Photos by Tom Spray
Reviews by Amanda Farah and Jesper Gaarskjær
Africa Express presents the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians — Orange
If there was one flaw in the Africa Express set from last year, it was timing. The four-hour performance started at about 10pm on the last night of Roskilde, and as marvellous as it was, we simply didn’t have the energy left to stick it out.
So Africa Express presents the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn and Guests (not the snappiest title, to be honest) was a wonderful way to open the Orange Stage. And with this set running only two hours, there was no threat of Albarn being carried off the stage again, though of course it was mentioned.
This night was not about Albarn, though. Aside from an extended version of “Out of Time,” where Arabic string arrangements melted the song into something romantic and beautiful, and a cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” sung with the Syrian choir and Julia Holter, he remained in the background. Even from the perspective of a longtime fan of his work, that’s fine, because the best moments of the set belonged to other performers.
Mounir Troudi not only floored us with his voice, but is so delightful to watch in his performance with his enormous smile and fanciful dancing that it’s almost unbearable. Someone please bring him to Koncerthuset so we can enjoy a full concert. Lebanese/Algerian artist Malikah, performing with both Noura Mint Seymali and with Bu Kolthoum, has us realizing that we need more Arabic hip-hop in our lives.
And lest anyone doubt the political nature of this performance, Albarn opened the set by declaring “keep borders open” and ended it with his fellow musicians leading the crowd in a chant of “Syria.” Well said. Welcome in. — AF
Aurora — Pavilion
Standing there in her thin black dress and golden jacket and shining with her pale, smiling face, obviously grateful for the people crowding this years’ first concert at Pavilion. And then she starts singing, Aurora Aksnes, 19 year old from Norway, and nothing is stronger than the voice from this young, tiny woman.
She really can make some unbelievable sounds with her voice, both on record and not least live at Roskilde, that just fits her gripping, explosive electro pop-songs somewhere between Björk and Sia. That was the formula from the minute she entered the stage until she left only 40 minutes later, leaving the crowd hungry for more of her pop songs that have this cold Nordic melancholy underneath it all.
This really was a lively concert, but that was also the weakness of her performance. It was too much the same pop formula, and that was a shame. Aurora is so, so talented, and she makes adorable pop songs like the irresistible “Running With The Wolves” — which also lifted the concert to pure magic — but she is also very interesting, when she is vulnerable in a more acoustic setting, and that side of her could have varied the show.
Instead she chose the safe path. It also left her too bound to the microphone — and therefore dancing too little to her own beats, making her performance too static. Because she did dance, especially during her last few songs, and when she did it all went ecstatic and made the crowd wonder, why she was only on stage for 40 minutes. Way too short for such a gorgeous singer. — JG
At the Drive-In — Arena
The archival footage of At the Drive-In from their initial run (which ended in 2000) shows a band that could easily destroy a stage and possibly themselves. Sure enough, within three songs, an amp head has been lost, a speaker has been toppled, and frontman Cedric Bixler is scaling the rubble and making life difficult for whatever poor manager is responsible for repositioning their abused equipment.
It’s what was hoped for, but it’s not sustained at that level. Though watching Bixler swing his mic stand around during “Invalid Litter Dept.” makes me afraid for the safety of the band members around him and anyone within throwing distance of the stage, the mid-set song list slowly devolves from crunchy to spacier tracks that would likely appease any Mars Volta fans that had wandered in.
Bixler’s between song banter is as unpredictable as his physical performance, with comments ranging from the abstract to the inspirational anyone-can-do-this to the reflective. Whether or not it’s a standard line of his, it’s seems genuine when he thanks the crowd for caring about a band that broke up 16 years ago and never played venues of this size.
That’s the note on which they launch into “One Armed Scissor,” the only song they could end their set on. And it sounds way tighter than any of the old videos ever suggested. And all of the energy they started with is there in droves. If the new material that’s been rumored ever surfaces, you can’t blame us for holding it to this standard. — AF
Alex Vargas — Gloria
The ingredients are simple: You take a soulful voice. You take some intriguing beats and some guitar. And then you mix it with raw energy and a utterly talented performer. In the bowl you get Alex Vargas, who made a mind-blowing performance in a totally packed Gloria, leaving hundreds of people disappointed outside.
His voice goes from deep and rootsy to precise falsetto, without any sign of uncertainty whatsoever, and complemented by overwhelming visuals in the dark room of Gloria. These features transformed the room into a feeling of music, of rhythms, of pureness and art. And it lifted the concert to heights that are be revealed on much larger stages in the coming years for the 28-year-old, gifted Danish musician. For sure. — JG
Hinds — Pavilion
Hinds are fresh off their appearance at Glastonbury, and apparently they had a rough time of it. As such, they’re rather happy to be at Roskilde, and the packed Pavilion stage seems just as happy to have them.
The Spanish quartet combine a little surf with a little rockabilly, some very pretty vocal harmonies, and a whole lot of party. There are plenty of surf revival bands out there, but Hinds knows how to sell it, bouncing around with endless energy, posing like a hair metal band, and singing so sweetly it almost seems like a con.
They ended their set by coyly relating how their final song usually prompts stage invasions, before a ready volunteer presented himself and one of the guitarists launched herself into the crowd. If we see any other band this festival with as much sheer joy as Hinds exudes, we’ll be very lucky indeed. — AF
Red Hot Chili Peppers — Orange
One question rose above all in front of the Orange stage this beautiful evening: Would Red Hot Chili Peppers make up for the disaster of their last visit?
It’s fair to say that the headlining concert had a pre-history after Anthony Kiedis & Co made their scandalous bad performance on the same stage nine years ago, leaving the crowd and critics stunned, some even asking the festival to get their money back. And the answer to the question is a clear and profound no.
The reason is a lazy and limp performance, especially from singer Anthony Kiedis. To be fair, it actually seemed that the rest of the band tried to put in an energetic performance. Flea was Flea, a purple-pink-haired dynamo circling around the stage in a suit that made him look like some gear from outer space. And both the permanent John Frusciante-replacement Josh Klinghoffer, guitar, and Chad Smith, drums, seemed to invest themselves in the songs, with Klinghoffer notably putting some soul in the strings. But it all faded in the light of Kiedis and his Bermuda shorts. He went on and off the stage and looked like someone who did not know why he was on that stage this evening. And somewhere between the sing-alongs “Scar Tissue” and “Californication”, the dull jam-sessions and songs from their latest, quite excellent record The Getaway, the question appeared: Are they really happy being up there on stage?
In their 90 minutes set, the iconic band did not do much to convince that they have a future in such big venues. And when their past with so many strong and even immortal songs plays such a small and weak part in their setup, the answer to all this is even more doubtful — and the performances of “Under The Bridge” and “Give It Away” were oddly trivial.
It just seems that Roskilde Festival and Red Hot Chili Peppers are a bad match, and the festival should have no intentions of getting them back on that stage. Ever. — JG
Föllakzoid — Pavilion
The last show of the evening was a journey with three space cadets of trance rock. These guys do live what they do on record, delivering repetitive, looping ten minutes moods, slowly building towards the climax and echoing krautrock-explosions, when they stepped out of the dark shadows on stage. Föllakzoid suited the venue and the after-midnight-atmosphere perfectly, transforming the Pavilion to a late night dance party that could just go on and on and on and on and never stop, before entering space in the dead of night, tired and fortunate. — JG
First Hate will be embarking on Roskilde Festival exactly a week today when they headline the Countdown stage on Monday 27th June, as a summer treat they’ve released new single “Holiday”. The track plus the video for the track was composed and directed while on the road in China earlier this spring. Speaking about the single, frontman Anton Falck Gansted had this to say about the process of writing and directing.
“I wrote the song and started producing it while we were riding on trains & airplanes across China. Driving through smog polluted valleys and endless forests of skyscrapers, it gave this odd impression of being in a parallel dystopic dimension somewhere in the future. The music was supposed to be the soundtrack of looking back to before the end of the world to times where mankind hadn’t already destroyed the planet. When we came back to Copenhagen and finished the track it ended up being about looking back at life and remembering the good times, times when you’re in a new relationship or for me just thinking back to the times when myself and Joakim first met and spent our first summer together.”
“This new track is kind of the warm up before we start recording our debut album, we did a lot of things differently this time, working with some good friends and talented people (Patrick Kociszewski & Bastian Emil) who recorded bass and drums for us. In the end it’s a holiday track and we’ve had to have fun making it.“
“The video is a bunch of homemade videos we shot while on our tour in China last month. Fused with some photo booth shots of me singing in front of the computer. It’s a way for us to be able to look back at these times and remember them once we’ve grown up.”
27.06.2016 – Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, DK
08.07.2016 – Le Point Ephemere, Paris, FR (Tickets)
09.07.2016 – SCP Festival, London, UK (Tickets)
21.07.2016 – Boomtown, Gent, BEL (Tickets)
12.08.2016 – Sodabar, San Diego, USA
13.08.2016 – Berserktown, LA, USA
15.08.2016 – Empty Bottle, Chicago, USA
17.08.2016 – Nothing Changes, New York, USA
14.09.2016 – The Waiting Room, London, UK
15.09.2016 – Wharf Chambers, Leeds, UK
16.09.2016 – The Lughole, Sheffield, UK
17.09.2016 – Jumpin Jacks, Newcastle, UK
29.09.2016 – Atlas, Aarhus, DK (Tickets)
30.09.2016 – Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DK (Tickets)
05.11.2016 – Cønjuntø Vacíø Festival, Barcelona, ESP
Watch the video for “Holiday” below:
Edited by Morten Aagaard Krogh (http://mortenkrogh.com)
Filmed by Morten Aagaard Krogh, Johan Ask Pape (http://velvetproductions.dk), Tim Panduro and Johannes Leszinski.
Sound engineer: Troels Damgaard Holm
Mixed and mastered by: Kasper Leonhardt
Produced by Here Today
Thursday, Loppen was set to get cloaked in black with The KVB and the local support of The Foreign Resort. As it turns out, what was supposed to get us into the mood for the UK duo’s reverb-washed minimal electronics was none other than new wave romanticism. Altough The Foreign Resort’s music nominally inhabits the similar dark realms as that of The KVB, they did seem like a somewhat odd choice for an opener.
After getting over the initial impression of the band as another bunch of cheesy 80s revivalists, we actually found a lot to enjoy in their emotional take on the shoegazey post-punk. While they do seem to have picked up a few tricks from their US tour mates A Place to Bury Strangers, The Foreign Resort are not here just to make noise and light up the strobo. Underneath all the fuzz lie some really catchy new wave hits and epic goth-tinged gems. It probably helps that the lead singer’s vocals recall Robert Smith on one hand and 90s emo-ish indie rock on the other.
The thing is, The Foreign Resort have something that’s unfortunately quite rare with contemporary shoegaze bands: proper songs. It might sound funny but it’s true – a good deal of new generation shoegazers rely heavily on effects, so much so they often forget that putting a shitload of reverb on a third-rate punk song doesn’t make you entitled to use My Bloody Valentine in your press release. Ultimately, good songs are what saves a band that wears their 80s and 90s influences on their sleeve from being just a retro gimmick, as The Foreign Resort seem to know very well.
Following the noise and affectionate singing came The KVB with their repetitive drum machine rhythms and Nicholas Wood’s monotone delivery. Not that this is a bad thing in itself – after all, that’s precisely what they’ve made a name for. Judging by their recent releases, however, they didn’t get very far from 2013’s Immaterial Visions, still a highlight in their discography. Whoever is into a band like The KVB knows – and probably loves – the disinterested aura of a typical darkwave post-punk act. However, their live performance unfortunately brings forward The KVB’s inferiority to both the indifference of contemporaries like Tropic of Cancer and HTRK and the pastiche of acts like Nite Fields or The Soft Moon.
The majority of their set floated by dispassionately lulling the audience into… well, not caring too much about what’s going on on stage. It wasn’t until the end of the concert that we got to hear gems like “Dayzed” which got us into the band in the first place. That, of course, wouldn’t be an issue at all if their recent material could match the early singles. Their latest album Of Desire seems to be more-of-the-same, and the same could be said for pretty much every song played live the other night.
For some inexplicable reason, The KVB chose “Sympathy for the Devil” as one of the closing tracks. Their cover of the Rolling Stones’ classic is just one of those covers that doesn’t make much sense even though it does shine a light an interesting source of inspiration for a darkwave band. The rock source seems to be covertly but thoroughly present in their riffs and often psychedelic approach, however the song in question is simply too powerful for their bland delivery. After a few more interesting tracks, this proved to be an unfortunately convenient conclusion to The KVB’s performance.
We’ve all been to the half-full show where the artist on stage begs everyone to come a little closer to the stage. If they’re very engaging, people come forward; if they’re not, the audience stays where they are and everyone feels awkward.
Marissa Nadler does not play these games. Instead she walks on stage at Lille Vega alone, picks up her guitar, and begins playing “Drive.” The audience immediately gravitates towards her.
There’s an uncommon amount of competition for musicians that night. Marissa’s audience have elected to see her instead of Muse or the Melvins who both have sold out shows nearby. This small crowd is dedicated; one person even corrects her about what album “Dying Breed” is on. It’s not surprising that they’re attention is rapt, nor to see them gently swaying as she sings. Even if you’re a newcomer to Marissa’s music, something about it makes you feel peaceful.
Her solo songs, all played on a semi-hollow electric — no acoustics, no 12 strings — highlight her voice more. To listen to her in this setting is to hear her voice as a separate entity from everything else happening. It floats not only over the music but over everyone else in the room. It’s the very evocation of “haunting.”
After a few songs she brings out her band, two of whom are openers Wrekmeister Harmonies (and highly recommended for lovers of vaguely droning rock songs and rich vocal harmonies). This portion of her set focuses on her new album, Strangers, released last month. Marisa’s voice melts into these arrangements, with guitar and viola or electric piano ready to swallow it up. It feels like a departure, and it’s only a small part of her set, but she proves that she can bring the same depth as when she’s on her own.
After this interlude she’s solo again, and focusing on older songs, because, as she said of Strangers, “a lot of you don’t know it yet, right?” She ends her main set with a cover of “Tecumseh Valley” by Townes van Zandt — which in her hands sounds as much a part of her catalogue as her own songs — and plays Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” for her final song of the night because she “came all the way to Denmark for one show [and had] to make it worth it.” It was worth it.
If you don’t really know Strangers yet or missed out on Marissa, never fear, she’s got plans to return to Copenhagen this year. No matter what else is happening, you’ve no excuse to make other plans.