Roskilde Festival: Orange is t

Roskilde Festival: Orange is the happiest colour

It is said that the Danes are the happiest people on earth – and I believe Roskilde Festival may have something to do with it…

Roskilde Festival: Orange is t
Roskilde festival 2014
Kasabian on the Orange Stage.

Never before have I been surrounded by so many smiling, blonde, blue-eyed, tanned and good-looking individuals. Luckily, this wasn’t some form of Aryan People’s Convention but rather, a rite of passage for many a Scandinavian teenager, in the form of Roskilde Festival.

I attended my first Roskilde on a sweltering July weekend this year. The largest music festival in Scandinavia and one of the biggest in Europe, it was created in 1971 by two high school students. It takes place 35km outside Copenhagen on the fields south of Roskilde, one of Denmark’s oldest cities.

The bands performing at Roskilde are traditionally a mix of well-known headliners, cutting-edge artists from contemporary genres and up-and-coming Scandinavian names.

Over the years, the festival has presented acts such as Arcade Fire, Beastie Boys, Björk , Black Sabbath , David Bowie, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Coldplay, The Cure , Daft Punk , Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters, Gorillaz , Iron Maiden , Jay -Z, Kraftwerk , Metallica , Muse, My Bloody Valentine, Nirvana, Prince, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine , Rammstein , Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rihanna, Slayer , Slipknot , Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, The Strokes , Tiësto, U2 , Kanye West, The White Stripes and Neil Young.

This year’s line-up included The Rolling Stones , Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Damon Albarn, Outkast, Haim, Interpol, Jack White, Rob Zombie and Stevie Wonder – but that was just the tip of the iceberg. With more than 100 acts performing across six stages over four days, there is really something to suit every taste. With several acts performing concurrently, the only problem is that it’s just impossible to see everything you want to!

P1000275 (Large)The main Orange Stage has been the symbol of Roskilde Festival since 1978. Its distinctive orange canopy was originally designed in the UK for The Rolling Stones’ summer tour in 1976 (the present canopy, however, is a new and larger version from 2001) so the Rolling Stones were no doubt delighted to be reunited with ‘their’ stage this year.

The headliners were of course a treat to see live, but discovering new acts is always a thrill.  I can recommend Mali’s The Ambassadors, Scotland’s Mogwai, USA’s Warpaint and Sweden’s Jenny Wilson, Tempel and I Break Horses. I am now busy catching up on the bands I didn’t get to see, online!

New Zealand’s Connan Mockasin was a big hit on the Pavilion stage and Australian metal band Mournful Congregation introduced me to a genre called funeral doom, which I never even knew existed.

Australian funeral doom band Mournful Congregation on the Gloria stage.
Australian funeral doom band Mournful Congregation on the Gloria stage.

The festival is run as a non-profit organisation for the development and support of music, culture and humanitarian causes and is made possible by 31,000 volunteers.

A previous review described Roskilde as ‘dirty, disciplined and Danish’ and I think this phrase captures the atmosphere well. Everything was exceptionally well-organised and everyone seemed chilled and content – those happy Danes! Although who could fail to be happy when the sun is shining? Despite the copious amounts of alcohol consumed on the premises, people were well-behaved and I didn’t see a single incident of violence. There was no pushing to get to the front, no impatient words – remarkable considering there were about 130,000 people sharing the festival space.

As far as the dirty part goes, despite an army of volunteers working around the clock to keep things tidy, at a festival this size, things are bound to get a bit messy! The toilets start to smell nasty and at the end of each day you find yourself covered in a layer of brown dust from traipsing all over the site.

But that’s the nature of any festival and if you’re not prepared to get a little dirty, you’d best stay at home!