“Do you feel that? It’s the orange feeling,” so said Julia, a Danish lady who was looking after part of the international press. Julia’s personality perfectly encapsulates Roskilde. She’s very knowledgeable about her music, she’s wonderfully welcoming, she’s slightly mad and she knows how to party. The orange feeling that she is referring to is what has made Roskilde such a successful festival through its nearly half a century of existence. It’s the feeling of unpretentious, unadulterated bliss everyone enjoys at the festival.
From the beaming security guards who hand out bountiful amounts of water in the mosh pits to the joyful girl who hands you your third flæskestegssandwich of the day (basically roast pork, with all the crackling in crunchy bread - heavenly) . A community spirit that is hard to find in British festivals filled with a posturing that used to be reserved for the catwalk.
Besides the orange feeling, the music is also pretty good too. Having been in full flow since the previous Saturday, the festival’s full musical extravaganza doesn’t begin till the Wednesday after. First port of call is US krautrock-influenced girl group Warpaint. On record, they’ve been frighteningly consistent over three LPs but the smooth, slow-burning nature of their songs means the set drags until the last two songs, ‘Disco/Very’ and ‘New Song’, which in all fairness is a killer duo to finish on.
We go onwards to The Weeknd’s headline set, one of the most anticipated of the festival with his reputation as a world-conquering behemoth all having been assured with last years ‘Starboy’. The sound was an issue from the start, with The Weeknd’s effortless falsetto getting lost in the mix amongst all the big beats and thumping synths. The set also lacked a visual element, with no screens, no band, only some tame pyrotechnics for us to gape at awe at. He’s got the hits and he can get by with just playing the hits, but this is a headline performance, and it didn’t feel nearly special enough.
Therefore we had to look upon French electronic juggernauts Justice, who were playing right after The Weeknd on the main stage to provide the theatrics and oh did they deliver. With the famous neon cross beaming across the audience, they blasted the audience away with their thunderous bass lines and a triumphant ‘We Are Your Friends’ which had the crowd singing long into the night.
Thursday brought with it a myriad of musical headaches, courtesy of a lineup crowded with must-sees. Clash popped along early to enjoy Julia Jacklin's lilting, yet plucky folk before a surprisingly incredible Sigrid. At just 20 years of age, the Norwegian pop-star has a massive future ahead of her. Sure, the bouncy, modern pop she employs isn’t exactly screaming with originality but as a centrepiece beaming and bopping away she is an infectious and charming character that is here to stay.
Next on the agenda, was a toss up between Royal Blood and Solange (thankfully, the only direct timing clash of the whole festival). After having seen Royal Blood’s singer Mike Kerr struggling to get through security with a loose wristband, it was lucky they made it onstage in time. They did and they rocked, with the crowd becoming one massive pi-go during an electrifying, ‘Figure it Out’.
However, Solange awaited and just a hop, skip and a jump away we were enjoying her neo-soul masterclass. Everything was red, including Solange’s eye-catching leather trousers. A feast for the eyes and the ears, Solange pushes herself throughout the set bobbing and weaving through a set-list that drew heavily from our Album Of The Year for 2016, ‘A Seat At The Table’.
Then it came time for The xx, who have - let’s face it - owned 2017. Headlining Roskilde, just a week after warming up the Pyramid stage for Radiohead at Glastonbury. If this was a test on whether they could ever step up at Pilton Farm, then The xx passed with an A*. From beginning to end, their set was mesmerising. Earlier tracks like, ‘Intro’ have been given the party vibe update that came with the latest album, ‘I See You’. Even more special was a mini Jamie xx set at the tail end of the set, as the DJ span the euphoric, ‘Loud Places’ from his 2015 solo album.
It was a lot to live up to for hip-hop legend Nas who followed the British group on stage. They’re big hip-hop fans in Denmark and Nas drew one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, rattling through a killer set of hits that included, ‘If I Ruled The World’ and ’N.Y. State Of Mind’.
The Friday came with less of a difficult selection when it came to music choices, as Clash decided to avoid Foo Fighters, a band who can seem inescapable come festival time, to enjoy New Zealand’s pop prodigy and the Bowie-approved Lorde. With a fairly simple stage set-up - no visuals, just a backing band placed far back into the stage - Lorde had to push herself to grab the audience's attention. We had already been treated to highly energetic and powerful performances by two female artists (Sigrid and Solange) but Lorde blew them out of the water. Even on the ballad, ‘The Louvre’, Lorde stamps around the stage with the mad frenzy of a herd of elephants.
Saturday, the final day of the festival, brought with it the indie rock treats of Slowdive and Arcade Fire. Now three years into their comeback, Slowdive, have a new set of songs released last month with which to pepper their performance. ‘Star Roving’ was a standout from the recent tracks, but it still doesn’t beat the visceral punch to the eardrum that comes with Souvlaki’s ‘Alison’ and ‘When the Sun Hits’.
The unrelenting rain from the previous two days seemed to subside come early evening time, leaving Arcade Fire to walk onto the main stage to dreamy purple hazed sunset. Rising to the occasion the weather had granted them, Arcade Fire only played three songs from their upcoming album, the already released ‘Everything Now’, ’Creature Comfort’ and ‘Signs Of Life’. Instead, they drew on their enviable back catalogue to draw out a sensational end to the festival.
Is there anything more glorious than shouting back “Let’s go’ when Win Butler cries out “Little enfants’ during ‘No Cars Go’? In the middle of a festival field, we think not.
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Words: Richard Jones