It’s full daylight bright when we wake at 6am but the sandman allows us to drift off again ’til a more respectable hour; one which skips us past Kronos Quartet’s midday slot. It’s now over 48 hours since we have literally seen a cloud, the dusty site clean again after its nighttime overhaul. It’s not just on-site that the festival experience is happening – camping is mostly done in named and themed areas and many are off-the-cuff as groups of friends set up tents around a pagoda, others are more organised like the Dream City user-driven creative camp. Here you are asked to contribute to elevate the experience of the festival. You propose, and give time to your camp’s project, use the powertools and equipment there and build something for the rest of the camp to enjoy. This attitude lifts camps out of a mass of badly-placed-tents-as-sleeping-units-for-drinkers and creates mini communities. It’s this sense of community which brings many out to pitch tents for days before the official gates open.
With the sun high and a cold sugary soda in our hands we give our morning to the previously unseen. We arrive at Pavilion to listen to Broken Twin’s mellow, orchestrated songs. We get a phone call and walk outside the tent to take it, where we stumble into an old friend. Next thing there are three of us sitting outside the tent on a blanket, with sunscreen, and the ideal mellowness of Majke Voss Romme’s torch songs washing out. The band are tight and raise her recorded bedroom-quiet songs to pounding heartbreakers, curing fears and ills.
Next door in Avalon Susanne Sundfør’s synth pop, and voice especially, is sliced from the DNA of the ’80s and veers easily into goose-bump, soprano highs. Kwabs then offers a different type of church as his confident soul slowly fills the tent and you’d easily be forgiven for not knowing if it was a Friday or a Sunday.
The gravitational pull of Kendrick Lamar is so great that bodies are flocking from all over the site and the camps to the main Orange Stage. He’s telling us all he’s going to bring us the best party, and everyone is chilled enough to roll along with this and it’s SO easy to get into a good mood here. In bright daylight he can’t rely on a stageshow to carry this, nor does he. As we skirt the outside of the packed main site, everyone to the distant wooden bleachers is grinning and bouncing. Relentlessly lifting the spirits, an indelible moment is watching about 70,000 arms bounce to ‘Money Tree’ in the evening sun.
His show was such a belter that two acts in distant tent stages refused to go on until he was over. Gretchen Peters began 30 mins late and loud enough to make us wonder what the problem was. A very accessible brand of country, each song deserves its own True Detective intro sequence to soundtrack. ‘Blackbirds’ is a standout discovery before we move next tent over to first cast our eyes upon Einstürzende Neubauten. Gothic in the same field as Cave and his Bad Seeds, and industrial – quite literally as a bucket empties metal shards down upon the stage from three metres up. Intense and fairly captivating, it fought valiantly against the heat of this scorched summer day.
The last time Disclosure played Roskilde two years ago it was a highlight, playing late on the inflatable Apollo stage out in the campsites. This year they have the main stage to themselves and this may be where some cracks are showing. They have the punch of sound, and certainly possess the catalogue for this vast main arena, but they are playing the self-same show. Two fun brothers triggering all their tracks rather than playing much was great the first time but they have added nothing but a very tall riser. Where’s the bigger show these guys can certainly afford to bring? No guest vocals, every one a sample, and the animated singing faces can’t connect on the same level as a live vocal. When you are this big, and you’re playing one of Europe’s biggest festivals maybe look at bringing a live angle to bear in the music, and for Christ’s sake just buy Hannah Reid a plane ticket. We’d go crazy for that! Help us lose our minds, lads.
At this point in the day, in the ‘weekend’ (it’s still only Friday) you can really feel the strain of the constant moving and standing from your heels up to your backside and short of going home to bed (paha) it’s best to sit in a bar, or on a bench tracking down a late meal and a never ending supply of cocktails or cold ones (bars stay open till 4am, Irish festival goers take note. Clearly the Danes can be trusted to drink responsibly).
But like all good cars, when the red light goes on, the tank isn’t really empty. Not with the sun raising our endorphins all day. And we are tempted to get a look at Mew, a massive band in Denmark but splashing only a little internationally. No-one loves their own like the Danes and it’s a serious spirit lifter to see the wide Orange Stage area covered to the corners, and finally under a night sky. Guitar driven pop at a very high level, you’re sucked into the glowing mood of the band as they bathe in this massive showing. Jonas Bjerre is a baby-faced frontman, his gormless look and big eyes balanced with a powerful high voice. Every light is utilised, every song carried up and out and you couldn’t feel any more at one with the Danish people if you woke up with a mermaid.
Buzzing on a beautifully full day, cloaked in still-balmy evening air, you can’t just go home you know? Much safer to sit it out with friends until you can safely go home in daylight and if someone puts a Nina Bang cocktail from Stauning Bar in front of you well so be it.
Mew photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen.