Roskilde 2017: More than something for The Weeknd

That’s what you call a second act! (photo: Kayla Johnson)

That’s what you call a second act! (photo: Kayla Johnson)

original article written for The Copenhagen Post, available here
 
Canadian R&B act Abel Makkonen Tesfayese (aka The Weeknd) was always going to be one of Roskilde Festival’s highlights in a music line-up that many festival-goers contend is void of veritable headliners this year.
This notwithstanding, there was some confusion as what to expect from the show – would it be a masterclass in Tesfayese’s undeniable vocal prowess or would he wilt in the limelight?

Lukewarm start
Kicking things off later than expected, The Weeknd shook the partisan crowd to life with a performance of his flagship track, ‘Starboy’. A significant screen lag and palpable sound issues marred what was otherwise a befittingly bold opening. This was further diluted by the black and white screen projections against a dark, restless sky.  The lukewarm start dragged past the first few songs before a driven performance of ‘party monster’ changed the direction of the show.

Gone were the insipid black and white screens, duly replaced by rich colours and strong visuals. The sound still wasn’t quite right though and several punters questioned whether what we were hearing was playback or a tone maestro at his recognisable best – pushing his tenor range to the maximum with some mind-blowing falsettos.

Midway through and any doubts as to what we were hearing were consigned to mere memory compliments of an epic rendition of ‘Six Feet Under’ – another of the monumental tunes off Tesfayese’s 2016 album ‘Starboy’.

Cementing his popularity with the crowd, The Weeknd then rolled out a bold performance of  ‘Low Life’ (minus the grunts and barks of Atlanta rapper Future, who features heavily in the studio version).

Spellbinding magic
With the skies darkening and a crescent moon rising low over the trees around the Orange Stage, Tesfaye’s show peaked into top gear, as club grooves such as ‘Secrets’ and the iconic ‘Earned it’, off the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ soundtrack, worked a powerful, spellbinding magic on the indefatigable crowd.

A reminder of The Weeknd’s local popularity came towards the end as his popular party anthem ‘Can’t feel my face’ received unanimous backing from the crowd, who sang along for its entirety.

The Weekend came, saw and conquered Roskilde Festival 2017. If Tesfaye arrived as a Starboy, he left as a legend, carried by cheers for what was quite possibly the biggest crowd this reviewer has seen at the Orange Stage in his eight years at the event.

Roskilde Festival 2017 A-Z day one

Another year, another Roskilde Festival (my 8th one to be precise). Here are my shots from the first day of the event, along with a few general observations. #Rf17 seems to be a lot more formal but that doesn’t neccessarily mean it’s better organised. It’s early on but I have yet to figure this festival out (or I have grown old).

A- Authorities

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Rescue services are in full force, which is reassuring for us merrymakers

B – Beer bowling

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Beer bowling – a national sport at Roskilde, comme tojours.

C – Can collectors

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Can collectors from far and wide

D – Delights

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Delights – of the (charming) culinary sort – lots of em!

E – Epic Sax Guy

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We found him!

F – Foxes

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Where there’s foliage there’s foxes – this one was sat by the train tracks in Roskilde West

G – Gadgets

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Gadgets & gizmos galore – Fatboys and fidget spinners are killin’ it at Rf17

H – Happy times

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Keep em coming 😉

I – Illimatic fashion

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Rf17 is hip ville 2.0

J – Jams

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Traffic jams, music jams, people jams (like this one on the bridge over to Roskilde West)

K – Kicks

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Some stand out more than others

L – Loopey slogans

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You can thank Trump for them later

M – Mobile phones

IMG_1466There are mobiles galore and I am also guilty of reaching into my pocket for mine a bit too often

N – Nosh

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Nosh – lots of it, mostly organic

O – Old Gees

IMG_1515.JPGIt’s a festival for the young and old but young at heart

P – Police

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There is a heightened police presence this year. I saw police with M16 rifles ( a first), plain clothes police with labradors and police cars driving around

Q – Questions

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What are you looking at?

R – Rubbish!

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One (wo) man’s treasure, another (wo) man’s trash

S – Skate

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The skatepark is less flamboyant this year. Last year’s festival saw Red Bull host a range of engaging activities in my favourite corner of Roskilde West. This year, not much is happening there, though Game Denmark have taken ownership of most of the sporting activities in the rest of the area.

T – Tunnel

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The tunnel at Roskilde station – blissful at this moment in time but typically jam-packed

U – Urine

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Urine – urine everywhere (but there are more toilets and urinals around)

V – Vans – They are off the wall and über alles

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W – Woodstock

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Woodstock and Roskilde – not that many parallels but you will find the Woodstock Hummel bus parked in Roskilde West

X – X marks the spot

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We all love setting crosses by the names we’d like to see on stage

Y – YOLO

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You really do only live once at Roskilde. Cheesy? – it’s Y, give me a break!

Z – Zzz

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Beauty sleep – get lots of it at RF17!

See you out there for more action from the music days from Wednesday onwards. Which bands are on your hit list this year? Here’s a list of my favourites from last year. For more Roskilde Festival pictures, check out my 2015 photo roundup

Capital Fluxus at CPH Dox Awards Ceremony

Pics from Capital Fluxus’ performance at CPH Dox’s Awards Ceremony – held at Charlottenborg Palace, Copenhagen.

As Copenhagen Dox, the city’s largest documentary film festival made its return after a one and a half year hiatus, Capital Fluxus marked their musical versatility with a performance at the festival’s awards ceremony.

Who are Capital Fluxus?

“Capital Fluxus are well on their way to becoming one of Europe’s most interesting hip hop acts – and well, honestly, they already are.” “They respect the basics of hip hop and urban music, and additionally try to shake things up by tossing some actual art into the mix.”

Vice Magazine, Denmark – Read full review here.

For Bitchslap Magazine’s low-down on Capital Fluxus’ first major tune, read here

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And here’s a their latest video:

CAPITAL FLUXUS – NOL & SOL from Jacob Schill on Vimeo.

In Search of The Human Scale: Cities That Move at 5 km/h, instead of at 60 km/h

Original article published for The Danish Architecture Centre, available here.

September 22, 2016 /

By Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk

The history of global architecture is replete with examples of monumental constructions. As a civilisation, we often tend to be endeared by that which is mammoth, gargantuan and high-rise; we are a society driven by affection towards that which manifests itself on a grand scale. This is true of the Pyramids of Giza as it is for today’s vast, unending skyscraper skylines of Dubai, New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

However, whilst the architectural feats required to raise grand structures such as skyscrapers several hundred feet above ground warrant adulation, there are many who argue that there is an essential element that is often omitted from narratives of this sort.  In hisTED talk held at Copenhagen’s Black Diamond Library in November last year, Danish architect Jan Gehl discussed the need for pedestrian-driven cities that put people at the centre of the town planning narrative. The TED talk reflects some of the construction philosophies that have been at the heart of Jan Gehl’s work over the last forty years.

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Jan Gehl at TEDxKEA. TEDxKEA Credit: Daniela De Lorenzo 2015

The Human Scale

According to Gehl, one of the most important elements in the construction of habitats for humanity is what he calls, the human scale – the construction of structures and habitats with humans at the centre of the narrative. Now, whilst this may seem like a given, Gehl argues that modernist (post 1960) architecture and town planning has in fact, eliminated the human scale from the equation, in its bid to build for the modern man.

If we look at the cities before 1960, they were built in small instalments – typically around two building blocks- the street and the square.”/Jan Gehl

These buildings blocks were based on the movement of the feet in the case of the street and the eye in the case of the square.  In other words, the old cities were built for and took their departure in, the body. However, with the expansion of the world and the compatibility between mass production and modernism, the human, scale and in essence the way in which people moved on streets and within squares was forgotten.

For Gehl, what followed was a series of cities and construction projects that looked spectacular from the air but lacked essential functionality at the street level. Combined with the increasing role of the car in society, what followed was a prioritization of vehicle transport over people and pedestrians. Gehl had other plans for his city planning endeavours, however.

Strøget

It is needless to say that Gehl is most well known for his groundbreaking work on Copenhagen’s pedestrian street, Strøget. At 1.1 km in length, this is Europe’s second longest pedestrian streets after Bordeaux’s Rue Sainte-Catherine and a major tourist attraction. Strøget’s development was also a cornerstone for Copenhagen’s prioritization of bike and pedestrian traffic. However, whilst the street is revered today, this wasn’t always the case. Rioting motorists and death threats to the mayor of Copenhagen in 1962, Alfred Wassard, at the time the idea of a pedestrian-free street was conceived, threatened to derail the project entirely.

 

None of the cities had any knowledge about how their cities were being used by people but they knew everything about how the traffic used the city…. This gave a fantastic imbalance”

/Jan Gehl, TEDxKEA

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Copenhagen’s pedestrian street in the early 1960´s. Credit: Københavns Stadsarkiv 

Gehl was responsible for making recommendations to the mayor at the time, and started studying Strøget in 1962. Upon his recommendations, the street was pedestrianized the very same year on a trial basis. In 1964, this was made permanent. Removing car traffic from this area of the city was a priority in Gehl’s planning narrative at the time. However, Gehl’s subsequent policies and practicies have also had other focus areas embedded within their narratives (such as encouraging the use of bikes)

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Copenhagen’s pedestrian street, Strøget, today. Credit: Visit Denmark 2015

Gehl’s Influence Globally

Strøget founded the basis of Copenhagen’s pedestrian-friendly city planning policies, as we know them today. However, Gehl’s influence on humanistic planning also extends to the planning policies of other nations.

For instance, in 2007, Gehl was influential in re-mapping New York’s streets in a more pedestrian-friendly manner. Through his advice to the department of transportation, numerous city planning policies in the area have been made in in the interest of pedestrian-friendly urban architecture. Similarly, Gehl’s work has also been influential in Australia and New Zealand, where he has prepared public life studies for the city centres of Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hobart.

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Times Square, pedestrian plaza pre Gehl intervention. Credit: Gehl Architechts, 2010 

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Times Square, pedestrian plaza postGehl intervention. Credit Gehl Architechts, 2013
Today, the town planning policies of numerous cities the world over are increasingly concerned with placing pedestrians at the centre of the architectural narrative. This is nothing new in the history of construction, as pre 60´s architectural traditions dictate, so essentially, what is needed, according to Gehl, is a return to some of the architectural paradigms that defined the way we built cities in the past.  This, he argues, creates intimacy and interaction; it creates a human scale that places people at the epicentre of the city and the life around it.

 

‘There’s good money to be made here’

Original article written for The Local Denmark, available here

With over one million litres of beer consumed at your average Roskilde Festival, the mess from empty cans and bottles left behind is an issue that draws attention every year. Yet the revenue that can be generated by collecting and recycling the receptacles is significant, thanks to the Danish deposit system.
That promise of money literally being tossed on the ground draws hundreds of can collectors – many from Africa and the Roma community – to the festival each year. It’s estimated that a single collector can make up to 60,000 kroner in deposit money over the course of the full eight days.
Collectors can make good money, but they have to navigate an unregulated environment. Photo: Bobby Anwar
Collectors can make good money, but they have to navigate an unregulated environment. Photo: Bobby Anwar
Yet the life of a can collector, whilst well-paid and tax free, is anything but comfortable. Amongst the maddening crowds and mosh pit frenzies they bend, laden with plastic bags filled with empty soda and beer containers. Theirs is a life amongst an underclass in an world whose rules are far from fairly regulated.
Invariably, their work is not without racist abuse from time to time. Yet despite the grumblings of some festival guests, these collectors keep the Roskilde grounds and their environs far cleaner than they otherwise would be.
Like many a festival-goer, I will admit that it can be annoying to have bags of dripping beer spilled on one’s clothes whilst enjoying a good show or relaxing on the camping grounds. And the pressure of having a can collector waiting anxiously for one to down their beverage does create some frustration. All the same, the mess from all the merrymaking needs to be cleaned by someone at some point.
Meet Peter from Nigeria
In an attempt to understand the world of can collection, I spent some time with Peter, a bottle collector from Nigeria, who collected cans at Roskilde for the first time this year. I followed him around the camping grounds for a short while, as he introduced me to his working routine and shared some of his thoughts on the nature of his work.
Peter from Nigeria spends up to 15 hours a day collecting cans and bottles. Photo: Allan Kortbæk
Peter from Nigeria spends up to fifteen hours a day collecting cans. “Some festival guests are aggressive,” he says. Photo: Allan Kortbæk 
“The festival is amazing but at the same time I’m working a lot, sometimes up to fifteen hours a day,” he said. “There’s good money to be made here but you have to work a lot for it.”
“What is the most difficult part of your job?”
“Sometimes when you approach people – I can’t call them clients because we’re not selling, you know –  some are aggressive. This is normal, somehow we are inferior to them. We have to be strong so we don’t feel the impact of this.”
“There is also the fact that we have to return a maximum of 50 pieces per empty sack. When you’re out collecting, you don’t have time to think about this so you have to sort thing out a lot afterwards.”
I shadow Peter for a short while as he makes his rounds in the Roskilde Festival West camping area. On this brief journey, we manage to gather a few isolated cans and the odd bottle. The camping area is at its quietest, so this is fairly straightforward and without trouble. Peter remarks that this is not always the case, however, stating that it is obviously more difficult to collect cans when the party is in full swing.
The bottle and can collectors work all areas of the festival, from the campgrounds to the areas right in front of the stages. Photo: Bobby Anwar
The collectors work all areas of the festival, from the campgrounds to the areas right in front of the stages. Photo: Bobby Anwar
Collectors get their own VIP lounge
So the life of a can collector, at least from Peter’s perspective, is not without its challenges, even though, as he contends, there is good money to be made.
This year, Roskilde attempted to mitigate some of the challenges posed by the can collection process. I took a look at one of them, the VIP can collector lounge in the Art Zone. A product of the well-known artistic group Superflex, the Flagship Shelters/Bottle Collectors VIP project features several shelters made on designs based on the flagship stores of major fashion brands such as Prada and Miu Miu. The shelters are made from cheaper materials and downscaled from the original extravagant designs, in an aim to create a discourse on matters of consumption, social injustice and resource prioritization. The area is well staffed and frequented by many a bottle collector though the main lounge area does have more tired festival-goers than bottle collectors lying around.
 
Photo: Bobby Anwar
Photo: Bobby Anwar
The bottle collectors were given their own VIP lounge in the Art Zone, which doubled as an art installation at night. Photos: Allan Kortbæk
The bottle collectors were given their own VIP lounge in the Art Zone, which doubled as an art installation at night. Photos: Allan Kortbæk
On the surface, some of the issues of can collection are indeed raised by this installation. However, most of the festival-goers I met here seemed comfortably unaware of what it was and the palpable gap between can collectors and Roskilde festival’s guests was still painfully apparent.
This is not to say that the efforts of the festival should not be credited. Compared to previous years, Roskilde has indeed made significant attempts to address the issue of can collection, for example by ensuring that refund points are well staffed and that the process is more regulated.  The issue is indeed in focus, but can more be done to address the fundamental problem areas?
Throughout the eight-day party, the guests and the collectors complete a symbiosis as can after can is opened, drank, disposed of, collected and returned.
While Roskilde’s 100,000-plus crowd kept the good times rolling, can collectors like Peter continued to earn their keep beneath their dancing feet.
Collectors can earn as much as 60,000 kroner over the course of the festival. Photo: Allan Kortbæk
Collectors can earn as much as 60,000 kroner over the course of the festival. Photo: Allan Kortbæk

 

The best concerts of Roskilde Festival 2016

Befitting the diversity of the line-up, there are precious few overlaps in our three writers’ picks for the best concerts at this year’s Roskilde Festival. Performances from all six stages and on all four of the festival’s main musical days made the cut.
From legendary acts to Colombian experimental rock and UK grime – and just about everything in between – here are our selections for the best performances.
Justin Cremer’s top five picks
1. Neil Young + Promise of the Real (Orange, Friday)
Neil Young played a three-hour set on Orange. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix
Neil Young played a three-hour set on Orange. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix
From the opening keys of ‘After the Gold Rush’ through the 30-minute extended jam encore performance of ‘Love and Only Love’, Neil Young put on a commanding, thunderous performance. Mixing old favourites like ‘Alabama’, ‘Words’ and ‘Unknown Legend’ with newer tracks like ‘Mother Earth’, Young and his excellent backing band Promise of the Real put on a show that was quite possibly the best I’ve witnessed on the legendary Orange stage.
2. Kvelertak (Avalon, Thursday)
Kvelertak played a chaotic, cathartic late night set at Avalon. Photo: Justin Cremer
Kvelertak played a chaotic, cathartic late night set at Avalon. Photo: Justin Cremer
There were an estimated 7,000 Norwegians at this year’s festival and at times during this Stavanger band’s wild and raucous late night set, it felt like I was surrounded by all of them. This was without a doubt the highest energy interaction between band and audience that I had the pleasure of being a part of.
3. Savages (Avalon, Thursday)
A terrible photo of a great show by Savages. Photo: Justin Cremer
A terrible photo of a great show by Savages. Photo: Justin Cremer
When I saw Savages play the Pavillion stage in 2013, it was one of that year’s most pleasant surprises. Three years later and on the larger Avalon stage, the London-based quartet blew me away again with their mix of attitude, sexiness and intensity.
4. Sleep (Avalon, Wednesday)
The midnight set from doom pioneers Sleep was near the top of my list going into Roskilde, and it certainly did not disappoint. This was an absolutely hypnotizing set that provided the perfect ending to the festival’s opening night.
5. Gojira (Arena, Saturday)
Gojira kept the festival's final day going strong. Photo: Justin Cremer
Gojira kept the festival’s final day going strong. Photo: Justin Cremer
I had heard good things about this French prog/technical metal band’s live performances for years and now I know why. Even though the band apologized several times for being a bit “rusty”, their Saturday evening set was a blistering display of tight musicianship and crunching grooves. The band might not have felt like they had delivered their best, but for me Gojira lived up to the hype.
Chris Manion’s top five picks:
1. Sleep (Avalon, Wednesday)
Sleep at Apollo. Photo: Justin Cremer
Sleep played behind a wall of fog and lights at Apollo. Photo: Justin Cremer
I sceptically joined a group to see the band Sleep with no prior knowledge of them or ‘stoner doom metal’. As soon as we were about 50 metres from the show, I could sense perfect harmony between the music and the audience. It was this symbiotic relationship that some artists simply failed to capture in the same enigmatic style. The music was expressing a shared feeling, a collectiveness, and that is what Roskilde Festival is essentially about, being together for the love of music.
2. Neil Young + Promise of the Real (Orange, Friday)
One legend meets another: Neil Young on Orange. Photo: Justin Cremer
One legend meets another: Neil Young on Orange. Photo: Justin Cremer
The 70-year-old Canadian legend delivered a breathtakingly energetic performance. The show progressed from heartfelt renderings of classics such as ‘Heart of Gold’ to a full throttle rock’n’roll experience like no other.
3. MØ (Orange, Saturday)
Danish superstar MØ on Orange. Photo: Sara Gangsted/Scanpix
Danish superstar MØ on Orange. Photo: Sara Gangsted/Scanpix
The Danish international star came to the Orange stage on the final evening of Roskilde 2016. There were many festival-goers looking defeated and deflated, a tough crowd to bring alive. As soon as MØ came to the stage, it all changed. She brought a passion and energy that could not be topped by many other artists in the world.
4. Courtney Barnett (Avalon, Thursday)
Courtney Barnett at Avalon. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
Courtney Barnett at Avalon. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
A first-time Roskilde Festival experience for the young Australian singer-songwriter and she did not disappoint. She gave festival-goers a powerfully sincere performance. Many times throughout the show, you could see that this was still a 28-year-old playing songs that openly confess her deepest fears and regrets. That humility gave the performance a beautifully personal touch.
5. Mac DeMarco (Arena, Friday)
Mac DeMarco at Arena. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
Mac DeMarco at Arena. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
The cheeky Canadian up-and-coming star strutted on the stage with unabashed confidence, and then looked at the audience like a naughty schoolboy and gave his famous gap toothed smile. From then on, it was a fun, energetic and charismatic performance.
Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk’s top five picks
1. House of Pain (Orange, Thursday)
Old school rappers House of Pain showed that they still have the skills. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix
Old school rappers House of Pain showed that they still have the skills. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix 
The guys that brought us the legendary ’Jump Around’ tune rocked the Orange stage to its core during their Thursday afternoon performance. Who would have thought that a hip-hop mainstay such as this would play Johnny Cash’s ’Walk The Line’ in their set?  Schoolboy Q and Young Thug should take notes from these OGs.
2. Tame Impala (Arena, Friday)
Tame Impala put on one hell of a party on Friday night. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix
Tame Impala put on one hell of a party on Friday night. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix
Australians Tame Impala are a class act and have grown in presence and stature since their previous appearance at Roskilde a few years ago. Backing their performance with an impeccable light show and a ton of confetti, they were simply insurmountable on the Arena stage.
3. Los Pirañas (Gloria, Saturday)
Los Pirañas gave a commanding performance on the intimate Gloria stage. Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
Los Pirañas gave a commanding performance on the intimate Gloria stage. Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk 
Colombia’s Los Pirañas churned out an endearing stream of psychedelic rock fused with South American influences that blew the roof off the intimate Gloria stage. Hats off to the stage crew for outfitting the stage with an epic light show to match an assured performance.
4. Tenacious D (Orange, Thursday)
Tenacious D gave a weird but wonderful post-midnight show on Orange. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix
Tenacious D gave a weird but wonderful post-midnight show on Orange. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Scanpix  
Honestly, I’m not a Jack Black fan and even after his momentous performance at Orange, I still have my doubts about the man’s sanity. Credit is due to him, however, for providing a fun and at times mesmerising show amidst the rain. Where others would have stumbled, Tenacious D were sure-footed, weird and even wonderful.
5. Elf Kid (Apollo, Saturday)
Elf Kid's early afternoon set helped wake up the Apollo crowd. Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
Elf Kid’s early afternoon set helped wake up the Apollo crowd. Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
Grime’s renaissance was reflected in Roskilde’s bookings this year. Of those on the billing, South London’s Elf Kid was, for me, the most impressive of the lot. Backed by his DJ, the kid spat out one lyric after another before getting bare-chested in the early Saturday afternoon chill, encouraging everyone to banish their hangovers to mere memory.

From Russia with love: Snowden addresses Roskilde

Broadcast live from Moscow, Snowden seemed to be in good spirits for a man who has spent the last few years in exile.
Roskilde Festival announced Snowden’s address earlier this month, billing it as a perfect fit for this year’s theme of human rights. Critics have since hailed the move as something that has added depth to this year’s festival by creating a discourse around the subject of privacy.
Formally dressed and courteous in his demeanour, Snowden’s address was hinged on answering several questions pitched by members of the Roskilde Festival public and moderated by the performance art group The Yes Men.
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These queries had been raised in relation to several controversial privacy statements that had been deliberately placed around the festival with the intention of promoting the event.
The former CIA employee focused on the issue of privacy, arguing “it is not something to hide but something to protect,” and billing it as “the foundation of all other rights.” In his opening statements, Snowden also questioned governments’ Machiavellian “the ends justifies the means rhetoric,” equating it to the policies of Nazi Germany.
Snowden then went on to address questions on the power dynamics associated with the data gathering policies of the United States, which by and large can extract the private data of any individual without legal consent and simply by “knocking on the doors of Google and Facebook.”
Driving his point home, Snowden questioned the legitimacy of such privacy-violating policies, citing that whilst they have run for a decade, “they have yet to uncover any unknown terrorists. “
As a still and uncomfortable silence fell upon the festival grounds at Roskilde West, Snowden then used the example of the FBI’s spying on Martin Luther King Jr when he was labelled a threat to the political stability of the US back in the 1960’s.
The mood lightened considerably towards the end of the proceedings, as Snowden veered towards discussing solutions to some of the privacy issues that he had addressed previously. He jubilantly stated that it did not matter what one did, as long as one did something, before responding with a refreshing dose of humour to questions from a child in the crowd regarding the length of his jail sentence if convicted of the charges that the US government have filed against him.
The 45-minute address ended in a rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the partisan crowd in honour of the whistleblower’s 33rd birthday last week, followed by a chorus of “pardon Snowden.”

The Local’s not-quite-live Roskilde 2016 blog

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Roskilde Festival spokeswoman Christina Bilde previously stated that Snowden was a perfect fit for this year’s theme on human rights.
“More than anyone else, Edward Snowden has made us aware just how much human rights are challenged. This goes for a small country like Denmark as well where surveillance both in public and on social media challenges the right to privacy; where refugees make us question the right to free mobility; where the right to freedom of speech is debated heavily,” Bilde said.
“His thoughts and experiences will undoubtedly inspire reflection amongst anyone who cares to listen at the festival,” she added.
Earlier this week, Snowden lost a legal battle in neighbouring Norway when the Oslo District Court said it would not handle a lawsuit he filed in April as a way of seeking a guarantee that he will not be extradited if he visits the Norwegian capital to accept an award later this year
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Finding ‘the Orange Feeling’ in Roskilde’s campgrounds

Original article written for The Local Denmark, available here.

Finding 'the Orange Feeling' in Roskilde's campgrounds

The camping grounds provide a good mix of planned as well and spontaneous parties. Photo: Bobby Anwar
In Denmark, Roskilde Festival is seen as both a rite of passage and an annual monumental occasion that attracts young and old in great numbers year after year. But it’s far from just music that draws the crowds.
Camping at Roskilde is one the festival’s central elements – revered, loved, hated and embraced by countless festival-goers. By Monday, Roskilde had already drawn over 50,000 eager campers to its grounds, with a further 70,000 attendees expected over the remaining days, as things kicks into full gear from Wednesday and onwards.
Some of the hardcore campers waited in line for the gates to open since as early as last Tuesday, armed to the teeth with stockpiles of alcohol, camping gear and festival paraphernalia. For early birds of this sort, getting a good camping spot is every bit as important as the overall concert experience. In fact, some of Roskilde’s most memorial parties take place during the warm-up days, which provide a good mix of planned as well and spontaneous parties.
The camp grounds are truly a cocktail of differing emotions. One can experience everything from rowdy teen neighbours with thunderous sound systems that belch out music all night long, to the well-known whiff of portable festival toilets. Yet camps are also a base for all of the festivals guests – sites of endless revelry, a few hours of sleep, masses of mackerel cans and unforgettable experiences.
What is it like to camp at Roskilde?
The Local caught up with some of the festival guests and took a walk around the camping areas to see what it is like to camp at Roskilde festival 2016.
British Artist Daniel Van Der Noon and Kenyan-born musician Kevin Gichuhi Jensen.
Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
British Artist Daniel Van Der Noon and Kenyan-born musician Kevin Gichuhi Jensen. 
Daniel, Roskilde West: “We’re obviously loving this. Brexit sucks, but we’re here to party.”
Harry Simpson
Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
British/Kenyan student, Harry Simpson, Roskilde West,
“This is my fourth Roskilde Festival and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m camping in the workers’ area for a change and it’s very chilled there!”
Robin Houselstein
Photo: Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk
French rapper and student, Robin Houselstein, Roskilde East.
“It’s my first time here and the scale of it all is mind-blowing. I’m camping with a bunch of friends from Roskilde University in camping area P and we’re having a blast!”

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Popular camping areas at Roskilde
Camping areas at Roskilde differ in size, scale and nature, depending on where on the map one camps. Some of the most popular areas include:
Roskilde West: Camping Areas C and E
Home to the skate park, basketball courts, beach volleyball courts and beach soccer pitches, West contains some of the largest portable sound systems at the festival. It also contains the warm up music scenes Rising and Street City so one’s eardrums are on a 24-hour shift.
In an effort to shine West up this year, Roskilde Festival has created the Clean Out Loud initiative, which gave residents the chance to book an early camping spot in return for a commitment to leaving the area clean at the end of the festival. The goal this year, according to Roskilde Festival is “to leave the entire section E area clean.”
Mid-Roskilde: Camping Areas G, H and L
Located close to the entrance of the main festival area, this camping section tends to be rather uninspiring and is usually occupied by some of the festival’s younger contingent. Camping areas here are a stone-throw away from the ‘Countdown City’ stage.
Roskilde East:  Camping Areas J, K and P
Roskilde East is also popular amongst younger festival-goers and on sunny days, it is the place to be if one fancies a dip in the swimming lake or a relaxing nap along its beach. Located around a small lake where one can fish, J is a silent area where sound systems are prohibited and an emphasis is placed on keeping things clean.

 

New Danish festival makes solid first impression

Original article written for The Local Denmark, available here.

Friday, 12pm, Odense Station
The regional train bound for Svendborg was crammed with festival-goers and merrymakers keen on making Heartland’s first show of the day. This was no ordinary festival crowd though. By contrast to Roskilde’s young pilgrims and their heavily-laden beer wagons, this was a group of slightly older culture patrons. Casually clad, sporting smart rucksacks and minor camping gear, Heartland’s festival contingent made their way through the scenic fields of Funen, docking at the outpost of Kværndrup, from which frequent shuttle buses helped them complete the rest of the journey.

Photo: Allan Kortbæk

Arrival

The grounds around Egeskov Castle are something out of a mediaeval fairytale. I follow the masses through long, wooded passages, a sea of green around me. Entry to the festival is smooth and on my right, a few metres from the gate, friendly volunteers are on hand to help me store my baggage. The castle greets you with verve as one saunters through the Renaissance garden, its shimmering moat a tribute to a bygone age.

Photo: Allan Kortbæk
A festival of a different sort
Keen on getting to know my surroundings, I explore the grounds armed with my festival app map, a subtle, effective replacement to the thick stacks of pamphlets, brochures and paperwork that usually accompany the festival experience.  It is clear from the start that the festival organisers have taken the time to really think things through.
The grounds are clean and kept, albeit inviting and conducive to interaction. Stimulating this, Bang and Olufsen has wired an old tree by the castle moat with a series of hanging headphones broadcasting their popular #soundmatters podcast. And where better to bring the element of sound into focus? Heartland’s acoustics were some of the best I have experienced at any festival.
Further down from the tree, on the grassy shore by the moat, yoga sessions create a relaxed atmosphere that breathes tranquillity into the fresh countryside air.

Photo: Allan Kortbæk
Music 
My weekend schedule limited my Heartland experience to a mere day. Folk aficionados the Pierce Brothers kick things into action at one of the two music stages, Highland. Their laid-back, country-infused musicality injects a homely, Mumford and Sons-esque sensibility straight from Melbourne into the Heartland universe.  Kudos to the twin brothers for their experimentation with a didgeridoo during their performance.

Photo: Allan Kortbæk
An hour later, at the Lowland Scene, Denmark’s equivalent of Lana Del Rey, Kwamie Liv, seduces an inquisitive, sitting audience, with a coaxing voice that eases the afternoon into gear. Other highlights of the day include, England’s singer-songwriter guru, Michael Kiwanuka, American folk sensation Sun Kill Moon and record producer Mark Ronson, who provided an evening party of epic proportions.
Photo: Allan Kortbæk
Art 
The artistic element was incorporated into virtually every aspect of Heartland Festival. From elaborately decorated trees to Brian Eno’s latest work, ‘The Ship’ installation, art is very much a driver at the throbbing heart of this festival. Lying on a bean bag in a dimly-lit castle room amidst knight armour suits, mediaeval paintings and musky tapestry with the dreamy, evanescent soundscape of Eno’s work reverberating off the thick walls, there were moments of elation, peace and contemplation that were well and truly unique.
Photo: Allan Kortbæk
Talks
Heartland is an experience with far more depth and breadth than the usual modern festival experience.  The beacon of performance art, Marina Abramovic and Danish artist Tal R, provided the best of the Heartland Talks, with an epic one-hour performance that saw them switch roles with moderator Tine Colstrup, who looked dumbstruck for the better part of the show. Any experience that gets the audience to stand up and scream at the top of their lungs for several minutes is surely something special. Other talks of the day included an exploration of evil by Norwegian journalist and writer Åsne Seierstad (known for her chilling book on Anders Breivik, ‘One of us’) and documentary filmmaker Janus Metz (director of the war documentary, Armadillo).
Food
Complementing the music, art and talk experiences, food was another central element of the Heartland Experience. On the downside, all external food and beverage was prohibited and the prices at the various food stalls were definitely on the pricey side. However, the culturally-astute target group that the festival targeted seemed prepared to pay more for the variety and quality of the culinary experience at Heartland, which included a wide range of organic products.

Photo: Allan Kortbæk
Overall verdict 
There is no doubt that Heartland Festival was a success at its very first attempt. A small-scale festival with focus on other elements in addition to a diverse, international music lineup, Heartland was both well managed and well thought-through.
With that said, the target group was definitely not your average festival crowd. The smash and grab, cathartic aspects of typical Danish summer festivals were replaced by contemplative experiences that created depth and room for inner reflections. To this end, the clean and kept nature of this festival made it accessible for all age groups, a stark contrast to the post-Roskilde camp site apocalypse that decorates Zealand’s countryside long after the merrymaking and mosh pits have been banished to mere memory.
Equally, Heartland provided concerts not too indifferent to the likes of Stella Polaris, somewhat void of dancing at times but replete with opportunities to relax. Some would say this is boring – my verdict is that it is in keeping with the qualities of the tranquil location. Can we expect more from Heartland Festival next year? Absolutely.

 

Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk (allanm46@gmail.com)

 

 

New Danish festival: Music, art and talks in castle setting

The Heartland Festival is hoping to carve out a niche in the busy festival month of June by combining a short but unique music line-up with world-renowned artists, high-level talks and a focus on Danish cuisine.
And the whole thing will be done in the fairytale setting of the well-known tourist beacon Egeskov Castle.
“Our ambition with Heartland is to challenge exciting perception of what a festival experience can be by offering playful formats, multiple art scenes, instant fun and long-lasting substance. With a strong line-up of artists, a beautiful renaissance castle and new ways of experiencing music, arts, literature and food, I cannot wait to present the new Heartland Festival to the world,” festival director Ulrik Ørum-Petersen said.
Immersive experiences 
Unlike the majority of festivals on the calendar, Heartland guns for a more holistic festival experience that involves immersion in the central elements of music, art, food and conversations.
To this end, some of the names on the music billing include Mark Ronson, The Flaming Lips, Michael Kiwanuka, Mikael Simpson, Kvamie Liv and Sun Kil Moon.
Talks from Brian Eno, performance artist Marina Abramovic and Danish ‘starchitect’ Bjarke Ingels will also take place during the two-day event.
On the food front, Heartland have planned a culinary programme that is designed to stand out from other festivals, featuring, amongst others, top chefs such as Per Hallundbaek.
Danish focus with international roots
With a predicted attendance of 6,000, Heartland is not an event targeting the average festival-goer, aiming instead for a more culturally aware audience.
“Heartland Festival is an entirely new festival approach, that does not resemble any of the other festivals that we know in Denmark, but that has had success in other countries such as England and Holland,” Ørum Petersen said.
Practicalities
When: Friday, June 10th – Saturday, June 11th
Where: Egeskov Castle, Kværndrup, Southern Funen
Price: 955 kroner for both days, 655 kroner for one
Accommodation: Guests can camp in their own tent or choose a pre-pitched option. Local hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday homes are also available (at a separate cost).
Key Names: Mark Ronson, Michael Kiwanuka, Blaue Blume, The Flaming Lips, Mikael Simpson, Anne Linnet, Whomadewho, Brian Eno, Bjarke Ingels, Marina Abramovic.
Transport: Trains to Kværndrup Station run from Odense’s central station. Free shuttle buses to and from Kværndrup.
More information is available on the festival’s website.