Roskilde Festival: Day 2 Roundup

By on Tuesday, 20th July 2010 at 2:00 pm

My Day 2 at Roskilde started and ended inauspiciously. Forgetting to set the alarm on my mobile, I am stirred by the heat of the sun and realise, oh no, it’s already 10.30? That can’t be! Manic rustling around for my tape recorder, camera, batteries and other essentials ensues. On my way out I grab a banana, an apple and a granola bar to choke down on the train ride back to the festival. So much for a civilised breakfast.

Instead of taking the bus, the train is a much better way to the festival, as it deposits you pretty close to the Odeon stage, where I would see in my opinion some of the best performances of the whole festival. Somehow I manage to make it in early enough to catch most of the set by the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. They are an African-American group of real brothers from Chicago that play, yup, you guessed it, lots of fun, loud, brass instruments. But they are so much more than that. They’re consummate entertainers, trying to involve their audience in football-like chants (‘I get the party started, you keep the party jumping!’ and more humourously, teaching phrases to them so they’ll survive in the rough South Side of their hometown. Watching Scandinavians yell back ‘fo sho!’ to the guys on the stage was a hoot. But really, the music was great, and the set was a lot of fun.

Because it’s only day 2 and I still don’t really have a good handle on the lay of the land, I head over to Pavilion in advance of me meeting up with Delphic there for an interview later on. Swedish indie rock band the Bear Quartet are just finishing up as I arrive. They are notorious for not touring at all, so this is a well-attended set featuring, unusually, an English-singing frontman. It’s nice to sit in the shade for a bit and collect my thoughts before I myself am collected to the backstage area for my interview with Delphic’s thoughtful multi-instrumentalist Rick Boardman (pictured in the header pic), which goes very well (read part 1 and part 2 of the interview posted last week). So well that Rick and lead singer / bassist and birthday boy James Cook are happy to sort a photo pass for me for their set later on.

After the cut: this review of day 2 continued with more photos.

The Delphic boys disappear to get ready, and I go back to Pavilion stage to witness Circle, a Finnish rock/metal band that I know nothing and have heard nothing about. The lead singer Mika Rättö looks like he wants to be Rob Halford of Judas Priest but intelligently enough is not bogged down in tons of leather – he would have wilted in the heat if he had gone that route. He is wearing sandals that look like they were specifically made for a metal rocker however – metal grommets ahoy. Looking at their Myspace now, I am laughing because their ‘quote’ reads ‘NEW EXCITING BAND FROM FINLAND!’

They were quite exciting actually, completely not what I expected. I was expecting to lose my hearing in thunderous metal thrashing with no melody at all. Instead, I watched their frontman alternate between sitting in front of keyboards and get from his chair and stroll around the stage, singing to the audience. I think I owe their Nordic James Hetfield sort-of lookalike bass player and famous underground Finnish musician Jussi Lehtisalo some credit, because I was so fascinated by his swagger and the confidence with which he played, after I got back from Roskilde I decided to take up the bass. (And James Cook gets some credit here on this as well! Read on…) They blended metal, krautrock and prog effortlessly while engaging the audience – something that metal bands don’t generally do all that well. They also obviously can laugh at themselves; at one point, their singer was running in place to the music; at another point, he was doing yoga poses like he was a zen master; and the strangest moment was when Lehtisalo put down his guitar and carried Rättö around the stage as if he was carrying a baby. Funniest moment at Roskilde, hands-down. By the end I was cheering with the rest of their fans.

A little while later it was time for Delphic to take the stage at Pavilion. If you’re a regular to TGTF, you’ve read the interviews I’ve done prior to covering and photographing the same band’s gig later on in the day. This one however was very different in that the interview and gig were conducted in a foreign country (and a foreign country to the band in question to boot). You can read my more in-depth review of Delphic’s set with photos here, so I will use this space instead to talk about how proud, chuffed and thankful I was to be given the opportunity to photograph one of my favourite bands at an international music festival. Experiencing a band from the photo pit, you come away with a very different feeling from the performance than you would have if you are just a punter. Sometimes when I think about now, I still can’t believe it really happened. Standing in front of James Cook and photographing him as he sang ‘Doubt’ while playing his bass was truly an amazing thing. So much that I was encouraged by this performance to take up the instrument. Let’s see where I am, come Christmastime…

I was so enthused by the danceable synth action from Pavilion that a visit to see Casiokids at Odeon seemed the next logical step. Local (Scandinavian) kids done good attracted a large crowd at ‘the sustainable stage’ and even though I don’t understand a lick of Norwegian, I still enjoyed their bouncy, fun music. The beach balls that were launched and happily punched and tossed about in the air above the massive crowd was a good indication of the sunniness of their music. They’re coming to Washington in August and I’m up for seeing them again.

After Casiokids I wanted to survey the queue for the pit at Orange. The Alice in Chains fans had already been in queue long before but I thought for sure there I might get a break for Them Crooked Vultures. Nope. Instead of waiting around and doing nothing but get tanned in the blistering heat, I walked over to Arena to check out what was going on over there. CV Jorgenson, the Bob Dylan and Neil Young of the Danish music world, was playing to his faithful fans. You don’t have to know the Nordic languages to feel the warmth, love and devotion for a man who has been making albums years before I was born. It was nice to see the widespread admiration for punters young and old for a beloved local hero making a rare appearance at his country’s most famous music event.

I had no idea how the pits worked at Arena, so I thought it would be a good idea to do a dry run with Scotland’s Biffy Clyro Friday night in advance of jam-packed Saturday, when I planned to see Vampire Weekend, Bad Lieutenant and Pendulum back to back. The fans themselves who queued early seemed nice enough but I should have taken it as a warning by the long-haired, unwashed bloke to my left that said he was going to mosh. Right. (Groan.) My plan was to hang around for Biffy’s set for a mere half-hour and then leave for Them Crooked Vulture at Orange.

This plan was quickly derailed during a particularly violent crowd reaction to ‘The Captain’ about 15 minutes into the set when Big Bloke to my right fell on me (thanks a lot), I lost my glasses, and all went dark. I must have fainted. Massive props to Roskilde Festival security who somehow found and rescued me, lifting me out of the melee alive. I have no idea how they found my glasses – maybe Big Bloke felt guilty? Too shaken up to go on to Them Crooked Vultures, I left early. Turns out I made a good decision – according to a new friend I met on Saturday, their set was full of kids fighting with each other that he was afraid that his children would get hurt. Disappointing way to end Friday but Roskilde had Saturday and Sunday to make it up to me.


Hypnotic Brass Ensemble:


Delphic (you can see more on my in-depth review of Delphic’s set here):


Biffy Clyro:

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