Roskilde Day 1, Thurs July 3rd, 2008
Mother Nature is firm, but she is also fair. After last year spent pissing all over Roskilde’s festival – relentlessly – she makes amends by bathing us in a cloudless sky and temperatures in the high 20s. Wellies have been replaced by roman sandal-type footwear and rain jackets have been replaced by, well, golden Scandinavian skin everywhere you look. Spirits are high and with good cause. This year’s festival, while not bursting at the seams with so many acts that most of your time is spent on wondering what to see, they have still nailed down a mighty mixed bag of musical joy over the next four days. Coming up, State are getting moist at the thought of Band Of Horses, Mogwai, Battles, Goldfrapp, The Notwist, Efterlang, Cat Power and well as the seriously heavy hitters such as Neil Young, Kings Of Leon and our own My Bloody Valentine.
But as we eased through the sunny gates and into the festival site we met a few friends who all agreed that we were off to see Dengue Fever, no questions. A mix of Cambodian pop with Californian surf/psychedelic rock, they look like a band that Tarantino created. Only better. In fact it’s hard to imagine a better festival opener than seeing these guys in a nice, cool tent: all beards and strange hair and lead singer Chhom Nimol adorned in a swaying golden dress. Everyone is dancing, especially some topless gents in front of us who are waltzing with crowd safety staff. Such is the overall great vibe of this festival. No heavy-handed security. Minimum queuing for anything – pretty much a -do as you want as long and it doesn’t piss anyone off’. This festival is so focused on crowd safety and making people comfortable and happy is a big part of that.
So over to MGMT in the Odeon tent and, whoops! everyone’s here. Packed back to the organic cocktail bar 20 metres outside the tent, we push our way gently past the chilled crowd and soon find our way inside the shade of the tent. It’s a great stage – ever decreasing squares of video-wall surrounding it, and it suits the plastic bespectacled pair. Again, more dancing and cheering but we need a beer so we push off into the sun – that glorious 8pm sun – again.
Over across the fields Lupe Fiasco is entertaining the Cosmopol tent while The Gossip stride on in a not-so-packed tent to the glorious mash up of ‘Psycho Killer’ and their own ‘Listen Up’. Pure festival, and of course VERY Gossip. Lovely.
So stock up on the brews and squeeze into a main stage spot beside one of the many flag flyers so your mates can find you (we were below a Pink Floyd flag which was maintained almost upright by a squad of very drunk Danish lads masquerading as very drunk German poodlerockers). It’s now Radiohead time and at precisely 10pm they stride on as the sun sets on a cloudless sky behind the main Orange stage. Apparently the only band in the history of the festival to be allowed set up and use nothing but their own lights for the main performance – an energy saving LCD affair – and it’s a beautiful companion to the sky behind. Opening with the glorious -15 Step’ they played perfect and tight, a wound up ball of energy. The -Head are more of an introspective band live with Thom Yorke’s shyness never allowing him to engage fully with the crowd. But it’s the beautiful songs, such as -Videotape’, -Jigsaw Falling into Place’ and -Nude’ as well as some goodies from the archives (the sublime -Pyramid Song’) that really had the crown relishing every minute – even way back in the cheap seats.
The lack of engagement with the audience was seen by a few as a selfishness, but to compare it to The Killers’ abysmal connection with the crowd last year when in the most torrential of rain all anyone needed to hear was that the band knew our pain and we got nothing at all but Brandon hiding behind his shades and weak moustache. Radiohead do connect through the glorious reproduction of their songs on stage and just watching them re-create the songs, like mad scientists in a lab, is just gold. And none so golden as the two songs to see us back out to the bars and campsites, First -2+2=5′ and then just when you want them to leave it on that high note, one final glory of -Karma Police’ and we all bond in a big singalong. The peak of the evening occurring as the rest of the band down gear to wave goodbye and Thom accompanies us on acoustic guitar in one final chorus. Those sweet moments that festivals create…
Phew, for a minute there I lost myself.