“Do you think being circumcised will make you faster?”. “Eh, I’m not circumcised”. And so begins day three, as Roskilde Radio interviews the participants before the now-legendary Naked Race on the campsite. Today is going to be a scorcher – even compared to the two last days – so sitting in the shade beside the race track as the participants are introduced is as fine a way to start the day as you’d get. We certainly choose it over standing in the nip out in the boiling sun, but the 10 men and 10 ladies (many who have replaced their ‘lady lawn’ with their national flag) gearing up on the starting line seem to be happy and focused on the prize – a free ticket to next year’s festival for the first of each to finish. It’s over in a (excuse us here) flash and two winners are eventually plucked from the flesh melee at the finish line.
No fancy turn of phrase can offer a good link between the aforementioned race and going to see And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead but that’s what we do next. The band are charged up and blow away any remaining cobwebs, with Jason Reece and Conrad Keely playing musical chairs with the second drumkit, a gut-punch of guitars and precise double-drumming. A huge roar of approval greets the beginning of their epic ‘Will You Smile Again’ and we escape on our hands and knees for something a bit more pastoral.
Elbow seems to fit that bill and we arrive at the same time as a string section appears on stage and our nerves are settled by the lush swell from Guy Garvey’s warm vocals and the subtle orchestral arangement of the songs. Garvey is warm and welcoming and though he constantly asks us ‘is everyone alright?’ the busy tent is on his side from the off and everyone gets to play their part in singing along with ‘Grounds For Divorce’.
Despite the fact that Lil Wayne had to cancel a number of days ago due to the advice of a medical professional, they are still selling his t-shirts at the merch stall beside the Orange stage. The show may not go on, but the selling does. The announcement of his cancellation and replacement seemed to be greeted with cheers on Thursday and there’s no shortage of people enjoying Gogol Bordello who take his place. The wild gipsy collective have a huge portion of the assembled going absolutely wild in the 30+ degree heat as they raise the bar on how fast and loud they can take their Balkan music. They step up the the vacant plate with cargo ships full of energy and it sure doesn’t look to us like Lil Wayne was missed.
Young, androgynous and with a very cut-and-paste approach to their music Micachu And The Shapes are a refreshing change in the day. The three-piece play with a battered guitar held around the neck by a tatty string and a mix of keyboards and cowbells, none of which sound for long like they are going to conspire to create flowing melodies. It’s angular and a bit awkward but it makes us tilt our head with curiosity for a few of their short songs.
A short hop over to illegal-sampling pioneer Steinski who we have been fascinated about since State‘s article on the Illegal Art record label. The music is as good as we imagined and the gig could have actually been enjoyable if it wasn’t just a chubby guy looking at a computer and drinking water. But it was. As he stood there obscuring his own name on the backdrop we tried to be open to the music but soon our mind wandered to the idea of a cold one and this painfully boring event was soon left behind.
Luckily we stumbled across another contender for ‘Most Fucked’ as some dude with a back tattoo that looked like a message to aliens stumbled around bothering some sun-kissed people with something he was looking for, which may have been his own name or indeed the name of the planet onto which he had just woken up and found himself on.
Looking a little more grown up every day, the ever-confident and charming Lily Allen graced Arena stage in a little black number and there were hordes to greet her. The Arena tent which can hold perhaps 8,000 people is often packed to far outside the tent poles and is certainly one of the most atmospheric spaces of this size to play anywhere. We stood outside with a few contented fans and chatted as they named every song she played to us. It looked like the real party was in the middle of the tent, especialy during her crowd-pleasing cover of ‘Oh My God’.
Across the fields some masked men are bringing circus to the Orange stage. Slipknot wisely wait until our photographer is safely finished his job before roasting everyone in the front with a flame show whose prickly heat could be felt all the way to the cheap seats. Like we needed more heat today. The kids queuing to get into the pit from early on are surely in the throes of passion as their hair is singed and as the drumkit rises into the air and revolves with one of the beasts hanging on and another bashing the kit you can’t but be hugely entertained by this Cirque Du Soleil run by Megadeth.
So to the delightful discovery of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart whose breezy melodies saw us into the night in the cosy Pavillion tent, at the furthest reaches of the site. There was something joyfully late 80s Ireland we felt about their guitar pop, in the vein of Power Of Dreams perhaps, but maybe we were just drunk a long way from home, whiling the night away with songs of Kurt Cobain and a well-deserved encore.
Getting into the pit for Fever Ray wasn’t as difficult as we initially though – the huge queue gathering outside the area was actually for Danish legends Malk De Koijn who were not on for two more hours. Now where to begin. Imagine a huge pitch black room of which at one end is a stage with about 12 lamps from your grandmother’s house flashing on different sequences, dress whoever is on stage like various creatures (hooded and otherwise) from your worst Japanese-horror-movie-nightmares but have them almost impossible to make out in the smokey darkness. Oh, then stick two huge bastard lasers firing parallel, straight out from the top of the stage. Then have the beasts play the most gripping and atmospheric electronic soundtrack as Karen Dreijer (Ms. Ray) sings her black soul out, without ever really being seen. It left us shellshocked and truly was like nothing State has seen before. How awesome.
And so we trot back to the main (Orange) stage for the grand old dames of british pop, Pet Shop Boys. After the massive production TrentemÃ¸ller put on Friday it looked a little low-rent. It seems the PSB never fully got to grips with looking big on stage, using their own brick-wall-with-projection feature instead of the fantastic Orange Stage lights. Some hammy visuals accompanied most songs and in the most excruciating moment, Chris Lowe stepped out from behind his booth in a mirrored hoodie and danced for a bit with four really bad cardboard buildings from NYC stuck to some dancers and 20 years of cool he has created fell like the cheap stage bricks behind him. While not exactly a hit parade, they did of course receive great responses for ‘Go West’, ‘West End Girls’ and ‘Always On My Mind’. As they sung our favoutite PSN tune ‘Being Boring’ it was bittersweet as it seems, after all the years, the live show has become just that. Somebody sit them down with Grace Jones.
The crest of a wave of beer-fulled energy had us up long passed our bedtime and while we did enjoy visits to The Very Best featuring Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit (“when I say ‘radio’, you say ‘clit'” was all we really heard there) and a hugely entertaining psych trip to Dragontears (who State insisted were called ‘Dragonteeth’ until we looked at the programme the next morning) we were in no condition to make any notes and/or judgements on the music. Oh and we just remembered the shot in the arm Dane Mikael Simpson gave us as we bought one more beer for the road near the Odeon tent. And then it was goodnight, sweet prince. One more day tomorrow.
Photos by Jakob Bekker-Hansen