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Aids At Roskilde 2012

July 2-8 2012: I spent a glorious week in Denmark experiencing what is surely one of Europe's greatest music festivals. The ticket price included 9 days of camping (5 "warm-up days" before the proper festival kicked- off on Thursday), while the festival itself featured nearly 200 bands from all corners of the Earth on 7 unique stages, and had an attendance of around 90,000 people. The line-up was the thing dreams are made of (my dreams anyway) and the setting could not have been better. Among eight days of non-stop partying and mixing with hundreds of thousands of people, many of them incredibly sexy Scandinavian women, I somehow managed to enjoy the festival's extraordinary "more than music" program, the facets of which are virtually endless. Before the proper festival kicked-off, one could watch a skate competition at the full-sized halfpipe, bowl, and skate park, or play a game of organized football (soccer), volleyball, basketball, etc. etc., take in the magnificent street art on display, observe slam battles and freestyle hip-hop demonstrations, or just experience the general and indescribable wackiness of the camping area. It was a non-stop party and every one was there to have a good time and enjoy some good music. Words cannot describe Roskilde, it must simply be experienced. Look up a promo video on their website or see if you can find some good fan videos on youtube, because it truly is a one-of-a-kind music festival. For now though, enjoy my feeble attempt to describe the sonic-skullfuckery on display at the 2012 edition. (The first 8 were things I kind of wanted to catch but didn't, for a variety of reasons, 32-1 are the sets I saw, ranked from worst to best, sort of).
40Suicide Silence
No Time To Bleed


Day 4 -- was tempted to see some of their set because they're lolterrible, but in
the end I had more interesting things going on then
39Machine Head
The Blackening


Day 4 -- I actually saw a bit of this. Pretty bland and uninteresting, except I saw
a 5 year old kid on his dad's shoulders with his devil horns in the air. Pretty cool kid
I suppose.
38Behemoth
Demigod


Day 4 -- I don't know much about this band other than that are Polish and heavy.
I was playing drinking games so I didn't see their set.
37Yelawolf
Radioactive


Day 4 -- I sort of wanted to see him cause I like him as a rapper, but he was
playing early ish on the last day and his first LP (dropped in 2011) was pretty
shitty, so I didn't worry too much about catching his set.
36Pretty Lights
Passing By Behind Your Eyes


Day 3 -- This probably would have actually been really really good, but it was all
the way out at Apollo at 230 and I was absolutely exhausted from
Refused/M83/Bon Iver/Mew. There's a chance they just ended up bitching out like
Araabmuzik and played a load of generic dubstep, but I still bet it was a good show.
35Bruce Springsteen
Born in the USA


Day 3 -- He was actually the main draw for a lot of people there, and while his 3
hour rock marathon was allegedly epic, I had more important things going (Bon Iver,
M83.... etc.) Shoot me now, but I've never been a huge Springsteen fan. I KNOW,
I know...I know ok. I suck.
34Cerebral Ballzy
Cerebral Ballzy


Day 3 -- I was way too tired from watching Oneohtrix Point Never play til 430 AM
the night before, and I needed rest for Saturday's epic lineup. No way I was
making it to the festival grounds for 1200 to see some decent punk band.
33Martyn
Hello Darkness


Day 1 -- I really wanted to see this set, but it wasn't worth going all the way out
to Apollo (which was actually out past the wristband checkpoint, so getting back in
to the main festival area is a pain, especially if you're on a tight schedule). Still, it
probably would have been good.
32Girlseeker


WARM-UP DAYS One of the local bands that played at Pavilion Junior during the
warm up days. These guys were absolutely dreadful, the guitar player in particular.
He looked like he was too sweaty, awkward, and nervous to be playing in front of a
crowd, and he absolutely butchered his lines. They sounded like faux-new-wave
bullshit with no sense of harmony or structure
31The Abyssinians
Satta Massagana


THURSDAY (Day 1) Reggae, complete with a full brass section. Good fun, nothing
amazing.
30The Cure
Disintegration


THURSDAY (Day 1) Not my thing at all. Everyone says I'm missing out but I don't
care. I watched a couple of their songs at the main stage but I quickly decided it
wasn't for me and decided to watch Trash Talk instead (best decision of the entire
festival for me probably). Apparently they played for three hours. I don't know
what everyone sees in them because I was tiring of their shtick after three
minutes.
29Devildriver
Pray for Villains


FRIDAY (Day 2) A generic metal show that I only saw some of on my way to more
exciting things. Not bad, but not worth writing too much about
28Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV)


THURSDAY (Day 1) I was pretty excited to see her, but by the time her timeslot
came around late on day one of the festival, I was pretty much out of commission.
I managed to get in a song or two, but I honestly don't remember if it was pretty
good. From what I heard the next day, it seemed that her show was generally
received as disappointing after her already legendary set at Roskilde's 2011 edition.
27Santigold
Santogold


SUNDAY (Day 4) A readymade hipster dance party. Best enjoyed in small doses
and with an open mind, but only until Shlohmo's set at Gloria starts (#12).
26tUnE-yArDs
w h o k i l l


SATURDAY (Day 3) *See description for The Roots. Oh and add that she seemed
kind of pitchy at times. Not that I saw more than ten minutes, but tUnE-yArDs was
a bit disappointing.
25The Roots
undun


SATURDAY (Day 3) Saturday was packed and I had a lot of running around to do to
be able to catch all of what I wanted to see. This meant, unfortunately, that I
didn't get to watch much of The Roots. What I did manage to catch was enjoyable
enough, but I was much too focussed on leaving in enough time to get a good spot
for Refused to fully enjoy their music.
24Indians


WARM-UP DAYS A local Danish band playing on one of the warm-up stages. They
played pretty good guitar-based indie-rock. To be honest, I wasn't really that into
it but was more just there to experience the festival atmosphere as this was one of
the first shows I saw during the warm-up days.
23Ter Haar


FRIDAY (Day 2) The festival announcer at the end of the previous set at the
Pavilion stage described these guys as a "German version of Battles" so I knew I
would have to give their set some time. I did and I have to say, the description
was pretty accurate. The set was a spazzy collection of math-rock craziness
combined with some psychedelic keyboards and offbeat drum patterns. A very
trippy but entertaining concert.
22Baroness
Yellow and Green


FRIDAY (Day 2) Pretty generic sludgy metal but I was still hoping for a good show
from these guys at the Odeon stage. The guitar solos were good and the energy
was high. I enjoyed it for a while, but it was not the sort of thing I wanted to
watch for an entire hour.
21Malk De Koijn
Sneglzilla


FRIDAY (Day 2) This Danish hip-hop duo was the main act of the second day. Most
of the locals were beyond hyped for their concert. I had not heard of them before
arriving in Denmark,and also I don't understand more than three words of Danish, so
I wasn't likely to hang on to their every word. They played right after Jack White's
two hour show, so I observed this group from far back, while I sorted myself out
with something to eat and some things to drink.
20Perfume Genius
Put Your Back N 2 It


THURSDAY (Day 1) There is a slowly buzzing murmur building around this guy's
music. He has drawn comparrisons to The Antlers (one of my favourite Indie
bands) so I figured I would try to fit in at least a few minutes of his set before
rushing off to see Janelle Monae. (Funny story, I ended up being too messed up to
see much of Monae's set by the time I got there, oh well.) I stopped by Gloria for a
few minutes and was impressed with what I saw and heard. His newest album is
pretty good, not amazing, but pretty good. What I saw of his show was about the
same.
19Araabmuzik
Electronic Dream


FRIDAY (Day 1) This was the first act of the proper festival, over at Apollo stage
(the home of most of the electronic acts for the weekend). I mild enjoy his studio
stuff, which is more or less instrumental hip-hop beats with touches of other types
of electronic music. His show however, was essentially straight up brostep. It
seems to be a trend that everyone is cashing in on, and not just in North America
anymore. Anyway, though cliché and not very inspired, his set was still very
enjoyable and got me excited for the hugeness of the four festival days of Roskilde
2012.
18Sage Francis
A Healthy Distrust


FRIDAY (Day 2) I'm not actually a huge fan of this guy's music, but in his show he
delivered hard. The preachy political views that ruined my enjoyment of his studio
stuff was actually quite effective and restrained enough for me to be able to enjoy
this guy's performance. A good way to start Friday.
17Adrian Lux


WARM-UP DAYS Lux is a DJ from Sweden and he played on Apollo Countdown. This
was a mobile stage that moved to different areas of the massive camping grounds
during the warm-up days, before settling into its permanent spot during the festival
proper. One day, the stage was at area P, where my tent was, so a couple new
friends and I went to see what was on. What we got was a loud, explosive party
soundtrack complete with dirty wobbles, pumping basslines, and hard-hitting beats.
We danced the night away and afterwards we retired to our camps for much more
drinking and smoking.
16ASAP Rocky
Live.Love.A$AP.


One day one of the festival, I got a little bit crazy. I bit off more than I could
chew, if you will (read: bought more wine than I could drink), and I got hit hard
right at the beginning of A$AP's set. The dense crowd and tobacco/weed smoke in
the air all around me starting getting to my head and I eventually had to retreat to
a safe distance to barely avoid getting sick. Perhaps it was a fitting way to
experience A$AP's set: too drunk and stoned to stand or communicate with people
properly. I'm sure there was plenty of swag on display, but I just can't fully
remember it. I do remember having a heated discussion with another inebriated
individual during Peso. We both stopped to sing the hook when it came.
15Dangers of the Sea


WARM-UP DAYS Dangers of the Sea are something of a Danish supergroup, formed
of band members from various alt-rock groups across the country. They played on
Pavilion Junior, which was one of the two stages going during the warm up days
(before the official four festival days began). After I had settled into my camp and
experienced some of the craziness that typically goes on in a music festival's
camping area, I wandered over to the festival area and watched this set with my
Danish friend. The sun was shining, the beer was flowing, and the music festival
was off to a glorious start from my perspective. I don't remember specifically what
the songs sounded like, but I do know that I enjoyed the show, perhaps even more
so because it was my first concert of the week.
14Bjork
Vespertine


SUNDAY (Day 4) I enjoy Bjork quite a bit, but not nearly as much as nearly
everyone else seems to. This suited me fine though, as her show was the last of
the festival. So rather than brave the long lineups of dedicated Bjork fans to
charge the front of the stage, I enjoyed her set from a far as I cherished my last
glimpses of the magnificent Orange Stage at Roskilde 2012. Her costume and stage
design were what one would expect from a Bjork show, weird and unidentifiable, but
it fit the greater purpose of the performance well. As her massive and haunting
music boomed across the crowd of 70,000, I found myself hypnotized by the
enormous bass and soaring vocals. Her performance of Hidden Place from
Vespertine was particularly enchanting, and the concert as a whole was a
wonderful way to end a weekend full of spectacular musical performances.
13Boubacar Traore


FRIDAY (Day 2) This man is a blues/folk guitar guru from Mali, a hotbead of the
Western African traditional music scene. His musical talent is inspiring, and his
songs are familiar, yet somehow mysteriously otherworldly. His accompanying
musicians, a percussionist and a harmonica player (that occasionally dabbled in
other wind instruments) were both magnificently skilled. The most memorable
moment of this set for me was the series of extended harmonica solos somewhere
between their third and fourth songs.
12Shlohmo
Vacation


SUNDAY (Day 4) The last act of the festival on the Gloria stage by LA based DJ
Shlohmo was a mixed-bag of his own original material, such as the breathtaking and
entrancing Wen Uuu, and reworked popular club and pop songs from the past
couple decades.
11Big K.R.I.T.
Live From The Underground


SUNDAY (Day 4) A smorgasbord of southern hip-hop cliches and huge, dirty beats.
Nothing new or revolutionary but a damn good time.
10Blitz The Ambassador
Native Sun


THURSDAY (Day 1) A jazzy affair of Ghanian hip-hop, one of my most pleasant
surprises of the festival.
9Oneohtrix Point Never
Replica


FRIDAY (Day 2) OPN played at 3AM on Friday (day 2) in the Gloria stage, which, all
things considered, was my favourite of the seven venues at Roskilde 2012. It was
a small room, half the size of a high-school gym, which two small sets of bleachers
and a decent floor space. The stage was adorned with white panels arranged in
trippy shapes that changed colours according to the artist's music and programmed
light show. It was a warm venue with an intimate atmosphere, and OPN used this
to his advantage. Until the morning sun came out, he tripped us all out with
formless grooves, beatless sounds and textures, arbitrary samples from old movies
and youtube clips. It was one of the most unorthodox shows I've ever witnessed,
and while some people did not enjoy it at all (several people jeered him, even more
ended up walking out), myself and a handful of others clung on to every weird
sound and warped loop that the man produced.
8The Shins
Oh, Inverted World


THURSDAY (Day 1) The Shins were the first band I saw at Arena Stage, the place
that would be responsible for many of my favourite sets of the weekend. Of their
four LPs, I can only say that I really listen to the first one, Oh Inverted World, with
any regularity, and I don't enjoy Port of Morrow at all. I wasn't expecting that they
would play much of their oldest stuff, but they actually picked four songs from their
first album (to my surprise) and, to top it all off, they were my four favourites. The
Shin's upbeat, sunny rock music fit the atmosphere of a festival in its first ?official?
day perfectly. It's hard to pick a highlight for me, but it was most likely either
when they opened with Caring Is Creepy, or when they played my personal
favourite, Know Your Onion!
7Nasum
Shift


SUNDAY (Day 4) In my rushed attempt to research as many artists as possible
before Roskilde, I picked Nasum from the list of unknown bands, seemingly at
random. They are a Swedish grind band that has been around for a while, and this
tour was to be their global farewell. I'm not very well versed in this sort of music,
but I found myself very excited for their show upon discovering them. It was a little
bit unfortunate that they were to be playing on Sunday, because by then I was
utterly exhausted. The crowd was small, the smallest I saw all week at the Odeon
by a wide margin, and I think the rest of them were nearly as tired as I was,
because the moshpit seemed half-hearted at best. Still, Nasum put on a great
show, highly enjoyable and energetic (enough to make up for the drained
audience).
6Bon Iver
Bon Iver, Bon Iver


SATURDAY (Day 3) Man was Saturday's lineup ever stacked. My task was, in one
day, to try to experience as much of the following artist's shows as I possibly
could: tUnE-yArDs, The Roots, Refused, M83, Bon Iver, Bruce Springsteen (I passed
on this 3 hour marathon forM83/Bon Iver), Mew, and finally Pretty Lights at 230
AM. The "big three" were Refused, Mew, and Bon Iver. I'd seen them before, in
Galway, Ireland, back in 2009. It was a great show, and the crowd was
comparatively small, so the atmosphere was very intimate. I was wondering how
Justin Vernon's new superstar status and leagues of fans from across the world
would affect the show. Instead of playing for maybe 5,000, I was now witnessing
him play to upwards of 40,000, but he has adopted expertly. While he didn't speak
between songs as much as other artists, his modesty shone through when he did
and you could see how much it meant to him to be playing his songs for so many
fans. The material from Bon Iver's second LP fit the arena atmosphere brilliantly,
and old favourites from For Emma, Forever Ago, and the Blood Bank EP had the
crowd singing in unison. After being up front for Refused and M83 at the same
stage previously, I ventured towards the back of the crowd, half-attempting to
meet up with a friend. It didn't happen (we found each other for Mew though) but
this meant that I had to witness Bon Iver's set from pretty far back in the massive
crowd. The people back there were less fun and didn't seem to care as much about
the band's lesser known material, but I tried not to let it ruin what was truly a
magnificent concert. I would go see these guys play live every day if I could. I've
now seen them twice, and am looking forward to whenever/wherever show #3 will
be.
5Jack White
Blunderbuss


FRIDAY (Day 2) This was the first big concert of the festival that I committed to
seeing from the front of the massive crowd. I queued up for a while to acquire my
prime viewing spot, but it was worth it. For nearly two hours, Jack White worked
his way through his illustrious body of work, expertly mixing in new material from
Blunderbuss with fan favourite by The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. His
supporting band was marvellous as well. White is somewhat of a legend of the
modern rock revival scene, and finally seeing him in the flesh was a bit surreal.
Every music festival I've been to has had some sort of anthem: a fan catchy and
easily chant-able fan favourite from one of the performing bands. This year, it was
the main riff of Seven Nation Army, and for the next three days (come to think of
it, during some of the preceding days as well) strangers united and bonded over a
White Stripes sing-along, and the hundreds of passers-by couldn't help but
hum/sing/chant/yell along.
4M83
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming


SATURDAY (Day 3) I was not sure how much I would enjoy this show to be honest,
especially taking into consideration the mixed reviews that their Coachella set
received. I was pleasantly surprised that M83's show turned out to be exactly as
awesome as I fantasized it could be. Still buzzing from being up front for Refused in
the slot right before M83, I got right back up front for this one (they clear the "pit"
after every show). It was essentially a feel-good, hour long dance party: i.e. the
perfect way to spend a beautiful summer evening in Denmark. The crowd favourite
was definitely Midnight City; it was easy to tell by the way the entire audience
jumped in unison and belted out BOOP DO DO BOOOP!!! (or some variation) during
the catchy chorus.
3Trash Talk
Walking Disease


THURSDAY (Day 1) The great thing about music festivals, especially ones with 7
stages, is that you will always discover new stuff. I've heard the name Trash Talk
thrown around a lot but had never listened to them. Their show was supposed to
be good, so I managed to tear myself away from The Cure's three hour set (no
thanks) to witness theirs in full. It was definitely my best discovery of the festival.
For an hour, Trash Talk belted our short, punishing punk songs to under a thousand
fans at the Pavilion stage. The interaction with the crowd was great, and the
intensity with which they performed was jaw-dropping. I've since checked out
their studio albums, and they're pretty good, but for me this band will always be
defined by that one evening in early July, when they put their unique mark on
Roskilde 2012. It was the last set of Day 1 when I admittedly went a little
overboard. My enjoyment of A$AP Rocky and Janelle Monae suffered as a result.
2Mew
Frengers


SATURDAY (Day 3) Mew was perhaps my most anticipated act of the festival, and
they did not disappoint. They're one of the best known Danish bands, and are only
playing two shows this year. Headlining their home festival was always bound to be
special, and I knew it would be the perfect time to see Mew. Instead of getting
right up front for their late show (1 AM) on the glorious main stage, I met up with a
Danish friend of mine and we watched the show from the front of the fence that
blocks off the front area. This meant we could see the entire stage and enjoy the
light show, and really just take it all in. Mew has a huge sound, and so as it
washed over the 80,000 spectators at Orange Scene, it was impossible to not be
mesmerized by their dreamy rock/pop songs. Mew is one of my favourite bands and
I have been waiting a long time to see them. They played every song I could have
hoped for, giving all of their albums good attention, and even finished with a new
song (which was really good). The highlight of the show must have been the eight
minute 'Comforting Sounds' from 2003's Frengers. As it slowly rose up from a
solitary piano line accompanied by the vocals of Jonas Bjerre, the lights began to
shine brighter and the orange tent of the main stage began to glow in the 3AM
night sky, which never really went pitch black seeing as it was summer in a very
Northern location. The band approached that moment in the song where the drums
take off and the beautiful, shimmering guitars kick in at full force (Mew fans will
know exactly the moment I mean), and the crowd gazed, transfixed at the
spectacle that we were witnessing. Their set was everything I wanted it to be,
and even though the exhaustion of six days of partying and concerts with minimal
sleep was starting to set in, witnessing Mew's show at Roskilde 2012 was magical
1Refused
The Shape of Punk To Come


SATURDAY (Day 3) Yes, I am one of the lucky motherfuckers that got to
experience this globe-shattering reunion tour by recently reformed Swedish
Hardocre legends Refused. Every report I had heard of their shows in either the US
or Europe praised Refused's performance as a work sheer genius. I was thinking
that I might be a little disappointed with their set because how could it possibly live
up to the hype and my ultra-high expectations. Well, guess what? It did, a
hundred times over. I got right up front in the crowd for this show and I was mere
metres from the band members at time. The music was played with urgency and
passion, bearing in mind that all these songs are about ten years old. Lyxzen
actually mentioned that, in one of his many very good moments of crowd
interaction. He said something along the lines of 'I was worried that these songs
would have lost their relevance, for us, for our fans. But listening to them now,
and playing them for people around the world, young and old, I realize that they are
more relevant now than ever.' From the moment the curtain dropped and the band
exploded into Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull, to the closing moments
of Life Support Addiction, Refused controlled the audience and sent them into a
frenzy of controlled chaos. The energy was almost visible, and there was a feeling
about that something special was occurring. The encore was absolute perfection.
They came back on after a few minutes of sustained applause and roars from the
crowd and delivered an absolutely monstrous three song combo of The Shape of
Punk To Come/New Noise/Tannhauser Derive. At one point during the last song,
the epic 8 minute masterpiece that is Tannhauser/Derive, Lyxzen cleared the three
metre gap from the stage, across the security, into the crowd. Dozens of people
clamoured for his legs and supported him upright as he belted "BOREDOM WON'T
GET ME TONIGHT" to tens of thousands of adoring fans, old and new. It was the
sound of a band that has just redefined their passion for their music and their place
in the scene. It was so much more than a reunion show. This tour feels like a
genuine rebirth, and I think that we will be hearing more from these guys in the
coming years.
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