A year and a half ago, while traveling, I met the most wonderful couple from Denmark. I only spoke to them briefly but you know how it goes, sometimes you just need 5 seconds with someone to know you have a click.
Our friendship was sealed after their visit to my hometown some months later, and now it was our turn to visit them. And besides just being great friends, they also gave our trip a major upgrade by giving my boyfriend and me super-special wristbands, granting us access to some behind-the-scenes action (and above average toilets).
It was an amazing week. Let me talk you through some of it!
First of all, there was the music. It’s worth mentioning that the festival gates may have opened on Saturday, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that the music terrain opened (for the masses) and the big names starred. The first part of the week was primarily camping ground partying (not to be underestimated). There were also some smaller stages and performances in the so called “warm up”-days. The bands named below are some I feel are worth mentioning as most other reviews don’t seem to take them into account.
One of the bands I saw during the warm up days was M.I.L.K. Kind of an akward looking dude with a bit of a seventies look and a chilled out vibe.
And then, when the gates to the musical grounds opened (and the camping grounds were starting to look and smell increasingly troubling), the first performance to kick the whole spectacle off hit me like a bucket of ice cold water on a hot summer day. It was refreshing and energetic, as well as confronting and slightly uncomfortable. It was filled with love, hope and forgiveness. In all honesty at some point I had to sit down because I was too emotional to stand on my feet any longer.It was the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, with Damon Albarn.
It wasn’t so much the songs themselves, but what they stood for that brought me to my knees. Just imagine dedicating your life to music and finally being able to play in a major orchestra in Damascus and then seeing everything around you being destroyed. Many of the musicians fled the country, some stayed. In short, the orchestra fell apart. And even at Roskilde festival, some members could not be present because of visa problems or other complications due to their status as refugees.
These incredibly strong people, with their very Arabic rhythms and melodies, did not sing of their suffering (as far as I could understand from their comments in between songs). They played and sang with joy and gratitude for being alive and well, inviting the (incredibly white) audience to join in. THEY were welcoming US… It was as much beautiful as it was painful…
My personal highlight of the week was a performance we hadn’t even really planned to go to. It was Pat Thomas and the Kwashibu area band, that lured us in when we walked past their stage (after watching Slayer).
Their connection with the audience was so energetic that the whole tent was pretty much bouncing up and down. They themselves seemed to be surprised by the love they were getting from the crowd, as some of the musicians took out their phones at some point to film what was going on in front of the stage. Pretty bloody awesome.
Another unexpected surprise wasOdesza. All though the duo had already made their appearance in my playlists before the festival, I had absolutely not expected their performance to be as vibrant as it was. It wasn’t just the fact that they were switching back and forth from drum kit to mixing board that made it entertaining, both to the eye as to the ear. It was also the colors and lighting they were using on the very cool cube shaped Apollo stage. It was truly mesmerizing.
All though we had had quite wonderful weather during the warm up days (which turned out to be a truly appropriate name) by Thursday, everyone was wearing their rubber boots and fashionable ponchos. Luckily we had managed to find a dry spot when the heavens truly started to pour down on us.
As it turned out, our place of dry refuge gave us an audio image (we couldn’ t see her, only hear her) of a very entertaining performance by Elle King. She switched effortlessly between country, blues, reggae and pop. And she turns out to be very funny as well!
If you only know her song Ex’s and Oh’s, as I did before hearing her at Roskilde, do check out her other stuff. She rocks.
Our next show of the day made us feel like uninvited guests at a Norwegian private party at first, but the atmosphere was pretty contagious and the songs turned out to be pretty easy to sing a long to; it was (pardon my French) Kakkmaddafakka. These extremely Northern-European looking guys really made me smile, as they sang “I wanna be a gangsta. An original G. So come on, please give me your money”. I loved how they were being so polite about it, hahaha!
All though I did not stay to watch the whole performance, I was dealt a small slice of “what the fuck”-ness as I walked past Grimes‘ performance. Besides not being particularly good, imho, it had the same weird alien vibe that K-Pop artists have going on these days, only… weirder? Thanks Grimes, you really made me feel old…
Luckily Calypso Rose showed up on Friday to save me from that Grimesy feeling. It was the performance we had been looking forward to all week and boy did she deliver! The 76 year old bootyshakin’ queen of calypso knocked my hat off as she sang: I am the daughter of a warrior. No time to rest or retire. Others have come and gone but Calypso Rose is still singing on.
Even after she had left the stage and the lights were switched back on, the audience was still chanting her name. I swear, she must have put a spell on us! Hail Calypso Rose!
On the final day of Roskilde Festival 2016 the camping grounds started to empty out pretty quickly. One of the final big performances on the iconic big orange stage was primarily a big feast of recognition for all the Danish visitors, as Dizzy Mizz Lizzy rocked the podium. All though I had never heard of them before, I think they would do very well in the Dutch charts as well. In the video below they play a medley of three of their most popular songs (I think). If you’re into drums and raging guitars, give ’em a go!
Roskilde Festival prides itself in being a non-profit event, providing really cool projects in Denmark and abroad with funds to make the world a better place. Also, their is a strong focus on sustainability and social awareness during the festival itself (all though the enormous amounts of beer and liquor do make it challenging to stay focused on these topics at times). When it comes to the restaurants and food stalls at Roskilde Festival, only proprietors were invited that could demonstrate that at least 80% of their ingredients were of eco-friendly origin. Pretty cool!
Polish sausages, that didn’t turn out to be Polish
(the Danish word for sausage is actually pølse, so I have learned)
Best falafel I’ve ever had
I am not quite sure how to sum up all the lovely encounters I had during my week at Roskilde Festival, but it was truly heart warming. I don’t know how the rest of Denmark really is (or how many of the great talks I had with Scandinavian looking peeps may actually have been with Norwegians or Swedes) but from the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for making me feel so welcome. Or as one of the Kakkmaddafakkas said:
Thank you for reminding me what normal is
As my blog only covers a tiny slice of what the festival had to offer, I added some other reviews of the festival below:
Have you every heard of the Harkin-Engel protocol before? It is often referred to as the cocoa protocol. Never heard of it? Me either, even though it involves the world’s favorite snack: chocolate.
This protocol is “an international agreement aimed at ending the worst forms of child labor and forced labor in the production of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate”, according to wikipedia. The two initiators of this agreement were Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Eliot Engel. The protocol was signed in September 2001.
In 2004 investigative journalist from the Dutch TV program “Keuringsdienst van Waarde” found out that non of the major chocolate producers were complying with the rules formulated in the agreement. As they themselves were regular chocolate consumers, they feared they might be contributing to the problem. One of the journalists, Teun van de Keuken, then ate one more chocolate bar and then turned himself in, confessing he was a knowing accessory to child slavery.
The indictment was not accepted by the court of law after which they appealed to a higher court to reconsider. This drew great media attention to their case and re-opened the discussion about slavery and especially the exploitation of children in the cacao sector. In the end, Teun van de Keuken was not convicted due to lack of evidence.
This was not the end of it though… Teun realized he couldn’t beat them, so decided he should join them instead. So that’s what he did. He started his own brand of chocolate, guaranteed to be slavery-free, and named it Tony’s Chocolonely.
Ofcourse they were sued by other chocolate companies stating they couldn’t guarantee their chocolate was 100% child labor free either. In 2007 a Dutch judge decided in favor of Tony’s Chocolonely and stated they had demonstrated sufficiently they their chocolate was indeed being produced without slavery or child labor playing a role.
And the best part is that Tony’s chocolate bars are really tasty! They started out with only milk and dark varieties but have expanded their selection in recent years, now including:
The ones that are written in chocolate are the ones I have already tried. My favorite is the one with caramel and sea salt. I actually just opened a bar of milk pecan coco, which is a special edition from a previous month and it’s pretty darn good. Not as coconutty as I would’ve thought, but real nice. And guilt free! 😀