Roskilde Festival - Denmark - 26/6-3/7/11 [PART 3]

15 Jul 2011

The final part of Gudjon Emilsson’s triptych on Roskilde has him take in John Grant, Killing Joke, Little Dragon, Yelle Yelle, The Strokes, Kings of Leon and Surfer Blood.  That, and share a few beers with some Beatles impersonators from the Faroe Islands.


Saturday, July 2nd.


Be-Being is some sort of Korean theatrical weirdness. They create an Eastern potpourri of sounds and impressions. But (Be-)being as tired as I was I fell asleep at the back against the wall in the Gloria Hall (sounds like glory hole doesn’t it! Ha.).

I woke up to John Grant's voice. His use of melody has The Magnetic Fields and Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man springing to mind. Lyrically it might be occasionally funny, but it gets tiring after a while spent in his company - Grant is no Stephin Merrit, and it’s difficult to see any of these songs becoming classics in the future.  Enjoyable enough, mind.

The attendance for Killing Joke was itself a joke.  Playing for what seemed like only few hundred people, they still gave it all a good shout. Singer Jaz Coleman looked like a love child of Alice Cooper and Jon Lovitz, dressed in a military outfit.  But why was nobody biting?

Little Dragon had a similarly hard time trying to get people into the mood, with seemingly nobody up for moving to their inherently danceable tunes.  Movement appeared somewhere in the middle of the set, but the atmosphere quickly got dull again.  Then, something happened – with fifteen minutes left of the show, it was as if a switch was flicked, the crowd becoming completely won over, and even dancing.  All in all, not a bad gig – if a curious one.

I passed through the packed stage where James Blake was playing, managing to hear his beautiful cover of Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’ on my way to the Odeon stage, where Yelle Yelle were being literally electrifying.  Right before their set started it poured down Glastonbury style in a huge thunder and lightning storm.  Yet it just made the atmosphere underneath this pavilion all the more cosy.  Yelle were simply brilliant – their stage presence was stellar, and vital in making what had up ‘til this point today bee a lacklustre crowd.  People were jumping to every tune.  After changing in to a very tight outfit a mere handful of songs in (nothing wrong with that), the crowd were eating out of their singer’s hand, making heart signs with their fingers on request.  They get my vote for best performance of Roskilde 2011.

Ten years have passed since I saw a legendary performance in Reykjavik, Iceland from The Strokes. Today’s gig was therefore a perfect opportunity to take stock a bit. The Strokes themselves also celebrated the 10 year anniversary of Is This It by playing half the album, and the half Danish Julian Casablancas was on very fine form.  Their set was filled with hits such as ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’, ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Jukebox’, the once controversial ‘New York City Cops’ receiving a particularly rousing airing.  They finished their set with an excellent double whammy of ‘Someday’ and ‘Take it or Leave it’, the crowd deciding in their masses to take it.

I decided to be lame and headed to the camp site, finding a camp with people from the Faroe Islands.  Of course, as was becoming customary, they gave me free beer, and a guy with a guitar played Faroese and Beatles songs with Deadmau5 and Lykke Li playing in the background from the festival area. My tent was wet so I decided to stay up all night playing drinking games in different camps if I recall correctly.  Which I probably shouldn’t be able to.


Sunday, July 3rd.

By the time of Sunday´s first concert I was like a zombie, and hoping Surfer Blood would be the rightmedicine. They have become very popular of late, and having seen them live in Berlin recently I'm not at all surprised - their brilliant album Astro Coast (#20 on Rockfeedback records of the year 2010) is a real treat both in the flesh and on record, and as such I was looking forward to seeing them like a kid going to Disney Land. But Disney Land was closed this Sunday. Their songs did not sound interesting at all this time. The ever amiable singer tried to fix things by taking his usual crowd walk during ‘Take it Easy’ and that charmed the audience, sure, but for some reason it didn't really fly from there. Not a bad concert at all, but a forgetful one.

The too big for this world, the oh-no-not-that-song-again super group Kings of Leon performed for an unsurprisingly a full house, and quite frankly they did deliver. One wonders when the masses will ever get sick of their tunes.  Judging by the teenage screams and older members of the crowd nodding their hears, these are songs which will be around for longer than the band themselves.  They sang merrily along to their monster hits, the band closing things in style with ‘Use Somebody’ and ‘Sex On Fire’

End of festival.  People went happy to their camp or to their homes, but a fatal accident cast a dark shadow over the end of this year's Roskilde - earlier that day a woman fell from the top of a tower in the festival's camping area.  The police suspected suicide.

A lot of people had already left the festival when I woke up Monday morning.  The area looked like a war zone.  Many leave behind their tents, mattress, chairs and even unopened beer cans (hey, it’s still beer!)  If I lived in Roskilde I could stack up on can food and beer for the rest of the year.  And In this economy this is something to think about.

The area is calm now. I lie on a futon someone had left behind, watching and listening to the festival fade away. On the train the festival has still not left my mind.  Exhausted, like this guy...

...I think back to the people I've met, bands I´ve seen and the experiences I´ve had. I conclude something - I´m most definitely going back next year.



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