Roskilde Festival 2006 (June 28-July 2)
(Roskilde, Denmark)

by Scott Heller

From Aural Innovations #34 (August 2006)

Everyone was psyched as we could see that the weather was going to be great. We were hoping that we would find some great bands that we did not know about. I picked up Thomas (Gas Giant) and Magnus (OSC and Mantric Muse) and Sonja (his girlfriend) and we got to the festival site about 13:30. We already had our tents set up with our Swedish friends from the Carpet Knights and all our usual Danish friends (Kaj, Susan, Torben, Jesper, Helle, John, Jesper (ex- Gas Giant) and Marie, etc.). About 20 in our camping area. The festival site did not open until 17:00 and the first band was going to be Trivium at 18:00. We sat around and talked the usual shit, drank beers, smoked joints, the usual. And it was amazing weather. Everyone was in a great mood. You could tell there were more people this year though. As I was walking around you could just see, smell and hear the vibe of Roskilde. It is a PARTY. Roskilde Festival is about people forgetting their normal life and just letting loose and being however they want to be, whether that is silly, stupid, drunk, crazy and even insane. Good friends, good booze and good times. That is all that matters. Several of the people near where we camped rarely ever left the camp to see any music at all. They came to be with their friends and party and have fun.

Anyway, we were off to see Trivium, a young band from Florida that are very influenced by old school Metallica and Megadeth. They are pretty damn heavy but to me all the melodies were too cliché. They need more ass kicking songs and not the same melodic chorus and guitar lines on all the songs. Very professional and a tight band, for sure. They covered Master of Puppets by Metallica and a Megadeth song as well. Next we headed off to the Orange Stage to catch Bullet for my Valentine, another band with a lot of hype but not delivering the goods at all. I was really struck by how low the volume was. You could hardly hear the band over the people talking and we were pretty close on the left side. A new security arrangement was in place we could see as well. Anyway, Bullet were really boring and the singer was not very good at all. People looked bored as well. Just way too many people everywhere.

Magnus, Sonja and I hung out and saw three songs by Ruben Ramos at the Ballroom. Pretty cool stuff. We split up and I went and hung out on the left side of the stage for Gun's and Roses. It was scheduled to start at 21:00 and of course they did not start until 21:55. People were really anxious and a bit annoyed but soon forgot everything as soon as the band came out and kicked into Welcome to the Jungle. The crowd went mad! I was very worried we were going to have another Pearl Jam disaster as the volume was so low and I was on close to the outer front barrier on the left side. It did slowly get louder but this low volume causes everyone to move forward so they can hear it and disaster is just waiting. Turn it up Roskilde or pay the price of human life lost again.. Anyway, Axel, he was a great performer and the lead man was clearly enjoying himself with the huge crowd. They played almost all the first record but bored people to death with a boring funk jam, drum solo, going nowhere guitar solo. His new band just lacked something. This could have been a great concert as he still sings great and has good presence but the band just is not very good. I left after 45-60 minutes and went to check out Toumani's Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra. I know others were over checking out Sigur Rós from Iceland. Anyway, they said that they were good but a bit boring at times. I have to say that Toumani was super cool and the best thing that I saw on this day. Cool stuff. I crashed out at 12:30 while others in the camp stayed up quite late partying.

Day 2

Most of the camp is up when I crawl out, including Thomas who passed out at 12 last night sitting in his chair. It is damn hot today in the sun. I went to take a shower and came back. That is just what I needed. Pretty amazing that in this camp area with probably 30,000 people there are only two free cold showers. There are several 30kr warm shower places. I guess you could swim in the lake this year! Thomas and Jesper are singing and playing acoustic guitar and entertaining everyone with some really crazy lyrics. 10:45 and the Fisherman's friend (30% alcohol drink) and joints are starting to come around. A breeze has picked up a bit and people are drinking beers and looking at the books to see what they want to check out today. I left a little early to go walk around and take some pictures of the cool stuff and graffiti. I went over to the Bad Afro records tent and hung out with Lars (Bad Afro), Guf (Baby Woodrose) and Ralph. Heard a few songs of Disco Ensemble and it was really mainstream stuff uptempo rock with no character at all. Met up with some of the folks from the camp at Volbeat. They opened up with Hallelujah sung by Elvis and then the singer came out and sang the end for real. Here we have a Danish metal band where the singer does not try to sound like James Hetfield! This guy is great and adds a lot of character to their music. A great surprise to me, this band. Cool Elvis meets Danzig like singer and some damn good metal tracks.

I next went over to the Ballroom to check out Ba Cissoko from Mali. They had two Korda players, bass and drums. Not a very big crowd but quite cool music. Was suppose to meet Magnus but he did not show up. I met up with Tom as I walked over to catch Front 242. I was not sure what to expect. I have a few of their old recordings but have not heard them in years. Did meet Magnus and Sonja but after 30 minutes they went to see some of Opeth. I thought Front 242 was wicked cool. Great visuals, cool music and a great attitude with the two different front guys. They had some pretty psychedelic stuff and the crowd was into it as well. Next up was to check out Burst, a new Swedish metal band. They are a bit like Mastadon but I think the music is much cooler and the guitarist is really great but I really hated the screaming, shouting singer. He was just the same on every song and angry. I got tired of him. Man, this would be a killer band if they had another singer. Great guitarist who also sang the melodic lines and he should just take over and this would be a damn cool band.

I went back and spent an hour at the camp to rest my feet and hung out with Christian, who was camping with Torben in our camp. Nice guy. I met up with a lot from our camp at Bob Dylan. I am not a big fan of Dylan and I don't own any of his records but somehow I got captivated by him and sucked into it. This was music that clearly crossed a lot of age barriers as you saw everyone at this show, which also surprised me. It was happy positive music and he tried to rock out a bit. I saw 75 minutes of his set before heading off to catch the Norwegian band, My Midnight Creeps. This band features one guy from Madrugada and one from the Ricochets as well as a load of other people on sax, drums, bass, percussion-congas. They started out with a very heavy psychedelic number and they had a really cool light show as well. I did not know what to expect but it was not this. Really cool old school garage-Stooges type stuff meets heavy psych. These guys were amazing. I was pretty blown away when it was over at a little after midnight. I really thought about hanging out to catch this sort of free form band called Serena.Mannesh, also from Norway, but it was not until 3 in the morning. (I heard they were one of the coolest bands at the festival. Damn… They just played at Stengade a month ago or so as well) I decided to go back to the camp and ran into Kaj and Susan, Jesper, Tobias and Jocke and his brother Lasse. We hung out, drank some whisky, smoked some joints and heard the Øresund Space Collective mixes that Magnus had made over the last 2½ months. This was very spaced out stuff and people really dug it but it blows peoples minds. Kaj said it should be illegal to make music like that! We all crashed at about 2:30.

Day 3

Shit… it is 35C on my thermometer on my phone inside my tent when I get up at 9:30. I go and take another cold shower, eat a granola bar and drink two juice boxes. Magnus shows up at the camp at 12:00. We grab a kebab and head over to hear the Tied and Tickled Trio. They are really a 9 piece band with 4 horns and playing chilled out jazz stuff. They played a total Krautrock groove thing on the last song. Really cool band. I hung out over at the Bad Afro tent and also with Magnus a bit as his girlfriend Sonja was doing the lights for the next band at the Pavilion, Sterling at 14. Off to the Ballroom to hear some British folk and Bellowhead. It was ok but did not hold my interest so I ran over to see what Spleen United was at the Odeon. This was really awful dreamy pop music.. ugh…. I sure notice that there are a huge amount of British people at the festival this year and also a lot of beautiful women not wearing that much as it is damn hot out here. Seem to be getting fatter every year as well. A bit overweight seems to be very popular… ugh… Anyway, off to the Metropol to check out Koop, a Swedish jazz-lounge electronica thing. This was just way too standard 50's style jazz material. I expected there would be some twist to it but there wasn't. I really needed to hear some rock music. Heard nothing great today and only one great band yesterday. What is going on? They really need to get some fresh people inside the organization who book this festival. It is the worst line up since I started going to the festival 8 years ago. I now came back and saw about 3 tracks of Sterling and it is standard Danish pop music, not interesting to me at all. Singer is dressed like a preppy from the early 80's. Lights were very cool. Good job Sonja!

Anyway, off to the Ballroom to catch the Brazilian act, Cabruéra. Just bass, drums, guitar and conga. They had some pre-recorded spacey stuff in the background at times and I did not like the rap thing they started off with but then it really took off. One of the tracks had the bass line from Black Night by Deep Purple! The guitar player is very cool and experiments with spacey guitar and effects and uses this little bow in between the 2nd and 3rd strings. Some very hypnotic stuff as well. The bass player also has effects and plays with some delay at times. These guys were really great. Now Anders and Magnus and I saw most of the old Dutch anarchistic band, The EX. It was not really like punk rock, but really good. The female drummer also sang a few songs. These are old guys with grey hair but they are still very political. Now I headed back to the Ballroom to catch Orange Blossom. It is suppose to be some sort of electronica meets northern African Arabic music. They had a cool female singer, drums, djembe and violin and all the bass and keyboard stuff was pre-recorded that they played along to, which I think is kind of lame. Anyway, it was a great set of music and got really heavy and tranced out at times and took us flying. The music was a bit like Ofra Haza at times. We saw the whole set. The best band today so far, although Cabruéra were also really cool.

Tom arrived and we could hear some of the Deftones in the background but they did not interest me at all. Met up with Sonja and her friend and went off to Metropol to catch Planet Pendulum, which sounded really cool. People were getting high and really flying and this was true psychedelic drum and bass techno and the floor was jumping! They had this rapper-front man who was just too much in your face, which was a bit of a shame as the music these guys played and the cool images were awesome. Fucking cool stuff. Saw most of the set and then headed off to catch some of the Two Gallants that I had read about. This was just a duo from San Francisco of guitar and drums. It was a bluesy, folky pop music but it had a strange dynamic as the drummer was a monster player and played very aggressive while the guitar and singing was laid back. Last song we heard sounded just like Bob Dylan!

Went back to the camp for a few and picked up some of the others and headed for getting in the front section for TOOL. Now, I was very psyched up for this and had a great feeling about it. And just check out this set list: Stinkfist (extended version) , The Pot , Forty Six & 2, Jambi, Schism (extended version), Rosetta Stoned, Sober, Opiate, Lateralus, Vicarious, Ænema… Is that amazing or what?! Who would have thought we would hear Sober and Opiate???? The band was in top form and so were the crowd who were eating it up. The images they have on the screens are very far out and the people on drugs were for sure tripping out! TOOL is a band that you can't just casually hear. You have to just watch the stage, the screens and listen... get sucked into the groove, the heavy riffs, the singing. This is powerful stuff if you let it take you over. A great but too short set. The headliners on the Orange should be allowed more time to play. The sound was amazing but not loud enough and we were in the front.

After TOOL, I tried to hurry out and ran into a lot from our camp and we walked over to George Clinton and the crowd was just so massive there was no getting anywhere near the tent. How was he not on the Orange Stage? Must have been 30,000 people. It was a pity the volume was so low we could not enjoy it at all from where were were outside the tent so we left. It looked like a hell of a party was going on with people all dressed up and doing crazy shit. I really wanted to see Amplifier but that was not for 2 more hours at 2:30 and I was already pretty tired as I started seeing bands at 12 today! We all went back to the camp. I heard the next day that Amplifier were pretty damn cool. Oh well...

Day 4

Now you are starting to see some people looking pretty worn out and dirty as they had a record crowd of 40,000 people already at the festival site on Monday, and the real festival does not start until Thursday at 17:00. They have the Pavilion Junior stage with bands playing every day starting on Sunday, so one could spend 8 days partying and getting wasted. NO wonder some were looking ragged.

Pure sunshine and a lot of wind today. It was only 27C in the tent when I got up at 8:45. Some were already up as well and packing their tents down. They will pack it up and come back later for some of the bands. I went to get my last shower so I could be fresh to see Ravi Shankar's daughter at 12. But in the meantime I wrote this little essay about the Roskilde Festival.

"Why do 100,000 people gather here each year for a week of drinking, garbage, lack of hygiene, dust, urine, movies, art, and music??? What kind of people are these that put up with the bad smell, the dirty people for a week of music, poetry and art?? This is no doubt the world's biggest party. It is the people in this world who are most free in their minds and their life. They express themselves by having tattoos, body piercing, dreadlocks, wearing crazy clothes... This is totally accepted at Roskilde, where as in the real world you are not like the rest. This is what draws people to Roskilde. In 2006, I have never seen more people just hanging out in the great weather in the camping areas having a party and not seeing the music. They were here for the social experience, the alcohol induced good times. Time to leave the normal life of work, school, kids behind and let loose and act any way they want to and no one cares. People enjoying seeing all the expressive people wearing masks, nothing at all, strange painted faces, hairstyles, crazy clothes etc. Life is too short... 60 years or so and you are gone. Nothing... if you spend your whole life just working and watching TV, what have you done??? The people who come to this festival are the ones who want to experience life, all aspects of it. Drinking and smoking are a huge part of this festival culture but by no means can you not have a great time and not drink or smoke. The festival is all about expression. The musicians, artists are all expressing something deep inside them (except some of those playing pop for money!). The people are doing the same and exchanging life energy. If you are in the metropol (electronic music tent) you can just feel the kinetic energy of the place and how the people get connected to the groove, and when the bass and drums kick into high gear the place just explodes with an energy you can really feel. That is incredible. Where can you experience something like that? Maybe Roskilde Festival is not for you but it is a one of a kind event unlike anything else in the world. The party and the culture will survive, even if the music program goes into the toilet"

I got to the Ballroom early and it was nice and cool in the tent as I chilled out and waited for Anoushka Shankar to start at 12:30. The tent had a decent crowd by the time she started. She was accompanied by 2 tabla players, keyboard and programming, flute, and a bass player. The opening 10 or so minute track was an amazing raga. Wow.... this was going to be great, is what I thought. Anyway, it just went downhill after that as she performed a bunch of new age Indian music that was dead boring. I left after 35 minutes to go see Evergrey. I met up with Kaj, Susan, and Klaus K. This is fast paced melodic Heavy metal and all the choruses and melodic parts are too cliché for me. I don't get in to it at all. I head over to the Pavilion to catch the Norwegian act, the Killl. On the way I saw a couple of tracks by the Danish electronica guy Rumpistol and that was really boring stuff. The Kill did not have a huge crowd but enough and it was quite loud and insane. Two guitar players playing heavy metal riffs, a great drummer (from Jaga Jazzists) and a wild and crazy guy on samplers. This is very inspired by Fantamos and really wild. It is more heavy metal than Fantamos. The guys are having a great time and are pretty cool.

I had to leave after 35 minutes to make sure that I could get in the tent to see Wolfmother as I was sure this was going to be packed and it was. Wolfmother had a lot of hype but they delivered the goods and rocked like a motherfucker. Crowd seem to know a lot of the songs and was really into it. The bass player switches between playing bass and the organ on several of the tracks. They remind me of Grand Funk and Budgie without a great guitarist. The guy is good but he is young and needs to learn a bit more from guys like Warren Haynes. He will improve and learn to rip it up. Anyway, they only played less than 50 minutes and then came back out for an encore, which started with a jam. The band said it was the first time they had ever played an encore at a festival and you could see they were having a great time.

I went to get a good meal and ate some Thai food in the backstage area. Just what I needed and came back out and met up with Klaus K for some good old Exodus-Testament style thrash with the Danish band, Hatesphere. Not too bad but after 30 minutes of hearing what sounds like the same song over and over you have had enough, unless you are in the front and then you get sucked into the power and energy. I was not sure what to do but Klaus and I went to check out the Balkan Beat Box at the Ballroom. This was utterly amazing… These guys are from NYC and play this Balkan brass music mixed with beats and rap and crazy delay vocals and far out synth sounds. We were both blown away. Turns out Magnus and Sonja were both there as well and thought they were amazing as well. The front man was hyperactive and really great and even crowdsurfed! Only 30 minutes until Roger Waters when they finished.

I headed over to where we all said that we would meet and sure we found most of our group of people, which was cool. We had a good view of the screens and the stage (a little too far away). I had never seen Roger Waters but I can tell you this was amazing. Great sound but way too low again. He played a lot of songs from the Wall, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun (pretty weak version), Shine on you Crazy Diamond, Have a Cigar, Wish you were Here, and a really great new political song ("Why does Democracy have to be bathed in the blood of the Innocent???"). A nice anti-Bush political statement. Then…we got to hear the complete Dark Side of the Moon and that was really great. The show ended with Comfortably Numb. Strange that just 2 weeks after this show, Syd Barrrett Died. That was it 2½ hrs of great music and another fun festival.

My Top Five bands at Roskilde Festival:

1. My Midnight Creeps
3. Roger Waters
4. Balkan Beat Box
5. Wolfmother

A few points of Criticism to help make the festival better next year:

1. The volume was too low on the stages. This was a huge problem. They will have another Pearl Jam disaster if they don't turn up the volume on the Orange stage. This is for sure. Also, on the tents. If they don't put PA speakers outside the tents, they must turn it up. The volume was way too low and if you were forced to be outside the tent, you could not even enjoy the music as it was too low. This is awful.
2. Too many people. If you came when a band had already started in any of the tents for popular bands you could not even enjoy the show as it was too crowded and you could hardly hear the music over the people talking around you all the time. A real shame. Please sell less tickets next year. I know it is more money for charity but it is a real hassle.
3. The headliners on the Orange are not allowed more time to play. It is a crime. Roger Waters and Guns and Roses were the only bands to play more than 2hrs.

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