Roskilde Denmark July 1-4, 2004

by Scott Heller

Uploaded to Aural Innovations: July 2004

Day 1

Well, it has been raining everyday for the last week nearly. Sometimes light or heavy. Sun comes out and dries things out and more rain. I fear for severe mud this year. I picked up Magnus (Mantric Muse) and we head out to Roskilde. No problems. We get our wristbands and park and then head off to the camp site. It is a heavy load to get through the mud that is here so far (and it is nothing compared to what is to come!). 20 minutes after we arrive to greet the others in the camp (Jesper, Dorte, Martin, Kai, Susan, Anders (Bland Bladen), Tobias (Carpet Knights), and Martins girlfriend, it pours down rain. The little pavilion we have up over our sitting place between the camp can’t handle it and water is just rushing through. I get completely soaked when it is over and my tent is full of water! WELCOME!!!!!!!! We get the extra pavilion that I brought set up and put the extra tent over mine, which is not made for this kind of wet weather.

After some smokes and beers Kai, Susan and I head off to hear Blonde Redhead and some food. The food stands are very different over by the Odeon and not looking very good to us. We sit and eat and listen to Blonde Redhead. They are pretty boring. A very mellow start for their show and some of it reminds me of a bad version of Supertramp. They get a bit noisier later but we go to see the Dropkick Murphy’s now at the Arena (formally Green and still whatever one calls it, even though the tent is now white as the original green one was destroyed by wind when they loaned it to another festival 2 years ago). They started off really great and reminded me of a more punky version of the Pogues without the political edge. It was cool to hear and see the Bagpipes with this music, but after a while they seem to repeat themselves. Pretty enjoyable. I now split off from the others and went to the Ballroom to catch the female singer from Mali, Oumou Sangaré. On the way over I heard one song by the Danish metal act Mnemic. It was aggressive metal and not very interesting. They also got a pretty poor review in the Roskilde Festival paper. Anyway, the crowd was small to start at the ballroom and then the people came and danced and this was great. The other female singers were good and they had these like large tambourines that they threw up in the air in time with the music. Quite cool. Excellent grooves for 80 minutes! I left for a beer and to see if I could find any of the others and also took some pictures of the surroundings (Make Peace Not Walls, Forsvar Christiania, cool artwork, Anti-US and anti- Israel murals, etc).

I stopped to see some of KORN. I am just not into this style of whatever they call it, Nu-metal stuff. It does nothing for me at all. I did not meet anyone so I was back to the ballroom to see Gnawa Diffusion. This was pretty enjoyable but I was surprised by how much of the set was reggae with African instruments. They started the show off with the traditional Gnawa castanets and chanting before going off into the mixture of reggae, gnawa music and some French world music influences. It was fun to hear him get everyone to jump up and down and think you were jumping on George Bush’s head. Great fun. I headed back to the camp and was feeling very tired and fighting off a nasty head cold. I was one of the first back to the camp and crashed but could not sleep. We were surrounded by people who partied until 6 in the morning everyday. At 4:30 I got up and decided to drive back home for some sleep as I felt pretty awful. End of Day 1.

Day 2

I was disappointed as I really wanted to see the Norwegian band, Silver, on the Arena stage at 14:00 but sadly was not feeling up to it and did not make it back to the festival until nearly 17. I saw a few songs of Within Temptation and they sounded really good. Kai and Susan really enjoyed them a lot. A few songs of Meshuggah, who I also thought were some sort of technical unemotional, heavy metal. Off to see NUMB, a Japanese electronic group in the Metropol tent. I ran into Magnus, Tobias and some of the others, which was nice. NUMB was really cool. A very original strange electronic music with a mixture of harsh sounds and beats mixed into strange unusual rhythms and they had incredible visuals. Sometimes it was very minimal but they did a lot with a little. They began with this amazing train video and exploding bombs sequences. We were pretty blown away. Great great stuff. At the end I met up with my friend Anders from Borås. We all now headed over to catch the last of Slipknot, who had exchanged places with the Pixies and replaced David Bowie, who sadly had to cancel due to an eye injury. Slipknot surprised us all. We were laughing but also enjoying it. They play a strange intense heavy metal. They have these incredible masks and intensity to their performance. Pretty cool. I had never heard them before and would like to see them. They will be back with Slayer in October.

We all agreed to head back to the camp and chill out for a few hours before the Pixies. We hung out and smoked and drank beers and were in a good mood. We listened to Pothead - Learn to Hypnotize and everyone was pretty blown away by these guys. We also heard some black Label Society Hangover Music Vol. 6, amazing stuff and then nearly the full Captain Beyond first record. An all time classic!

It is raining like hell again. We wait until it finishes and we are off to see the Pixies. We watched most of their set and it was pretty cool stuff. They had a pretty minimal show and not very special lights compared to most on the Orange stage, but a cool spirit in their music. We all enjoyed it very much and were all quite surprised at how good they sounded. Now we got some food and more beer and headed over to the Arena for some Swedish heavy metal with Mustasch! The mud really sucked now and was annoying everyone. Muddy people everywhere! We met up with Kai and Susan again and Kai was feeling very happy and drunk. I met his friend Jam. Mustasch was pretty cool. They reminded me a lot of Dio era Black Sabbath and some influence from fellow countrymen, Spiritual Beggars. They use Black Sabbath riffs like crazy but have good grooves. The lead singer is also the lead guitar player and he should either practice like hell or they should get a lead player as he just is not cut out for heavy metal lead playing. Anyway, cool band and we really enjoyed rocking out with them. Some people were staying here to see Sly and Robby with Bunny Rugs but we were off to the Ballroom again to see DUOUD.

DUOUD are a duo, both of which play the cool instrument the Oud. The band is from Algeria but they live in Paris. It was cool traditional Algerian music but mixed with electronic beats and loops. There were not that many people at 2:00 in the morning and most seemed pretty high and drunk by this time. We were! Incredible stuff. I don’t know how to describe it but these guys were great musicians, especially the one Oud player. He played very intensely and even had a distortion pedal and played some heavy stuff and back behind his head. We were pretty blown away by their set and were very happy we stay up to see them. It was a long hard trudge through the mud back to the camp site. Most stayed up partying some more but I laid down, unable to sleep until things got quiet at 6 in the morning.

Day 3

I left the camp site early, around 11:30, for some food and to check the place out. They have so many cool places. There is a place where you can go chill and everyone is wearing cordless headphones and it is very quiet when you have the headphones off and look at everyone. They have a bar in there as well. You can have your feet massaged and washed. It was very popular this year. They had the café behind the wall where the big make Peace Not Walls was found that people could write their name on. Christiania was gathering a lot of support with their stand. I was not comfortable with the increased police presence on the site. This is a festival about fun and freedom. There is no violence at the festival. That is the only time we need the police. Let the people be. A joint is not going to harm anyone and that is what they were busting people and giving them fines for. They would even walk into the tents where the bands were playing this year. I had never seen that before. There were Giant Comics, a cool place called Fuzztown with fake buildings, lots of cool chillout places and little bars. Amazing place.

Ok... now I was off to see Desert Blues from Mali featuring, Afel Bocoum, Habib Koité, and Tartit. I got a chicken pita and brought my folding chair for this as my feet were already sore from walking (it is a lot of extra effort with the mud) and standing for 12 or more hours a day. I found a perfect place and waited. This was pretty interesting as it was not blues at all. It was Desert music from Mali. Tartit were an all female group from the Sahara desert. I thought that one artist would play after the other but they played in short shifts and sometimes all together. It was hard to sort out what was happening but it was mostly all very cool relaxing music and a great way to start the day.

I headed back to the camp now. Most of the people had a hard night and had not left yet. Magnus, Tobias, Anders and I headed off to see Morbid Angel. I saw them back in 1994 opening for Motorhead and Black Sabbath in Boston. Now the band is like stars in the field of Death Metal. This was for sure totally over the top Death Metal. The small crowd was totally into it and we had a great time as well. The drummer is simply a monster and very cool. He plays so fast but in strange ways and just blew us all away. We went for a drink and some people got lost but Anders and I went up in the front section to see Iggy and the Stooges. It was hard to believe that a legendary band like this with all the original members except the one who is dead (replaced by Mike Watt!!!!!!) is playing again and kicking ass. Iggy looked older in the face but other than that it could have been him from 30 years ago. The band simply rocked the place like no other band at the festival. I really was having a great time hearing the classics like TV Eye, Funhouse, 1970, Loose (which they opened with), etc. I could really see where Dave Wyndorf from Monster Magnet gets some of his stage personality from IGGY! The only drawback was it rained like hell during his set and it soaked right through my nylon rain jacket and into my leather jacket and pants. I was soaked. Ugh... It was too bad that Kings of Leon overlapped with Iggy as we wanted to see them but Iggy was to be king today!

Anders and I got another beer and went off to see LFO, an old school techno outfit from the UK. We met up with Jesper, Dorte, and Tobias as well. Everyone was very happy. These guys were very professional and had great movie clips to go along with the very laid back but building grooves they created. One sequence of films was all from CNN and shown very quickly and faster and faster until the end, they showed a blindfolded picture of George Bush and got a great audience response. Next up was a cool movie of Mexican super Mario vs. Bud Patriot. This was so cool. A major wrestling bout. We were totally transfixed.

Now back to the Ballroom for some 70’s funk with Quantic Soul Orchestra from England. This was really cool. They had 11 musicians and a band leader named Russell. He was cool... looked a bit like Mr. Bean. They played a really great set of laid back funk music. Not high energy funk, except one track, but excellent stuff. We danced and had a really good time. Russell addressed us as Ladies and Gentlemen between all the songs and said really fun stuff as well. The female vocalist was really amazing and they all put on a great show. We decided to just stay put. We could have caught the end of Basement Jaxx or Fatboy Slim but Baba Zula sounded too good to pass up.

Baba Zula come from Turkey and played at 2:00 in the morning. I was so tired and was fading. Anyway, lots of joints were smoked and people were ready. This band was really cool and spaced out psychedelic Turkish tranced out music. It was very stoned! Wow... what a way to end the day. Now the mud was even worse and I was worried one of us would fall down on the 1 km long walk back to our camp site.

Day 4

It has rained a lot and now it was massively muddy! You can not understand without being here. All my pants and socks, and boots were caked with thick mud. The tent was a mess. Mud everywhere. I am now ready to go home but there are some more cool bands today. I packed up all my stuff during that process and, of course, it started to rain like hell again. I had just dried my tent out pretty well. Anyway, Magnus and I walked back and put all the stuff in the car and then headed over to catch the Norwegian band Chloroform. Chloroform are a three piece band, with drums, stand up bass (also played guitar on two tracks) and keyboard (tuned very special). The keyboard player also did all the lead vocals. He reminded me of a more manic Les Claypool. The music they played was pretty heavy and hard to describe. Acid jazz or something. Very cool show. I missed the last few songs to go catch Michael Franti from Disposable Heroes of Hipocracy and Spearhead.

There were very few people so I was right in the very front for Michael Franti. He was in a great mood and mostly spoke for 10 minutes and performed one song. He was very much against the war and how the world was out of control. He spoke very much against Bush and Blair and said he had spent some time in Baghdad recently playing acoustic guitar for people on the street corners, for American soldiers, for kids in the hospitals, for people in cafes. He said he had never been so scared in his life. Everyone has weapons and American Soldiers with M16 rifles are everywhere. The people don’t have clean water, reliable electricity or anything. Everything is miserable. 90% of the people have no work. He spoke to a lot of soldiers and greater than 50% thought the war was wrong and that we should get the hell out as soon as possible. Only a few Soldiers he spoke with still thought they were doing the right thing. Madness. He played his song, You Can Bomb The World Into Peaces But You Can’t Bomb The World Into Peace. He was then joined by his excellent band, Spearhead, and they played for 65 minutes or so of really cool funk-soul-hip-hop with a really positive message. I really liked the bass players Unfuck the World t-shirt, but they were not selling them unfortunately. The crowd got bigger and bigger and loved it. A lot of conflicts in the schedule on this day as I would also have liked to see Ben Harper and Von Bondies and!!! I did run over and see a few songs of the Von Bondies. They were ok playing high energy rock and roll. Fun but not very interesting or unique in anyway.

Ok... now I ran back to get into the front section to see Santana. I was to meet Magnus and some of the others but I was not going to wait around. I wanted to be in the front and I got in no problem. A huge crowd was now gathering and the weather was looking like rain again. Santana was in a great mood and they opened with a classic song and then into 30 or some minutes of commercial pop salsa music. Very uninteresting. Michael Franti joined for one song. Carlos gave him a big hug! The end of the Santana set was great with all the classics like Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va, Jingo, Love Devotion-Soul Sacrifice, a real surprise. He also dedicated the song, You Got To Change Your Evil Ways to George Bush. He was a really surprise. Great band and great set. I did not expect so much old stuff and jamming. Wow...

Magnus and I went over to see Cheikh Lo from Senegal. The band played music in a style like very laid back Yossou N’Dour. They were a bit boring to start but then they really picked things up and we were really getting into the cool drumming and stuff. We needed to go meet Anders at Muse though. I wish we had seen the end. We were too late to find Anders as a massive crowd was surrounding the tent, maybe 5000 extra people, and there was no way to get to the right side of the mixer. Impossible. We stood by a tree and watched for 30 minutes. The announcer said they were from Devon England that is the home of Dave Brock of Hawkwind. Anyway, they had some raw spaced out psychedelic guitar on some numbers and rocked pretty well and had cool visuals as well but the singer had a falsetto voice that I did not like at all. After 20 minutes they played a whole series of stuff with piano or keyboard, maybe a bit like mellow Peter Hamill stuff but we left to find the others and get in the front for the last band we would see at the festival, Baby Woodrose.

Baby Woodrose had a huge backdrop for projections and a lot of extra gear for all the guests. It is a huge stage for a three piece band. I saw Ralph (the soundman) and we talked. The crowd was pretty small to start but got bigger and bigger as the people came over from Muse and The Solution. The people in the front were really into the show and the band started with the heavy Volcano! Guf’s guitar playing was a bit rough but the band was jamming and sounded great. Do Right, a new song, was next. The band played pretty much the standard set they have been for the last many months until the legend Peter Belli joined the band for the two songs that he recorded a single with them on. It was excellent and so fun to see and hear. The projection guy was doing an awesome job with the lights and projections. The band had the guitar player from the Ravonettes join for one song and the keyboard player from the Defectors played on the bands radio hit, Everythings Gonna Be Alright. Rollercoaster was really great and Guf tried to get the crowd into it. The band ended the set with a Stooges cover of 1970 with guest Scott Morgan, who sung and made a lot of noise. Not much of an addition, more of a distraction. He seemed out of it. The band got an encore and went for a long psychedelic freakout jam on Nobody’s Gonna Spoil My Fun. It was great to see that the band still took risks and went for things like this. Henrik from On Trial also joined the band to make some space noises. Wild freaked out stuff. A guy came on the stage waving the Christiania flag and another came out and smashed a guitar. A great way to end the Roskilde Festival.

My final thoughts on this year... I was so glad to see so many bands speak out against the war-occupation of Iraq by the USA. I doubt George Bush gets the message but he is certainly the most unpopular person in the world. It was also great to see an active discussion on Israel and its oppressive and evil policies. Christiania, a bastion of freedom, a haven for the people who don’t fit into or want to fit into normal society, a place for artists of all types and freaks, is under attack from the right wing Danish government. 1000 people live in this community and the life they have known is under serious threat. It will be a huge tragedy not only for the Danish people and the people who live in Christiania but the world if this extremely unique place in the world is destroyed by a nasty government who has completely failed to understand the gem and unique community that Christiania represents. If the law passes in October it will be a day of mourning for the world. But expect a fight.

The best new things at Roskilde Festival 2004:

1. A fantastic anti-war, anti-US, anti-Israel stance.
2. Great new food places: Ed’s Chicken and Thai Food.
3. Cool places like the Zanzibar and the Chill out tent with headphones.
4. Very reasonable beer prices and a good selection!

The worst things at Roskilde Festival 2004:

1. The mud and rain… ugh.. please go away for some more years..
2. The Ballroom tent is still next to the techno tent. This is very annoying to hear the thumps while another band is playing. They either have to move the metropol, turn it down or turn up the music in the ballroom.
3. Police in the tents and more present than ever. Go away.. let the people be. No harm is coming to anyone.
4. The bands playing shorter than normal sets. Seems bands used to get 75 minutes plus an encore in the tents and now everyone is playing 1hr or less then encore. Why???

Roskilde Festival is still always about having a good time and being whatever you want to be, so just got for it!

CLICK HERE to view the Roskilde 2004 Photo Gallery

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