Kate Tempest (Apollo)
Not too much has changed in the few months since we last saw Kate Tempest — most notable is her swapping her second drummer for a back-up singer. Not a bad change, as the singer in question not only adds strength to the sung portions of Tempest’s songs, but also ups the energy on stage by dancing a way that shows more form than Tempest’s long, bobbing strides across the stage.
As for Tempest herself, when we saw her at Lille Vega, we had the sneaking suspicion that she was an artist suited to festivals. It’s nice to be right about these things. Her set is more tailored to the atmosphere, keeping the spoken word elements limited to the bridge of “The Truth” and set closer “Hold Your Own,” which was received with the same spirit as in a tiny club. And it was really nice to see a broad smile across her face during most of the set; she seemed to really be in her element, and the crowd could not be more enthusiastic.
But you have to wonder how closely people were listening to her words; the irony of the two men next to use stripping naked from the waist down during “Bad Place for a Good Time” didn’t go unnoticed.
Run the Jewels (Arena)
Run the Jewels made their live debut at Roskilde in 2012. When El-P generously proclaims, “Roskilde is the home of Run the Jewels,” it sets off a packed audience that didn’t need an excuse to be set off. They probably would have managed this without actually inciting the crowd, as the call and response of “everybody’s doing it” in the chorus of “Lie, Cheat, Steal” proved. It was also far more authentic than the constant demand that the audience chant “RTJ,” but Run the Jewels also occupy that rare space of popularity and cool that translates into un-self-conscious fun.
This joy for the sake of joy carries throughout Arena. While El-P runs in circles like a hyperactive dog, and Killer Mike dominates with his presence alone, the teaming crowd is flinging plastic cups of water — helpfully handed out by audience support staff who are just trying to prevent dance floor dehydration syndrome — into the air. In the midday heat it would have been refreshing, but it’s past 21:00 now. If things didn’t wrap up shortly after the one hour mark, we might have caught a cold.
Father John Misty (Avalon)
Being the drummer in Fleet Foxes might mean many things, but fun isn’t one that springs to mind. Yet Josh Tillman, performing as Father John Misty, is exactly that: fun. His last album, I Love You, Honeybear, a tongue-in-cheek folk melodrama of heartbreak and vacuity, has cemented his reputation as everyone’s favourite hipster troubadour. He is in fine form at Avalon, despite describing himself as looking like he’s “just crawled out of a coffin”: from bar-room ballads to hillbilly hip-shakers, he moves like a Confederate officer imitating Jarvis Cocker [the sun is frying my brain — ed]. The title track has the whole crowd raucously joining in, but it is on the slow, acerbic numbers like “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” that Father John really shines. Turning air-quotes into a dance move might just be the most annoyingly hipster thing one could do, but there is always an undercurrent of genuine anger or joy that elevates it from ironic posturing. — CC
St Vincent (Arena)
When you can play guitar like Annie Clark and sing like Annie Clark, and have songs with the weird energy St. Vincent has, there aren’t too many more demands to make. So when she does a little shuffle around the stage that makes her look like she’s on a treadmill, or does choreographed dances with her keyboardist/guitarist, or comes out on stage on a stretcher, it’s like extra credit. Clark is a compelling performer and manages to attract attention to herself without a flashy stage show. The crowd moves in a blend of dancing and thrashing.
While projecting stories of the audience’s childhood about starting fires with magnifying glasses and making cardboard wings and jumping off houses in an attempt to fly, she holds her fist over her head like a revolutionary. In what is probably the most inspiring sight of the day, teenage girls emulate her — offsetting her other projection that everyone in the crowd was born before the 21-century. Sorry Annie, I’m pretty sure that’s the one thing you got wrong. — AF
Perfume Genius (Pavilion)
Mike Hadreas wants to be a pop star. Sometimes. He’s in an in between phase of singer-songwriter at his piano and fuzzy synth-pop savant, which explains why his performance occupied an equally gray area. Listening to him play his quiet songs, they don’t lose any intimacy, which is a feat in itself. But you do wonder how he ended up playing a festival of this nature. Part of it is a failure of setting — he really would have benefited from an enclosed space like Gloria. But part of it is also not really knowing how to play to a festival crowd. “Queen,” his biggest single to date, is a brightly colored burst of energy that pulls an elated reaction from the crowd. Coming in at the hour mark of his set, it would have been a perfect way to end things. But he returns to the stage to round things out with more quiet, intimate songs. It’s lovely, but it belongs in a theatre. — AF
Dark, doom-leaden industrial artists make music with scary undertones, but it takes a special effort for them to match that feeling of ill will live. Pharmakon, however, is terrifying. She opens her set at Gloria by smashing what appears to be a rock against what appears to be a cookie tray with a mic taped to it. Visually, it’s a bit confusing, but it’s also loud as shit.
Unlike many electronic artists, Pharmakon doesn’t confine herself to the table behind her gear. She sets loops rolling and then stalks about with a mic in hand. There’s an agitation bordering on rage similar to a cage lion projecting from her, and when she jumps into the crowd, in the darkened space, there is a real feeling of being hunted. It is uneasy, and the noise is sometimes violent, but the only disappointment was that her set was so short. I’ll be eagerly awaiting her return to Denmark, but I also wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley. — AF
On paper, Ought do not appear to be any different from most post-punk inspired indie bands. But on their debut LP, More Than Any Other Day, the band captured a freshness and energy that returns much needed vitality to the genre. In a live setting Ought is even better than on record, reveling in repetition and rhythmical nuance, buoyed along by frontman Tim Darcy’s Mark E. Smith-esque barks [I still say he sounds more like the Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano — A]. “Pleasant Heart” jolts in and out of an erratic riff reminiscent of certain Tom Waits records, an instant classic of jerky dance song genre, and “Clarity!” lives up to the enthusiastic exclamation mark in its title. In a genre that often revels in confusing, it is exactly the quality of clarity that separates Ought from their peers. Matt May’s effected keyboards, plugged into a guitar amp, are responsible for this shiny, effortless tone that permeates the record, matched perfectly by a simple-but-spot-on rhythm section. — CC
Fat White Family (Pavilion)
Since the release of Champagne Holocaust in 2013 there has been no band on earth I have wanted to see live more than the Family. Their performances are already semi-legendary in their confrontational excess, earning them the reputation as not the best, but the only rock band left on Earth [Muse’s last-bastion of arena rock performance earlier in the evening suggests that there are, in fact, other rock bands left on earth. — A] Emerging out of a self-confessedly awful country band in South London, Fat White Family are a noxious cauldron of primitive garage rock, psychedelia and good ol’ weirdness. They scuttle onto the stage at Pavilion like characters out of an Alex Cox movie, part cowboy junkies, part homicidal hippies. Guitarist Saul Adamczewski seems to be missing even more of his front teeth, which of course only makes him grin and gurn with more enthusiasm, eagerly picking up half-smoked cigarettes thrown onto the stage. Frontman Lias Saoudi finally saunters in with a face like a restraining order, confirming that this evening the band are going to live up to expectations. As the band tear through “Autoneutron”, “Touch the Leather”, “I am Mark E. Smith”, both Lias and the crowd get more riled up, culminating in a series of stage dives and some minor genital manipulation. — CC
Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)
The day has finally arrived: the gates to the main festival grounds have opened, the sun is out, Roskilde has begun. The previous days of dolce far niente are replaced with a flurry of questions: which stage to run to, what food to eat (Korean Bulgogi is the official Here Today Food of the Week), how much alcohol do you have to consume before the prices stop feeling like stab wounds?
Off! — Avalon
After sixty years on the planet and founding not one but two legendary hardcore acts (Black Flag and Circle Jerks), frontman Keith Morris shows no signs of mellowing down. Eyes bulging, veins popping up in unexpected places, Morris stalks the stage in a defiant mood. His younger bandmates bounce along with him, though in their case the wild movements have the studied air of a re-enactment rather than the real thing. The songs themselves, rattled out in blasts of four or five, are one minute playful variations on the theme of fuck you.
While Off! might not be contributing anything new to a genre now almost forty years old, they can at least project some of the vitality of the original movement.
Bob Hund — Avalon
When earlier in the day we interviewed Thomas Öberg, frontman of seminal Swedish indie band Bob Hund, it was clear that there is something very intensely considered and thought out amid the manic energy and comedy of their live performances. Obsessed with making every performance unique, two years ago the band made a leap in the dark and sold all their instruments and equipment, choosing to rely on the generosity of friends and fans to supply them with odd assortments of guitars, vintage organs, microphones, maracas…
For their Roskilde set the equipment was provided by a music school in southern Sweden and Copenhagen surf-rockers The Tremolo Beer Gut. The old Fender Jazzmasters serve them well for the surfy pop vibe of “Tralala Lilla Molntuss”, but it is clear that Thomas was right when he told us “whatever the instruments, we still sound like Bob Hund”. The crowd’s enthusiasm is mirrored in the pure, joyous, Buster Keaton-esque energy of Thomas’s performance. He calls Roskilde “the capital of Scandinavia”, and indeed there is something utopian about hearing a crowd of Danes signing along in a Swedish dialect.
The War on Drugs — Arena
Sadly today we only have one reporter on the scene, who can only glimpse the likes of Communions, Young Fathers and Electric Eye as he tramps around from stage to stage like the errant monk of rock journalism that he clearly is. After the sun has finally lowered its burning rays, we settle down at Arena stage for our final gig of the evening, Philadelphia dad-rockers The War on Drugs.
Adam Granduciel is an aloof frontman, bent over his guitar and myriads of effects pedals in intense concentration. His music is all about tonal nuance, but in a live setting this often comes at the cost of dynamism. Other than the enthusiastic baritone saxophonist (an evident attempt to out-Springsteen the Boss himself) the rest of the band is skilled but sedate, rolling through the songs with more professionalism than passion. Even during crowdpleasers like “Under the Pressure” and “Red Eyes” the initial euphoria slowly dissipates into almost monotony. But in after these moments it is thanks to Granduciel’s mastery of guitar tone that a short busting guitar solo can rekindle the fire.
This year’s Roskilde Festival is not a normal one for The Entrepreneurs, an upcoming trio from Copenhagen. They are playing no less than three shows at difference locations during the festival. We caught their blistering set at the Rising stage, and met up with them today to hear what concerts they are most looking forward to at Roskilde.
Communions – Wednesday, 18.00 | Pavilion
We really like Communions. Coming out of the same scene as Iceage, there is something un-Danish about them, which we appreciate. It’s punk and love, at the same time.
Paul McCartney / Deafheaven – Wednesday, 18.00 | Pavilion
We saw Deafheaven when they played Beta 2300 in Copenhagen last year. It is an amazing band, and if it was not for Paul McCartney, that would be our concert of choice. But we have to see Paul McCartney, we are all fans of The Beatles, and some of McCartney’s songs like The Long Winding Road are among our favorites. Some of us even like what he did with Rihanna, but there is no consensus when it comes to that.
Africa Express, Saturday, 23.00 | Arena
It is simply a fantastic line-up, with artists like Warren Ellis, Damon Albarn and Bo, the guitarist from Mew – and we love Bo, you can write that, both his personality and the way he plays the guitar.
Father John Misty, Thursday, 17.00 | Avalon
He is a true performer, simple as that.
Roskilde 2015 is gearing up, and as half of the population of Copenhagen migrates towards the festival grounds, it’s time for us to share the acts we are most enthusiastically anticipating.
18:00 – Communions (Pavilion)
19:00 – Bob Hund (Avalon)
19:15 – Ratking (Apollo)
23:00 – The War On Drugs (Arena)
17:00 – Father John Misty (Avalon)
18:00 – St Vincent (Arena)
20:00 – Perfume Genius (Pavilion)
23:00 – Pharmakon (Gloria)
00:00 – Ought (Pavilion)
02:00 – Fat White Family (Pavilion)
16:00 – The Tallest Man On Earth (Arena)
18:00 – Kate Tempest (Apollo)
19:30 – Kendrick Lamar (Orange)
20:00 – Einstürzende Neubauten (Avalon)
21:00 – Run The Jewels (Arena)
22:30 – Disclosure (Orange)
15:00 – Girl Band (Pavilion)
17:00 – Joanna Gruesome (Pavilion)
20:30 – Chelsea Wolfe (Gloria)
22:30 – Deafheaven (Pavilion)
23.00 – Africa Express (Arena)
00:00 – Myrkur (Pavilion)
Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh