Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

Roskilde Festival 2014, Saturday 5th July

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Bottled in England 

Bottled In England is perhaps an unorthodox band name choice for a pair of Danes. They’re loosely described as “electro punk”, but this is a thin disguise for their brand of high energy, imaginative and exciting drum n’ bass. But instead of plugging in laptops and pratting about onstage, August Dyrborg and Daniel Vognstrup play all their instruments and mix their beats live, with an almost continuous conveyer belt of collaborations. There are vocalists, male and female, including Zambian born Lucy Love. Singers are then replaced with an electric guitar, the distorted strings of which sound like screaming. Then comes a trumpet trio, who instead of bringing a big, brassy jazz note, carry a soft ambience to the performance. They are slow and subtle, whilst the drums remain frantic and paranoid in anticipation of the drop, or, in Danish, the ‘fucking klimax’.

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Psyched Up Janis

Before there were The Raveonettes, there was Psyched Up Janis, both created by Danish noise rock musician Sune Rose Wagner. Their last performance was in 1999, also at Roskilde Festival, so there’s a lot of pressure to make this homecoming performance one of their finest. Crashing, clashing and overdriven-into-the-ground guitar is fuzzy with the wailing vocals of the duo. The concert is heavy with reverb, drenching the Orange Stage area and everywhere surrounding it with sticky grunge. The slightly lighter, melodic tones of hit track ‘The Stars Are Out’ seem out of place with the rest of the set, but manage to bring the concert to a neat finish before the encore.

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Omar Souleyman

It’s been a great festival for international music (never, ever refer to it as “world music”) this year, and Saturday is no exception. While Mali’s Les Ambassadeurs play the Arena stage, Omar Souleyman is playing at the more humble Apollo. The audience throngs around the small stage, making it look tinier and more like a magical pumpkin than ever. The Syrian singer is not one for great stage theatrics—not much interaction with the crowd, and only a producer pressing play on the backing tracks on the desk behind him—but the manic quality of the music wins through. Towards the back of the audience several apparently spontaneous dance circles form as “Wenu Wenu”, the titular track of his debut album, erupts with its techno beats and lightning-fast keyboard scales. The definition of party music.

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Omar Souleyman (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Omar Souleyman (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Manu Chao

In 1986 José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao underwent a series of drastic medical procedures in order to become a super-being known as the “6 pesos man”: a human genetically engineered to be amazingly popular at music festivals throughout Europe. Little did he know then that this was to be a curse as much as it was a boon. His fingers were bent out of shape, allowing him to play only three chords, always in the same sequence. He didn’t notice this affliction for twenty years. But listen, I’m sure we all have moments when we want to listen to “flamenco-tinged ska” (or whatever verbal wallpaper you wish to use to hide the fact that this is some real hippie shit), and thank god this usually only manifests itself during festivals. Imagine a place where people listen to this all the time. Sigh. Pass me the siren and the whistle then.

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Manu Chao (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Manu Chao (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Mano Chao (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh 

Arctic Monkeys

The things I’d do for Alex Turner. The leather jacket, the cuban heels, and that quiff. And I’m not the only one; the pit queue for Arctic Monkeys is stretching so far back I don’t even know where it ends, but once it’s cleared, I find a nice spot of my own underneath the screen to see his greaser locks blown up several times over. Behind the stage, the album artwork for AM is lit up, flashing and rushing through the sound waves like a heart scan. I get flashbacks to their headliner show at last year’s NorthSide Festival in Århus, where Turner was powerfully in command of the entire crowd. But when he finally enters the stage with his band members in tow, it’s more of a stumble than a sexy glide. The band slightly awkwardly open their set with ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and ‘Snap Out Of It’. By the time they’ve reached ‘Arabella’, he’s lit up either a self rolled cig or something else, and drawls the words out with low, improvised licks and brooding murmurs. Even when he appears high as heaven, his voice is still warm as honey, if not better for the differentiation from the record, the lyrics are still genius and the melodies still hit precisely the right point. The song finishes, he looks dazed and holds the microphone to his mouth as he decides what to say. An awkward pause. “We’re the Arctic Monkeys, baby,” he says, like a drunkard impersonating an old Hollywood Movie Star.

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

“This one’s called ‘Brianstorm’,” he continues. It’s the first old track they’ve played, and it goes down a treat with the Roskilde audience. But Turner’s heart isn’t in it. He stares into the audience with a glazed look. It’s a song from the past. Now he seems older, more mature, but for the first time in a long time, frightened. The same thing happens when they play ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, which has been slowed down to match Turner’s bumbling pace. The woozy sound of ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ sees the frontman closing his eyes and summoning his words slowly. It’s genuine, emotional, and cuttingly beautiful. At an earlier point in the evening Turner told the audience that the Arctic Monkeys were “having a good time.” But as the Sheffield band juggle old, fast-paced indie with more balladic new directions, they appear disillusioned, and I wonder whether his remark was genuine.

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Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Interpol

Four rather dapper looking gentlemen take to the stage at Arena, reminding everyone that in the great Interpol-Editors war of the mid ‘00s it was the Americans who got the more good looking band. Weaving the odd piece of new material in with the ‘hits’, the set is something of a walk down memory lane for people in their mid-twenties, albeit a glamorized, slightly artificial walk. Interpol certainly have their sound locked down, with real confidence and precision, but that same precision has the undesired effect of making many of the songs sound identical. Though I listened to Interpol as much as anyone when I was 15, I find that I can only identify a song by the lyrics in the chorus. But it is undeniable that the band is as slick as frontman Paul Banks’s hair.

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Interpol (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Interpol (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Interpol (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Slowdive

Anyone remotely interested in shoegaze music will have felt a thrill when it was announced that Slowdive would be replacing Chromeo at the Avalon tent. The recently reunited quintet are second only to My Bloody Valentine in their hold over the genre, and a fair number of Roskilde’s hippest have been draw away from the likes of Major Lazer to be able to witness tracks from Souvlaki played live. Unlike MBV, Slowdive retained some of the influences and sounds of 80s jangle-pop, and temper their moments of pure, joyous noise with delicate, almost clean guitars. “Allison” and “When the Sun Hits” punch and swirl, and the magnificent “Souvlaki Space Station” features a delayed guitar sound that might be better than the one on record. Slowdive might not have the most commanding stage presences (the only interaction is a couple of thank-yous from singer Rachel), but their sound is unlike anything you will hear at this festival, pure and simple. Audiophile- and guitar-fetishist-heaven.

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(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

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