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LIVE REVIEW: Television, Pumpehuset, 29.08.2014

in Live Reviews by

It’s understandable why bands have whole albums tours. Maybe it’s an anniversary, maybe those are the songs the crowds shout for at gigs anyway, or maybe, in the case of Television and Marquee Moon, it is a landmark work worth trotting across the globe decades later. Whatever the motivation, the formula makes sense.

But why do crowds go to whole album shows? Even if they saw the band when it originally toured around the release of that album, this is not the same effect. What in this nostalgic urge makes seeing the whole album performed live better than reminiscing at home with the record, knowing that other favorites only have the slightest chance of making it into the encore?

In the case of Television, it helps tremendously that they play Marquee Moon out of order, and thus makes the evening at least somewhat less predictable. They do begin with album opener “See No Evil,” and it’s not the strongest of starts. Tom Verlaine’s voice sounds shaky on the chorus, but as they recover from this, it becomes apparent that his voice is no longer able to hit the high notes.

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That’s hardly a death knell for the performance. Guitar solos are more integral to their sound, and it’s so easy to lose yourself in any of their ambling outros. There are a few surprises, such as the outro of “Torn Curtain” where Verlaine scratches his guitar strings and unexpectedly affects the sound of violins. It is no surprise, however, that “Marquee Moon” closes out the main set. It is the logical conclusion, and really, a ten-minute epic — stretched to 13 minutes on this occasion — would have been the logical conclusion to the recorded album.

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There is one thing making it difficult to enjoy the show, and that is the overwhelming heat. Though it’s breezy and cooler in Copenhagen than it’s been in a week, it is Seventh Circle of Hell hot in Pumpehuset. It’s sweat dripping down every inch of you even though you’re not moving hot. People are standing as far away from each other as possible, and the air is so thick and so still that there’s a breeze when a person walks past you. How much this contributes to the general low energy in the room is hard to say, because it’s kind of hard to breathe. But that’s hardly the fault of Television.

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Photos by Ronald Laurits Jensen

Roskilde Festival 2014 (PHOTOS)

in Photos by

Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com) and Morten Aagaard Krogh (www.makrogh.com)

Earl Sweatshirt (Photo by Tom Spray)

Earl Sweatshirt – Photo by Tom Spray

Earl Sweatshirt (Photo by Tom Spray)

Earl Sweatshirt – Photo by Tom Spray

Electric Wizard (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Electric Wizard – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Outkast (photo by Tom Spray)

Outkast – Photo by Tom Spray

The Rolling Stones (Roskilde Festival 2014)

The Rolling Stones – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

The Rolling Stones (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Rolling Stones – Photo by Tom Spray

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

The Rolling Stones – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

The Master Musicians Of Jajouka with Bachir Attar (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Master Musicians Of Jajouka – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Roskilde Festival 2014

Roskilde Festival – Photo by Tom Spray

Connan Mockasin (Photo by Tom Spray)

Connan Mockasin – Photo by Tom Spray

Warpaint (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Warpaint – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Haim – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Haim – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

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Atmoshpere at Roskilde Festival – Photo by Tom Spray

Deftones (Photo by Tom Spray)

Deftones – Photo by Tom Spray

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Deftones – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Damon Albarn (Photo by Tom Spray)

Damon Albarn – Photo by Tom Spray

Damon Albarn (Photo by Tom Spray)

Damon Albarn – Photo by Tom Spray

Damon Albarn (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arena Stage at sunset – Photo by Tom Spray

Darkside (Photo by Tom Spray)

Darkside – Photo by Tom Spray

Darkside (Photo by Tom Spray)

Darkside – Photo by Tom Spray

Darkside (Photo by Tom Spray)

Futrue Islands crowd- Photo by Tom Spray

Future Islands (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Future Islands – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Future Islands (Photo by Tom Spray)

Future Islands – Photo by Tom Spray

Atomic Bomb! Who is William Onyeabor? (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Atomic Bomb – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Omar Souleyman (Photo by Tom Spray)

Omar Souleyman – Photo by Tom Spray

Omar Souleyman (Photo by Tom Spray)

Omar Souleyman crowd – Photo by Tom Spray

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Festival goers – Photo by Tom Spray

Manu Chao (Photo by Tom Spray)

Manu Chao – Photo by Tom Spray

Mano Chao (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Manu Chao – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys – Photo by Tom Spray

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys – Photo by Tom Spray

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys – Photo by Tom Spray

Spids Nøgenhat (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Spids Nøgenhat – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Interpol (Photo by Tom Spray)

Interpol – Photo by Tom Spray

Interpol (Photo by Tom Spray)

Interpol – Photo by Tom Spray

The Men (Roskilde Festival 2014)

The Men – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Slowdive – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Deerhunter – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Julia Holter – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Kasabian (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kasabian – Photo by Tom Spray

Kasabian (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kasabian crowd – Photo by Tom Spray

MØ (Roskilde Festival 2014)

MØ – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

MØ (Photo by Tom Spray)

MØ – Photo by Tom Spray

Forest Swords (Photo by Tom Spray)

Forest Swords – Photo by Tom Spray

Forest Swords (Photo by Tom Spray)

Forest Swords – Photo by Tom Spray

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Jack White – Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Roskilde Festival 2014, Sunday 6th July

in Live Reviews by

Deerhunter

After several days of stage theatrics and moody band introductions, it’s a surprise and a pleasure to see Deerhunter conducting their own soundcheck. Frontman Bradford Cox’s awkward charm does more to connect with the audience than any set of laser displays or smoke machines. As the band launch into “Agoraphobia”, the refrain of “comfort me” seems particularly apt, a love letter to the warmth and comfort of the shoegaze bands that inspire it. But Deerhunter replace the ethereal quality of bands like Slowdive with a certain degree of quirkiness which is clear in Cox’s stage banter as much as in his music. After regaling us with a description of a 4th of July celebration chez Deerhunter, the band launch into “Nothing Ever Happened”, drawing out its motorik energy until it starts to melt into a cover of Patti Smith’s “Horses”. A moment of brilliant free-association genius, and a great begging to Sunday at Roskilde.

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(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Julia Holter

The warmth and energy of Deerhunter are replaced with an almost unbearable heat and humidity inside Gloria, where we wait for Julia Holter. But that same discomfort put this reviewer into a mind frame that perfectly suited the David Lynchian-quality of Holter’s music. The avant-garde singer-songwriter is accompanied by a drummer, a cellist, a violist, and a tenor-saxophonist. The effect is altogether different than that of her latest record, Loud City Song: the noise, reverb and general swirliness of the album are replaced with a crisp, stripped-back sound, as intimate as it is unsettling. “Maxim’s I” is transformed from the kind of song you’d expect to be heard in a Twin Peaks road bar into something closer to jazz or minimalist classical music. The intimacy is helped by Holter’s approach to her audience: offhand questions about what wine people in the front are drinking turn the affair into a secluded, friendly if off-kilter microcosm.

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Julia Holter (Roskilde Festival 2014)

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Kasabian

I have this image in my mind of Kasabian sitting around a few weeks before a tour or album release. Guitarist Sergio Pizzorno turns to frontman Tom Meighan and says “mate, why are we still doing this? We’re not even that great.” Meighan puts his hand on Pizzorno’s shoulder and says “Serge, it’s because we’re massive LADS!” They then discuss ‘banter’ or something. At Roskilde, the vision becomes reality as Meighan makes exactly the same motions with his (relatively sparse) audience. It’s about half an hour before their set is due to start, and they’ve summoned only a few dozen to wait in line for the pit. This is the same band who closed Glastonbury. Why have they failed to crack Denmark? The majority of the small group waiting are all British. The lone Dane standing next to me says his friends didn’t even want to come with him to watch. Maybe Danes don’t really go for lead singers who look like Eye Ball Paul from Kevin And Perry Go Large, but it’s entirely their loss.

Meighan is unashamedly confident and cocky, but he justifies his behaviour onstage, introducing the band as ‘The Mighty Kasabian’. He engages with the audience by pointing and waving his tongue at them, and between songs stands pouting triumphantly on the edge of the stage, beckoning the crowd to shower him and his band with all the woops and claps they can muster. Basking in praise comes naturally, he relishes it, and shows enough vitality in everything he does to make it work. Who gives a fuck if his audience is only half full; as long as a few people are enjoying it, he can hype them up enough to adequately rub his ego.

From opening track ‘Bumble Bee’ taken from new album 48:13, to closing number ‘Fire’, which is extended and dedicated to Leicester, the performance is unfailing. The final track sees Meighan and Pizzorno telling everyone to bounce on the ground for the guitar riff, before jumping incessantly for the rip roaring chorus line. It’s got even more energy than the actions for ‘Vlad the Impaler’, which followed a similar routine. As the rest of the band depart, Meighan sings, surprisingly well, the chorus line from ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ a capella. A few punters are still screaming the riff from ‘Fire’ after the band have left and the hosts have stepped on. The only disappointment is the lack of encore.

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Kasabian (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Kasabian (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

 

MØ: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love your plait and scrunchie combo. I love the tennis skirt and dirty trainers you’re wearing. I love your complete disregard for the ‘No Crowdsurfing’ rule. From kangaroo jumps three feet in the air to sprawling onto the ground and singing from the floor, watching MØ perform is a visual spectacle. It’s tiring just looking at her, as sweat drips from her forehead. Always in control, her voice never once falters or fails; it stays completely powerful and enchanting, as she accompanies herself with looped “huh”s and high pitched “ow”s. She’s a beautiful clash of soft feeling and urban style, both in look and sound.

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MØ (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

MØ (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Stevie Wonder

If there’s a place for legends, the Orange Stage is it. From The Rolling Stones on Thursday, to Stevie Wonder on Sunday, it was the performance space for two entirely different but well loved acts, and the latter’s evening set brought the festival to a joyous end before a few thousand punters stayed on for Jack White. Wonder’s band is so extensive it takes several minutes to credit them all. For the entirety of the two hour set, the singer remains enthusiastic, engaging and encouraging of the audience to partake in his soul celebration. He introduces all his tracks with an invitation to “sing this”. The chorus forms the base of a hit track for him to sing over. This is not Wonder’s show alone; he ensures it belongs to the tens of thousands of tired, dirty spectators too. As he moves into ‘Ebony and Ivory’, the musician asks the crowd: “can you imagine how much people have missed out on because of the prejudices we have in this world?” and once again beckons for Roskilde to join him. “If you agree with me, sing… You can’t just talk about it, you have to be about it.” Whether the subject matter is love, adultery or racism, for Stevie Wonder, music is the channel through which people should come together and reach greatness, solidarity and power.

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Stevie Wonder (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Forest Swords

If Forest Swords’ Matt Barnes feels hard-done-by in his allocated slot—playing Gloria at the same time that Stevie Wonder and Moderat are playing the Orange Stage and Arena—he certainly doesn’t show it. The space that isn’t occupied by the scattered but enthralled audience is instead filled up with the Liverpool-based producer’s approach to dub music: lung-fizzling bass, unsettling samples, sharp keyboards and even the odd spaghetti-western-influenced guitars. Barnes is accompanied by a bassist, and divides his time brooding over the sampler, hunching over the keyboard or swaying around with his guitar. Tracks like “Thor’s Stone” and “The Weight of Gold” from his debut Engravings are without doubt some of the standout electronic songs of 2013, and are even more effective live.

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Forest Swords (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Forest Swords (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Jack White

Those of us who watched clips from Jack White’s set at Glastonbury last week knew what to expect for this, the concluding set at the Orange Stage: an expansive retrospective of his work, from the White Stripes to the Raconteurs and his solo work. His band band, including a fiddle-player and a lap-steel-guitarist, help to reinvent as much as they reproduce the sounds from his back-catalogue, adding a certain amount of country twang to the overdriven swagger of much of his later work. A slight hint of reserve blends in with the excitement as White begins his set with a drawn out jam of the White Stripes’ “Icky Thump”: is this going to be a display of utter indulgence, an artist at the height of his success revelling in his apparent freedom to do whatever he likes? That reserve is also to be found in White himself, who largely refrains from talking much in between songs except to get a little annoyed when the crowd doesn’t seem to know the lyrics to “Hotel Yorba”. “You guys speak English, right?” This is going south fast, but a split-second later White recovers by making some quip about his own level of English. Thankfully, the experience seems to humble him enough to really begin engaging with the crowd, rather than taking their adulation for granted. The extended jams end, and are replaced by a quick series of White Stripes medleys that drive the audience forward through slower songs from Lazaretto.

Throughout White pays tribute to fellow Detroit-native and predecessor on the stage, Stevie Wonder, and even makes the odd joke about sharing his doctor with Drake. It is clear in these moments that Jack White’s ability as an entertainer take precedence over his sometimes rather insular and self-aggrandizing approach to his “art”, and that on stage he is able to fully embrace that. A festival crowd might not know the lyrics to all his White Stripes songs, but they can end Roskilde on a jumping high with set closers “Steady as She Goes” and the obligatory, perennial “Seven Nation Army”. But even in this last instance, White doesn’t rest on his laurels, but reworks the song in such as way as to work best with a band of six rather than one of two. We can only apologize to poor Londoners, from whom apparently we snatched him at the last moment. Such is the power of Roskilde.

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(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Roskilde Festival 2014, Saturday 5th July

in Live Reviews by

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

Roskilde Festival 2014: Friday 4th July

in Live Reviews by

Photo by Tom Spray

Connan Mockasin

I can’t watch Connan Mockasin without thinking, ‘this guy is creepy as fuck’. Maybe it’s the haircut, or the glasses, or the weird pyjama waistcoat combo, or that smile, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly because I keep having flashbacks to his video for ‘I’m The Man, That Will Find You’, where he stalks a woman around her house and then when they meet it’s all very uncomfortable, like a 70s soft porn. And although the Pavillion doesn’t have quite the same soft lighting scheme, it’s still an awkward experience to watch him. But at moments, I set my awareness of rape culture to one side, and appreciate the brilliant pop-psychedelia of Connan Mockasin’s echoing, twang guitar and overly vocoded falsetto over the bass on the track, and it’s suddenly a far more pleasureable watch. But it’s also massively repetitive, and combined with the unspeakably hot weather outside the tent, gives everyone a pounding headache. Connan Mockasin manages to compel the audience with his seductive tones, but wholly engaging them is a different prospect.

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Connan Mockasin (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Warpaint

Warpaint are cooler than you will ever be. With baggy t-shirts, pink hair and hotpants, they look like the poster girls for the Coachella look, which combined with their heavy dose of talent and skill, and desire to be sexy in sound and persona, puts them in control of their set like it’s a ball of putty. They pull you into a punch-drunk state of awe with dizzy, whirling melodies and effortless vocals that slip and slide through golden high pitched moments, and low, more brooding vocals. Frontwoman Theresa Wayman asks the Danes to party and clap, then tells her audience and band members that it was “the sexiest clap” she’d ever seen. They then move into the shiveringly good harmonies of ‘Undertow’, shredding on a single note, with the stage lights behind flashing up with a matching velocity. ‘Intro’ from their eponymous, sophomore album is played mid-way through the set rather than at the start, making the music feel continuous rather than disjointed. Wayman then starts making cat claws during the chorus of ‘Love is to Die’, then immediately laughs them off; she’s relaxed, comfortable, effortless, and hypnotisingly beautiful to watch and listen to.

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

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Haim

Haim are like the big sisters every ten year old girl dreams about, who want to teach you how to play the guitar and the drums and tell you to not care what other people think. Their live drummer plays a low, rumbling line in anticipation before Danielle, Alana and Este run and jump onto the stage like a group of excited puppies (probably a long haired breed. They shake their hair A LOT). After opening with ‘Falling’, the girls move into ‘If I could Change Your Mind’, shredding to the end. They then take a pause to ask permission to jam like they’re at home, as “Roskilde is our home now.” The crowd goes nuts. Este pulls the most fantastic bass faces throughout the set. For reference, see the Jenna Marbles video ‘How To Avoid Talking To People You Don’t Want To Talk To’, add some jerking chicken neck, and you get the idea. Alana ‘Baby’ Haim looks confused, potentially stoned, and when she does open her mouth, has a voice so squeeky it’s hard to decipher what she’s saying. But her skills as she rotates from drums, guitar and keyboard mid-way through tracks suggest that she knows exactly what she’s doing. As the set draws to an end with ‘Let Me Go’, each member bounds over to a large tom-tom and smashes it in time for a drumming trio. The stage explodes with silver confetti, the crowd cheers, and the chirpiest girls in California depart.

Haim (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Haim (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Haim (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

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Deftones

The only survivors of 90s “nu-metal”, and for good reason, Deftones have something of a split personality: on record they can be dark, introspective, full of subtleties to balance the heaviness of the guitars; live, subtlety goes flying off the stage. Frontman Chino Moreno bounces up and down as if the stage were a trampoline, simultaneously attempting autoerotic asphyxiation with his microphone cord.  This, combined with jaunty banter and Chino’s Beyoncé t-shirt, proves that Deftones have developed an effective, if rather blunt, formula for playing festivals. Songs like “My Own Summer (Shove It)” are made for places like this, full of exaggerated swagger. It might not be enough to fill the field in front of Orange Stage, but with the likes of Haim and Damon Albarn playing at Arena, it is significant.

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Deftones (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Deftones (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Deftones (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

 

Damon Albarn

There are two Damon Albarns: cheeky Damon and mopey Damon. You see the latter in interviews all the time, looking a bit wistful, a bit troubled, singing songs that largely reflect what Blur said in 1993: modern life is rubbish. I don’t know where that guy was on Friday, but he wasn’t in Denmark. Instead we got Damon the cockney lad, grinning so broadly you could see his gold tooth from half a mile away. Whatever you might think of Damon’s solo record, Everyday Robots, there is very little of that downbeat meditative quality to the set. Arena is jam-packed and Damon & co. are happy to oblige the mood of the crowd with a set that spans Damon’s career almost in its entirety: Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, the Bad and the Queen, even Rocket Juice & the Moon, his collaboration with Flea and Tony Allen.

By the time the band gets to “El Mañana” and “Out of Time”, this is already one of the great Roskilde gigs. Damon drenches photographers with water, discusses the differences between British and Danish princes, tells us of his Danish ancestry, and generally has a good time. But as the encore reveals, he has a few surprises in store. The band launches into “Clint Eastwood” as Damon introduces Kano, the London-based rapper who had a guest spot on Plastic Beach. It’s the moment when the set moves up a notch into proper crowd-pleasing frenzy. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a great closer for the set, but not so. Damon has another set of friends to play with. They’re in a little group called De La Soul, perhaps you’ve heard of them? It’s a moment of genuine surprise and excitement as the newly augmented band launch into “Feel Good Inc.” and from this moment on it is sealed: for today at least, this is the highlight.

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Damon Albarn (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Damon Albarn (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Damon Albarn (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Darkside

No one really sees Darkside. Appropriately to their name, the duo spend their entire set in the shadows, only emerging as silhouettes when the lights behind them flare up. Avalon is packed with people awkwardly swaying along to a ten minute simmering overture. I suppose this is the one set that I was most curious about on this day. Having enjoyed their debut’s brooding, low-key menace, full of muted vocals and Chris Rea-style (ask your parents about him, they’ll know) slide guitar, it wasn’t immediately apparent how Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington were going to translate this into a festival setting. The answer is by emphasising a very basic, heavy, four-on-the-floor drum beat. The crowd was certainly jumping, but the effect was to turn these wrought soundscapes into dance tracks that bordered at times on the formulaic.

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Darkside (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Darkside (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Future Islands

Respect to those lucky people who managed to get into the Avalon tent to see Future Islands. Those of us who calmly strolled in fifteen minutes before the beginning were confronted with an ocean of people in the field outside of the tent, trying to peer in. Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of Samuel T. Herring’s already semi-legendary dance moves. If Future Islands are overwhelmed by all this, it certainly doesn’t hinder their playing. Herring invites people to crowd-surf, although we cannot confirm that anyone took him up on the offer. Instead he likes telling us what the songs are about, which would be a mark of awful pretension if it weren’t done with such openness. The great quality of the band is to sound unaffected and completely theatrical at the same time. Songs like “A Dream of You and Me”, “A Song for Our Grandfathers”, “Doves”, are instant synth-pop classics, full of bounce, poise and precision. But if we are going to be honest with each other, it is obvious that most people are at the gig for one song, and one song only. “Seasons (Waiting On You)” is not a fast song, but it comes on like a rush. Herring growls and wails does his dad-dance and mimes the song in sweeping gestures. Though at the back, you had to imagine this more than you could watch it.

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Future Islands (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Darkside (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Future Islands (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Future Islands (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Future Islands (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

CC = Charlie Cassarino
HT = Helen Thomas

Roskilde Festival 2014: Thursday 3rd July

in Live Reviews by

Photo by Morten Aaagard Krogh

Earl Sweatshirt

Thebe Neruda Kgositsile has rammed out the newly installed Avalon stage. Those who didn’t run from the gate to the pit queue for Outkast have come straight here to see the Odd Future member in action as their first show of the festival proper. Earl Sweatshirt takes the Avalon’s virginity by jumping straight into his set, and launching the audience into a joint smoking, grinding, nodding frenzy. Before too long he has, predictably, told Denmark how glad he is to be there, and what a difficult time they’ve had at security. It’s a tough life. He then gets the audience of 12,000 to shout, as loud as possible, “I’ll fuck the fucking freckles off your face, bitch,” in preparation for his performance of ‘Molasses’, a track that’s about as charming as the portaloos in Camp L. Then another call and response activity, this time of “I say sweat you say” “SHURT”, which didn’t really get the party going but maintained the awkwardness which kept raising its head between songs. If the Earl had cut some of the chat and kept the beats going instead, his set might have been less weird.

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Earl Sweatshirt (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Electric Wizard

The big dustbowl that is the Arena tent is filling up with an uncharacteristically sombrely dressed crowd as the screens project grainy, Super8 films of the bald Hollywood Satanist Anton LaVey and a profusion of naked women (on the screen, that is; the audience was not quite so uninhibited). Electric Wizard are one of the few bands to really deliver on their name: their look is modelled after the denim’n’beer-faction of the metal 80s, while their music achieves the seemingly impossible – out-Black-Sabbathing Black Sabbath. Their heaviness comes from an almost perverse slowness in the tempo, the sluggish, menacing plodding of Romero zombies. It is this exploration of the boundaries of the genre that makes this band much more than a metal band, or even a doom metal one. Their drones are, in their own way, liturgical, sacred music for the unbelievers. Standing before this unhallowed quartet, this fanged four, will transport you either to the bliss of sensory overload, or the worst hangover of your life. From what I could make out of the yells between songs, they seem pretty keen on getting high as well. And they seemed such nice boys and girls.

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Electric Wizard (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Outkast

The Orange Stage is legendary for it’s design, colour, the duck and the people who’ve performed there. Outkast are legendary for telling us what’s cooler than being cool, appreciating good dance moves, discussing the aroma of shit, and apologising to Ms Jackson. And, as their concert yesterday demonstrated, not much else. It was all about the deep cuts and minor hits for the good majority of the performance. For better or worse, especially on anniversary tours, people come to the Orange Stage to hear the hits, but it was at least thirty minutes before the non-hardcore fans heard anything remotely recognisable, in the form of ‘Ms Jackson’. By this time, much to my chagrin, I had wandered to the loos for a wee. To my dismay, I came out of the toilets and got told they’d just played ‘The Way You Move’. Just my fucking luck. Until this point, atmosphere had been pretty flat. A few hopefuls nodded heads and tapped feet, but it wasn’t enough to shift the fact they’d tuned out after 20 minutes. The antithesis of this with ‘Hey Ya’ was unimaginable, but the moment the track wrapped up, the mood fell flat once again. Boring, except for the hits.

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Outkast (photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Lykke Li

As the sun began its long descent, Lykke Li brought out her blend of moody, orchestral pop and dark electronic tones to move Roskilde into the nighttime. Lykke’s vocals were drenched in soul, heart and difficulty, but this was matched with an unshaking confidence in her skill, and an infalable ability to ignite those watching with a presence and passion. Soft, melancholic piano and dreamy guitar, clashed with stark and forceful vocals. Effortlessly, Lykke Li used her Roskilde set to confirm her position as the Queen of Scandinavian indie pop.

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The Rolling Stones

It’s the set everyone has been talking about on Thursday, and probably the one they will still be talking about today. I could try to review the Rolling Stones in a measured, rational way, but that is not the way anyone with a heart and a sense of perspective viewed that concert. The big red lips and tongue ooze and pulsate on the screen in a way that is as much unsettling as it is anticipatory. I’m stuck just by the outer barrier, with an ok view of the stage if I head butt the guy next to me. An hour before the set spirits are high, although sporadically dampened by the Gandalf of Roskilde, a grey-faced Swede declaiming “You shall not pass” to any poor kid who tries to get past for a better view. Some Americans next to me are betting on what the opening song will be. One of them wins. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” erupts on stage as the band does, and everyone knows it’s on. In some ways this is the easiest concert to communicate to someone who wasn’t there. Mick Jagger was Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood was Ronnie Wood, Keith was Keith, and Charlie Watts was looking haggard as fuck on the drums. Do you really need more? Well, fine.

The Rolling Stones (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

There are many jokes made at the expense of the Stones’ Palaeolithic age, but the mark of true greatness is how they shed all that weight as their set progresses, how Ronnie gets more and more animated, Keith flashes his cheeky grin, and even Charlie Watts cracks a smile. Our Blessed Jagger moves in ways that were previously thought physiologically impossible, and regales the crowd with half a phrasebook’s worth of rather garbled, but highly appreciated, Danish. Who else bothers to do that?  The set spans over two hours, ensuring that, even counting a seemingly endless guitar battle between Keith, Ronnie and Mick Taylor (who joins them for “Midnight Rambler”), there is ample space for the classics. “Gimme Shelter”, “Start Me Up”, “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Brown Sugar” follow one after another, building up the rapture until a short break, followed by a devastating encore. A full choir begins to chant “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, which stands out from the blues-rock that characterizes most of their set, and has that Dylan-y vibe that makes crowds wave lighters in the air. But it’s back to their primordial, bluesy best with “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, at which point everything explodes, in several cases literally. Fireworks, larynxes, old-man-boners. The lot.

Addendum: “It’s good to be here. Well, it’s good to be anywhere.” – Keith Richards, Roskilde 2014

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The Rolling Stones (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Master Musicians of Jajouka

“We are the Rolling Stones of Jajouka!” Bandleader Bachir Attar’s quip is not an idle boast. Like their British counterparts, the Master Musicians have more than half a century of experience, are consummate professionals and natural entertainers. It also helps that at least half the band that arrived at Roskilde (after apparent transport difficulties in Lisbon) played on a record produced by the Rolling Stones’ very own Brian Jones. They even have their own Mick Jagger, an ancient, kindly-faced man who struts around the stage, waving his drum above his head. You might not have a guessed that a Moroccan sufi band would go down well at a festival, but the wailing of the rhaitas and the hypnotic rhythm section (their music seems to revolve around sequences of threes and sixes, an utter bitch to clap to but captivating in its unfamiliarity) ensure that the conclusion to the first day of Roskilde concerts ends with a happy audience.

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The Master Musicians Of Jajouka with Bachir Attar (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagard Krogh 

CC = Charlie Cassarino
HT = Helen Thomas

Roskilde Rising 2014: Wednesday 2nd July

in Live Reviews/Roskilde Rising by

Karl William

Smooth, soulful vocals and simple drum loop backing were Karl William’s offering to the Rising Stage, a welcome respite from the rock guitar of the past two days. The fresh faced 19 year old seemed rehearsed, but as teenagers often are, slightly awkward. William’s R&B backtracks carried him through ‘Foruden at Forgude’ and ‘Kostumeramt’, with high synths and low bass, he managed to pack a 2,000+ strong crowd in the Rising field, as the crowd mouthed his lyrics from the front to the back.

Karl William (Photo by Tom Spray)

Narcosatanicos 

If there’s one thing you can be sure of in life, it’s that bands who describe themselves as “intense, fucked up psychedelic noise rock collapsing into a distorted, rhythmic mindfuck of saxophones, guitars and LSD,” are utterly terrible. Such is Narcosatanicos’ Facebook description. But with an attitude of open mindedness and positivity, I went to see the acid fans perform. The band powered through their 45 minute set with a light mainly shone on their critically acclaimed self titled album. The crowd certainly wasn’t the largest at the Rising stage but those who were in attendance we’re a dedicated fan base they’ve grown from their early days on the psych scene. 

Narcosatanicos (Photo by Tom Spray)

Narcosatanicos (Photo by Tom Spray)

Narcosatanicos (Photo by Tom Spray) 

Hexis

The extent to my experience with metal music is limited to watching half of the Metallica set at last year’s Roskilde. Consequently, I feel a bit of a fraud reviewing Hexis. But judging by the full crowd of Roskilde Rising’s only black metal band, I would say that a lot of people are quite keen on them. I was stood a fair distance from the crowd in order to prevent all my bones from being crushed in the 30m circle mosh pit of death, but from my totally naïve perspective, I observed: 1) Hexis were totally sick, 2) The moshing was nuts, 3) I could totally get into this and 4) people actually head slam?

Hexis (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Hexis (Photo by James Hjertholm)

The Awesome Welles

Lights, relentless energy, and an incredible amount of power made The Awesome Welles’ performance forceful to the very end. Frontman Adam Nyborg Allen’s unshaking, loud vibrato vocals, and the smashing of the band’s classic rock drum lines made tracks like ‘Out of the Woods’, with a chorus line that falls flat on record, suddenly have the anthemic strength they were always intended to have. As the final act to perform at Roskilde Rising 2014, The Awesome Welles made sure the warm up went out with a bang.

The Awesome Welles (Photo by James Hjertholm)

The Awesome Welles (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Photo by Tom Spray

Roskilde Rising 2014: Tuesday 1st July

in Live Reviews/Roskilde Rising by

Communions

Denmark is no stranger to cool Doc Marten wearing punk artists with bowl haircuts instead of mohicans. Whilst Communions have a bit more melody than their studio neighbours Iceage and Lower, the harsh and wailing vocals, (and the upturned skinny jean look) are just the same. The audience, littered among empty nacho pots, are, if a little grubbier, matching the band. However, as the clouds clear and the sun beats down in full throttle, most heads seem to have sunk heavily into their owner’s hands, rather than being used to smash bodies against one another. A few punk loyalists down the front are moshing happily, but the crowd is otherwise relaxed, drinking beers rather than throwing them. From where I’m standing at least, it doesn’t feel much like a post-punk concert. And Communions don’t seem to think so either. The tracks are well executed and confident and the skill of the band members is evident, but their energy is not travelling further than the first row. The atmosphere is markedly flat. I know it’s probably their custom to look moody, but a little more charisma (and a later slot) wouldn’t have gone a miss.

Communions (Photo by Tom Spray)

Communions (Photo by Tom Spray)

My Heart the Brave

Three hours later, the fiesta seems to have finally reached the Rising Stage. Producer Caspar Hesselager, the man behind My Heart The Brave, is joined by Aske Bode, Jacob Haubjerg and Ask Bock to allow him total freedom of movement when singing into the mic. He seems slightly awkward in this environment, away from the piano or synth, but his blatant energy and excitement is enough to bring the music to life and generate a genuine party feeling out of his electronic backing. His tracks are impossibly catchy, and even those just stopping by find themselves mouthing words they don’t know and, at the very least, nodding their heads and tapping their feet. 45 minutes of pure, unadulterated, summer fun.

My Heart The Brave (Photo by Tom Spray)

My Heart The Brave (Photo by Tom Spray)

My Heart The Brave (Photo by Tom Spray)

Förtress

I hate dick rock, prickish behaviour and bad tattoos. Förtress have all of these, and then some, but there’s no denying they put on a fucking good show. “People were moshing to our soundcheck!” says one band member earlier in the day when we meet for an interview. And when you see Förtress in front of their crowd, this comes as no surprise. They seem to have the most solid fan base of all the Rising acts, cheering and chanting before they’ve even entered the stage. The drummer, known as ‘Vildsvinet’ for his somewhat round body shape, walks onstage wearing nothing but a pair of stars and stripes speedos and shoes. Guitarist Simon plays a guitar riff from behind the curtain before filing himself and the other band members in and revving the crowd into a frenzy. The riff gets repeated as the band disappear and return for the encore. These lads are revelling in the experience, like a group of School of Rock graduates. They even copy Get Your Gun’s performance by bringing on a women’s choir for the denouement of the set. They may only be on the Rising Stage, but Förtress perform like they’re facing a crowd of 100,000 on a comeback tour.

Förtress (Photo by Tom Spray)

Förtress (Photo by Tom Spray)

Förtress (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Roskilde Rising 2014: Monday 30th June

in Live Reviews/Roskilde Rising by
Get Your Gun (Photo by Tom Spray)

Heimatt

Being the first musician to perform at Roskilde Festival 2014 is not the easiest job in the world. The Roskilde buffs who wait for hours for the gates to open before flooding in and throwing up in a scummy tent that’s already been pissed on are a little too busy to take notice. The remaining crowd can be divided into three categories: the slightly hungover, the very hungover, and the super keen. And for those looking to take off the headache with a little music, Heimatt’s brand of light indie folk is perfect. Yesterday’s performance by frontman Magnus Grilstad’s had soaring vocals that were clear cut and reverberating, with lyrics about Scandinavia, love and sin, blending smoothly with Amalie Kjældgaard Kristensen’s violin.

Heimatt (Photo by Tom Spray)

Get Your Gun

Get Your Gun is a bit like a dark, apocalyptic version of The National, which serves for a nice bit of antithesis when the sun is beating down at what feels like 30 degrees and everyone is gradually declining into a pile of sunburnt skin. However, this didn’t stop singer Andreas arriving in practically head to toe black attire and trench coat. It’s clear that Get Your Gun are a band with a clear idea of their sound and image, but they’re unafraid of making purposeful experimental choices. The band played two tracks with the ‘Shameful Choir’, a men’s choir, a decision they made only a few days prior. Get Your Gun had clarity and clout as they made their debut at Roskilde Festival.

Get Your Gun (Photo by Tom Spray)

Blaue Blume

Blaue Blume’s falsetto vocals and stripped vintage pop sound were in full force as the four piece took to the Rising Stage yesterday evening. After attention from DIY and NME earlier in June, the band seemed wholly at ease with the Roskilde performance. Melodious riff lines and low, steady or spangled guitar underlay the gig to allow light, whispering vocals to grow, harmonise and waver. Effortlessly, the audience got swept away in Blaue Blume’s sound, and prepared for the party night ahead.

Blaue Blume (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

SESSION: Get Your Gun (Roskilde Rising)

in Roskilde Rising/Sessions by

Get Your Gun hail from the northernmost part of Denmark – Aalborg. The trio formed in 2008 by brothers Simon (drums) and Andreas Westmark (vocals/guitar) along with bassist Søren Nørgaard. The band’s sound is built around a combination of raw bursts of energy and monotonous drones. This is supported by a song universe containing noise, desperation and evil from the outmost corners. Their debut album The Worrying Kind was released this spring and has received critical acclaim across Europe. The band are no strangers to Here Today having recorded a session with us previously after the release of their first EP in the fall of 2012, they return to us after being championed by Scandinavia’s largest music festival, Roskilde Festival, as part of their Rising project which will no doubt propel them to even greater heights!

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