The rain may have (basically) stopped after Thursday, but the mud had nowhere to go. Nonetheless, it was a Roskilde Festival worthy of it's somewhat legendary reputation. The big names didn't really disappoint - with the exception of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I will get to in a moment.
As is always the case, it was the unexpected bands that carried the festival. Because it's these bands that one fills the hours in between the big acts playing at the Orange stage.
This year, I'd highlight 3 in particular that stood out: Nortec Collective from Mexico (a fantastic take on electro music with a mexican twist - 5 guys on laptops, 2 horn players, an accoustic guitar player and an accordian player), Goose from Belgium (pure synthesiser focused energy - non stop bouncing for an hour), and 120 Days from Norway (extended electronic tracks with a deceiving amount of power and energy).
Nortec Collective at the Roskilde Festival
But the guy who arguably stole the show this year was Trentemøller. Coming somewhat out of nowhere in Denmark over the last 18 months, with his live performance at Roskilde on Friday evening, he cemented himself a reputation as a live performer of the highest caliber.
Which brings us to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Watching Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Keidis on screen, with black bags under his eyes, well, he looked rather tired. It was only later that I learned why - it seems the Chili Peppers played 3 shows in 24 hours, first in Paris yesterday evening, then earlier in the day in London, before hopping on a plane and arriving in Copenhagen for their 1 AM show at Roskilde. Sadly, it was their fans in Roskilde - and I am without question one of them - that suffered from this ambitious bit of scheduling on their part.
It was lackluster performance. No, I'm being kind. It was outright shitty and somewhat embarrassing and worse of all, standing watch it, it felt like we were all unwitting victims to some sort of inside joke the band was playing. A joke that went something like, 'if we pretend we are a bunch of teenagers jamming for 2 hours, will 50,000 people still cheer'. The second part of the joke was, 'how few songs can we squeeze into 2 hours'.
Here's how it went:
When they were playing their hits they were fantasic and the crowd was into it. Unfortunately, it was the space between the hits that was the problem. During these times, we were treated to an extended warm-up session. It was painful, being subjected to guitarist John Frusciante's endless guitar-wanking. The band sounded like a bunch of kids trying out instruments in a music shop. It would have been cool if this had a couple times during the show, but it happened between every single song they played. And by the end of the 2 hours, they could have easily played at least 5-6 songs more - and it's not like they have a shortage of songs to play! No question the 50,000 plus people watching would have responded energetically, if they had.
Instead, when the band left stage before the first encore, after feeling kind of like we had been stuck in very slow moving traffic that started in stopped for 2 hours - you'd move a bit, then things would crawl to a stop, and so on for the entire performance - it was a feeble cheer that the crowed mustered before the encore. The encore proved to be another couple guitar wanks, then 'Give it Away' now (again, excellent), followed by another 5 minute guitar wank to end the show (Anothony Keidis having already left the stage by this point).
In retrospect, I realise that the fact they opened the concert with a 3-minute jam session/guitar wank was actually a warning for what was to come.
And I know they can put on a great show. Last time they played Roskilde, they packed their set with pretty much all the biggest hits from their albums.
But as I said, Chili Peppers aside, it was an outstanding festival, especially given the weather conditions. The camping area may have been a sea of mud (that I all but avoided, opting instead to take the bus into Copenhagen each evening to sleep in the comfort of my own bed). You see, at a festival years ago I learned that human beings can live in mud, much to my surprise, and I didn't need a second lesson this year around.