Can you believe it? Going to festivals is no longer a thing of the past, and boy did Roskilde Festival deliver.
The line-up was diverse, with everything from top music royals Dua Lipa and Jada, to rappers like Meghan Thee Stallion and Shygirl, to rockers like The Strokes and Robert Plant.
Roskilde is actively working towards booking more women and non-binary musicians and performances, and you can see the result of their hard work in the line-up. Roskilde is a good, albeit not perfect, example of that it’s possible to have a line-up consisting of more than white men.
And let us just say: It hits home. The festival goers are loving it.
Let’s find out what just happened at Roskilde Festival:
The “Warm Up Days”
Roskilde Festival started Saturday the 25th of June, but the “actual” program only started Wednesday the 29th, which means there are four days where the real party is actually in the “camps.”
There are lots of interesting talks you can go to and art pieces to admire, and they have two smaller stages where exciting (mostly Nordic) upcoming musicians are playing. But the reason people camp out four days before the real program starts is hang with friends and generally get up to no good.
The camp culture at Roskilde Festival needs a proper introduction for non-Danes. There are many famous camps that have been around for years, and some even build their own mini-stages where they have parties 24/7 throughout the festival.
There’s Camp Marius (named after the giraffe Copenhagen Zoo killed and fed to the lions in 2014), Camp Mormors Kolonihave (which means “grandma’s allotment garden,” and they’ve actually built a proper allotment house and garden in a dreamy shade of soft pink), and Camp Idiot (which, according to their Facebook page, is a place where you can do “idiotic things”).
These “professional” camps are well-prepared and expensive to set-up, but everyone who camps out at the festival is part of some sort of camp – formal or informal. Some camps host morning yoga, some camps (most of them, really) have all-day parties where they hand out signature drinks, and some are just named something funny (like Camp Hold Din Kæft, which means “Camp Shut Up”).
Much of the time during the warm-up days is spent sitting in camping chairs in various camps, or dancing to someone’s Spotify playlist/Soundcloud mix.
But there are also a host of brilliant performances to go to. We especially loved Musti, who entered the stage with a presence so sharp and pervasive that everyone around was sucked into the pit. She really delivers live, and even the most complex parts of her rap flows out of her as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Blæst, who unfortunately made to perform on way too small a stage, were pure magic. It felt like the whole festival was there dancing, and if you weren’t already crushing on lead singer Fernanda Rosa before, you definitely were after seeing the band play live.
Wednesday 29th of June
And then it all began, for real! Even though Wednesday was a surprisingly slow day, there where still some proper musical gems to see.
Drew Sycamore, Danish pop-singer and potentially the coolest person in Denmark, opened the Orange Stage, which is a huge deal, as it’s the biggest and most central stage at the festival. She is the first Danish woman to have done so in 37 years. She took the stage with an attitude (and an outfit!) that showed the audience exactly why she was the opening act. The best numbers where her bangers “Jungle” and “45 Fahrenheit Girl,” which had the audience dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs.
Robert Plant and Allison Krauss offered a much-needed breather after the high-pace of the program so far, and as the sunset was colouring the sky a hazy pink, you could see many older couples and whole families snuggle up together at the side of the stage. Robert Plant, the old Led Zeppelin legend, might be well into his seventies, but his voice holds and so does his connection with the audience.
And then there was Post Malone. One of the bigger bookings this year, he closed the Orange Stage with lots of literal bangs, fire, and fireworks. The crowd was huge and going wild, and with every bang and every hit he played, it became wilder. Post Malone might look like a text-book baddie with his face-tattoos, but the way he embraced and almost befriended the audience was heartwarming and felt genuine. He was keen on giving everybody a good party and he succeeded in doing so.
Thursday 30th of June
Danish soul singer Coco O. started off another very hot and sweaty day around noon. Her lyrics are like little stories, and it’s almost impossible not to nod along in agreement. Having Coco O. play in the middle of the day fit the audience and Coco O. herself really well; her soulful tunes where the perfect way for people to start another festival day, have a cup of coffee (or a beer!) and enjoy the sun.
If Coco O. was a good fit, manic pixie dream girl Sky Ferreira ended up feeling a little out of place in the rare gleaming Danish summer heat. Her mystique and cool came across as a little arrogant, and the audience never really caught on to her, or vice versa. That said, “Everything’s Embarrassing” was for sure a number worth waiting for.
Norwegian pop wonder Sigrid took over Arena, the second biggest stage at Roskilde, as if it was her second home. The many Norwegians attending the concert where euphoric, and their mood was infectious. Her dance-friendly pop lifted the tent covering the stage; there was no stopping the party.
Next at Arena was TLC, and even though the energy level of the MC and the iconic ladies themselves was high, it felt a bit like everyone in the audience was just waiting for them to sing “No Scrubs” and “Waterfalls”. But when they did… wow. It must be difficult to have one or two massive hits that people are kind of just waiting around for, but I can imagine the reward as a performer is incredible when you then see thousands of people completely lose it, screaming “try to holla at me” at the top of their lungs.
Meghan Thee Stallion came, saw, and fully conquered. She got a whole audience to go low, shake various body-parts and attempting to twerk. Meghan Thee Stallion is a slick performer, and her whole show is meticulously produced, but it never ends up feeling impersonal. She’s there with the audience the whole time.
Speaking of slick productions: Dua Lipa is probably as close to a perfect performer as you can get. Not only is she an insanely talented singer and dancer, she had learned to pronounce “Roskilde” flawlessly, to the audience’s grand delight.
The crowd was wild for it – but the difference between Meghan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa is that sense of presence was sometimes lacking. Don’t get me wrong, everything from her vocals to her dancers was perfect, but sometimes that perfection started feeling a bit remote, like the show at Roskilde could just as well have been a show in Paris, Madrid, or London.
French electrconic duo The Blaze closed the Orange Stage this warm and delirious summer day, and their unique and eclectic mix of bombastic electronic sounds and deep vocals turned the whole festival into a dreamland. Having The Blaze play outside, where there’s a risk that the depth of their base is watered out a bit, actually turned out to be a genius move.The magical video and light show they brought with them also contributed to the concert almost feeling like a full body experience. You didn’t just hear the music: the base was pulsating at the pit of your stomach, and you could see the songs unfold before your eyes.
Friday 1st July
If Thursday was hectic, where it sometimes felt like you were just running from show to show, the line-up on Friday was a bit lukewarm – and so was the weather. But, a novelty for this years festival, and one of the things we actually ended up enjoying a lot, was the Ambereum stage. Amberuem is a space for performances, artist talks and DJ-sets, and every time there was a bit of “down time” in between concerts, people who are into electronic music gravitated towards it.
Highlights of this Friday where Katana Six and Cowboy Blau, Sampa the Great, and Nyege Nyege. This was also where you could find some of Roskilde’s best festival outfits: sport-style glasses with mirrored lenses are definitely not only for sports.
The London rapper Little Simz was playing a stage covered by a tent, and there were probably a couple of concert goers who ended up at her show to take shelter from the rain. But it didn’t take long before the whole audience – fans or people who ended up there accidentally – were in tune with her. Perfect parts vulnerable and unapologetic, Little Simz is not only the voice of now, but also of the future.
And then there was Tyler, The Creator. It takes guts to tackle the Orange Stage completely alone, but are we honestly surprised that Tyler managed to do so? The whole stage was filled with houseplants, and the screens in the background also projected some kind of jungle dreamland. There was Tyler, jumping around in the midst of it, completely on his own. What makes Tyler, The Creator such a genius live performer is exactly this quirkiness. It also helps that he has more than a handful of hits to fire at the audience. There were reports from the pit that the amount and intensity of mosh-pits made it very uncomfortable to be there. But at the edges of the audience, Tyler, The Creator gave us the kind of concert experience that made us forget about the rain and the mud.
Jada’s career blossomed during the pandemic, and she’s now one of the brightest shining stars of Danish pop music. Tyler, The Creator took on the stage alone; Jada brought a whole village. Her choir and dancers where of course there to support her, but she also had several visitors with her on stage, most notably Coco O. and MØ, which made the audience completely lose their minds. Jada can only get better and bigger, but at this year’s festival, she showed that she’s already Orange Stage material.
Saturday 2d July
The last day of the festival offered sunshine and, thanks to the rain, some of the relentless heat had washed away. At this point, many festival goers where already packing up their stuff and getting ready to leave, but it was 100% worth it to stay for the final day.
The afternoon kicked off with St. Vincent, a true musical chameleon and genius live act. Sporting a pink playsuit with the name of her latest album printed on her chest (“Daddy’s home”), she filled the stage with unprecedented self-confidence and presence. If someone owned the Orange Stage this year, it was St. Vincent and her band. Moving from synth tunes to rowdy guitar riffs without losing that special St. Vincent touch, she showed the audience that her music has something for everyone.
There’s something special about the unity and harmony in sibling bands, and HAIM is certainly no exception. The three LA-based sisters where charming, warm, and most importantly, they offered a hell of a show.
When they invited a young fan onto the stage, you could really see the playfulness in how they approach their music live. They were laughing along, probably giving their fan on stage (and their fans in the audience) the musical experience of a lifetime.
Lastly, London-based rapper Shygirl (although she defies classical definitions of genre) delivered one hell of a musical experience. She’s sensual, sharp, and in a strange way, well, shy. It all comes together in a way that makes the audience feel like they are special, that she is truly doing this just for and with us.
That’s a wrap! It’s easy to get hit by the post-festival blues (or the infamous Roskilde flu, which is a mix of hangover, lowered immune system, and the fact that you’ve only eaten burgers for the last week), but just remember: that they’ll come back next year. Keep up the good work Roskilde; we’ll see you in 2023.
Concert Photography by Freya August McOmish.