties is their cold brew coffee, pictured here. Originally from Japan, cold brew coffee contains twice as much caffeine as a can of Red Bull. And as anyone out here at Roskilde with us can attest, a heavy dose of caffeine can be just what’s needed to clear out the preceding night’s cobwebs and get you ready to face another full day eating, drinking and making merry.

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.