Roskilde Festival 2004
The 2004 edition of Roskilde Festival will not be one to go down in the history books. This will be the year that everybody will forget they were there. Mediocre line-up, especially if you are into the alternative scale of music. Even the festival’s big name, Bowie, couldn’t show up. And then there was the weather. Every single day it rained, from Sunday when the camping area opened ’til the festival ended. However there was also sunshine everyday. But the few sunbeams couldn’t stop the soil from turning into mud; it even made it more sluggish. It became a struggle to get to the festival area from the tents at the camping area; a notion of being part of the Enduro contest “Novemberkåsan” became prevalent. Still no one will remember this year to be catastrophic, it wasn’t like ’91 and ’97 everyone is talking about. There were some highlights though. It would be strange if not, when the festival presented well over 100 bands.
At the Metropol Stage, the festival presented dance acts, DJ’s and electronica acts. There, on Thursday night, Audio Bullys warmed up the frozen and wet crowd with their house, break beat, electro and hip hop á la English style. The climax came when the duo fired off their hit “We don’t care”. This was a great ending of, in other aspects, a very boring Thursday. This would have probably been the best day of the festival if I were a Korn fan. I am not, but apparently many people were, since they had the biggest crowd on the festival.
Friday came and with that some expectations of a greater day than the day before. And it started really good. At the excellent Metropol stage, the Copenhagen commune Komponent presented five acts performing various electronica during the afternoon. Unfortunately I only had the chance to see one of the acts; The Renegades of the Game Boxen, but I was still fortunate to see them. They have a concept of using the sounds of two Game boys in combination with two Korg Electribe machines and effects. However the sound isn’t anything like computer game music other bands, like for instance Puss, are making. With no backtape and the two guys ctrl_alt from Sweden and kun.stOEJ from Austria tweaking and pushing the buttons of their equipment making some sort of electro industrial groove, I got a real good live feeling. After the show we had the opportunity to briefly speak to them. We asked them why they use Game Boys to create music.
- We see it as a challenge with the limitation of the platform. With the Game Boys and newly developed software called Nanoloop and LSDJ, to control the devices, we see how far we can go.
At the main stage, Orange, Slipnot replaced Bowie and after that the Pixies played. Pixies were one of my favourite bands somewhere in the 90’s and this was the first live experience with them. However I have a really hard time to get any live feeling in front of the Orange stage. Always too lazy to stand in the tense crowd in front of the stage and therefore placed standing in front of a giant screen, I have never liked this stage. Unless it is good weather and it is possible to sit in the grass with a beer and just listen and casually looking at the screen, but that was not obviously the case in this festival. Anyhow, Pixies delivered and a lot of songs like the opening song “Bone Machine”, “Here comes the man”, “Gigantic” and “Debaser” was very enjoyable. One funny observation was that Kim Deal was smiling the whole concert. There is nothing wrong with that, just a funny observation.
The Hives entered the Orange stage after Pixies. I have for some years now considered The Hives being one of the best live acts Sweden has to offer and I still do. However after having enjoyed them on much smaller stages, this gig didn’t offer that much to me. After The Hives newfound fame and success, I guess that it will take a while until the opportunity comes to see them on a small stage again. A bright thing during the show was their shiny white costumes in contrast to the muddy dark audience.
The best performance on the festival was brought on by Vive la Féte; on the fully crowed Pavilion stage. Els Pynoo’s steaming sensuality on vocals together with a full-grown band and the show was on. The other part of the duo, Danny Mommens, did for instance at one occasion throw his guitar down in the audience. Full interaction. Vive la Féte plays a combination of glamorous electro pop and dirty indie rock and does that with great success and with a true Belgian style.
Next day in the afternoon, on the same stage as Vive la Féte, played Lali Puna. They are in the frontline of the genre indietronica, signed on the Berlin based label Morr Music, and on record they are superb, but they must do something about their live act. A whole band just standing still without any expressions in their faces, and the subtle electronica stuff that is present on the album didn’t really find its way out on the gig. Still the songs are strong and it was enjoyable enough to stay.
Sweden’s Bergman Rock, the English-speaking version of Bob Hund, hasn’t slowed down. Tomas Öberg on vocals, constantly trying to outdo himself with daredevil stunts and crowd surfing. I wonder if the band is banned at the festival in the future since crowd surfing is forbidden. Musically Bergman Rock is less naïve than their Swedish counterpart and it is more rock (I guess Rock in Bergman Rock is there for a reason), but not boring at all. One thing though, I miss the wittiness and straightness in the lyrics that are part of Bob Hund, however it is probably just me who can’t follow Tomas Öberg’s English.
The biggest collision made by the festival planners in my opinion and, I am sure, many others, were Morrisey and Karl Bartos, playing 00:00 at the two stages farthest away from each other. My choice for the evening was Karl Bartos and I am sure I made the right one. Bartos on keyboards, accompanied by a guy on keyboard and a guy controlling the visuals, made a splendid concert. They played Kraftwerk songs like “The Model”, “Numbers”, “Telephone call”, “Robots” and “Pocket Calculator”, and own songs like “15 min of fame” and “The Camera”. Bartos and his crew seemed to enjoy the moment and that together with the sound, the big visual back projection and the airy Metropol stage made this gig the best I’ve seen with Bartos.
At Sunday the festival continued and I headed home. I missed Franz Ferdinand, The Von Bondies, Muse and probably new interesting acquaintances, but it wasn’t enough to keep me there and I was too exhausted to stay one more day. Next year (my 10 year anniversary) I have to plan my stay in sense of beer consumption so I have the strength to stay one more day (I arrived on Monday), but the bad weather had its negative affects too.
Photos by Mattias Ernelli
Renegades of the Game Boxen
Vive la Fete