Roskilde Festival 2011

author TL date 29/07/11

Much and more has been said about the institution that is Roskilde Festival, indeed on this very site, but really also in all of Denmark as well, as the annual festivities generally appear as a common conversation piece as early as January, when people already start to look forward to the experience that continually proves to stand apart from the general festival experience - and you can trust us on that, because we've sampled quite a few. What most festivals will give you are a couple of days jam-packed with music to fill your heart's desire, but while Roskilde does offer that, it also offers the rare opportunity to camp in a field with some 100.000 other festival guests, and while that may sound quite mundane to some, there's hardly a way to describe the exotic taste of the Roskilde experience. Most social norms go out the window, as thousands upon thousands blatantly disregard their own appearances, their economic circumstances and whether they know the person next to them or not, in favour of having as much fun as humanly possible for the four and a half warm-up days, that precede the actual festival, and are only partly about music. If you haven't ever gone, buying a ticket is highly recommended, as you can very likely expect to drink more alcohol than you ever thought you could, see people engaged in activities so absurd you would never have dreamed them up, and meet more friendly faces - strange and familiar - in a week than you're otherwise likely to do in a month.

The Rockfreaks.net staff are not Roskilde newbies however, and as a veterans, we had spent the months preceding the festival following the traditional discussion of the peculiars of this years manifestation of it. From the word go, many had actually cried halleluja, as Roskilde finally yielded to the many requests for a return of the mighty Iron Maiden, but after that initial piece of good news, bookings soon started to divide opinions sharply. Truly, there's nothing new in this, as the festival is criticized fiercely every year, but even so, it did seem like more people were sceptical about this year's line-up, including some of our own writers. However, before we get into that too much, I'll just spend some lines talking about the organisational quality of this year's festival:

Organization

One of the major things to change this year was the way guests were admitted to the festival. After two successive years in which the festival fence broke further ahead of time than ever before, Roskilde finally conceived a new scheme to counter the anarchy that has made the first day of the festival the most chaotic and hazardous in recent years. The possibility of trading your ticket for a wristband in advance was withdrawn, and instead of opening only the festival's two main gates, a finite number of free "entry-bookings" now gave the most eager guests the opportunity to get in early, from one of five temporary gates spread around the festival area. The traditional limbo area, in which guests who have wristbands could wait together for the gates to open, was also removed, and instead of letting a vast amount of people in at the same time, people were now given wristbands only when the festival opened, and then allowed in one after another. Surprisingly, this worked fantastically well, as the festival fence actually remained upright until the opening, and though there was still manic levels of hustle and bustle then, things seemed far from as crazy, dangerous and exhausting as they have earlier, so for these changes, credit must be given.

As for the actual camping experience, things were pretty much unchanged, at least from our perspective. Things like security towers, food and shopping area, bathrooms, wardrobes and so on, had moved little if at all around the area in Camping East where we tend to reside. It seemed to me personally, that the smaller food/shopping area on the westmost side of Camping East had improved from, making it better for people who camp in that part, but given that the Rockfreaks.net staff mostly only stumble drunkenly through this area, it's hard for me to say if this was actually already the case last year. One thing that had changed for sure, however, was that the road which borders the main festival area had been closed during the warm-up days, and hence the walk from most parts of Camping East to the Warm-up stage seemed longer and harder than ever.

This is a small complaint, however, and at least it brought most people close by this year's festival amusement. To top the chilled pools and ferris wheel of previous years, the festival had erected a 30 metre tower of containers, from which one could either enjoy the view of Camping East from a sky lounge, or brave an exhilarating zip-line ride from the top of the tower, over the massive gravel pit, and landing inside the main festival area. The price for such a ride was merely the collection of 10 refundable beer cans, and PP, NB and myself had a go at it. It was good fun, and I can proudly say that I overcame vertigo and overtook our competive colleague from Revolution Music in a race to the bottom. As good proof as any that Rockfreaks.net should be your first choice of music-related webzine. On a more serious note however, the zip-line will probably never make a repeat appearance at the festival, as the tower caused tragedy when a German woman somehow got outside the fence of the sky lounge and fell to her death, after which both that and the zip-line were of course closed.

While we're on a note as negative as that, even the complaints we have seem like trivial blabbering, but seeing as this is an article about the festival, I probably should write about them anyway, Two major things caught our eyes this year, and the first of them was the vaaaaaast amount of garbage, which increasingly flooded the camping area throughout the week. Even camps like our own, which tried their best to collect their thrash in bags, soon gave up because there seemed to be no easy way to get rid of the bags afterwards. This resulted in retarded amounts of broken camping equipment and empty food/drink containers lying about everywhere, and while you might not notice so much while drinking and partying, the mess is a most unwelcome sight when you wake up hungover in the morning, Hence one thing we would definitely encourage Roskilde to look into, is to arrange some improved solution for garbage removal. Maybe trucks could drive around in the afternoons, and people could throw their full garbage bags on them? Maybe more garbage containers could be places strategically around the camping area? In any case, Roskilde has proven creative and resourceful in dealing with other kind of problems already, so we think it's time the spend some energy on this issue as well.

A far more elusive issue, however, is that of a perceived decrease in cultural diversity. We know, that sounds like a bit of a first world problem-type of complaint, but hear us out: We've had staffers at the last eight festivals now, and normally one of the most exciting things about the experience, is the wealth of different people that come together for the event. Normally, people would greet you in English, knowing that many foreigners come to the festival as well as Danes. Normally, you'd be able to walk past camps sitting next to each other, hearing death metal from one, techno from the next, then hip-hop, then classic rock, then pop and then maybe folk or some other genre. Our point is, the festival used to be a veritable banquet of different impressions, but this year, it didn't seem as much so. Firstly, we heard from foreigners that encounters with the Danes were less open than earlier, with people often assuming that everyone around them were Danish as well. That's a shame in itself, and this should worry every faithful fan of the festival, but what was even more annoying, at least for us nerds, was the seeming lack of musical diversity. All around our camp, wherever we went, all we heard was electronic music, of the same kind that your hear in your average club. We would scarcely believe it, but dance- and chart-music was everywhere at the festival.

As far as we're concerned, this is a problem, especially considering how the festival has busily been stating how it wishes to "not be an event for everybody", instead opting to target an audience that's commited to invest themselves in having a shared good time. The management has also stated that it "doesn't want to focus on booking headliners", and that Roskilde should rather be about musical discovery. While this ambition is certainly pursued on with the bookings for the festival's many smaller stages, it definitely isn't followed through as much as it has been. Not when acts like Deadmau5 and Kings Of Leon are booked to headline Orange Stage. Sure, many have complained that Roskilde also booked acts that were too small for the stage, and the likes of those two can at least do that, but meanwhile they are also acts that appeal to the most casual of music-listeners - the people who are content with the stuff they hear on the charts and in the clubs, and who treat their favourite bands with a throw-away attitude. Booking such names seems to me as an easy way to remedy the fact that the bands Roskilde actually wants to book do not sell enough tickets, and with them the festival is saying, whether it knows it or not, that in the end it will rather bow to the mainstream audience, than fight to promote acts of a more credible and alternative variety. In this writer's opinion, this needs repairing, and fast as well, lest the festival's balance between mindless partying and great musical experiences tilt too much towards the former, with the effect being that real music lovers eventually go elsewhere. I do not mean to slight bands like Kings Of Leon and Arctic Monkeys, which put in good shows that shall be described below, but the festival need more headliners in the vein of Iron Maiden and Portishead - bands that have massive reknown and following, despite appealing to an audience that cares enough about music to seek it out in alternative sources.

Camp Rockfreaks.net

Last year, PP spent lengthy paragraphs declaring his love for our camp and basically selling the idea of dropping by or joining in to you readers. The glorius result was that we were some ten people less than last year, making us 'only' 34 people. We still had a great time however, with the camp being made at exactly the planned spot, with plenty of room for everyone. I'm not going to try to give a glorified account of our shenaniganz in order to lure you people to join us, but in case you're curious, I'll give an account of what could potentially take place during an average warm-up day at the camp. For the sake of the dignity of anyone but ourselves, I've given non-staffers pseudonyms:

6:00 AM: Camp Elder is the first person awake. Everyone else is sleeping. Still massively intoxicated from last night, he decides that cleaning the camp is a good idea.

6:25 AM: The camp is clean... ish, so CampElder sits down and gets started on today's first bottle of rum.

8:30 AM: MetalBeard and StereoGuy wake up and roll the camp stereo out from a tent, then put on mega-loud black metal. While everyone has been sleeping to other camps playing "Loca People" on repeat, the backlash from people waking up is still furious.

9:00 AM: The swimming lake is now open, and since we're up anyway, we might as well go for a refreshing swim.

10:00 AM: People are as clean and non-smelly as they're likely to get, and most are hunting for breakfast.

10:45 AM: Breakfast has been eaten. The worse alcoholics open the first beers of the day.

10:46 AM: CampElder is halfway through his second bottle of rum and has yet to speak more than two coherent sentences in a row.

10:50 AM: CampElder is on his feet, swaying dangerously from side to side. Everyone is laughing.

10:54 AM: CampElder finally falls, crushing one leg of the camp's pavilion. Laughing is replaced with mild concern, and CampElder is rolled off the pavilion and covered with various items to be shielded from the sun. He will not be seen awake for some time.

12:00 PM: A murky bucket of morning mojito has been mixed, and people are crowded around it, drinking the dreadfully sweet stuff through long straws.

1:00 PM: People are finishing their lunch, while some take turns at selecting music. Things are relatively peaceful. So much in fact that Houdini is asleep in the middle of everything. Quickly a nice pair of testicles is placed in his face, and video is of course recorded while people snicker from their chairs. The majority have had their first few drinks by now.

2:30 PM: It's time to get serious with the alchohol. Drinking games such as tricky, beer football, beer bowling, beer crocket, ring of fire, bull's eye, edward beerhands or wisest wizard commence.

4:30 PM: Provided the game played was wisest wizard, the wiser participants black out around now, eventually passing out for a few hours. Otherwise one game follows another, as people get more and more drunk.

9:45 PM: Five hours pass with nobody noticing how. The party changes from a "sitting down and having drunken conversation kind" to a "listen to rock hits and youtube classics and dance and sing along" kind.

22:20 PM: AP and TL are DJ'ing, glowsticks have been produced from somewhere. Songs are played that we'd never admit to liking in the light of day, and most of the camp is dancing like it's a teenage disco. Everybody's high-fiving and agreeing that this is the best party ever. Even CampElder is on his feet, repeatedly telling everybody how awesome he feels.

0:00-2:30 AM: ???????

2:50 AM: The batteries in the stereo are starting to die, and the same goes for the people who've been up drinking for some fourteen hours.

3:20 AM: MetalBeard and StereoGuy are the last to go to bed, after closing the night with a few more tracks of extreme metal, which everyone else is too passed out to notice.

Could be it's just us with our juvenile minds, but those are the kinds of days we come here for, as much as the actual music we get to see at Roskilde. About that though, I think it's time I stop stalling, and allow you readers to move on to what you're likely most interested in hearing about from us: The reviews of the many, many shows that we dutifully attended, to be able to give you people the best coverage, that, although regrettably delayed, is still a damn sight more accurate than the nonsense that is passed off as reviews in the festival newspaper. At least so we dare say ourselves. ;)

Unless otherwise noted at the end of a review, the part was written by TL

Reviews

Warm Up Days

Hammonds, Harrington & Destroy @ 19:00 Monday on Pavilion Junior

For the first time in years, the first concert I see at Roskilde Festival is actually one of the Pavillion Junior shows. Normally, I'm quite reluctant to leave the shenanigans of Camp Rockfreaks.net, but having recently been intrigued by Hammonds, Harrington And Destroy when they supported Cage The Elephant, I was too interested in hearing more to resist. Quite a good thing for me, because while only a modest crowd shows up to support this local 'super group' (featuring Jakob Printzlau of The Fashion on vocals, Martin and Peter Rasmussen of Decorate Decorate and 20 Belows respectively on guitar and drums, and Mixen Lindberg of Black City and Hatesphere on bass), they quickly prove to benefit from both experience and ambition. The songs I had already heard at the Cage The Elephant show reappear with similar strenght, despite the finer points of Printzlau's vocals being lost to the re-occuring "support band sound" of Pavilion Junior. It is when HH&D air some newer material that the show really takes flight however, with some soaring melodies leading to brilliant climaxes that takes the band away from the indie/folk-punk description I had otherwise given to them, and lifts it up towards a league in which shows take place on bigger stages and for bigger audiences. The songs delivered are as diverse as they are consistent in quality, and it seems that the only thing HH&D are missing, is to more freely communicate both with each other and with the audience. That being said, they deliver another show of unquestionable promise, and I will surely be seeing them again as soon as possible. [8]

Essence @ 22:00 Monday on Pavilion Junior

In the festival newspaper, Essence received an inexplicable battering based not on the quality of the Aalborgians' performance, but on the particular critic's dislike of the thrash metal genre. Had he been standing among the thousand-or-so ecstatic fans, however, he too would have noticed the tremendous potential that Essence is currently in the process of realizing. This warm-up slot is by and large the culmination of the band's career thus far, and it shows. All signs of nervousness are obliterated by vocalist/guitarist Lasse Skov's formidable charisma as he commands the four-piece truists through the best of debut album "Lost in Violence", a note perfect rendition of Slayer's "Raining Blood", as well as a new song (the title of which escapes me) before a maddening crowd. For someone already familiar with Essence as a live act the performance offers little new, but curious newcomers are likely to be more than just a little impressed: Essence are tight as fuck as always, and the sheer joy of playing that reflects from each band member is intoxicating. To see such a young bunch reminiscing the veritable golden age of thrash metal and replenish it with creative elements (like the numerous bass solos in the likes of "Blood Culture") with such overwhelming competence is truly a privilege - one which the aforementioned critic clearly oversaw. The only thing standing in between Essence and the crowd is a somewhat muddy mix, redeemable by pushing one's ear plugs as far in as they can go but nonetheless a hindrance to what might otherwise have been one of the best performances at the festival altogether. /AP [7]

Bottled In England @ 19:00 Tuesday on Pavilion Junior

Bolstered by my happy experience with the Hammonds, Harrington and Destroy show at Pavilion Junior on Monday, I let myself be persuaded to go see Bottled In England on the following day. Siamese Fighting Fish singer Mirza Radonjica is doing the persuation, hyping the clients of his Newborn Booking firm and telling me that, although they aren't rock, he has a feeling that I'll like them. Arriving at Pavilion around 7 PM, it seems others have been persuaded as well, because there are far more people here than for HH&D, and as soon as the two members of Bottled In England (who are Danish by the way) step on stage and start their show with excitement and energy, most of the gathered crowd starts dancing eagerly. It would be a glorious thing, were it not for the fact that the band's rendition of drum'n'bass strikes me as cold and nothing-saying as the genre altogether, even in spite of the inclusion of guest rappers and singers. So I stand among the dancing audience for a while looking for something to like about this music, but after twenty minutes I decide to give up and go queue for the Roskilde zip line instead. I am told afterwards by one dance-loving friend that she thought the show was great, but for me and any rock elitists out there that share my disposition, I think the appeal of this kind of music is still an utter enigma [?]

Agent Fresco @ 17:30 Wednesday on Pavilion Junior

In case you haven't noticed, Agent Fresco's debut LP "A Long Time Listening" was a record that swept the floor with pretty much everything I had heard for years when I got into it back in January. So there was no chance in hell that I would miss their performance at this year's festival, and as I make it to Pavilion Junior on Wednesday, it seems I am not alone in this intent. Joining me at the front are all of Siamese Fighting Fish, as well as other faithful Fresco-fans, and before the band even comes on, people are singing their lyrics in anticipation. When they do come on, however, they are initially plagued by small problems. A microphone cord disconnecting, the mix being blurry and the band obviously a little anxious at this show, the size of which is still unusual to them. It takes only a few songs, however, for the members to find themselves, and get back to the passionate performances of their many varied songs, and judging from the frequent movement front and centre (and subsequent reports from friends standing elsewhere), most people in the tent are fully enjoying the show. I've seen mentioned in other reviews that vocalist Arnr Arnarson's singing doesn't fit the heavy music, but in my opinion, that is to fully misunderstand the essential quality of the band, overlooking the fact that their heavy parts are only a small part of what they do. The only minor detail worth complaining about, is that the band seem a little less comfortable than usual, likely due to nervousness, but otherwise they provide a visual and musical experience as vivid, diverse and enthralling as always. [8]

Thursday

1349 @ 18:00 on Arena Stage

Few bands exist that play music as frightening and intense as the brand of puritanical Norwegian black metal played by 1349. This the Norwegians confirm with formidable might, entering amidst plumes of thick smoke and literally setting the stage on fire before unleashing a thundering wall of tremolo, Ravn's demonic shrieks, and colossal blastbeats courtesy of the enigmatic Frost (of Satyricon fame). The visual aesthetic of the show is sublime; the band's light technicians enlist the full extent of Arena's impressive lighting rigs, emphasizing red/white/black, blue/white/black, and green/white/black combinations in accordance with the band's logo, attire, and corpse paint. Indeed, memories of watching Mayhem live two weeks prior seem like a parody on the genre in juxtaposition with the mysterious and ill-boding presence of 1349. There are no plastic skulls or pope outfits polluting this performance (although bassist Seidemann is clad in a masonic robe and wearing a mask) - this is black metal of the most intense and terrifying calibre. And although at least half of the overall mix has been allocated to Frost demonstrating his oft-overlooked prowess, the remaining elements of 1349's sound are still clear enough to reveal the immense creativity underlying the band's music. Rather than relying on a specific formula, 1349 have allowed themselves to make occasional departures from a strictly black metal sound, showing no shame in slowing things down for a melodic riff or atmospheric interlude. As such, armed with a well composed setlist, 1349 deliver one of the best performances at this year's Roskilde Festival, a both visually and sonically enthralling demonstration of force. /AP [8]

Veto @ 18:00 on Orange Stage

This year, the honour of opening up Orange stage (which is usually given to a Danish band) has fallen to electro-rockers Veto. A choice few can complain about, considering the band's borderline universal popularity. Unfortunately, Veto's celebration of the opportunity only periodically reaches noteworthy heights, as the band takes the stage in a relaxed fashion and opt to focus on newer and, forgive my bluntness, duller material. During older cuts such as "You Say Yes, I Say Yes", "Built To Fall", "Blackout" and "You Are A Knife", no encouragement is needed to make the audience move and applaud, but it is clear as the day that the newer, more ambient and atmospheric material, would require more energy from the band to cross the bridge between the stage and the crowd. Of course I understand the band's desire to air recent material and avoid clichs of crowd-interaction, but not at the cost of making the show halfway boring, and for God knows which time, I leave Orange regretting that a Danish band doesn't seem to properly appreciate the priviledge it is to play there. [6]

Terror @ 19:30 on Pavilion Stage

Tough guy hardcore crew Terror had mustered a significant audience at Pavilion, which was fantastic, because the intense in-your-face aggression that their music represents is always best experienced in a tightly packed environment. The band's immense stage presence rubs on the audience quickly as vocalist Scott Vogel commands the crowd with great showmanship, whether it's through reminding us constantly to 'pump our fists' or by asking us to bounce our hands up in the air as if we were at a hip hop concert. The band is up-in-air pretty much the whole show, showing tremendous energy on stage, and as such, when the band asks for a circle pit around the pillars, the audience responds eagerly and the tent turns into a chaotic push-shove-run pit in a matter of seconds. Songs like "Always The Hard Way" bring the set home and demonstrate why Terror are often considered to be the next Hatebreed in their genre. /PP [8]

Foals @ 20:00 on Arena Stage

Having last seen Foals when they supported Snow Patrol in KB Hallen in 2010 and been slightly underwhelmed with their performance, I am not exactly expecting too much when I make my way to Arena after the Veto show. To my surprise however, I arrive to a full tent and to Foals playing a show of considerable power. At this point in time, I have yet to hear their new album "Total Life Forever", but judging from this show, it provides Foals with a whole other depth of expression compared to their debut LP, and while the vast majority of the people gathered seem like they're just checking out the band on a whim, the band seems eager to give them their best. Frontman Yannis Phillippakis surveys the crowd with a defiant look that seems like he wants to show them all what his band is capable of, while his colleagues rock about behind him like nothing makes them happier than playing together. Songs ebb and flow and culminate in deafening and exhilarating climaxes, and while the response from the audience is rather casual, that seems to be more due to their lack of familiarity with the music, than due to any fault on Foals' behalf. [7]

Iron Maiden @ 21:30 on Orange Stage

Coming to Orange Stage straight after the Foals show, I regret the fact that the show was not worse, so I could have left earlier and gotten a better spot, for from where I'm standing, it seems I have to be on my toes to actually see what's happening on stage instead of watching the concert from the massive screens. As soon as the band comes on, however, a period of time starts, during which I don't really care too much. Starting with a much too long intro video and then proceeding to play around 45 minutes of new material, Iron Maiden don't exactly kick things off with a blast. It's clear that people here know at most the top seven Maiden songs, and want to hear nothing but those. And while I think Maiden are one of the few bands that have earned the right to expose its audience to more than just their greatest hits, it doesn't seem like the band itself revere their new songs as much as they do their classics. That at least, is the feeling I get, when the band finally gets around to such awesome tracks as "The Trooper", "Two Minutes To Midnight", "The Wicker Man" and "The Evil That Men Do". The crowd is transformed, singing along appropriately to both lyrics and melodies of "Fear Of The Dark", and the same goes for the band, with guitarist Janick Gers especially showing off a multitude of exotic ways to treat ones guitar, while frontman Bruce Dickinson ceases the over-usage of his "scream for me Roskilde!" catch-phrase and instead dons uniforms, waves flags, uses zip lines and run around the prop-filled stage like a man possessed. During this later hour of the show, 'Maiden are almost as good as a virgin to their shows as one (me) could have hoped. A ten-feet Eddie robot joins them on stage during one song, snatching up a guitar to play along, only to then head backstage and re-appear in a twenty times bigger version, lumbering over the wall behind the band. Meanwhile, banners are busily being changed behind the band to represent different eras of their history, and a minotaur-looking creature even pops out during "The Number Of The Beast". It is all very 80s, but it is also very awesome, and yet, there's something missing. For even with the singalongs during the most famous 'Maiden songs, one can't but think that this audience sounds like tired mice compared to the kind that the band deserves, and which it has played to before. Hence, the show only feels like a shadow of the legendary ones 'Maiden are capabable of in the right environment, and hence, despite all its nostalgic awesomeness, the grade must leave room for improvement as well. [7]

Friday

Electric Wizard @ 12:00 on Pavilion Stage

For all intents and purposes, Electric Wizard is the perfect early afternoon band. Their heavy, yet laid back amalgam of grunge, stoner, psychedelic and doom provides an almost unparalleled soundtrack to kicking back in the pressing heat with a cold beer (and a joint, for a large portion of the audience), sending waves of entrancing drones and acidic guitar leads through the small Pavilion stage. Reminiscent of Alice in Chains the year before (albeit that they played on Orange Stage), Electric Wizard perform with a veteran's confidence backed by possibly the best sound mix at this stage so far, ensuring that the crowd remains firmly in their grip, hypnotically bopping and banging their heads like a horde of zombies. There is little by way of a show taking place on stage, but on the other hand, music like this hardly demands an explosive performance. This is music for listening. It says something that I plan to make a brief excursion to check another band out after half an hour or so only to be compelled to return almost instantly by the slow burning dirge emanating from the Pavilion stage. Roskilde Festival could hardly have picked a better replacement to cover for Dth's cancellation, the obvious musical differences aside of course. /AP [7]

Wang Li @ 13:00 on Gloria Stage

The Gloria stage is a brand new addition to the festival, replacing the old Astoria which used to house all sorts of world music acts in the past. This afternoon, I was eating lunch in the Scandinavian food hall adjacent to the indoor stage, thinking all I was hearing was a soundcheck as I could hear just an occasional noise or two, otherwise silence. Then I started hearing cheers after these weird noises so I figured to go check out what was going on. Turns out the room is so full you can barely fit people inside it, and as I walk in I see a tiny and extremely young Chinese boy standing on stage with an empty bowl and blowing into it to create a humming noise. I shit you not, the entirety of the, err, song consisted of him blowing into his bowl and knocking it every once in a while with a metal rod, after which the crowd would cheer in ecstacy. Apparently he 'explores silence in various ways'...my expression must have been priceless as I exited the room moments later, something along the lines of O_O? /PP [?]

Parkway Drive @ 13:00 on Odeon Stage

In what is almost pure irony, Parkway Drive's guitarist Luke Kilpatrick is constrained to a wheelchair today due to a broken leg. But because of potential legal consequences related to defamation the underlying story shall not be discussed here. And many of you know it already. Because of this story Parkway Drive has risen to veritable infamy at Rockfreaks.net, not helped in the slightest by their latest, painfully mediocre offering, "Deep Blue", and understandably our staff had been keen to finally see the band live, hoping to find out whether or not rumours of an allegedly explosive live show had any basis. Turns out they did. Both on stage and musically, Parkway Drive are the archetypical metalcore band, sparing no energy to deliver the best show that they possibly can, riddled with as many breakdowns as their songs can possibly room. Even Jeff Ling's temporary handicap isn't stopping him from dashing across the stage on two wheels in an attempt to match the enthusiasm of the remaining members, bassist Jia O'Connor in particular. As such, the breakdowns are a formidable tool to inspire the crowd to jump, mosh and crowd surf, and the band to showcase their finest guitar swings and jumps, and watching this light-hearted, yet surprisingly hostile demeanor, the generic nature of the band's music is all but forgotten. Parkway Drive are able musicians when they want to be, and this shows during songs like "Boneyards", "Siren's Song" and "Deliver Me", all featuring countless melodic riffs to cancel out the reigning chugfest. A very decent performance. /AP [7]

Bright Eyes @ 14:00 on Arena Stage

After the active on-stage performance of Parkway Drive, I approach the Bright Eyes show slightly worried that I'll be in for an hour's worth of stand-still singer-songwriter folk, and indeed, to begin with main man Conor Oberst takes the stage in a trenchcoat and sunglasses, putting all the distance in the world between himself and his audience for the first couple of songs. Save for this being really indie-cool there's not much going on, but fortunately, Oberst warms up after the first couple of songs, slipping out of his coat and shades, sitting down by a piano and proclaiming "this next song is about casual sex.. which I hope you're having a lot of this week.. dirty, naughty sex.. and you should film it... and email it to me". The comment earns laughter from the audience, and from then on, both Oberst and the show is transformed. In terms of music, Bright Eyes deliver the songs live with an instrumental edge that is otherwise dulled on record, where the focus is normally fully on Oberst's voice. Here, however, they are much noisier and the noise only compliments the lyrics of Obersts, which he sings with more charisma and authenticity than any other singer seen at the festival this year. Gesticulating frantically and dragging himself around stage by the neck of his tshirt, Oberst is a manifestation of the emo term from back when its meaning wasn't diffused by the same ignorant media that has claimed My Chemical Romance as its representatives at this festival. With a both detailed and powerful sonic backdrop, attitude-filled singing and strong lyrics, the show reaches several great moments, most noteworthy of all when "Poison Oak" ends at anthemic heights. Okay, so Oberst forgets a few lines of the stellar "Road To Joy", but he more than makes up for it, firstly by taking the time to visit the front rows to greet his most loyal fans afterwards, and secondly by appearing the most creatively gifted and star-powered personality of this year's Roskilde. [8]

Beatsteaks @ 16:00 on Arena

I've always found the recorded material by Beatsteaks of questionable quality, but their afternoon show at Arena stage shows why they're so popular in Germany. Their funky form of alternative rock is a perfect fit for a chilled out sunny day where you're in no mood for anything heavy or particularly deep. Their bright melodies work equally well whether they're toying with punk rock as in "Atomic Love" or with balladic rock ("Under A Clear Blue Sky"), and when their frontman climbs into the crowd to sing a few parts and generally has good energy on stage, there's no denying that the show is good. The question is, though, can Beatsteaks ever have a great show with their song material? It wasn't answered today, at least. /PP [7]

The Raveonettes @ 17:00 on Orange Stage

My next visit to Orange Stage is to see its second Danish performers of the festival, this time indie-rock comets The Raveonettes, who have been one of Denmark's biggest export-successes in the rock genre. Front figures Sune Wagner and Sharin Foo take the stage looking as usual like a lost member of The Jesus And Mary Chain and a blond Pernille Rosendahl in a yin-yang inspired dress, but alas, they barely make it through second song "War In Heaven" before power disappears from all but their microphones. Okay, to be fair, there should be no chance of this ever happening on Denmark's biggest stage, but that being said, Foo and Wagner still handle the situation like complete amateurs. At first they don't realize what's going on, then it takes a while for them to tell the crowd, and when finally the problem is fixed, they play the last ten second of the song (which seems rather pointless) and carry on with out further ado. I would forgive this if the rest of their show had been good, but alas, their handling of the unexpected is symptomatic of The Raveonettes' (lack of) stage personality. It seems that other than looking hip and playing music, Wagner and Foo don't really know what else to do on stage to a) get a crowd going and b) look like they appreciate playing on - I say it again - their country's most prestigious stage. Nevermind the fact that the mix is atrocious and you can't tell the intended noises from the accidental ones in the blur that is made of their already raw sound. It's the complete lack of personality that really drags this show down, and The Raveonettes can join Veto and Kashmir on the list of Danish bands that should be asking tips from Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, on how to properly lift the challenge that is playing Orange Stage. [5]

Kylesa @ 19:30 on Pavilion

I've always found Kylesa intriguing, not least because their sludge metal features two drummers who complement each other in strange rhythmic pulsations that give the band's music texture like no other in the genre. Tonight, they're playing to a rather full Pavilion tent where the crowd looks either bored or spell-bound by the band's hairy headbanging and groovy rhythms, depending on which way you're looking at it. Me, I find Kylesa's set closing in on amazing; the reason why they are considered to be one of the best, if not the very best band in sludge metal is crystal clear from the song repertoire they present tonight. Each song fitting uniformly into a Kylesa mould, but yet sounding unique from any other sludge band (which is a hard thing to do given the muddiness of the genre), but I'm not sure if the crowd 'gets it'. The dynamic between the band and the crowd is almost non-existent to the point where I'm wondering out loud whether I'm the only person in the entire tent who is finding this set mindblowing. As such, I'll excercise some restraint and grade objectively a show that I would personally have rated a full grade higher for my own experience. /PP [8]

Mastodon @ 19:30 on Orange Stage

Mastodon... on Orange Stage? Yet again the festival's bookers have neglected to research what kind of a following an act has before bunging them on the first available stage at the first available time slot. We'd decided we'd better join the line for the pit to get a good view of these respected, but by no means world renowned, prog-metallers; but what were we thinking? When we arrive, fifteen minutes before the show, the pit is so empty that we can simply breeze in through the exit barrier unmolested by the bored crowd control personnel and take up any position we want. Gradually the gaps in the crowd fill in a bit but even then we are dimly aware of the sparsely populated field gaping away behind us. Nonetheless, despite being a band better suited to a 10pm start on Arena Stage, Mastodon take the situation in stride. Their music doesn't really lend itself to leaping around the stage, so the guys stand and look maniacal and menacing as they launch into "Iron Tusk". Clearly starting as they mean to go on, the band play a set oriented mainly around "Leviathan" and "Blood Mountain" (thirteen songs in total from those records) - the old favourites perhaps - and give only the most interesting tracks from "Crack the Skye" an airing, including the haunting, eleven minute epic "The Czar". Technically, the rendition is pretty perfect but, as with Kylesa before, the scarce Roskilde audience doesn't show much enthusiasm for Mastodon and - although I don't know whether the blame lies with the band, the crowd or the setting - the strange, dark atmosphere usually created at this band's shows is sadly absent. /NB [7]

Kurt Vile & The Violators @ 21:00 on Odeon Stage

Kurt Vile and his Violators are names unknown to me until a few days before the festival, but seeing as I've had both friends and media recommend them, I decide to go check out their show at Odeon Stage. All four guys come on with heads of long stoner hair and slightly dorky every-day clothes, and launch into a set of Americana-drenched indie that is as chill as I have been promised earlier. Between songs, main man Kurt addresses the crowd in friendly manner, that belies a certain nerdy charm, but apart from that, the music is pretty much allowed to speak. It's not a bad thing, because the listening experience is cool and enjoyable, but then also not more than that. After half an hour, I admit to myself that the show is starting to get samey, with Kurt Vile seeming like a rather ordinary dude that is going to stick to playing enjoyable yet forgettable bedroom-rock to a crowd of hipsters. So I leave to be in good time for the next band I'm going to check out, namely Weekend, who start immediately after Kurt and The Violators end, noting, however, that this is probably a satisfying show for fans, if not much of an eye-opener for newcomers. [7]

Weekend @ 22:00 on Pavilion Stage

Now Weekend is a band I have actually checked out prior to the festival, having heard their name mentioned somewhere in a torrent of indie-hype, however, their noisy post-punk, sounding like it was recorded in a basement with the vocals being sung into a hair dryer rather than a microphone, has not yet impressed me. Hence imagine my surprise when I make it to Pavilion Stage to see the three-piece entertain a seemingly delighted crowd which is jumping up and down, while the three band members rock about admirably on stage. As it turns out, Weekend may not be masters of variety or originality, and their vocals may still be too low in the mix on this fair evening, but they apparently know a thing or two about dynamics. For every time my attention starts to drift for a few seconds, there's a change right then and there. Often the change is subtle; a different effect pedal applied, a different chord entering the melody, but it keeps the crowd dancing and my head nodding, and for their part, Weekend are for once a band seems to appreciate playing a show, rocking about the stage and strumming their instruments with intent. Now if only they'll tune down the restrictions of their Joy Division aesthetics and drag their lyrics and vocals out from obscurity, chances are we could all soon have a very good band on our hands. [7]

Portishead @ 22:30 on Orange Stage

Before venturing to see Portishead on Orange Stage, I had only been subjected to one of their songs, presumably "Roads", but knew nonetheless to expect melancholy in its barest, purest form. Portishead is one of those artists whose music is impossibly to pigeonhole, but if I were to give them some labels, then pop, electronic, trip hop and noise feel the most appropriate. Backed by enormous distorted live projections of the band, Portishead manages to pull off a spectacular show balancing between minimalist, heart-wrenching anthems and noisy escalation, sending pulses of dark grandeur plummeting across the field and wooing the enormous crowd into total silence. Indeed, there is something magical and truly mesmerising about the performance, something that pulls the listener into what can only be described as a maelstrom of emotions and refuses to ease its grasp before the show draws to an end. And before it does, Beth Gibbons takes the time to step off stage to embrace every single person at the front of the pits, as a further testament to the intimacy she is able to create even in such a majestic setting as the Orange Stage. Chilling, beautiful and tragic, Portishead delivers one of the finest Orange Stage concerts at this year's festival. [8]

Ghost @ 1:00 on Odeon Stage

It's past midnight and, on returning to the Rockfreaks.net camp, I find the place eerily deserted. With everyone's phone batteries long exhausted, I end up wandering aimlessly and alone through the campsite and festival area until I stumble upon a band I know nothing about. The sight that greets me as I enter the Odeon tent halfway through Ghost's set is therefore a pretty big surprise. Through the smoke and dim blue lights I see five hooded and cloaked figures standing solemnly before a monastic backdrop of gothic windows and wielding the instruments of a modern rock band. In front of them, a tall man dressed in a Cardinal's vestments and mitre, with his face painted as a skull, makes ecclesiastical gestures over the crowd and sings with a calm and measured tone. From what I hear tonight, Ghost's music is a mixture of rock and doom metal, but it has an upbeat edge that contrasts with their Satanic demeanour in an ironic and unsettling way. Ghost is another of these bands continuing the rather trite practice of concealing its members' identities for dramatic effect; except, in this case, it works. Watching the band is a vicarious thrill. I feel as though I've snuck into a secret ritual, a perversion of a Christian mass, in which the skull-painted man is subtly attempting to indoctrinate the cult of followers which fills his canvas chapel. The band drones softly through a couple more songs but it's their rendition of The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" which completes the most bizarre and atmospheric show of the festival. The setting, the disturbing religious connotations, the incongruous music and the previous hour's alienating experience of walking through the campsite in the small hours - passing countless distant, shadowy figures drunkenly staggering, zombie-like, through the darkness - conspire to render Ghost, which might on other occasions seem like rather a comical band, far more sinister and terrible than the likes of 1349 could hope to be, even with all the fire and corpse paint in the world. Should I expose this evil business... or join in? /NB [8]

Saturday

The Tallest Man On Earth @ 15:00 on Odeon Stage

The first show for me on Saturday is The Tallest Man On Earth, who fortunately does not begin till 3pm, giving me and my poor feet much needed time to rest. I go to this show at my girlfriend's recommendation, and as soon the man behind the moniker, Kristian Matsson, takes the stage I understand why. Matsson is a true singer/songwriter, armed only with his own guitar and a singing style often compared to Bob Dylan, and from the word go, he shows an understanding for entertaining his audience, both by moving around while playing and by adressing the crowd between songs. Although from Sweden, Matsson opts to do so in English, which I am much thankful for, since it is a common misunderstanding that Danes understand everything Swedes say. On the other hand, Matsson soon shows to be prone to mumbling, and as the show progresses it gets increasingly harder to even hear if he is indeed still speaking English or Swedish. Meanwhile, his musical performance is much like that of Kurt Vile with the exception of being delivered with only one instrument. The songs are warm and casual, some slow some less so, but the variety is not too great, and considering that the mumbling is preventing any new fans from hearing explanations about what the songs are about, the show soon appears one to be most pleasing for those who are already fans. Hence I decide to skip the ending in order to go back to camp to change into lighter clothing, seeing as the day has suddenly turned quite warm. [7]

Killing Joke @ 16:00 on Arena Stage

Killing Joke are one of the legends within the industrial genre, but that didn't seem to interest Roskilde goers given that Arena was half-empty when they went on. So imagine bands like Revolting Cocks, Ministry and so forth, and then tone down the sound a notch to a screeching rock sound with an industrial backdrop, and you have Killing Joke. Except music is only half of their show, because their frontman Jaz is literally insane. I've seldom seen a guy with as frightening facial expressions that look like a combination of a serial killer, a mad professor, a bloodthirsty war general (he was dressed in an army uniform), stomping on stage, dancing like he's at a performance arts show, and other weird stuff while wailing and shouting into the microphone. It's interesting, and musically solid, but not much better than decent today, mostly because people simply didn't seem interested in them. /PP [6]

Soilwork @ 17:00 on Odeon Stage

Soilwork has always stood in the shadow of In Flames, but have nonetheless staked their own claim to the popularisation of Swedish metal. With electronic tinges and groove laden riffs aplenty, the band has preferred to focus on what they do best rather than on what people like best; this refrain has left Soilwork in the awkward position of being overlooked as a serious proprietor of the melodic death metal sound, albeit enjoying a sizable following of dedicated fans. About 3,000 such fans have gathered under the Odeon canopy for the band's long-awaited return to Danish soil, so the reception is understandably enthusiastic. For someone not as well acquainted with the band's music, however, the show is difficult to get into, thanks in part to a poor sound particularly in the drum department, and in part to the fact that Soilwork have few songs that can truly be enjoyed without some prior knowledge about them. Newer produce, such as "Stabbing the Drama", as well as classics like "Rejection Role" and "Nerve" are well-received even by a clueless outsider such as myself, the countless guitar solos adding a competent touch to a sound hopelessly mimicked by the likes of Dead by April and Sonic Syndicate, but the performance itself leaves a lot to desire. Bassist Ola Flink and vocalist Bjrn Strid are the only ones showing signs of enthusiasm and energy, with the rest of the band falling into an anonymous lull that leaves all but the diehard fans yawning and checking their watches. Having seen this band stage a majestic performance over a much larger crowd in the past, this attempt is too puny and unengaging to warrant high regard. [6]

TV On The Radio @ 18:00 on Arena Stage

Having found in myself at least modest measures of appreciation for the latest TV On The Radio album, and knowing that the band is highly critically acclaimed, I make sure to get to their show at Arena Stage in good time, to secure a good vantage point in what is to be a good sized crowd. It doesn't take me too long to start regretting this decision though, because if the band seemingly has slight problems living up to the hype on record, they certainly have considerable problems doing so in the live environment. On record, one of the cool things about them is the curious electronic details that litter their soundscape, but here on Arena, being confined to mostly regular instruments, TV On The Radio's sonic expression is somewhat more mundane. Furthermore, the same can be said of a rather lacklustre stage show, which does little to help the songs cross the gap to the audience. It's a small wonder most people are standing still, and already before the half mark of the show I start to think that this isn't worth it. Shortly later, I opt to exit the stage and take in the rest of the show from a seated position, viewing it on the big screens, and while this admittedly isn't the optimal perspective, it strikes me that nothing really changes for the better for the remainder of the show. The best thing that can be said about it is that it is at least well-played and sung, even if slightly boring. [6]

Arctic Monkeys @ 19:30 on Orange Stage

I've seen Arctic Monkeys two times before tonights show, both times at Roskilde and both times, the band has done its best to bore me to death despite its catalogue of fine songs. Hence my expectations are low coming to Orange Stage this evening, but as it turns out the minute the 'Monkeys come on, the years in between have gone some way towards turning them from arrogant boys into arrogant rock stars. Granted, Alex Turner and his band still aren't much for talking to the crowd, and they still sound like they hurry through their fast songs more than they should, but they have at least delivered a certain sense of swagger, that makes the wait between their many hits worthwhile. Obviously, across their four LPs the band already have enough hits to keep a crowd going merely by playing them on a jukebox, but it's still a joy to see Turner actually step up to the microphone and address the crowd in a manner that seems confident, and without his words being so slurred by accent that you can't hear what he's saying. Furthermore, the cliffhanger-routine is used a handful of times, with songs stopping short to confuse the crowd for a bit before the band starts again perfectly in sync. During one such stop, Turner even draws out the delay long enough to lazily remove his vintage-looking leather jacket, and it's hard not to smirk at the cheeky coolness of his don't-give-a-fuck attitude. With more of this, and perhaps a slightly more interesting stage production, Arctic Monkeys just might turn into a really good live band, and even if they haven't yet, I have to say that they've much improved. [7]

Underoath @ 22:00 on Pavilion Stage

My last assignment of the day is one I volunteered for with pleasure. It may be that this is the sixth time I see Underoath in concert, but that only means that I know for a fact that they're a band I'd be sorry to miss. And tonight is no exception. Okay, so the sound at the Pavilion stage is not too friendly to the clean vocals of frontman Spencer Chamberlain, which often drown regrettably in the mix, but otherwise the band is kicking ass entirely as usual. Guitarist Tim McTague and keyboardist Chris Dudley are alive with frantic movement, while spencer dances from side to side, swinging his long dreadlocks and providing his trademark monstrous vocals. The crowd is treated to a set that spans over ten years and four albums of material, rewarding most of it with manic moshing or bouncing up and down, and singing dutifully along of course to classics like "It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door" and "Writing On The Walls". Apart from the aforementioned mix problems, Underoath rip through a set typical to them without much else to observe in the complaints department. They prove that they are as alive as ever, even after the loss of former drummer/clean singer Aaron Gillespie, and that they still kill it every single time, and the only thing worth thinking about is that they can be even better with bigger crowds and better sound systems. [8]

The Strokes @ 22:30 on Orange Stage

For all the complaints about Roskilde not booking enough Orange Stage-filling headliners this year, at least they booked The Strokes. I can't remember the last time I would've seen so many people at Orange Stage, my rough estimate puts it at about 75,000 because judging from where I was standing, on top of one of the towers all the way back, the crowd stretched far beyond both left and right side of the stage to as far as I could see. Then there were people who argued that The Strokes aren't relevant in 2011. Well, those people better have no argument considering the rock-star like expression of Julian Casablancas on stage, rivaling Dave Grohl in frontmanship and pure, unadulterated cool, as well as the outright hit-parade The Strokes laid upon us for this evening. Every single Strokes song you could possibly want to hear was fitted within twenty songs tonight, includin gems like "Last Nite", "Someday", "Reptilia", "Is This It?" and many more. To top things off, the light show was out-of-this world, and especially the grand finale where the massive LED lightning setup morphed into a virtual arcade cave featuring Pong, Space Invaders, Pac Man, and of course Tetris which filled up the makeshift screen as the song finished, resulting in an explosion and a big "game over" sign in the middle. It's too bad they didn't stop they show here, because that would have been one of the most epic finals I'd have witnessed. We certainly got our money's worth and then some, this is the Orange Feeling experience one is to expect from concerts on this stage. Nothing short of amazing. /PP [9]

Sunday

Bring Me The Horizon @ 12:30 on Odeon Stage

To be perfectly honest, the very early Bring Me The Horizon show at Odeon on this Sunday has the odds stacked against it from the beginning. Even though a good sized crowd has actually turned up, the first couple of songs sound absolutely awful, as the people in the sound booth seemingly cannot have woken up yet. The lead guitar is nowhere to be heard, and effectively, things start off a proper chug-fest. Fortunately, Oli Sykes and his mates are determined to succeed despite it all, and with excessive energy and charisma, they lead the crowd into a work-out session that has everyone breathing heavily halfway through the show. Sykes command circle pit, and one erupts that stretches all the way from the front to the rearmost tent-poles. Sykes commands wall of death, and the crowd parts like the red sea, only to meet again like a Braveheart battle-scene. The two exercises are repeated often, and complimented once with the trusted "everybody sit down" routine, and while there are sceptical faces to be spotted, most people reluctantly take part, and frowns gradually turn to smiles on many faces, as BMTH shake off the crowd's festival weariness. Meanwhile, the sound gradually improves over the course of the show, with the finer points of BMTH's more melodic offering appearing more clearly by the song. Still, the levels never become really good, and Sykes still suffers from a lack of breath when it comes to singing his prettier parts. And what's worse is that he seemingly has no idea where he is, continually addressing the crowd as "Copenhagen". Judging from the amount of people rocking out and/or bopping their heads, all is forgiven though, and truly it should be. After all, Odeon's announcer couldn't get the band's name right either. While the sheer artistic and musical experience here could certainly do with some refinement, BMTH bring energy and excitement to the stage, the likes of which are rarely seen at this years festival. Sykes is all smiles as he invites a crowd member on stage to help scream the chorus to "Football Season Is Over" (Shoutout to Nicholas!), and guitarists Jona Weinhofen and Lee Malia are jumping off amps, monitors and drumkit, with the former even venturing high up the lighting rig to play a few riffs from the top of the tent. All in all, it may not have been an overly pretty listening experience, but it sure as hell was an admirable and enjoyable wake-up call. [8]

Surfer Blood @ 14:00 on Odeon Stage

Surfer Blood is the third and last chilled out indie act I decide to check out at this years festival, and about halfway through the show, I reluctantly consider admitting to myself that chilled out things don't suit my temperament. The four boys in the band come on and perform sure-handedly enough, drawing comparisons to everyone from Beach Boys through Morrissey to Weezer, and it's hard to really put a finger on anything they do wrong. Judging from the amount of people in the tent that seem to be having a good time, it can't be much either, and it's not really because I'm not really enjoying things either. Instead it's the same minor problem that I feel hindered Kurt Vile and The Tallest Man On Earth, namely that Surfer Blood don't have too much going on for them, in terms of on-stage charm or performance. There's just not really much to look at during the show, and if you don't know the songs in advance, things quickly start to seem samey, because the band isn't good enough at drawing new listeners into their world. All in all though, they provide a fairly good time if you're not exactly looking for a riot, and as long as you're not expecting to take away memories of the show lasting more than a week's time. Personally, I am intrigued but I still leave early to be in time for the start of Bad Religion. [7]

Bad Religion @ 15:00 on Orange Stage

I don't know what Roskilde Festival were thinking when they decided to place Bad Religion on Orange Stage. Fair enough, they have been a band for over thirty years now, but they aren't much bigger than NOFX and those guys could just about fill out Arena last year. It just doesn't make sense if five minutes before the concert starts I'm standing in the second pit to the right with about - I'm not kidding - twenty others. The front pit in front of me has some more people but you wouldn't have trouble driving a car through it. And this is a stage designed for 60,000 people! So no wonder the band come out with a somewhat self-ironic attitude joking about "look at all those people there must be forty thousand of them out there" and stuff like that. Yes, the stage starts filling up a little more as the show goes on (though still embarassingly few people are present), but even an awesome setlist like the one they played today isn't going to save Bad Religion from a show that's just not very Orange Stage-like in neither feeling nor visual aesthetic. The punk rockers of Denmark are of course ecstatic, that is, until Bad Religion announce that they might not come back to Denmark. They're going to try and write another album, which isn't guaranteed either, but the way Graffin announces it makes it sound like the band is starting to reach the end of its road after a respectable 30 years. It's just too bad that the techno kids at this year's Roskilde Festival don't appreciate great music. /PP [7]

Pulled Apart By Horses @ 16:00 on Pavilion Stage

After Bad Religion, I'm really starting to feel the festival in my feet, and I only reluctantly let The Fall From Grace (DK) singer Miki Horsbl drag me to the Pavilion to see British quartet Pulled Apart By Horses. Man am I happy we went though, because when we arrive, Pulled Apart already have a crowd moving frantically, while delivering a parade of short and vicious songs that sound like The Blood Brothers-meets-heavy-rock'n'roll. The band obviously is an intentionally raw and noisy one, so it's hard to tell without prior knowledge how good the sound is, but seeing as guitar and vocals are as audible as the other instruments, things seem alright in my book. And while the sound seems good and the audience is dancing and moshing enthusiastically, Pulled Apart are vigorously delivering probably the most energetic stage performance of the festival. Struggling to find a good vantage point at the front, I try to take photos with my droid, soon realizing that I could probably take a million photos of this band, because there is constantly something interesting to look at. The band members frantically make use of the entire stage for jumping, rolling on the floor, kneeling on the floor and generally rocking out, all the while hammering their instruments with furious intent. Lead singer/guitarist Tom Hudson screams at the top of his lungs while at the microphone, and later joins the crowd at the barrier to play his guitar right in their faces. Not to be outdone, lead guitarist James Brown uses the lighting rig to climb the tallest speaker on stage and play a few riffs from up there. Meanwhile, the front floor is going bonkers, with people moshing and drenching each other in water, and the only breaks come in between songs when the band cracks retarded Blink-182-ish jokes while tuning instruments. The only thing to complain about is that there's not too much musical variety to make note of at this point, but then as Hudson proclaims towards the end of the show "We've never played for this long.. We're too lazy! [...] We're running out of songs here!". Whether or not Pulled Apart are a worthwhile recording band matters little however, because today they surely prove to be a live band you should be very sorry to miss. [8]

My Chemical Romance @ 17:00 on Orange Stage

Prior to the festival, PP and I had shared worries that booking My Chemical Romance for Orange Stage might be overestimating their pull a little too much, but to my surprise, I arrive finding the venue at least more well-attended than either Bad Religion or Mastodon's shows. It's far from full, but still the people here should be glad they are, because when MCR come on they do so with a seeming intent to get the crowd going. The band has pretty much only good songs to choose from, and from the word go, guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero join singer Gerard Way in performing them with energy and charisma. The front pits respond faithfully, but while heads are bopping outside, it seems to be harder to get the far audience to do more than that. Likely it's a combination of this fact and the afternoon heat that eventually makes the band turn the intensity down by half a notch, yet still continually emitting vibes of attitude and a will to party. The more well-known songs are rewarded with fittingly solid singalongs and the pits dancing and jumping up and down, and Way even gets people to take part in the aaaaaancient "whoa-oh" routine the band has used to prelude "Helena" for ages now. Overall, lots of things could have been better about the show. The insensity could've been kept high, more people could've been in attendance, more of them could've been into it, and the afternoon sun could've put less of a dampener on the lights of the stage and the moods of the people present. That being said however, My Chemical Romance still deliver a surprisingly solid performance, and many (especially the Danish) bands could take a hint or two from them, on how to step up to the challenge of a big stage and take ones role as entertainers seriously. [7]

Screaming Females @ 18:00 on Pavilion Stage

After My Chemical Romance, I head to Pavilion Stage to catch Screaming Females, whom I know little of other than them having toured with one of 2011's more interesting album releases, namely Lemuria. Hoping for indie/punk in the same vein, however, I am sorely disappointed by the Screaming Females show. Even though their style is not too far removed, a few very similar songs seem to indicate what this band is about: That is showcasing the guitar-skills and somewhat volatile vocalwork of the band's tiny frontwoman, while her two band mates are reduced to roles that seemingly only require them to give her a rhythmical backdrop to work upon. The shifts between deep female cleans and manic screams, quickly become as trivial to listen to as the generic solos that seem glued into each song as a bridge part, and after less than half the show, I decide that there are places I'd rather be than here, not really knowing what to make of Screaming Females, nor really caring. [?].

Janelle Mone @ 20:00 on Cosmopol Stage

Janelle Mone is an RnB / soul / funk singer from Kansas. She's been making a name for herself in the US and UK with her varied musical output, quirky style, classy dancing and above all for being a totally weird, maverick individual with some bizarre notions about androids and a distopian future. Her debut album, "The Archandroid", features some of these themes along with songs from a disparate variety of genres. So, being a casual fan of all this, I head down to catch the second half of her set as she brings this year's proceedings on the Cosmopol stage to a close. Okay, so it's not really rock but there is an electric guitar in there somewhere so it still falls within the remit of this site apparently. It's also one of the more entertaining shows at the festival. You see, although she is vocally dexterous, her live performance is not a one-woman act, there are thirteen people on stage including percussionists, backing vocalists, some very energetic dancers and "the funkiest horn section in Metropolis". Ms. Mone herself is also a sight to behold. With immaculately coiffed hair and wearing her trademark tuxedo, white shirt and tie (and occasional cape), she gyrates around the stage in a, now famous, shuffling dance style. During one of her lesser known songs she sets up an easel on stage and begins painting a picture whilst belting out the lyrics. As she finishes the song the painting turns out to be of a nude woman with the word "LOVE" splashed underneath. She ends the set with the two best songs from the album, "Cold War" and "Tightrope", the latter coming with it's accompanying "Tightrope" dance craze and rapturous applause from the audience. The only disappointment is that the male rap section of that song, performed on the album by someone named "Big Boi", is omitted. You'd think with thirteen people to choose from she'd have been able to find someone to fill in. Nonetheless, it's a gripping show and I'm disappointed to have to leave just as the band re-emerges for an encore. /NB [8]

Kings Of Leon @ 22:00 on Orange Stage

When Kings Of Leon take to Orange Stage on Sunday night, tasked with closing the venue for the year, the other Rockfreaks.net writers have already gone home, as have half the camp. Some of the few remaining are on the grounds somewhere, meaning to see the band, but as I approach I notice that from a distance the place looks to be almost as packed as the Prince show was last year. Hence I decide to survey the performance from the new step-towers at the back of the festival area, which allow one a stunning view over Orange Stage and its entire crowd area. From here I witness Kings Of Leon deliver a veritable parade of fine, well-played songs, with solid lights and great use of the massive side-screens, which are showing close-ups that allow people as far away as I am to still follow what's going on on stage. Granted, not much is going on there, given that Kings Of Leon aren't exactly the most active of live-bands, but on the flipside, their music is so easily enjoyable that it is still very hard to have a poor time, so long as they play and sing well, which they certainly do. As is fitting, frontman Caleb Followill takes occasional breaks to address and compliment the audience, but otherwise, the band's crowd-interaction is minimal. Fortunately, they have a small bunch of songs capable of getting a crowd going without encouragement, and numbers such as "Crawling", "Radioactive" and "On Call" are early signs that people here appreciate the band's hits. The show progresses straight-forwardly, as the band takes us around their catalogue, and while Kings Of Leon appear rather more cool and friendly than other acts that have graced this stage recently (Radiohead, Oasis), there's still too little going on considering that closing Orange Stage should always be somewhat of a special occasion. Similarly sized bands such as Muse and Coldplay come to mind as others who have managed more memorable shows on the same stage, and this shows that KoL have something to work on if they truly want to contend in the same league. That being said, I think most are still quite satisfied with the string of good songs being performed so confidently, and with the size of the singalongs that predictably occur when hit singles "Use Somebody" and "Sex On Fire" close proceedings without any added encore. [7]

Photo credits: Rune Bgelund, Charlotte Mai Jacobsen & Thomas Niels Thomsen

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXIV Rockfreaks.net.