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.


Denmark’s ten must-see concerts in August

Original article for The Local Denmark

With the lazy holiday month of July behind us, August promises a number of good musical experiences and festivals to round off the summer.
Heading into late summer, gone are the roaring, chaotic festivals of June and the sedate vibe of July. August is not the wildest of months for Danish festivals, but it does feature lesser-known ones and an opportunity to well and truly enjoy some great music in the sun before the the cold autumn rains herald the end to yet another all-too-brief Danish summer.

Here’s some of what to look forward to:

Beth Hart

Amager Bio, 3 August at 8pm

Beth Hart’s powerful vocals echo in one’s ears days after attending one of her fantastic live performances. Now in her early 40’s, the multiple Grammy nominee returns to an established and ever-expanding fanbase here in Denmark.

YoungBlood Brass Band

Lille Vega, 4 August at 9pm

The Local’s pick of the month, YoungBlood Brass Band are yet another export from the music Mecca of New Orleans. Pioneers of the genre of riot brass – a feisty combination of hip-hop inspired instrumentals with swathes of funk and percussive panache – YoungBlood Brass Band are sure to provide a whole evening’s worth of great entertainment.

Rob Zombie

Store Vega, 5 August at 8pm

As the name suggests, the music of Rob Zombie is not for the faint of heart. Zombie’s live shows entail a video game-like immersion into a universe of drama, horror and raw metal that has helped the band make a solid name for itself over the years.

STRØM Festival: The Party Cruise

MS BJØRNSHOLM, 8 August at 6pm

Now a permanent fixture on the festival calendar, Copenhagen’s STRØM Festival is less intense (and less-known) than many of the major music festivals in the city. However, the experiences it offers are truly unique. One of the highlights of this year’s event will be a boat cruise organised by the record label WAA Industry. Kenton Slash Demon, Kasper Marott og Kristian Kjôller will be doing the honours on board, providing soothing electronic music for the occasion.

STRØM Festival: Copenhagen Metro

The Metro Line, 11 August, check STRØM festival’s webpage for exact time

Staying in the vein of unique STRØM experiences, this particular one takes the form of a metro ride with live deejays. The music tends to straddle the borderline between weird and experimentally cool, so don’t expect something like your typical festival experience (there will be other normal commutters on board too, some of whom won’t be too enthused), but do expect an experience that you’ll rarely get anywhere else in the world.

Vince Staples

(Moved from the 20th of June) Lille Vega, August 12 at 8pm

Staples’ original show penned for the 20th of June failed to materialize. We featured him in our June listings however, so here he is again. Several years after carving out a name for himself with a series of recordings for the established Odd Future crew, Long Beach rapper Vince Staples has evolved to become one of the most exciting names in rap music today. His upbringing, run-ins with authorities and prior near-misses are frequently the subject of his lyrics, many of which take a poetic stab at some of the inequalities of life.


Ideal Bar, August 20 at 9pm

Ahead of a debut album release this autumn, Danish R&B duo König still don’t have much material to help us gauge what they’re all about. The little they do have, however, is enough to suggest that this a band with quite a bit of potential; soft vocals in the R&B tradition combined with sharp electronic influences.

Derrick May

Culture Box, August 21 at 9pm

Derrick May is known as one of the Belleville three. Along with Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins, May was one of the pioneers of the Detroit techno genre that emerged from the industrial backdrop of the motor city and spread across the world ever since. In a dance music landscape dominated by the age of selfies and pseudo superstar deejays, this show promises to be a trip back in time.

Fort Minor

Pumpehuset, August 26 at 8pm

Growing up, Linkin Park was one of the bands I was most inspired by. Linkin Park fans, rejoice, as pianist and rapper Mark Shinoda will be bringing his solo project, Fort Minor, to the grunge confines of Copenhagen’s Pumpehuset. Less rock-inclined than the sounds of Linkin Park, Fort Minor wanders down a more percussive and often gloomier path.

Jurassic 5

Store Vega, August 29 at 8pm

One of the seminal bands in the history of hip-hop, Jurassic 5 returns to Denmark for their third outing here, following their previous shows at Vega and Northside, respectively. Theirs is a breed of hip-hop that, by comparison to the development of the genre today, remains a class apart. It’s vintage musicianship that is true to its roots, and they are anything but Jurassic.

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Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk (allanm46@gmail.com)

Denmark’s ten must-see concerts in June

The following weeks will offer more than enough entertainment as the closely contested general election kicks into top gear, but there is plenty to do in June for the non-political junkies out there.

We’ll have more on the concert festivals as they approach, but for now here are our ten don’t-miss concerts for June.

Distortion Festival
Various locations in Copenhagen • June 3-7

Billed as “a week of emerging dance music and orchestrated chaos” Distortion has grown from strength to strength over the years. Now one of Europe’s most renowned street festivals, Distortion features a street party in Nørrebro on June 3 and in Vesterbro the following day before the chaos migrates to the fashionably grunge confines of Refshaleøen for two more days of mayhem featuring a solid lineup of up and coming acts alongside evergreen establishments such as Fritz Kalknbrenner, Kenton Slash Demon and Eloq.

Lille Vega • June 4 at 9pm

This will get messy. Hailed as moshpit kings for the last two decades, Hatebreed will be celebrating their 20th anniversary at Vega at the start of June. With numerous performances on Danish soil under their belt, these metalcore stalwarts look to add yet another memorable concert to their impressive local repertoire.

Marilyn Manson
Store Vega • June 8 at 8pm

He may be more than a few years past his prime and not quite as scary as he once was, but Marilyn Manson’s 2015 album The Pale Emperor shows that the shock rocker still has a few tricks up his sleeve. The man formerly known as Brian Warner will bring his “The Hell Not Hallelujah Tour” to Vega for what will surely be a hard romp through his catalogue of goth-inspired metal.

NorthSide Festival
Aarhus • June 12-14

Northside Festival is the music festival amongst music festivals. Retailing at a cool 1378 kroner, the Jutland festival, located in downtown Aarhus is cheaper than both Tinderbox and Roskilde. It’s lineup is also less commercial, with quality acts like Anthony & The Johnsons, Alt J, Ben Howard, the Black Keys, Earl Sweatshirt, Wu-Tang Clan, Grace Jones and Placebo gracing its stages. Unlike Roskidle, Northside doesn’t feature designated camping areas due to its city centre location.

Refshaleøen • June 18-20

Copenhell is exactly what it sounds like; two days of decibel-defying hell in Copenhagen held in the industrial surroundings of Refshaleøen heavily dedicated to metal; heavy metal. Hellishly unique experiences such as a scene where one can grab a mallet and smash away of heaps of junk metal are some of the attractions on offer at Copenhell. This year’s lineup has bands such as Slipknot, Red Fang, Cannibal Corpse, Exodus and Kreator, making Copenhell a heaven for metalheads.

Tyondai Braxton
Pumpehuset • June 10 at 8pm

Tyondai Braxton’s music would be more at home at an art exhibition at The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art than it would at Pumpehuset so this choice is, admittedly, curious. To their credit, Pumpehuset have billed a true pioneer within the field of experimental music whose work sounds what life on a galaxy far far away in an unforeseeable future might sound like. His music is either too nerdy to be understood or the craftsmanship of a genius – figure it out for yourself.

Black Daniels
Rust • June 12 at 1am

M.C Black Daniels is one of Denmark’s veritable ambassadors within the drum ‘n’ bass genre; a niche that often doesn’t get the representation it deserves in music circles. Having shared stages with the likes of England’s High Contrast (one of the few commercial successes within the genre), Daniels may not have that much material of his own but there is no disputing his lyrical wizardry as an emcee.

Vince Staples
Lille Vega • June 20 at 9pm

Several years after carving a name for himself with a series of recordings for the established Odd Future crew, Long Beach rapper Vince Staples has evolved to become one of the most exciting names in rap music today. His upbringing, run-ins with authorities and past near-misses are frequently the subject of his lyrics, many of which take a poetic stab at some of the inequalities of life.

Tinderbox Festival
Odense • June 26-28

The latest heavyweight addition to Denmark’s impressive festival repertoire, Tinderbox, initially received a hostile reception from music journalists and the industry at large, given its bold decision to stage the event just before Roskilde Festival. Retailing for a cool 500 kroner less than Roskilde, Tinderbox have lined up a very impressive artist roster considering that it’s their first-ever installation. The Prodigy, Faithless, Above & Beyond, Calvin Harris, Modest Mouse (shown in the video below), Robbie Williams, Faith No More and James Blake  are but a few of the names on a billing that features heavyweight electronic artists and established commercial acts.

Roskilde Festival
June 27 – July 4

Even though we’re cheating a bit (the main lineup of music acts doesn’t start until July 1), our coverage wouldn’t be complete without mention of the Roskilde Festival – one of the largest festivals in Europe and a staple on the local Danish festival scene. Some of the bigger names on this year’s billing include Paul McCartney, Pharell Williams and Muse. Beyond the music, there’s an interactive art and culture scene and of course, the world famous camping experience that makes Roskilde a gem amongst gems.

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Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk (allanm46@gmail.com)