MOKB@Roskilde : Day 3 : A Long Day’s Journey

The theme of 2013 Roskilde Festival is Music Changes Us, but I might suggest a more apt theme, Drink Water, Make Water, given the attention paid to those two pursuits. More about that later.

Our adventure starts on day 3 of the festival. Day 3!? Yeah, well, things happen and it seems that MOKB is not immune to the temptations of Germany. Berlin in particular. So we missed Day 1 and Day 2 of the festival. But missing Rhianna for a chance to hang out in Berlin an extra day was a decent tradeoff.

After a short train ride from Copenhagen to the historic town of Roskilde, we boarded a festival transport train. We also had the option of taking a transport bus, but really, given the choice, the train is always better, particularly when one has the option of a “quiet car.” No sense burning out the old ears on inane cell phone conversations and whooping before I even get to the festival. Regardless of your choice, the transportation infrastructure was first rate, especially when one considers that beer could be freely consumed regardless of whether you opted for road or rails.

That commute was followed by, for me at least, the low point of the festival: a delightful two-and-a-half hour wait in the blazing sun to get into the festival grounds – even though we already had tickets. Read that again. This festival faux pas could be traced directly to the fact that their were no clear lines and three, count’em, three frazzled Danes taking tickets. Bad, bad plan, only slightly mitigated by the fact that I aspired to befriend every Dane with a cooler in tow. (Note to would-be Roskilde patrons: BYOB).

A quick note about the festival’s backstage area. It was a cash- and credit-free zone. To partake in food and/or beer, residents created an online bank account that was interfaced with a wristband containing a computer chip. Scan your wrist, get a beer. Scan it again and get Thai noodles. Very slick, even if a little dangerous for folks who experience difficulty in monitoring and limiting their consumption.

Once our bellies were full and livers reawakened, we packed a kitbag and waded into the actual festival grounds. Calling the area that made up Roskilde 2013 “grounds” hardly does it justice. The festival takes up roughly the same amount of real estate as a rural county in Indiana; at least 1600 square km (sorry, I don’t know how many miles that is). It’s big enough to include a lake for swimming and fishing. If it was in America (which it never could be) it would have a mayor and a meth problem. The sheer number of tents alone made it look like military bivouac. In addition, this plot of terra firma offered festivalgoers all of the comforts of home including a post office, a pharmacy and an H&M, because you never know when you’re going to have the need for a cute, poorly-made top.

Sadly, I never could get an exact number of tickets sold for Roskilde 2013, but safe to say that there were homo sapiens as far as the eye could see. On Day 3, the attendance was at least 100,000 people (sorry, I have no idea how many Americans that is) And not just your usual festival types. Sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads, I saw them all. I saw large families and lone wolves. I saw young and old, including one gaggle of elderly matrons who looked as if their casino bus was hijacked. If you didn’t know Metallica was playing, you’d swear you were at an ice cream social in the midst of the 19th century fin de siècle.

And what do all of these demographics have in common? They all deal in water, both input and output. Of course, beer contains a fair amount of water, but a better source of water is, well, water. And it was everywhere. And rather than rape festivalgoers for precious bottles of the stuff, many of the volunteers (all 32,000 of them) were tasked with handing out H20 pro bono. Seems like every 10 meters you ran into another orange-vested do-gooder foisting a cup of it on you, and they only got more aggressive once you made it to one of the performance stages. And even more aggressive in the pits.

Of course, when you’re drinking all this water (and its cousin, beer), what goes in, must come out. I’m sure everyone has festival horror stories about waiting in line for a filthy biffy only to regret entering that chamber of horrors. Not surprisingly, that (and laziness) is why people (boys and girls) piss outside. Anticipating this, the Roskilde 2013’s big cheeses employed two ingenious strategies to alleviate the hothouse outhouse horror.

The first, I came to affectionately refer to as “the time machine.” As you can see, this temporary toilet allows four gentlemen to simultaneously fulfill their need for release in the fresh air, while preventing them from missing anything. Your second option was the P-Tree, an unobtrusive device that encourages the age-old tradition of pissing on our friends, the trees. Hang a couple of these orange Lomax-infuriators and you literally have a whiz-friendly forest.

And did I mention there was music at this thing?

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