Roskilde Festival 2009
From Aural Innovations October 2009 update
Thursday July 2nd
10:15 Scott (my 16 year old nephew from the US) and I catch the metro and train to Roskilde. It is very hot today and it will be a long walk to the accreditation and then over to the camping area. I really hope that we can find a place to camp. A few people on the train but not too crowded. Most people are already at the festival and the real crazy people have been here for 5 days already!
13:15 Everything went well with the check in and finding a place to camp. I was very surprised. We ended up taking a cab to the accreditation place. Anyway, I also went and bought a Pavilion as it is hot as hell and we would never survive out here without some shade. This camping area is slowly filling up. We have some Norwegian girls across the way from us and two Americans from Seattle right next to us. We are in d47, which is not that far from the entrance. Nils is way way out in F29!
15:00 The American guys were in Amsterdam before coming here and came over to borrow some of our shade with a case of beer and herbs. We are getting hungry and will go get some food as soon as we can inside and then head over to see Wolves in the Throne Room.
17:50 We ended up drinking that whole case of beer with those guys and they all got pretty stoned as well. We grabbed a kebab and saw some of Wolves in the Throne Room. I just don’t get into it. They are good at what they do with this intense riffing (no solos) but the death vocals turn me off completely. A very good drummer. We will go check out this Finnish band in the Astoria.
20:10 Wow…Alamaailman Vasarat were totally amazing. Two cello players, trombone, sax, and drums. Strange instrumental music but really cool stuff. A lot of influences from heavy metal to Nordic folk to jazz. Fantastic. We did not see any of Social Distortion but I doubt they were as cool as this. We are hearing some of Volbeat now. I just don’t like these guys much at all. They sound way too much like a Metallica rip off to me. It is really really hot out here. We have to drink lots of water all the time. The free water at the front of the stages is so important. Thanks. Off too see Fucked Up.
Alamaailman Vasarat cello player
21:00 Fucked up was really entertaining and the lead singer was crazy. Chugged and smashed a beer can on his forehead and was bleeding all over his face. They had some really cool songs. Canadian punk rock!!!!!!! We saw the whole show and they included a Ramones song in the set.
Fuckup singer still bleeding from the smashed can!
23:00 We saw some of Kanye West and it was totally uninteresting music. Very boring pop music. Cool lights and visuals. We will go check out Kassav in the Astoria and then call it a night. I am guessing that Trentemøller will be really cool though. Kassav started off with a really great jam but sadly that was the best part of the concert that we saw. The rest was just pretty normal calypso pop music without the steel drums (sometimes the keyboard player would mimic the sound though).
01:00 The techno is very loud even out here in our camp site. We could hear the whole show and when we had returned to camp, we had been invaded by two tents, entering 1/3 of the way into our pavilion. What the hell?? Anyway, Trentemøller started off with really long spacey music with trains, strange sound effects, etc, before the beats came in. Sounded pretty cool. Guess I fell asleep around 02:00.
9:30 Damn, it is hot. We could not sleep much past 7:30 due to the heat. I guess I got like 3½ hours sleep, not that much. Turns out the people who invaded the camp are from England (one has a German girlfriend). They are really cool people. I just got back from a cold shower and that was great. One major difference this year at Roskilde was the volume. The db meter screens are gone and the bands are playing much louder than the past few years, which has been a major problem and have ruined many concert experiences, in my opinion. Just allowing the bands to play at 102-105 db makes all the difference and you can enjoy the show more. Less talking and if you are forced to be at the edge of the tent or outside you can hear the band now, not like in the past few years. They even added speakers to the outside of the Odeon! Great idea. Overall, the music yesterday was not that good. Only the Finnish band blew us away. We will start with Gojira at 12:00 today.
Gojira play complex metal and play very well. Their second song reminded me of VoiVod but they have no solos just riffing so I got bored and we ran off to check Orka from the Faroe Islands. This was a strange band. They played these homemade instruments and had some pretty cool rhythmic stuff but when they did these pop numbers it was very boring. Interesting. We met up with Magnus and Sonja and then we headed off to see Satyricon at the Arena. We met up with Tom and Nils here. They had a great stage show and some really great songs as well. They really could use some guitar solos. They had amazing sound. Tent was packed and people were really into it as well.
14:00 We arrived at the Odeon just in time to catch U-Roy and he was pretty cool and after 40 minutes Pablo Moses came out and he is strange guy but damn they played some great roots reggae! I think we saw like 35 minutes and then we headed down to Pavilion to see the Japanese band Mono. I have a couple of their CDs but have never seen them live. They have been going really soft and almost ambient the last few years but they played some pretty explosive stuff on this day, which was cool. I liked them quite a lot. We watched their whole set and then headed back to the Odeon to see Isis. I am not a big fan but I thought Scott might like them. We met up with Anders here. He is at all the metal gigs. They had a third guitar player who also played keyboards. 3 guitars and no solos, only riffing. It gets pretty boring after a while. They even had pre-recorded keyboard solos but no guitar solos. They had some good songs but we left to go in the front section for Faith No More. Nils was hanging out with us. He had seen them a few times in the 90’s. I had never seen Faith no More.
17:00 Massive crowd for Faith no More and really hot. I am glad that we could find a place in the shade; otherwise I never would have lasted out there. They had amazing sound and played a pretty cool concert. Nils said on some gigs they had been playing War Pigs at the end of the show, but not today. Paton was amazing and really delivered the goods. Cool show. We now had some time to grab something to eat and a beer and head over to the Arena to check out Down. Nils and I have never really got into this angry band, so I had low expectations.
19:00 Pretty big crowd for DOWN. Met up with Tommy (ex.Gas Giant, Mother Mary). He had some new tattoos. We lasted about 20 minutes and then we left. They are heavy and have some good riffs but the rhythm section just does not have a groove or something… Crowd seem to dig them.
Faith no More Down
19:30 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Wow. The crowd was massive and he played very loud. This was the loudest band we heard on this day. He started off pretty cool but then it got pretty boring I think. All the people were sitting down around us. His Grinderman project last year was pretty cool and rocked harder than this. Still, he has some great songs and a cool personality.
21:00 The Mars Volta. Wow. We have seen a lot of bands already today and still more to come. It has been like 5 years since I saw this band and I was really looking forward to it. The new CD is really good. They played a very intense set of about 70 minutes I guess. The sound could have been better though. All the players in this band are amazing. Pounding drums, killer keyboards, soaring intense vocals and amazing cool guitar work. This was the best show of the festival so far. Crowd seemed to dig it as well. I took a picture of Tom, Magnus, Scott and all the cups after The Mars Volta (See gallery). Everyone was in a great mood
23:00 Nils, Tom, Scott and I headed off to the Astoria to see Magnifico from Slovenia. There was only like 300 people as everyone else at the festival was over at Oasis. God knows why??? We heard one song by them when we walked by and I had never heard them before and was surprised that they were at least playing rock music and not pure pop. Anyway, Magnifico was totally amazing! It was a cool psychedelic mixture of Balkan, surf, ska, and rock music. He had a really cool personality and they showed excellent videos to go along with the songs. Each track he played was really different and cool. We were all pretty blown away by him. We saw the whole show. Nils was really tired and was heading back to the tent but would come back to see Cola Freaks at 3:00.
01:00 Scott and I got into the front left section for Nine Inch Nails. The crowd was not as huge as I thought it would be. We had a great place on the railing, pretty close to where I stood last year with Scott’s brother, Chris for both Slayer and Judas Priest. There were no big metal acts like that this year at all. Trent was totally into it but also quite angry as he was smashing stuff up and knocking over his synth rig. They played a few old songs early in the set which was cool. I think we only saw like 45 minutes and headed to the tent. It has been a long day and it was a little boring. I had expected the show to be much more visual. They used a lot of strobes but not cool disturbing movies like last time. Still a cool band.
6:30 Wow. It is so fucking hot this morning. The tent is just an oven. I continued to lie down until 8:10 but that was it, I was done for and had to go to the cold showers. I really liked the pro-climate stuff that was at the festival this year to promote climate awareness. Lots of cool stands and information. The bicycle driven Ferris wheel, was really cool, the place where you could do some work and charge your phone, a lot more vegetarian food, which takes up less land and energy than growing meat, etc… Amazing graffiti artists as well this year.
I will for sure need to come back for a nap later today if I will make it to see Dungen at 01:00 and Dragontears at 3:00! We headed over to the festival site about 12 for some brunch. That was great. Eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, chicken wing and juice!
13:00 We went to check out Dawn of Demise, a Danish death metal band. We only saw like 2 songs and the sound was not that good. One of those terrible sound men who think you should only hear the drums. The bass drums were insanely loud and drowned out all the instruments. Not my style of music either with these unintelligible growls for vocals. We just walked around for a bit and I tried to get Scott to go into the human wash. Set up like a car wash but two girls in bikini’s scrub you down as you walk through. They had seats set up and clear glass windows for all to watch. Fun
14:30 We met up with Nils for Kasai Allstars, who were described as hypnotic proto rock in the program and boy were they way off. The guitar player played totally traditional African style guitar and they had no rock in them at all. They had really cool drumming but overall the music was a little boring, traditional African music.
Kasai Allstars Dawn of Demise
15:00 We headed over to catch the Cancer Bats from Canada. This was a pretty cool band. The singer was very intense and they had some really great guitar riff rock stuff influenced by the 80’s hardcore and crossover scene for sure. We watched their whole set before heading over to see Dub Colossus at the Cosmopol. This was a strange mix of music. They started off with some African chanting stuff and then a long piano solo, a very strange song and then now they play reggae. Interesting band. I was fading away since it was the second night in a row I only got 3½ hours sleep. I headed back to the tent to try to rest.
18:30 I could lay down for a bit but no sleep was possible. It was too hot and the Norwegian girls were having a party with some Norwegian guys and singing and playing guitar and getting drunk. They hardly go see any music, which is strange. I will go get something to eat. Scott went with the American guys to go see the replacement for Lil Wayne, Gokel Bordelo.
20:00 Heard most of the Gokel Bordelo gig while having some Thai food and talking with some Danish women about politics, the state of the planet, and diabetes. Interesting. He was pretty good, like an uptempo mix of Balkan and ska music. Too many of his songs sounded the same but a fun band. You could hear the crowd loved it. It was still damn hot out here. Two hours until Tony Allen. Not sure what to do.
21:00 I got very lucky and got to sit in one of these hammocks near the pavilion. I heard most of the Cut off your hands set and was not at all impressed. They played melodic fast paced U2 inspired pop rock music. They did an ok version of a Sonic’s song and also covered the Split Endz. I had a nice chat with a Canadian guy who was here at the festival for the third time. He also thinks this is a totally amazing festival that just allows people to be themselves, express themselves and be free and to loose yourself from your normal life. No hassles at Roskilde with fights, police, etc. People get totally wasted, stoned, etc, but everyone behaves and therefore they hardly have any police in the festival site. I think we saw the small group of three-four, maybe 5 times over the whole festival.
22:00 Met up with Nils and Scott for Tony Allen, the former drummer with Fela Kuti, one of my all time favourite acts. The tent was very packed and hot even at 10 at night. I took my shirt off. It was Afrobeat dancing time. Tony had a killer band and they played a lot of great songs for 90 minutes. He does not look like he is in his 70’s but he plays like it. Very easy going drumming style but still cool. It was a great concert and the best we had seen this day, Nils agreed. Most people were at Slipknot now. We headed over to hang out outside the Odeon and have another beer and wait for the cool Swedish band Dungen. We could see them setting up and I think this was my fifth time to see the band but I had never seen them with two violin players. This could be cool.
00:30 My friend, Ralph, he was doing the sound for Dungen and also Dragontears later tonight. We all thought Dungen were pretty damn cool. A real unique mix of 70’s rock, folk, and psychedelia. The singer has a cool voice and plays flute, fender piano, and guitar but the lead guitar player; he is the real wizard of this band as he is amazing. They did quite a few long jamming parts on this concert. I think they played like 75 minutes.
02:00 My nephew, Scott, this was his favourite band we saw today. He was getting really tired now but we were still going to see Dragontears at 03:00 but first we went and saw almost an hour of a really cool DJ called Deadmaus. The cosmopol was packed to the brim and steam was coming out of the tent! The place was on fire and he had the place jumping. A lot of house style techno stuff. He started the set off in a large mouse suit… Cool stuff.
03:00 Time for Dragontears and it was rumoured this might be their last show. Original guitar player Morten could not make it so the third guitar slot was filled in by the guy from A kid hereafter. He also played some cool Theremin stuff. I had never seen them having missed them at Roadburn and also at Loppen the day after my daughter’s birthday. Anyway, Flowershowers had two screens set up and two projectors and it was going to be cool. Concert was delayed like 5 minutes though as they had problems with one of the projectors. They were very spaced out and played a great concert. We got to hear a couple of Spids Nøgenhat tracks as well as a few from each of the Dragontears records including a good version of Masters of War, the Dylan classic. The projections were the best we had seen at the festival this year and totally spacey and perfect for the music. They ended with a spaced out version of Sunrise, as it was becoming light a little after 4 in the morning. What an amazing experience walking back to the camp in the early morning light and seeing the late night party is still on! A lot of tired, drunk and crazy people stumbling back to the camping areas in the dust. I am pretty amazed that I made it for this show. Got to bed about 4:20. Good night.
10:30 Wow. It was overcast and cool today so we could actually sleep until 10:00! I got like 5½ hrs sleep, a record on this weekend. The last 4 bands we saw yesterday were really excellent. Great Saturday in the end, even though there was not much during the day that was very good. Scott and I are really wiped out and although there are some bands that I would really like to see like Madness, Neurosis, Eagles of Death Metal, and ZU, we only saw one band on this day. We met up with Klaus, Kaj, Susan and Nils for Darkane, a metal band from Sweden. They play really well and are very Slayer inspired thrash metal. Not that memorable songs but heavy and fast! We left to go pack up our things and we caught the train back to Copenhagen around 2:45.
Nils told me that both Madness and especially ZU were really excellent. He did not leave to come home until 10:30 Sunday night…phew. We had a really good festival and what an experience for my 16 year old nephew. He had a blast. The festival is still amazing despite the music program not being that great. In the old days, just 10 years ago, you would see at least 2-3 bands each day that just blew you away but not anymore. You are lucky to see one. Wish they would ask me to help them invite the cool Swedish underground acts, the best of the modern psychedelic and world music bands, as this is the stuff that I am in touch with from my reviews.
My top 5 bands for 2009:
1. The Mars Volta
2. Tony Allen
See this link for more pictures of the festival including crazy campers, tattoo'd people, grafitti, etc..
Reviewed by Scott Heller