The last two days of the festival were already predicted to be the weakest festival days. Sure, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Massive Attack and Mogwai would probably make most music nerds go nuts but if you’ve seen those bands at least seven times before there’s not much new to discover. Again, it was the up-and-coming bands that impressed most with high energy shows and an extraordinarily presence on stage – yeah, Nick Cave had it as well – that most artists being around for a while have lost. This is the final report from our adventures at the Roskilde Festival 2018.
Friday barely had time to start before it was time to run for the first gig of the day. When I attended a Coasts concert in Hamburg earlier this year, Watford four-piece The Hunna supported and I just got there to see the last three songs but were impressed of what I saw. At a first glance, before the show starts, you would think that The Hunna would play some sort of grunge/alternative rock considering their looks. Lead singer Ryan Potter looks like a combination of a very young Gavin Rossdale and Curt Cobain but when the first tunes pour through the amps it’s nothing but indie pop, at best indie rock, made for radio – and it’s great! Although I haven’t listen to them enough to compare albums, their major hits “She’s Casual” and “Bonfire” for sure gave them some new fans.
Even though they’ve just released one album, “100”, they have quiet a following at the Pavilion stage, just after noon when most people still were recovering from their hangovers. And it’s not hard to understand at all considering their live show. It’s ballistic from start to the final song; there’s a reason why The Hunna is followed by 300 000 on Facebook.
After an eight-hour break with no interesting bands to watch at all it’s finally time for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Like most music nerds I keep some kind of statistics of bands I’ve seen live and could therefore easily find out that this was the ninth time I attended a Nick Cave show.
As usual it’s a great show and most artists have quite much to learn – like everything – from Nick Cave on how to embody their music with the same pain and pleasure that he expresses on stage, or when climbing out to the crowds in front of the Orange stage. Nick Cave is the master, the connoisseur and the genius squeezed into human form, offering the crowds guidance and wisdom through poetry rather than harmonies. No one can create moodswings as Nick Cave for every new song played.
However, if you’ve seen it eight times before it might get a bit boring, but it’s just because everything you do to often gets boring. As a performer though, only a handful can compete with Nick Cave. After seven songs a friend fooled me to follow him to some black metal and French act Celeste but I can’t really see the point with it just as I can’t understand why football teams should sing football songs before the World Cup – sorry guys.
Luckily enough my third black metal encounter in life didn’t ruin the night; a few minutes after the show ended it was time for my nineties heroes Massive Attack to get on the Orange stage. Ever since I met one of their founding members, Andy Vowles, in a studio when I was working in London in the nineties, I’ve followed the career of Massive Attack. Their 90s albums “Blue Lines” and later “Mezzanine” were pioneering works in the trip hop genre and opened the gates for many similar bands like Portishead, Tricky and Morcheeba.
However, Massive Attack 01:00 in the morning when you want something danceable to keep six days of bad sleep away is not the best choice. Of course they play major hits as “Teardrop”, “Karmacoma”, “Angel” and “Inertia Creeps” but to me personally it’s in songs as “Girl I Love You” from their latest album – from 2010! – “Heligoland” and one of the best songs of the nineties, “Unfinished Sympathy” they really do something exciting on stage.
And they for sure had the show for it! With a massive digital backdrop blasting out political messages on the ongoing xenophobia around the world due to the thousands of refugees calling for shelter, nothing can go wrong. The digital screen beams intense shapes and colors and lasers slice through dry ice created fog on stage, and it’s by far the most oversized light show someone offers at this year’s festival but I’m not in the mood for it; I guess the lack of sleep starts to kick in. Those songs they make use of Horace Andy, as on “Girl I Love You” for example, are by far the best this night. However, enough is enough and I found my way to Klubb Rå instead and their techno dancefloor before going back to my tent and yet a night of bad sleep.
Saturday, the last day of the festival, would also be the most hectic day for Messed!Up because of interviews however with few concerts to attend. Already at noon we did an interview with Theresa Jarvis and Alex Crosby, two of the members of up-and-coming indie rock act Yonaka from the UK. The interview was followeed by their volcanically aggressive live show and it’s easy to understand why critics compare Theresa Jarvis to Gwen Stefani when she was part of No Doubt – similar singing style and moves on stage.
Guitarist George Edwards is a master performer; I thought he wouldn’t make it through the first song considering his belligerent persona on stage – amazingly fun to watch. For being quite a new band with only one EP and four singles in their discography, Yonaka manage to draw much attention, and quite many of those in the crowd knows the lyrics to songs as “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” and their latest single “F.W.T.B”. And bands with this kind of performance usually get more fans because it’s fun to be part of rowdiness that Yonaka’s music and performance create.
A quick snack later the Messed!Up staff found themselves sitting in front of the huge video screen to watch Sweden against England in the World Cup and although Sweden didn’t manage to leave their own half of the pitch the Swedes on location were quite happy and brought in a few rounds of beer to celebrate. There was also the idea to see VETO’s show at 19:00 but we ended up for the last time in Camp Vienna United’s pavilion to meet a few broken, sleepless individuals trying to find the last strength and go to the final concerts.
Mogwai were supposed to be the last concert of the night at the Arena stage around nine p.m., but after just a few songs it was clear that Mogwai’s very slow songs after seven days of hardly no sleep were too much – and I’m a massive Mogwai fan. After the fourth song I almost fell to the ground because of falling asleep standing and I realized that it didn’t work out anymore. In the middle of the fifth song I needed to do something and headed to the Pavilion stage for some uptempo indie pop by Sacred Paws. Although it’s not my favorite type of indie pop it worked out to find the last energy. Actually, I don’t know anything about Sacred Paws but whatever they played it made me happy and less tired, and that was enough at the moment.
After the Sacred Paws show we just brought our things back to the campsite and fell into sleep, and for once slept really well just to wake up the next morning and realize you’re going to be sick as soon as you’re home (and that was true).
How to summarize Roskilde 2018, the 27th visit to the festival? In terms of weather it was probably the best Roskilde I’ve been to. No previous Roskilde Festival’s have had such a great summer weather over eight days. Of course there will be much dust in the air but compared to those years when you needed a wetsuit just to get out of your tent it’s a small issue. You need to drink a lot of water on top of the beer but the festival’s great solution with water reservoirs where you bought a plastic bottle to refill on different reservoir stations is fantastic.
And Camp Vienna United? An amazing experience to follow a camp organizing as many events as Camp Vienna did during the pre-festival days. Jam Session, Independence Day celebrations, Olaf Vienna’s 25th Roskilde Anniversary and much more were almost too much to cope with. That kind of effort they put into the everyday activities just to make the festival days a bit more fun for their neighbours is invaluable for the festival in itself and will definitely add to the festival reputation. I also know for sure that if I would have stayed in their camp 24/7 my festival would have been over before the festival days started.
As usual the organization of the festival is state of the art, it’s impeccable. No festival can compete in professionality and still create a relaxed feeling. It’s like “The Force” in the Star Wars movies, it’s just there binding everything together but with happiness. Volunteers are happy and very friendly, the well-armed policemen have as much fun as the festivalgoers and always stop for a selfie, the workers in the foodtruck who probably worked in a tent hotter than hell – yeah, I felt it every time I went in to buy some food – were always in a great mood. Sure, I’m biased since I’ve been there (too) many times at this point but I’m not that easily impressed; I’ve been to more than 70 different festivals over the world in my work as a sound and light dude but have never found anything similar to the Roskilde Festival when you put all the bits and pieces together – and will probably not find it either. It’s simply the best festival you can visit. Period.
Slider photo: © Martin Wilson