Roskilde Two Thousand & Fourteen
Another Roskilde Festival year has come and gone, the revellers have nursed their hangovers to extinction, the party animals have returned to their natural working habitat and the slight ringing in Wolf’s ears has finally been silenced. Roskilde was such a surreal experience that there have been many times since the final curtain fell, that we’ve asked ourselves, did it really happen? Reflecting back to the week of sunshine (yes, it was sunny!) and audio delights, there were so many layers of Roskilde that make it a definitive point on the European, perhaps even global, summer festival circuit. True festival lovers would not have their portfolio complete without a chapter on Roskilde, experiencing how a little country like Denmark can play host to one of the biggest festivals in Europe.
So of course, like all great festivals there were the artists that drew the crowds, The Rolling Stones and Outkast had the Thursday night covered, getting mixed reviews from the audience; some appreciating the classics and the thought of a group of 70+ year olds shaking what their mumma gave them, while others thought it was exactly this aspect that made the whole performance, well, odd.
Wolf couldn’t help but wonder about the need for bands like The Rolling Stones to be headliners of such big festivals, which was put into perspective by the current discussion on the hiatus of the Big Day Out in Australia, which has been cancelled in 2015 because, according to organisers, there simply aren’t any bands capable of headlining the festival on tour this year. But how can this be true? How do stellar headlining acts simply disappear from one year to the next?
One possible explanation that has been thrown around of late is the cyclical nature of the music industry, with bands moving at different paces through the music production cycle - write, record, tour, break, repeat - it can be the case that there are sometimes simply years when, by chance, very few big bands are in the touring stage. In addition, bands must prove themselves through many of these album cycles before they can hope to reach the scale and popularity required of a stadium festival band. Few will ever make it to this level, and Wolf has been wondering whether the increasingly fickle tastes of popular music will make it next to impossible for up and coming bands to stand the test of time, and get their moment of festival glory.
'So, I heard Drake didn't show up?'
With a lack of fresh up and comers, Roskilde relies on colossal, if not bygone acts like the Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder to attract the masses. Without doubt, Wolf’s headliner highlight was Danish veteran, Trentemøller who was sporting a supporting band for his set on the main stage, who used the festival's scale to provide a truly unique experience, adding a depth to his work that had many long time fans falling in love all over again.
Wolf found Major Lazer to epitomise the many things that are currently superficial with the music industry, adding to sway to the arguments of those who believe that only a band like The Rolling Stones can headline a major festival, and as it was, the set resorted heavily on cheap tricks like crowd surfing in a human hamster ball and a borderline absurd number of twerking dancers. Wolf loves a good show, but suspects that the crowd’s evident enthusiasm had more to do with the hour of Major Lazer's set (1am on a Saturday) and his inherent knack of adding super-pop tracks to hefty electro drops, than a reflection on ‘what the kids are listening to these days’.
Other notable performances came from Swedish band I Break Horses, US femme fatal DJ Tokimonsta, classic French electro vigilante Kavinsky, and an classically energised performance from Manu Chao. Indeed, as expected, the music was an intricate journey of genres and international sounds. However what grabbed Wolf’s undivided attention was the scale of a festival like Roskilde and everything that happens in addition to the music.
Wolf’s article, Roskilde: Change Makers and Grove Shakers looked into the army of volunteers, the sustainability drive behind the organisation of this massive not-for-profit operation, and what was surprising when at the festival, was the absence of information or recognition of this valiant effort by organisers. Like Walt Disney himself when creating Disneyland, the organisers of Roskilde seem to be concerned with backstage, out of sight aspects of an experience. Running a not-for-profit festival and maintaining a façade of normality that doesn’t advertise the depth of volunteer or sustainable organisation continues this Disneyland type of experience. We aren’t 100% sure how things work, because they are always behind the scenes, but they do and that’s what matters.
This is the feeling with Roskilde. If no one had ever told you, or if you had never investigated, it would be hard to know about these multidimensional aspects to the festival. Wolf couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed at the invisibility of these efforts, particularly in light of the fact that one of the festival’s major goals is to promote active citizenship and to inspire festival-goers to drive sustainable change long after they go home.
There are many things to exemplify at Roskilde, and there are also a lot of aspects that have the exciting potential for growth and change. Wolf was interested to see H&M using the festival as a chance to promote their Conscious Collection and suspects there are many other examples of how the festival’s food and retail offerings could be better leveraged to create more value for festival-goers, potential vendors and Roskilde itself.
What remains clear is that Roskilde is still best in class, especially where sustainability is concerned. With a great vibe, exceptional organisation and generally just good old fashioned fun, it is not hard to comprehend why people attend the festival year after year. Providing so much more than just a music experience, Roskilde can easily make you feel like you are in a little village populated by those who seek good times and general festival craziness. It is exactly this little village like situation that makes the whole human experience of the festival that much more interesting. Roskilde provides a test field of sorts, which could be utilised even more significantly by using the space to promote discussions on the future of major festivals, what to expect from them in terms of music, experience and their impact on the environment, our society, lives and the current state of the music industry.
Words: Ash Francisco & Yvette Naufal
Photography: Ash Francisco