From Aural Innovations May 2011
This was my 12th Roskilde festival in a row and the weather looked to be great again this year and my nephew from the USA, he was coming for his 2nd festival. We left Copenhagen around 10:30 on the Thursday and were hoping we would be able to find a decent camping site like last year. All went well with the wristbands and media check in but I was very disappointed that no one at any of the towers or entrance had up to date information on where to camp. A lot of people were still showing up and being told to go to areas that were already full. We wasted like 40 mins walking around before getting info to go to the P camping area. We were going to be way back in the corner when some Danes that I know yelled out to us and they had place enough for us to set up our tent and camp with them. A lot of young party animals in this area… a bit worrying.
Despite being pretty disappointed with the bands booked this year, there looked to be enough cool things but almost no acts on the big stage besides Motorhead that interested me much. We headed to the entrance to be there right when it opened. There were a couple of guys playing cover songs and getting people really into it. Cool. As usual, a lot of funny dressed up people and everyone in a good mood.
We headed for some food and the Odeon to check out Serena-Maneesh from Norway. My penpal in Japan likes this band and I met up with Tom and some others I know. Anyway, they played some pretty cool psyched out rock with a Sonic Youth like inspiration. We saw their whole concert and then headed over to check out Tim Sweeeny, a DJ at the Cosmopol. He also plays with LCD Soundsystem. He was pretty cool but should have been on later at night. After 25mins we headed out to take some pictures of the festival site and see the swimming pool and stuff like that. Lots of amazing graffiti this year as well.
Sick of It All were on now at the Arena. It was a much more mainstream hardcore sound than I thought they would have but that is probably what made them so big. We headed to the Pavilion to catch a band from Iceland called Sólstafir. This was an interesting riff rock band. They started off with a heavy stoner rock instrumental and looked very cool with the smoke and sunglasses. They eventually morphed into something less heavy but still pretty groovy music. They also had these tracks that just built up and up but they never did any guitar solos or psyched out much. If they had they would have been 10x better. Still cool band.
Valiant Thorr from the USA were next up at the Odeon and these guys really rock my world. I had never heard them, only that they played a killer concert here in Denmark with Fu Manchu. Anyway, this was really high intensity rock and roll done VT style. I am not so sure how to describe them. They are a bit like Iron Maiden, AC/DC and mixed with straight up rock and roll. A killer brew, I would say…. Great band.
There was a huge huge crowd watching Gorlliaz as we walked over to the Arena to check out Porcupine Tree. We were in plenty of time so we got up in the front section on the right. We had a great view and Porcupine Tree played a very cool concert with great projections. It was mainly focused on the new material but two older songs, Russia on Ice and Hate Song, where Steven did some improvising were played as well. It was a pity the sound was not that good as the drums and bass were super loud and you could almost not hear Steven’s guitar a lot of the concert. The other guitar player was a bit louder but still the drums were just insanely loud especially the kick drum. It was not just where we were as later we moved to the back of the arena in the center and the drums were still way too loud. I have heard this is also a problem at other PT shows. If Steven knew, he would probably fire this guy. Great way to end the first night.
12:30 We are checking out a Danish electronica act called Baron Criminel. They have 5 keyboard sets up and real drums but no bass or guitar. They play lots of solos and are having a great time up there. They were supposed to be some sort of Haiti inspired thing but only their last song was anything like that at all. Very misleading in the music booklet but they were really good. A bit of Talking Heads influence, I think.
Off to meet up with some friends at the Arena to see some of Meshuggah before we catch Circle at 15. We met Magnus and Sonja and we just sat in the shade and listen to Meshuggah. We later went into the tent to watch a few songs. The guitar player played an 8 string guitar but they had almost no guitar solos, all just heavy death metal riffing. Not really my thing…
15:00 - Circle from Finland are on now. I know the bass player for some years now and it was great to see them play here at this festival. They had 3 guitar players in this line up and they played an incredible 70 min set with elements of metal, blues, psyched out rock, krautrock and even a Grateful Dead like section. Damn amazing concert. A lot of people were pretty blown away. Martin Mosh, especially… We also met up with my friend Tom and he was pretty blasted. I worried if he would still be standing by the time Wooden Shjips came on, a band he really likes.
16:30 - We headed to the Cosmopol to catch Rootz Underground! We met up with Anders at this show towards the end. This was a pretty damn cool band playing roots style reggae rock. The singer sang a bit too much in the dancehall rap style than I liked but not too too much. They had some killer grooves where they really could have jammed but they never did. A few guitar solos but not much from him or the keyboard player. A very good reggae act.
19:00 - Wooden Shjips from San Francisco was next. I have all but one of their records and most of their 7” records but had never seen them live. I was really looking forward to this. They had a bit more people to start than Circle did and they flew out into their krautrock, circular grooves stuff. I liked the version of Vampire Blues, the Neil Young song. They could use a bit more variety in their sound and the guitar player could play some longer psyched out solos but they were excellent.
20:15 - Alice in Chains had started at 19:30 but we had no problem to get into the front section on the left side and catch the rest of their set. The crowd was pretty large and people seem to really be into it. They really had a beefed up sound when the new singer also played guitar. They never did any jamming and just played their songs like on the records and nothing more. They looked like they were having fun though. I really liked this new song called Acid Bubble. Still.
22:30 - There was nothing really of interest for us so we just hung out with my photographer friend Klaus and had some laughs and waited for the big event of the evening, Them Crooked Vultures. I had only heard a few songs of this band and it was ok but I figured they could be great live. They only played songs from their record and they had a few jams as well, which was cool as well as drum, guitar and keyboard solos. Josh did not do a solo by himself. He jammed out in the blues number. I think they would do better with the crowd if they did a Nirvana or QOTSA or Zeppelin song. The new stuff, is very much like QOTSA and I had hoped it would be more like classic 70s rock. Anyway, I enjoyed most of the show and we were very entertained by this kid who was so drunk he was falling backwards all the time and his friends and girlfriend were very challenged by his state of intoxication.
00:00 - We headed off to the Odeon to see some of Tech Nine, a US hip hop guy that Scott said used to be very good. He only played his crappy white rap stuff while we were there, according to Scott, so we split to go back to the camp. We caught a few songs of NOFX at the Arena on the way but we did not stay… End of Day 2.
So we thought. When we got back to the camp, someone had broken the zipper on our tent and stolen my nephews backpack with all his clothes, memory card for his camera, toothbrush, and retainer for his teeth….. My bag had been ransacked but they did not steal anything. Two other tents in our camp also had things stolen. Bastards…
13:00 - We decided to head into the camping area and get Scott a toothbrush and some toothpaste and go see some music. First band of the day is a Danish hardcore band called Kandidate. They had a powerful tattooed singer but their music was not very interesting at all. They did play a few slower more doomy tracks, which I liked.
14:15 - Speed Caravan from Algeria was the surprise of the festival for me. They played Algerian funk rock. The leader and singer played awesome electric oud. I am pretty sure I saw him here at the festival some years ago with a band called Duoud. Anyway, they had a female playing some samples that you did not hear that much and a great bass player and drummer. They did a lot of jamming and he did some killer solos on the oud, with wah and some other effects pedals. Maybe the best band of the festival so far after or before Circle.
16:15 - We checked out 3 songs of Canteca De Macao from Mexico. There very first song was a really cool flamenco rock song but then they just played very standard boring flamenco inspired music so we left for Patti Smith.
16:30 - I was really really tired now and we went to go sit in the shade of the trees and listen to Patti Smith and band on the Orange stage. We could only see them on the screen from where we were but the sound was great and people were quiet and just listening and relaxing. Scott slept for 30 mins or so and I should have also. Anyway, Patti was great and played a very cool positive energy rock and roll set. I liked her version of Playing with Fire, the old Rolling Stones song. It was a very good concert.
18:30 - We went and sat over in the Odeon area and had some food and just checked out the cool and strange people, which are plentiful at Roskilde Festival. Some wasted people already passed out here and there. We sat outside the Odeon tent and heard the whole Brother Ali set and he was joined by a guy named DJ Snuggles. Normally, I just don’t like hip hop at all but this white guy who had turned himself black, at least in the way he talks and raps, was pretty cool. He had a lot of very positive energy and some great lyrics as well. The music was not very interesting that he rapped over though.
20:30 - We went to see Nile and we met up with Jussi from Circle in his KISS shirt. We had a beer with him and I saw several other people. Nile played powerful death metal but also they had a lot of slower, doomy stuff and some great guitar solos as well. IT was pretty damn loud this show. Sadly, we had to run off as my favourite artist from Roskilde 3 years ago was on next.
21:00 - Bassekou Kauyate and Ngomi Ba in the Pavilion. This is the same tent he played on the first day of the rains 3 years ago and his show was delayed and cut a little short. Not today. He ruled… He played 70 mins and it was amazing trance music. He had a 2nd lead lute player as well and the best singer we heard at the entire festival. The female singer was just magical and he stepped up often with very cool solos as the band just kept the Mali trance groove moving. The crowd was pretty big, which he deserves. Amazing concert…
That was it for me for music tonight but I wanted a few more beers so I hoped if I got a little tipsy I could sleep better and that most people would be at Prodigy at 01:00. Anders, Finn and Scott and I went to the international beer bar and had some nice beers and chatted about a lot of music festivals and stuff. Finn has been to Roskilde ever year since 1981 except 1. Anders has been every year except 2 since 1983! Finn also went to the rock in the desert festival in Mali this year and that sounded really cool. I would love to do that. We could hear Muse playing in the background while we had a few beers.
13:00 - We hit the Odeon to check out the US hardcore band, Converge. They have been going for nearly 20 years. The singer was hard to understand what he was shouting about but the guitar player was really unique for this style of music and he mixed up the variety of riffs and even played some solos, etc… They were much better than I would have thought and I enjoyed them quite a lot.
14:30 - We were dead center for Motorhead and hung out with some really nice people. I was wondering how loud they would play??? Anyway, Motorhead totally delivered the goods and Lemmy looked and sounded great and even apologized for them being 10 mins late as they were stuck in traffic. Lemmy made a few jokes about Prince fans that might be checking out Motorhead. Sadly, Motorhead play the same tired set night after night and lately, year after year. This is the same set as I saw them play 3 years ago. It is about time they changed some songs… It is still great for me to hear the old stuff like Metropolis, Over the Top, Stay clean, Iron Fist, etc… but the new songs are pretty weak. Not all the new songs are weak though, it is just they choose some of the worst songs from their recent records to play live, which is a pity. Anyway, Motorhead were my favourite band from 1980-1985 and I still love them.
We heard most of the Killswitch Engage concert while walking back to the camp to pack up and also when heading back to catch the train home.
Overall, despite the break in and weak music program as far as large name acts, we had a great time and heard some really good music again. I look forward to returning next year.
Best bands for 2010:
Bassekou Kauyate and Ngomi Ba
Reviewed by Scott Heller