On our arrival outside the entrance to the Roskilde festival 2013 we are greeted by a car with a huge phallus mounted on top so we just take that as a Danish welcome and walk through the gates on a perfectly temperate, dry-ish day. The four day feast has a nice balance of big-name heavy hitters and local bands too though one band will get to claim both this weekend for Metallica (and one drummer in particular) this will be a serious homecoming too. But we have three days to go till they set up the pyrotechnics.
The first act we go to see put us oddly back out of the festival site. The Apollo stage is essentially a huge inflatable pumpkin. Last year it was placed in one campsite area and was home to a shambolicly attended Blondes gig where the only people who made the journey were State’s team of two and a wasted naked man. Though seemingly odd to keep this stage off-site there are a few thousand gathered to see Eloq, a local producer who has also ties to Denmark’s new pop hope, MØ. (MØ inexplicably played Monday night for the people already camping and wasn’t given a chance to shine before the full festival crowd.) Eloq was perfectly located to catch the campers gearing up for the festival and had a fair few thousand gathered in front of the pumpkin. Call it whatever genre you like, but right here it’s bass-heavy euphoric drop after drop and it ignites instantly with the raring-to-gos and the pre-wasted. As this stage is the only outdoor one apart from the headline Orange stage it seems to make sense having some of the dance acts out here, and the placement outside the arena brings in a crowd that don’t even need to stray far from their tents.
The Lumineers are opening the Odeon tent and clearly neither the band nor the crowd got the memo about the Mumford lash-back. The folky americana is well played and delivered and everyone in the tent is having fun but there’s a feeling under the skin that somewhere else at Roskilde right now people are having a more interesting time. It certainly allows the opportunity to test the beverages on offer and cold Tuborg (yet again) trumps a flat rum and ginger ale from a crappy cocktail bar. If not quite balmy, it’s shirtsleeves weather and the evening will bring a tiny bit of rain to dampen the ground before the stars come out above. In the meantime Suicidal Tendencies are going through their motions at the vast Arena tent (Europe’s largest apparently). Far from qualified to comment either way on the legendary metalers’ antics, but they were rocking loudly and prowling the stage ominously and nobody looked disappointed.
Savages were in the Pavilion tent – punky aesthetic somewhat reminiscent of very early U2 to these ears – were so true to this punk cause that they forgot the lyrics entirely to one song. Somewhat scrappy, it felt a bit disengaged despite Jehnny Beth’s dominating Anna Calvi-esque voice. The songs are there but a more focussed delivery would reach to the back of the tent and the spines perhaps. Then there’s Kendrik Lamar back over at the Arena tent. It’s almost impossible to get close enough to catch a glimpse and when we do, the whole place lifts past us to ‘Pussy and Patron’, about 15,000 pairs of hands are in the air. That party boat has sailed without us but it looks beautiful as it floats away and we steel ourselves for another venture into the outer world in the campsites.
Back at the Apollo stage are the band we are most eager to see today – Disclosure. After the Blondes upset of last year we are wary on approach but the thousands gathered for Eloq earlier have swelled. Dusk is coming and the smoke machines fire from an arc of lights which create a half-colosseum effect with the stage central. Full of action on stage, the Lawrence brothers are jumping between keys, boards and drum machines. They are always in full flow and look like a band and never like djs. The variety on the album makes way for a more blended seamless set which plays straight to the dancing genes. Dark has fallen and everything clicks into perfection when ‘White Noise’ drops. They could have played it for an hour with no complaints. Then the cherry on top – anything from 6,000 to 10,000 are bopping slowly to ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’, bass pumping chests.
We return on-site in a daze, ear to ear smiles and residual dancing still in the legs. We call via Animal Collective to see the multicoloured gaping mouth they have made of the stage. The vibe is more chin-stroking than the party we just came from but we luck out and catch ‘My Girls’. There’s some odd take-your-partner dancing on display in the crowd (well it’s not quite a waltz) but it has a whiff of the super-happy opening night feel here.
We step once more into the main Orange stage pit for Ingrid. This Ingrid is a strange beast and had we paid attention to who or what Ingrid was we might have been more excited. A record label of sorts, but tonight it’s a Swedish musical smorgasbord which begins with a hooded array of bodies choral singing and turns a little more straightforwardly into Peter, Bjorn and John before the array of guests spice up the mix. The Tallest Man on Earth moves up front for ‘Where Do My Bluebird Fly’, and sinks back in to the band. Miike Snow grab things a little harder, Lykke Li dips in and out of songs and in a moment of pure randomness, Chrissie Hynde (no Swedish connections we know of) pops out and does ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’. You’d turn it off it it came on the radio but it’s so baffling as to be enjoying. As it closes and we have a few more of the beers on sale in the pit in our belly, our immediate dreams come true. Lykke Li sidles back to front and centre and drops ‘I Follow Rivers’ on first-night crowd begging to let off the leash. Add to that the closer of ‘Young Folk’ with Li on the female vocals and there’s your first night wrapped up in a bow. The site is open till the early hours – all bars till 4am – so there’s plenty of time to be excited about that wonderful day and the long three days to come.
Photo of Disclosure by Jakob Bekker-Hansen
Day 1 photo gallery here.