Knowing you went home in daylight means very little at this time of year in Denmark. You could have had a tame 2.30 night out, or it could have been 7am – the day rises very quick. We seem fresh enough to indicate it was the earlier time which is good because you need to be of relative sound mind for the annual trip out to the Festival Radio’s location at the campsites and the annual Naked Race. Well worth the trudge out it’s always a hoot and the whole procedure is over in under 15 mins with the winners getting a pair of passes to next year’s festival while still stitch-less on the podium. The men’s winner was leading from the start but it’s all such a blur of oddly painted nudes that it’s quite hard to take in what you’re actually witnessing.
We had to make just a brief visit to Parquet Courts but they’re not quite the pop-in-and-see-a-few-tunes band for a sunny Saturday morning. Angular and scratchy, they suit a darker, danker place and our thoughts are on making sure we get over to a big homecoming gig in Arena. Efterklang, certainly the most well-travelled of the new wave of Danish music, were taking an afternoon slot on the Arena stage on a sunny afternoon. Busy as you’d expect, the crowd were relaxed and there was plenty of room to get up the front, or just chill at the back of the tent too, or just outside in the sun. There’s a little magic with Efterklang, a mystery ingredient that can sweep you up almost immediately. Buoyed on the euphoria of this massive, filled-out tent they bled it back out, beaming, humble and unselfconsciously brilliant. Through songs not even recognised you just feel charmed, and when they begin ‘Modern Drift’ you can imagine cold-water sprinklers coming on and moving across the crowd in the dead tent heat. Undistilled class-A communal joy.
Kris Kristofferson is a man alone on the vast Orange stage, balladeering in the hot, hot sun. It’s a set people are chatting during, enjoying a cold one and trying not to pass out in the heat. Beautiful to hear, but lost (or just a melancholic background) to those without absolute focus on the man himself. Meanwhile Denmark’s Iceage are scowling through their own hardcore at Arena. In almost every song, just when you think the sprawling dark angles are going to, at once, land you in something you can get a hold of they grab defeat from the jaws of victory and leave a lingering, unsatisfied feeling. Seemingly caught up in their own brand of nihilism we get nothing to take away from the stage, despite seeing something we like in through the rough.
The National are keeping the staff busy handing out as much water cups as they can to the fans gathered in the unrelenting sun. In good voice and form, they still follow a live process we’ve mostly all see before and perhaps this gig is more exciting for the newer fans to catch. So we take a shaded option and visit Indians in the smaller Odeon stage. The 4AD-baiting Dane, Søren Løkke Juul, has a beautiful voice and a sweet way with a pop melody within an electronica shell. As well-crafted live as on record, he has a full band with him and heartwarming earworms such as ‘Bird’ stay with you the entire set and easily float you through some other songs that don’t make the same impact. It’s a good day for the Danish, leading nicely up to an appearance by their most famous Napster-hating drummer.
Set up with what must be a special Lars Cam for this occasion, Metallica step out to play their only European Festival date this summer. Fireworks are prepped on hoists to each side and the stage has been re-build since yesterday to their specs. It’s just dark enough for the mood to be right, and off they go into… well, we don’t know. Fair-weather Metallica fans like ourselves are left rocking in a vacuum of songs we don’t know and the crowd, while visibly excited, are still, in the main, waiting. Ok, ‘Enter Sandman’ helps and the boys are tearing through it – Hetfield’s voice never really at the races, but was it ever, live? This is metal, we remind ourselves, while a little distracted – then BOOM! they get our attention with a minute of fireworks shooting up above us and as the hisses of the smoking gunpowder die down the metal bassline that owns all the others rises up and ‘One’ begins. Now you’re talking. We want it louder but the breeze could be bringing it over the other side. Then the song breaks and as Hetfield yells “landmine” two explosions frame him in a perfect moment of rock and pyrotechnic timing. Exhausted our adrenalin recedes and we sink back into the concert having peaked. On they play but we’ve had our moment. We pass midnight and the haunting feeling that Sigur Ros are playing Arena gets the better of us and we depart the metal legends walk to the back and survey the scene. 60,000 being rocked in the balmy evening, by a local boy and his pals. All told, a beautiful sight.
No matter how you approach a Sigur Rós live gig, you’ll be handing a part of your heart over to the Icelanders. Having seen them begin this current tour in Iceland in November last and Brussels earlier this year we knew what to expect and in experiencing what were were expecting there was less awe. Still beautiful and communal emotion like no other it was almost too mixed a day to expect these guys to transport us completely for an entire gig, but they got us in the end. Pulling the magic mirror of ‘Hoppípolla’ onto ‘Með Blóðnasir’, practically an eight minute flight through every intense human emotion, 13,000 hearts ebbed and flowed with Jonsi’s bow.
Would Angel Haze cap this wildly swinging day? Still not on stage after at 45 minute wait for her, 3am was our limit and our walk back took us by When Saints Go Machine packing them in at Arena. Roskilde was only settling into the night ahead. The Saturday blow-out, the last chance to dance before next year. Perhaps too late to go home early now.
Sigur Ros photographed by Jakob Bekker-Hansen
See our day 3 photo gallery here.