Dispatches from Roskilde

I’ve been to the usual slew of English festivals for most of my teenage/young adult years, so I felt fairly well prepared going to Denmark’s Roskilde Festival this year. I quickly learnt that there were a few major differences between our sloppy five day Reading, Download, Latitude Festivals and Denmark’s behemoth nine day Roskilde Festival.

1. It’s fucking 9 days long.

2. The Danes have their organisation on point, with loads of stuff we don’t get at English festivals. Things like a friend finder app, daily phone charging facility you set up online before the festival and a big fucking Noo-Noo type van that went round sucking up puddles.

3. At the start of the festival the 3,000 early entry ticket holders are held in a pen for a few hours (or days if you’re a massive keeno) then they all sprint in with pop-up tents and tarps to get the best spaces, then their mates lug in all their heavy shit and bags.

4. EVERY camp of Danish kids have a sound system around the size of a Fiat Punto and 24 hours a day listen exclusively to the worst and heaviest electronic music I’ve ever heard… and occasionally Skepta.

5. There’s only about 4 hours of darkness at night, as if sleeping wasn’t already impossible.

6. 3 months before the festival starts a select group of attendees arrive to construct DREAM CITY. Where temporary wooden buildings, essentially mini clubs, are made in certain themes (Fire Department, Submarine, Zoo). They make the Fiat Punto sound systems in the rest of the campsite sound like your mum’s portable speaker she got from Argos. Some of these constructions cost so much the owners seek out sponsorship, apparently the Game of Thrones camp got funding from HBO and built a replica Iron Throne.

As for the music: I was given the wrong pass at the start of the festival and it took fucking ages to change it, so I don’t have photos of all the acts that played, but there was a great selection on the bill of basically every genre. For me, the best acts I saw were:

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – No matter what band he’s in, Frank will always be one of the greatest frontmen ever. The Rattlesnakes is definitely his greatest musical output yet and the raw, passionate style perfectly translates to a live performance. Some ballbag put three British acts (Little Simz, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Bring Me The Horizon) on at the same time, so unfortunately I missed the other two, but I find it very hard to imagine they would’ve topped Frank in a live performance.

Biffy Clyro – I’ve seen Biffy a million times before, they play Reading/Download more or less every year and every fucking time they leave me thinking I should be a bigger Biffy Clyro fan… they always crush it live and Roskilde was no exception. The combination of their frantic, then melodic, then frantic sound and epilepsy inducing light show was exactly what I needed to perk me up at 4pm on a Friday.

Skepta – From the music being played and the Adidas tracksuits being worn in the campsite leading up to his performance, I knew Skepta’s 2.30am show was going to be a big one. This was also the first show I had my photography pass for, so I could finally put to use all the camera equipment I’d been lugging around all week. Needless to say he killed it.

Other noteworthy acts I saw include: Foals, Stormzy, Action Bronson and Cattle Decapitiation. I have a big black patch in my memory when Savages were playing after drinking a pint of White Russian, so not sure if I saw them or not… but I’m sure they were great! I also managed to lose my phone during said blackout, only to find it 4 days later smashed to shit in lost property. Shout out to the lovely Dane that handed my phone in, I hope karma rewards you in full. 

All in all Roskilde shits all over English festivals, their organisation and thinking of all the little things that make a festival easier going was apparent after minutes of being there. I’ll for sure be heading back next year, hopefully with a gigantic sound system so I can drown out all the Danish techno with the sound of running water or whale sounds and get some fucking shut-eye.

Roskilde 2017

Words and photos: Marcel Le Bachelet

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