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LIVE REVIEW: Roskilde Festival 2018 Day 1, 04.07.2018

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St. Vincent live at Roskilde Festival 2018

This year’s Roskilde Festival comes amidst a dry summer of almost uninterrupted sun. This leaves us with the quandary of what’s worse, dust or mud? For Wednesday, we’re not sorry for the sunshine. It’s an easy day with great sets and not enough time for the sunburn and dehydration to set in. But someone almost definitely knocked over a piss trough near the Arena stage, so there’s a possibility that things can change very quickly.

Nihiloxica
Nihiloxica, the first band to play the Apollo stage at this year’s festival, brought a frenzied and buoyant energy to start things off. With five percussionists in a row onstage and one synth/laptop/electronics player behind, the group, comprised of four Ugandans and two Brits fused tribal, trance-like African rhythms with modern electronic synth textures that would be equally at home at a dark techno warehouse. The intricate weaving polyrhythms of the Kampala drums were anchored into a tight groove by a western drum kit (although with a large hollowed-out gourd instead of toms) while a smear of fuzzed out dissonant synth tones swirled around it all. The absense of any real melody was striking but it allowed for the rhythmic reverie to remain as the centre of attention. The energy onstage was contagious and crowd was eager to dance along in the beaming sun. — MT

Nathan Fake
British producer and Border Community (and now Ninja Tune) recording artist, Nathan Fake lit up the Apollo stage with his effervescent blend of textural pads, sharp synth hooks and dark, driving techno production. Fake’s set was dynamic and driving and I imagined myself floating around the dancefloor in a sweaty club, only occasionally looking up to fill my field of vision with colour. A bright backdrop of colourful, pixelated pastel landscapes and psychedelic digital 3D renderings that pulsed and churned throughout the whole set. In the festival setting, however, a large-scale vivid display behind a solitary performer takes some of the focus away from the music and the un-sync’d projections were not quite captivating enough to keep my attention. That said, Fake’s energy was on point and his set of blended uplifting chord progressions, deep, propelling bass lines and bubbling arpeggios was seamless. — MT

St. Vincent
Annie Clark is genuinely one of the best guitarists of her generation and she could sell herself on just that if she wanted to. We’re lucky that instead she gives us St. Vincent, currently inhabiting a world of neons and latex, of male band members with pantyhose masks and synthetic wigs, and of off kilter, high definition video projections.

But Clark’s understanding of presentation extends to the way she delivers her songs. There is a rollercoaster of emotion from the way she scuttles around in four-inch heels for “Pills” to the creep-factor of her masked guitar tech looming over her for a somber intro to “Huey Newton;” from the revved up version of “New York” to pure heartbreak of the stripped back “Happy Birthday, Johnny.” Perhaps all of these feelings coalesce when she raises a fist over her head and insists, “Let’s fight the power today,” before launching into “MASSEDUCTION.” She takes us all over the map and acts as if it’s all perfectly natural. And in the end, you believe it is. — AF

Nine Inch Nails
General angst translates well when the earth is a giant trash fire, so Nine Inch Nails are giving us a very state-of-the-world-in-2018 vibe with their set. Trent Reznor brings a startling intensity to everything he does: His vocals, the way he moves at his mic stand, even the way he shakes a tambourine.

The atmosphere is charged and it feels at times like the band are trying to expunge something. Reznor has stated that “there’s too much fucking talking,” and thus careens from one song to the next. Something akin to a mosh pit emerges during “Hand That Feeds,” but in their state, most people are just jumping up and not landing evenly on their feet. For a post-midnight set, there are times when the lights are shockingly bright, and more than one person in the audience was spied with sunglasses on.

It’s still the songs of The Downward Spiral that exist most clearly in people’s minds, and it’s edifying to learn what awkward sing alongs they make: It’s intensely awkward to have a group of people sing the chorus of “Closer.” And as the set comes to a close at 2am, having the words to “Hurt” shouted all around you is one giant bummer. But that’s no fault of Trent’s — he can’t be held responsible for the crowd’s unchecked impulse. — AF

Words by Mikael Tobias and Amanda Farah. Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh.

LIVE REVIEW: Nine Inch Nails, Forum, 13.05.2014

in Live Reviews by

Photo by Tom Spray

As Tom and I remark again on the oddity that Nine Inch Nails, one of the biggest names in rock music of any description, somehow can’t fill up Forum in Copenhagen (seriously guys, the main guy on the poster outside the venue is Cliff Richard), we are greeted by the anachronism that is Cold Cave. I sense a common feeling of nostalgia towards the bombastic and cheap-sounding synths, the Robert Smith-inspired vocals, the leather jacked, black shades and shitty hair. If you squint your eyes, and find a way of doing something similar to your ears, you might just be transported back to the not so distant past when everyone on the deathrock.com message board collectively lost their shit over Crystal Castles. But squinting is annoying, and in the end, so are Cold Cave.

By the time Nine Inch Nails are about to begin their set, the venue’s insistence on not opening up the back section means we’re all squeezed together like cockroaches. The screen that spans the entire stage has obscured most of the tech set up, so it’s almost a surprise when the lights suddenly cut out and ‘The Eater of Dreams” starts playing over the PA. The band arrive on stage with little fanfare, apart from the roar greeting Trent Reznor, whose intensity has certainly not diminished in time. Initially the stage looks very minimalist, with nothing but three keyboards and a low-hanging lighting rig. It fits perfectly with opener “Copy of a”, from the band’s latest effort, Hesitation Marks. This is classic NIN dark but danceable minimalism, all drum machines and fast synth arpeggios.

NIN (Photo by Tom Spray)

But Trent and co. have fooled us: as “The Beginning of the End” starts up, with its prehistoric drum-beat, a gigantic black curtain falls to the ground, revealing one drum kit, and one giant lighting rig. The rig, together with the projections that from time to time appear on a ascending and descending screen, are by far the best visual show I have witnessed at a concert in a very long time. They are intense, but never bombastic or silly, a perfectly constructed accompaniment to the music.

Tonight NIN are showing off their fastest, heaviest side, and predominantly dipping into their earlier records: “March of the Pigs” rips through neural connections, knocking you off balance with its completely out-of-the-blue switch to major chords on the piano for a chorus. It’s like punching someone repeatedly in the face and then giving them a hug. Scary as hell. It seems like all the time spent on scoring films such as The Social Network and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, together with the How to Destroy Angels side-project, have not only reinvigorated Trent, but also pushed him to rediscover his more guitar-orientated side.

NIN (Photo by Tom Spray)

The only negative thing to say about the gig is that it simply didn’t last long enough. An hour and a half for a band that has been around for a quarter of a century is just not enough, and I for one would not have minded hearing some more songs from Hesitation Marks, particularly oddities like the funky “All Time Low” and freakishly uplifting “Everything”. Reznor instead gives us the classics, closing with “Closer” and “Hurt”, which are nothing if not crowd-pleasers. Not great songs to be singing along to on the train home, though.

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