MOKB@Roskilde : Day 3 (cont.) : The Hills are Alive…

Once the initial festival shock to the system passed, we were ready to get down to the order of the day: taking in some live music. Roskilde 2013 boosted at least five performance stages, and while other festivals boost genre-specific stages, the Roskilde promoters seem to derive sadistic pleasure from juxtaposing a jarring variety of acts on any given stage. But I’ll get back to that.

Before I get too deep into music, I want to talk about litter. I admit it, I am under the impression that everything is better in Europe. The people are healthier, the architecture more inspired, the beer stronger and the festivals more civilized. I fully expected the festival grounds to be littered with recycling receptacles and trash cans, but instead, I found it to be littered with, well, litter. Yes folks, the Danes can be just as lazy and slovenly as we Americans, tossing trash with little regard for either the environment or the volunteer army who will be working until September(!) to clean up this week long music experience. 2013 and MOKB is getting all Mythbusters on your ass.

Our first stop was a hip-hop barnstorming show that included Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, Danny Brown and Flatbush Zombies. Always interesting to see how receptive foreign audiences are to American rappers, but the Danes were down with it, or at least as down as one can get at 3 in the afternoon in supernova-level sun.

Filled with flow, we made our way to the main stage (which was purchased at a U2 garage sale) for Kris Kristofferson’s set. Despite (or perhaps due to) his advanced age, Kristofferson remains a riveting performer, doling out wisdom and wit in 3-minute nuggets like so many Tic-Tacs. The voice was a little rough in places, but the setlist was all killer-no filler, including Billy Dee, Casey’s Last Ride, The Pilgrim (Hang On Hopper) and, of course, Me and Bobby McGee.

A word about Rosklide’s main stage. After a well-publicized incident a dozen years back, the festival planners have gone out of their way to make Roskilde as safe as Let’s Rock! Elmo. Nowhere is this more apparent than how the pits are managed on the main stage. For starters, there are two pits, each gated and the population of which are both closely governed. Pit-fanatics are required to queue in roped-off areas clearly labelled for each band, and at the designated time are allowed to orderly file into each pit. Once the primary pit is “full,” the secondary pit is opened. Once both pits are full, a large red stoplight is displayed, letting fans know to not even bother. Once the show ends, the pits are completely emptied and cleaned before fans of the next band are allowed to enter, thereby keeping people from attempting to monopolize the best positions all day. And guess what? It works.

Following Kristofferson was The National, whose new release, Trouble Will Find Me, hasn’t been out of my rotation since its release. This was my first time seeing The National, and I was a little concerned about seeing the gloom-rockers on a huge, sun-filled stage in heat typically reserved for a kiln. Well, I’m happy to say that they delivered big time. Their lineup, bolstered by a trombonist and a trumpeter, mined the most precious jewels from Trouble Will Find Me, High Violet and Boxer. Live, these guys rocked a lot harder than I ever would’ve believed, bathing their numbers in a sheen of feedback and random noise. Frontman Matt Berninger has to rank as one of the most volatile performers on the circuit today, exorcising his demons with some good old-fashioned primal scream therapy. Can’t wait to see them inside and in the dark later this summer on their US tour.

After The National’s powerhouse performance, we made our way across the festival grounds to check out Norwegian scuzz rockers, Kvelertak. Previous to this show, all I knew about this sextet was that Dave Grohl was a fan and actually asked them to open several shows on the last Foo Fighters tour. Dave Grohl rarely steers me wrong, and this was no exception. Kvelertak tore it up with a tasty brew that was too fast for stoners, too chaotic for sticklers and too heavy for God. Check these guys out starting with their newest release, Meir.

We were still toweling off the sweat when we made it back to the main stage to get into position for Metallica. Now, when the original Roskilde lineup was released, Metallica was nowhere to be found on it. Then, a few weeks prior to the festival, the announcement was made, putting The National in a support slot and setting off a ticket rush that registered at least a 4.2 on the seismic scale. (And if you’re keeping track, the main stage lineup for the day was Kristofferson, The National and Metallica, and it’s very possible that I am one of six people at the festival who enjoyed all three.)

What can one really say about Metallica that hasn’t already been put on one of their ubiquitous T-shirts? Loud? Yes. Fast? Yes. Heavy? Hells yes! The band has reportedly been working on a new record, and they took full advantage of this diversion, turning in a loose, almost playful set of relatively deep tracks that sent the Danes into a tizzy. James Hetfield looked healthy and individual performances were all first rate, but the night belonged to drummer Lars Ulrich. The Roskilde faithful went nuts each time Ulrich, a Dane, appeared on the video screens and each of his drum workouts served to work the assembled masses into an even frothier frenzy. How popular is Lars Ulrich in his homeland? Let’s just say if Metallica decides to call it a day after their next long-player, Helle Thorning-Schmidt might find herself on the dole.

And then we tapped out. Tired, sunburned and deaf, there was absolutely no chance I was going to make it to Chelsea Light Moving (sorry Thurston) or Sigur Rós. Ears still ringing and covered in dust, we trudged back to the train station and fought our way onboard for a return trip that was significantly quieter than the previous voyage.

But there’s always tomorrow…

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    July 14, 2013 [ 12:35 am ]

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