Roskilde 2019: Feature: Beyond Music – Roskilde´s “House of Chroma” and “Ambereum” Create a Forum for Creative Expression

Original article written for The Copenhagen Post

Beyond Music

Roskilde Festival is often touted as being a festival that “goes beyond music.” Indeed, #Rf19 has been described by its organisers as “8 days of music, activism, art, camps and freedom” and to this end, much has been done this year as in many others to create a forum to house the needs of an increasing eclectic festival that attracts a varied and demanding demographic.

Central to this is Roskilde´s arts programme, which tends to create novel, inventive forms of creative expression, which this year, manifested themselves most clearly (we feel) via the House of Chroma and Ambereum areas, both of which combine colour, aesthetics and other elements of performative design.

The Modern Festival Narrative

Whether these areas have been sculpted in response to the likes of festivals such as Heartland zoning in on creating powerful manifestations of creative dialogues that do veritable justice to the “beyond music” intent or whether they emanate from the demands of an increasingly diverse, increasingly aware audience demographic is debatable. What´s not, however, is the future of spaces such as these in the festival narrative, particularly at an event such as Roskilde, which faces the unparalleled challenge of moulding a festival that responds to the increasingly obvious challenges of the world today and the generations to come.

This said, balancing multiple stakeholder interests and ensuring each gets adequate representation in such fora is always going to be a next-to-impossible task and invariably, there is a big difference between intent and actuality. Let´s have a closer look at how the shared spaces of House of Chroma and Ambereum fared against their expectations this year.

House of Chroma – Performances, Workshops, Music

House of Chroma loaned a page from the Buckminster Fuller inspired Dome of Visions concept and with it, the intent to create a liminal space in which ideas, debates, workshop and music could flow freely.  The throbbing epicenter of the art scene, the dome was designed by the Brazilian artist Eli Subrack (also known as Avaf – Assume Vivid Astro Focus,) and like other works by him, explosions and accentuations of colour feature prominently as a dynamo for creative expression.

And what better way to manifest the qualities of such a space than for Eli to invite his pals from the Brazilian Queer Resistance Movement to declare the house open on Wednesday? Using exaggerated, intense expressions of the body amidst a backdrop of theatrical voices and electronic music, the Brazilians wove a tapestry that connected their inconceivable reality with that of an imbibed, privileged but nonetheless curious audience.

Despite this indefatigably vivid opening, House of Chroma was also as much about the familiar everyday and not merely the inconceivable extreme – familiarized. Activism and its new facades were explored comprehensively and in  a matter-of-fact manner by a sit-down with the 2011 Occupy Wall Street co-founder, Micah White, ambient soundscapes were created by the Danish musician, Sofie Birch and Norwegian Sissel Toolas took us on an olfactory journey of 50 scents gathered over 30 years of research.

And there was more – rap music as a vehicle for green climate activism in the form of a workshop and subsequent rap battle hosted by the NGO, Rapolitics, spoke directly to the hearts and states of mind of Roskilde´s millennially-influenced audience and the Girls Are Awesome movement also made a House of Chroma appearance that went beyond the obvious discussion of on-stage female empowerment, focusing instead on what happens behind the scenes, through a talk with Karen Vincent from SheCanPlay, Jenny Rossander from Lydmor and sound engineer Jessica Petersen from Roskilde Festival.

Sensory Experimentation

Indeed, each House of Chroma happening managed to pull of the rare feat of being exceptionally distinct in composition and execution – often appealing to multiple senses and at times, zoning in on one, as was the case with Sissel Toolas’s olfactory journey.

If we speak of a future in which we must harness our collective energies to re-think the challenge of creating sustainable change, it is clear that we must also go beyond what we can see and hear and as such, sensory bombardments that speak to other ways of seeing and experiencing reality make for a potentially powerful agent of change. House of Chroma may not have set the Roskilde world alight as far as this goes but as a bare minimum it provided a space in which room to think differently and participatorily if only within the realms of a plastic dome draped in psychedelic colours.

Ambereum: Vivid space with room for one´s imagination to wander

If House of Chroma was the capital of the Art Zone, Ambereum was the second city that quite often outwitted its larger counterpart, whether by accident or design. Where House of Chroma´s dome crammed varied influences together into a creative space that at times felt crammed or constricted, Ambereum was more spacious and less intense.

Described as “an area for DJ´s, art, relaxation and raves,” the Orange and yellow-walled ambient space hosted performances and sensory discoveries by day such as the fun-sounding yet anti-climatic Japanese artist, Tomoko Sauvage, whose use of water in ceramic bowls as an instrument concept flattered to deceive.

By night (from Thursday through to Saturday,) the area morphed into a nightclub-esque  metropolis, under the auspices of Berlin-infused electronic music, courtesy of artists such as Boris, Roi Perez, Virginia and others.  This set up that worked quite well and stood in stark contrast to the more laidback nature of the space during the day.

All in all, Ambereum´s relaxed confines provided a comfortable, if not soothing space for festivalgoers young and old to relax and dream in and this only adds to the festival narrative, particularly given the sheer size and cleanliness of the area.

Beyond Music: a Narrative for Change – Today and in the Future

In tandem with House of Chroma, Ambereum managed to create a creative forum that appealed to the beyond music intent that the festival organisers are focusing their efforts on with greater intensity. While their execution could have been more refined, more varied and perhaps even more accessible, there can be no doubt that there was more focus on the arts as a central component of the festival narrative this year.

As the festival struggles, as the world around it, to adapt to the demands of creating a more sustainable society, there can be no doubt that creating a narrative that fosters creative dialogues that go beyond the mere consumption of musical performances is one way to lead the charge.

Wu-Tang Clan Disappoint at Roskilde 2019

Original article written for The Copenhagen Post

New York hip-hop legends, Wu Tang Clang, arrived at their show at Roskilde´s Orange stage a cool 20 minutes later than scheduled, as replacements for one of this year´s most anticipated acts, Chance The Rapper.

No strangers to bailing from big moments themselves (cue their 1997 episode were an internal brawl at New York´s airport that saw them miss their flight to their show at Roskilde,) one might have been excused of feeling that the 9-man strong act  owed Roskilde´s masses a strong performance. Unlike Chance though, at least they showed up and honoured their commitments, at least partially, for there were actually only 8 of them present.

Spitting out veritable classics such as “Severe Punishment” and “Duel of the Iron mic,” the clan´s frontman, Ghostface Killah did his bit to breathe life into a concert that, despite his best efforts, didn´t end up hitting the heights one might have anticipated.

Refreshingly, however, the old school virtuosos did showcase their versatility by doing an array of covers – with everything from The Beatles to Nirvana getting the Wu-Tang style-up. Top on the list of these was, unsurprisingly, their rendition of House of Pain´s mammoth “Jump Around,” which stoked the crowd into a frenzy, but then again, when has this track not done so?

This notwithstanding, there are no doubt plenty of aficionados of the old school of hip-hop who had perhaps wished that Wu-Tang had stuck to their guns and kept their rhymes within their extensive repertoire of some of the best hip-hop that has ever been produced.

Moreover, their own tunes were delivered shorn of the panache and personality that the missing members of the group on the evening (Method Man and Raekwon) could and would have given them, all in all making for a performance that didn´t quite live up to the expectations one had of it.

As one of the few representatives of hip-hop of old at Roskilde this year, it is fair to say that one would have expected more of the New York boys, who spurned the chance to mirror if not better the performance of another old school legend (Nas’s) show on the same stage in 2017.

Roskilde 2019: Jpegmafia’s Livid Performance on The Appollo Stage Was Quite Something

Original article written for The Copenhagen Post

Chaotic, frenetic, insane… manic even. There need not be an end to superlatives that best describe the show that Baltimore rapper, Jpegmafia delivered at Roskilde Festival´s Apollo stage yesterday.

Afrofuturism vibes

Looking and sounding at times like an afrofuturistic Marvel hero that could easily  have been part of the cast of The critically acclaimed film, Black Panther, Jpegmafia was excellent on the evening.

In fact, come to think of it, he does resemble a certain Chadwick Boseman, one of the stars of the aforementioned flick and his crisply-produced beats would certainly be at home in its Wakandan universe, but that´s a hypothesis for another day.

Bare-chested in the chilly afternoon wind, Peggy, as he is affectionately known by his fans, took to the stage with a point to prove, from the get-go. A staccato sequence of openers during which he flung himself into the crowd repeatedly, set the tone for what would be a show that left this reviewer wondering what the heck he´d just seen at the end of it.

But it was not all frenzied fanfare – Jpegmafia has a knack for kicking back and letting it all sink in momentarily, between his wordy renditions. While his pauses, emphasized with a chilling glare towards the crowd seemed awkward at first, they grew on the partisan crowd with time, as chants of “Peggy, Peggy, Peggy!” rang out.

“How to build a relationship.” Was one of the softer tracks to grace the stage after the blur of openers, though even this tune got a beefing up in its live version – sounding raunchier and more pronounced than its studio form.

Too chaotic at times?

The show then dipped somewhat as Jpegmafia spat out one seething stanza after another – the issue here being that there was seldom a minute or two to catch one´s breath amongst the cavalcade of vitriol that was flung from the stage.

This said, the front-row of the crowd loved every minute of it and gave Peggy a hero´s welcome every time he sprang upon them. Stoked, his confidence grew and with it came deeper, more contemplative moments within the furore – a welcome touch of quality to a show that sometimes felt like a closed metal container with a hissing cobra and a screaming man running around in it.

Nowhere were the aforementioned contemplative moments more pronounced than close to the end of the show, in which the Baltimore man managed to get the entire show to sit down ahead of the performance of his “Rainbow Six.” This had a even more of a soothing effect given it was shortly after one of the tracks he, by his own admission, has “retired in the U.S.” The explicative riddled “f*** Morrissey.”

Roskilde 2019: Fatoumata Diawara Does The Avalon Stage Proud

Original article written for The Copenhagen Post

One of the many changes to this year´s Roskilde is the placement of the charismatic Avalon stage, which now occupies the northeast corner of the festival grounds, as the organizers’ aim to get more out of less space ahead of its reduced area of land from 2020 onwards.

This reviewer’s first 2019 outing at the legendary Avalon tent, I am pleased to say, honoured every expectation I had of it, as Mali´s Fatoumata Diawara delivered a pristine show from start to finish.

Beaming from ear-to-ear, Fatoumata stepped onto the scene with an air of grace about her that lifted the performance throughout. Waxing lyrical about doing away with the stereotype of Africa “as a place of war and not a place of good food and beautiful people,” the talented Diawara then unleashed the quintessentially Malian “Timbuktu Fasso,” a track that usually has a mellow demeanour to it. This version got a rock styling, however, as an epic guitar solo brought it to a climax at the end.

Sounding at times like Malian music legends of old in the Amadou and Mariam / Ali Farka Touré mould, at others, Diawara ventured into electronic and rock territory – showing the full scope of her musical powers and versatility. In fact, there were even moments where her vocals neared the high-pitch prowess of the likes of Within Temptation – a soothing antidote to the wonderfully complex instrumentals.

Cue a befitting cover of Fela Kuti’s (yes, the legendary Fela Kuti) “Africa” and an equally jaw-dropping version of Nina Simone´s “Sinnerman” and it was clear that Diawara owned the night and all the magic in it.

What stood out more than anything else at this show was just how much personality Diawara and her band added to each song they performed – be it their own productions or covers. Each was a unique performance in and of itself, seemingly unrehearsed to a level of unfathomable perfection.

Diawara and her talented band left as they entered – smiling and in picture-perfect positive spirits, backed by a crowd that broke into song and dance with every opportunity

Roskilde 2019: Tirzah Delivers a Tame Experience at The Gloria Stage

Original article written for The Copenhagen Post

As the rain hammered down on the second of the music days at this year´s Roskilde Festival, the dark, warm, indoor Gloria scene made for a welcoming reprieve from the elements.

It came as little surprise, therefore, to see the intimate scene as packed as it was, prior to the concert of one of this year´s most hyped names – British collapsed pop artist, Tirzah.

A tame introduction at best, with the not-so-apt-an-opening-track, “Guilty,” from her 2018 album ‘Devotion’ did little in the way of creating the warm atmosphere that Roskilde´s fatigued masses so desperately hungered for. As a track, its studio production is a raunchy mess of vocoder-infused weirdness and monotonous instrumentals. Played live, it somehow managed to sound even worse, however.

And so begun what would ultimately be a concert that never quite got out of second gear – Tirzah, praised far and wide for her distracted, parallel pop sensibilities, whether by accident or design, pulled off the unique feat of delivering track upon track of unilateral nature, with each sounding and feeling all too similar to its predecessor.

Throw in a subdued crowd and a composed stage presence that would be perfect in a church concert and what we ended up with was a performance that had the back row fighting to keep their eyes open in Gloria´s obscure confines.

It wasn´t all off-key though – tracks such as the adorable “Holding on” did do their bit to breathe life into the forlorn masses. Similarly, her 2015 production off her eponymous album, ‘Make it up,” towards the end of the show, infused a welcome dose of electro club vibes, giving Gloria some remote semblance of a party worth attending. Moments like these were few and far-between, albeit all the more colourful against the backdrop of a show of pale proportions and somber platitudes.

Visit Los Angeles in 60 Seconds

LA is a monster. No seriously – Hollywood’s home is massive – even from the air, where its concrete streets and square forms assume an outlandish, almost dystopian form.

On street level, you’ll find many potential X Factor fails who’ve never quite made it into Hollywood’s hallmarks but get by busking at tourist traps such a The Santa Monica Pier at the end of Route 66.

You’ll also find a smattering of celebs here and there, cruising its boulevards in their fancy wheels, oblivious to the reality of life in The Sin City of the West Coast. And then there’s Inglewood…

LA is not for me I must contend (less so after being detained by the immigration authorities who asked me all sorts of irrelevant questions despite my pre-approved ESTA application and valid travel documents).

Every cloud has a silver lining though – thanks to my good pal Paul, who showed us the best of LA in his purring Mustang, I must also admit that I had a great time cruising through the throbbing metropolis.

Here’s how it all went down on our visit to Los Angeles:

 

Ten things we learned at this year’s Roskilde Festival

Among our findings: a heavy police presence might have resulted in a fall in crime, rap might have displaced rock as the festival’s new darling, and the Orange Feeling is alive and kicking!

Roskilde Festival 2017 was rainy and rowdyRoskilde Festival 2017 was rainy and rowdy (Picture: Krists Luhaers // @Kristsll)

1 The police meant business

IMG_1569There was a palpable police presence at this year’s Roskilde Festival (photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

This year’s Roskilde Festival had a heavy police presence in and around the festival. We saw sniffer dogs, police men with machine guns at the East entrance (a first) and patrol vehicles around the camping grounds.

2 The crime stats were lower

IMG_1589Less crimes were committed at this year’s festival than last year’s (Picture Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

Six rape cases are being investigated, one more than last year’s figures. Some 130 reported thefts took place this year – significantly lower than in the last two editions of the festival, which both registered close to 800. A total 20 arrests were made this year – a number also significantly lower than in previous years. And sadly there was one death: a 24-year-old volunteer for Muskelsvindfonden who was discovered where he slept on Friday.

3 The future is nigh

IMG_1466Roskilde 2017 was a cashless affair, which was good news for payment methods such as mobile pay (Photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

For the first time ever, Roskilde Festival was a cash-free affair, with mobile pay and credit cards the official payment mode. In general, the festival had a look and feel that was more organised than it has been in previous years. Will we soon see the implementation of digital bracelet systems that allow for pay-by-scan options and other innovative solutions?

4 It’s all about timing

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The Weeknd’s show, while epic, got off to a late start (Picture © ANSPressSocietyNews / Mr Krobath

A number of shows started later than expected – remarkably later in the case of Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan. The announcements notifying Roskilde’s guests of the new start times were not always clear nor properly delivered.

READ MORE: Our top five Roskilde 2017 concerts in case you missed them

5 Rap is the new rock ‘n’ roll

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West Coast rapper Ice Cube was one of several hip-hop heavyweights to make his mark at Rf17 (Picture © Eva Rinaldi)

Rappers are the new rock stars (to quote Kanye West). Roskilde Festival has deep roots in rock music and has for many years been known as a rock festival. This year, the headlining names and the names creating the post-festival headlines were drawn from the more mainstream avenues of R ‘n’ B and rap – the latter of whom hogged the spotlight at Roskilde 2017.

READ MORE: Beyond Illimatic – Nas gives festival a lesson in hip-hop

6 Roskilde is (still) huge

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The crowd at The Weeknd’s concert at the Orange Stage was one of the largest ever (Photo © Krists Luhaers // @Kristsll)

Some 130,000 festival-goers, 32,000 volunteers, 180 concerts by acts from over 30 countries across nine stages. Does it sound like a party? It was! All of the profits will, as always, be donated to charity work around the world

7 The Art Zone was more accessible for all

IMG_0601-768x576Roskilde’s art zone was interactive, hazy and accessible (photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

Art should engage, provoke and inspire. This year’s art zone had a laid-back feel to it thanks to an outdoor lounge-esque area that housed plant life, sculptures, smoke screens and other installations by artists such as Rune Bosse, Regitze Karlsen and ThinkingHand. The art zone was easy to digest and comfortable to be in.

8 Come rain or shine, the party went on

IMG_0607-768x576Roskilde 2017 will be remembered as one of the wettest in many years (photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

Friday’s perennial downpour saw the festival grounds doused in rain for most of the day and night. In fact, the rain started falling as early as The xx’s concert on Thursday night. Out came the wellies and waterproof garments, but even they couldn’t stop the rain from seeping in here and there and dampening the atmosphere – quite literally. A river of mud and a mess of broken camping gear, mackerel cans and memorabilia were left behind – the festival will end up incinerating 2,400 tonnes of it – but the party continued well into the night.

9 #Rfheroes – there were many

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Two of this year’s heroes at Roskilde Festival (Photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

Building on the success of last year’s event, in collaboration with the Tuborg Foundation, Roskilde Festival continued the #Rfheroes campaign – encouraging festival-goers to nominate their Roskilde heroes on Instagram. Five groups of heroes were consequently added to the Roskilde ‘Walk of fame’ brass plates. What is a hero I hear you ask? Essentially, one or more of the 130,000-strong crowd who’s walked the extra mile for the benefit of other festival-goers.

10 The Orange Feeling reigns supreme

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Rf17 was as colourful as ever as always (Photo Allan Kortbaek / Mutuk5)

So we had mixed feelings about the line-up, and there was the odd technical glitch here and there, but at the end of the day, Roskilde is still Roskilde, and befittingly ‘The Orange Feeling’ has not been compromised.

Roskilde may have diverted from its rock roots in an increasingly competitive local festival market in which booking the biggest names can be a tussle, but there can be no questions asked about the quality of the performances of those booked.

We sat on the shoulders of strangers and danced together under a darkened sky, drank warm coffee with lovers and friends and bonded through the power of music and art. This was our Orange Feeling and we suspect there are a few out there who may have similar sentiments.

Roskilde 2017: Not quite an avalanche – but close enough in the downpour

4 out of 6 stars. Original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here.

Aussie sample kings, The Avalanches played a blend of music to suit all tastes (Photo Ercosid) Aussie sample kings, The Avalanches played a blend of music to suit all tastes (Photo Ercosid)

Australian sample kings The Avalanches rolled onto a drenched Apollo stage at Roskilde Festival facing a crowd that had endured one of the wettest days in modern memory at the annual event. Unfazed, the iconic Aussies, armed with the talents of Baltimore rap starlet Spank Rock and the moxie of vocalist Eliza Wolfgramm took to the stage backed by a witty, quirky, peculiar, lovable mash-up of sampled sounds.Not quite an avalanche
It was always going to be a hit or miss affair, as the torrential summer rain wept down, unrelenting against a backdrop of mud and wasted figures clad in wellies and waterproof garments. Under the circumstances, The Avalanches just about managed to get the evening’s festivities started with a show that began in lamentably inaccessible fashion (for all those for whom their music was unfamiliar). While seminal tunes such as ‘Frank Sinatra’ are indeed recognisable, their repetitive verses could arguably have been cut to get the fire burning sooner.

The show turned in the right direction, however, with a sparkling rendition of iconic cover track ‘Guns of Brixton’, which saw Wolfgramm swing a baseball bat in tandem with the music – a direct reference to the Brixton riots of the 1980s, epitomised with great effect by The Clash, who lay claim to the original track. This being Denmark in 2017, few recognised the symbolism in it, so its application was more peculiar than it was entertaining.

Perhaps The Avalanches recognised this (or their pre-planning did anyhow) – their tune selection thereafter yielded nothing but positive responses from a gumboot-clad crowd that kicked into gear with a bang. Synth delights such as ‘Subways’, the leftfield ‘Flight Tonight’ and thumping banger ‘The Radio’ definitely had the desired effect – The Avalanches owned the Apollo Stage (rain-strewn and haggled as it may have been).

What (sample) sorcery is this?
Theirs was a sampling act that spanned genres ranging from soul to hip-hop, all cooked together into one messy, blissful mash of curious tunes that got feet stompin’ and shone a welcome light onto a dark, drenched festival.

Yes, at times their profound samples made only sense to them and a handful of dedicated aficionados, but this is a band with two studio albums 16 years apart – an act whose versatility and eclecticism are a joy to behold. Bands such as Chinese Man and Hocus Pocus may have won younger audiences in recent years with their sample magic, but it is theses troubadours of the mould that leave spectators with something to think about long after the stomping, screaming and sing-alongs grind to a halt.

On Friday night they were seminal albeit patchy and inaccessible at parts. But who cares? They got a muddy party started and credit is due for this at the very least.

Roskilde 2017: Beyond Illimatic – Nas gives festival a lesson in hip-hop

6 out of 6 stars. Original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here.

Nasir Bin Olu Dara aka Nas at his illimatic best (photo villunderlondon / Zoe Klinck

Nasir Bin Olu Dara aka Nas at his illimatic best (photo villunderlondon / Zoe Klinck)

Following the cancellation of hip-hop heavyweights A Tribe Called Quest ahead of this year’s Roskilde’s Festival, the honour of flying old school rap’s flag high and dry fell, rather unanimously, on the broad shoulders of New York rapper Nas.The last name to guest Roskilde’s emblematic Orange Stage on Thursday night, Nas’s show was tainted slightly by the pouring rain which, flowing steadily since the performance of British band The xx earlier in the evening, had sent one or two festival-goers to the shelter of their tents.

The king of Queens

Nas is not a man who is easily swayed, however. With an air of natural nonchalance that many of today’s hip-hop greats don’t quite have, Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones rolled calmly onto the stage sporting a pair of aviator shades on a scene that may as well have been a rap booth in Queens.

Spitting to a James Brown sample of ‘Get down’ served with complements from the erstwhile Dj Green Lantern, Nas had the Orange Stage in the palm of his hand from the get-go. In contrast to other names who’ve played on the Orange Stage this year, Nas’s show contained all the elements one would expect from a show of this size and scale. A massive signature 3-D logo revolved in the backdrop, powerful, relevant projections beamed out on either side of the stage,  and a simple stage setup threw Nas and his smooth, well-timed rap lines and tip-top sound into the limelight.

No cheese, peerless breeze
Impassioned renditions of tunage such as ‘New York State of Mind’ and ’Halftime’ cemented the bold start, before tributes to greats such as recently deceased rapper, Prodigy from Mob Deep, showed Nas at his sentimental best, devoid of the cheesiness that tends to accompany these things. Similarly, the interjections he made to his stream of tracks were simple and honest – delivered without all the references to how great the crowd was, how wonderful the festival is and the usual fluffy language that we festival-goers have been accustomed to. For Nas, a curt “Thank You” and lines referencing the power of music sufficed.

Backing the peerless on-stage prophecy, witty projections of boom boxes and city streets from the rap heyday of the early ’90s took us back to the early era of a genre that we must admit has veered so far from these veritable beginnings today it can scarcely be compared.

A lesson in hip-hop
Thursday was about Nas and his deejay as much as it was about the state of music de jour. Thankfully for all of us, his performance was illimatic – beyond ill, beyond the ultimate. Roskilde did not see Nas, we experienced him – a music great at his best long past the golden days of old school hip-hop.

It is little wonder that he returned onto the stage for a flawless encore after a long break at the end of his show. Swapping a combat jacket and plain black shirt for a Roskilde 2017 t-shirt, Nas returned to ice the cake with a seldom-seen swag. This was the incarnation of ‘the orange feeling’ and a lesson in hip-hop history for today’s Millenial generation.

More than for the festival, they’re ‘Volunteering 4 Life’

There’s more to Roskilde than the music. Original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here

Skærmbillede 2017-07-05 kl. 22.36.57.pngVolunteering is a key part of Rokilde Festival (photo: Allan Kortbaek)

The patchy weather over the last few days has not swayed the tens of thousands of festival-goers who’ve made their way to this year’s Roskilde Festival for yet another year of merrymaking.  The logistics of organising a festival that houses a crowd of around 130,000 for a week of camping, concerts and debauchery are, as you might imagine, quite eye-opening in themselves.Fuelled by the efforts of 32,000 volunteers each year, most of whom have volunteered for an average of five festivals, Roskilde Festival is, at its core, a non-profit fuelled by charitable efforts. The event also makes an effort to ameliorate global social issues through numerous dedicated initiatives. Befittingly, this year’s theme is hinged on focusing on cultural inequality, which it hopes to address through art, music, activities and donations.

One of the many organisations present at this year’s festival is the Settle N Share project – an experiment involving communities co-operating to strengthen the unique camp feeling at the event.

Volunteering 4 Life – a youth-based initiative that works to create cultural programs for youth within the fields of sports, music and European youth exchange with a focus on creating a link between Roskilde Festival and the Erasmus + program – is but one of the many initiatives in this year’s Settle N Share.

Propelled by Ishøj Ungdomsskole, this is the second time that the Volunteering 4 Life project will be at Roskilde Festival, having successfully run in 2013 (see below)

Onus on community sharing
This year, Volunteering 4 Life is focusing on educating the youth in volunteering in close collaboration with Roskilde Festival and other partners. According to Raymond Andrews, a benefactor of the youth exchange program, the non-profit, community-centred aims of Roskilde Festival are an ideal platform through which the volunteers of the initiative can gain a hands-on introduction to the philanthropic goals of the event.

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Community sharing is one of the core objectives of Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde Festival

Essentially this entails its 52 volunteers at the festival being introduced to companies such as DXC – a tech multinational typified by high levels of employee retention and a hiring process that doesn’t involve hiring specialists but rather aims to hire based on matching skill-sets, informal or formal, which can be matched with its needs as a business.

The aim here is to inspire and equip the program’s volunteers with informal skills for their career development.

To orchestrate this, app-making and other tech-based knowledge sharing aimed at boosting the competences of the volunteers are central to the work of Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde. Similarly, it is hoped that festival initiatives such as Settle’N Share and REACT (a recycling system) will foster a strong dialogue between some of Roskilde’s aims and the Volunteering 4 Life program’s volunteers, who will work for a period between 24-32 hours during which they will support the needs of other festival-goers while engaging in informal learning experiences.

Beyond Roskilde Festival: providing skills for a competitive labour market

Volunteering 4 Life participants contributing to Roskilde Festival’s “Orange Feeling”

Outside of the festival, the Volunteering 4 Life program links to the goals of the Erasmus + mobility program through which it aims to maximise the potential of the youth in an increasingly competitive labour market, typified by a lack of practical expertise and speculation emanating from global financial instability.

Via the aforementioned Erasmus + program, Volunteering 4 Life creates the opportunity for groups of young people aged 13-30 from different countries to meet and live together for up to 21 days – a project dubbed ‘mobility youth exchange’. Other organisations involved in the youth exchange include Battle IT (Estonia), Nordic Heights (Finland), Youth School Vilnius (Lithuania), H2o (Portugal), Atrendia (Spain) and Handicap Team (Sweden) amongst others.

During this time, joint programs centered around workshops, debates, simulations and other activities take place, with the aim of building competences and creating awareness around socially relevant topics.

Visit Volunteering 4 Life at Roskilde Festival (you will find them located in the camping area ‘P’) or check out their website for more information about their work.