The heaviest weight this week is day four. It used to be the Sunday, which was a cue for a fairly sober day, a drifting day and culminating in some legacy act. Not quite now that the festival’s fourth day is a Saturday. This is a party day if you want it. This will go late and the closing acts are there to insure it, ‘legacy’ they may be but its a legacy of dance more than the rock that Roskilde mostly hang onto.
While Danish throwback royalty Dizzy Mizz Lizzy (you can’t slag them off or you’ll never get back in the country) are keeping every single Dane busy, Sturgill Simpson and Cate Le Bon are playing in tents side-by-side, both ultra confident and engaging. Simpson has modern country music in his fists, rousing and twangy it breaks free of the genre just enough to possibly make a connection with a new audience. It almost seemed the Avalon tent, with it’s billowing pleated sheets and cabaret trimmings was built for this gig, and all complemented by a full house.
Sadly our allegiance to one of the biggest rock/dance crossover acts meant we missed David August’s Apollo set (and non-rock acts more often than not pushed out to the distant Apollo stage). But we were nicely placed for New Order under the Arena tent. Manchester’s finest dragged their new album out into the open and now minus the dad-dancing Peter Hook they slam us with visuals and lights and concentrate on playing. While we sip nicely at the solid new ‘Tutti Frutti’ amongst ‘Ceremony’ and ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, we sit and wait and when it comes you just drink all you can in. ‘True Faith’, slowly into ’Blue Monday’, ‘Temptation’. Sky scorching classics of not one but at least two ages now. And under the cover of the great Arena – live festival music’s greatest catalyst.
Local break out act MØ has the main stage and it’s clearly dream come true time. Her persona, full of great swagger and moody confidence, is replaced by a girl seemingly 10 years younger, overawed, almost giggly. It’s quite unexpected for us, but legions upon legions of young Danish girls are ultra excited getting one of their own kicking it on the main stage, and they couldn’t care less. Her pop is great because it’s not so straight down the line, and a club vibe maybe more fitting to the sounds. Also, the songs have that attitude she bolstered, but they are now punctuated by a different sort of person. There’s at least two crowd surfing turns, and a lot of time spent in the pit where most of us can’t see her. There’s a Danish guest singer who is all glassy cool with no real function – all VIP room cool – while MØ is trying to throw her arms around everyone she can. Dropping her biggest hit (under the Major Lazer tag) ’Lean On’ as the big finale, it was a proper party. As for our reaction to the gig messing with our perceptions of MØ, well that may say more about us than her.
Perfectly pitched cool with attitude was practically invented in Sweden so Miike Snow come pre-armed with it. They never break face, just layer after layer of black pop. Whiskey not beer. Belter classics (‘Paddling Out’) and new colours of black in the new album. You’d shake your fist at nothing, growling ‘yes’ if no-one was watching. Much cracked-heart love.
And all we had left in us. Get into the pit for the big comeback. A gang of four all covered in neon hoops beside us, load up from the last of the walking beer servers alas – we have lost all our friends. And at this gig if ALL of them. Bringing clubland to the great wide open, James Murphy sets up LCD Soundsystem in a huddle between monitors and have killed all the lights on the top of the stage to perhaps encourage a more intimate feeling. To us it feels like he has excluded anyone from outside the pit – the great lights atop the Orange stage always a beacon to those at the back watching on screens. It’s a big site to fill otherwise.
But they’re back! Yes, of course. We wanted this? We asked, right? Or was it just a bit soon for us to be asking. We saw him cry as his gear was sold at the end of ‘Shut Up And Play The Hits’. We invested in the funeral. Right – we must be too sober. Or is this apathy coming from the in-chatting on stage. Has the breath of the venue got Murphy a little shook and he needs to talk to the band? An odd fish, it felt like he was excluding the crowd. But we wanted the hits, so here they come. Big and shining of course. Disco ball to light them up (but only for the front rows of course).
And through it we go. A little disconnected, sober, and affected in no small way by the lack of all our friends, or even just one of them. And LCD is a communal experience. And just wait for the last trach. Well might I ask where my friends are tonight, as Murphy does too, but this is DANCE goddammit. And Dance is community. And if your community doesn’t fit in your little clubland boat, then you build a bigger boat and bring them all in! But miles from home maybe LCD are closer to that feeling than can be gleaned from our standpoint. Back on Irish soil, away from Danish mores and their wonderfully organised big festivals and their codes, and their officially-sanctioned annual let-your-hair-down-at-roskilde-and-be-cool-to-each-other Orange Feeling – maybe then we’ll have communion. Maybe Murphy knows this.
The Roskilde festival is recommended as a must to any roving festival lover. A trusting attitude to drink, top drawer and myriad food options, even superb shopping options and 100,000 people being very cool and very cool to each other. The effort in dressing the tents gives each one a warmer experience than the same type of tent at EP, for example. It’s foil to many big festivals like it.
Though lately with the upsurge in booking for Northside festival (cruelly, two weeks beforehand) a lot of the small and mid acts have beed stripped away. We hit some unfortunate clashes this year, then large swathes of time with no-one to see. Four days is starting to seem a bit dragged out for us, now on our 10th year there. But if you’ve never been, it’s an early summer treat. Whatever else, this is how a festival should be run on the ground. This non-profit, organic, volunteer-supported event which still has magic in it.
LCD Soundsystem photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen