Archive | July, 2012

Misusing The Shift Key: Roskilde Part $

27 Jul

Today marks the final chapter in the Roskilde Festival saga. This work now joins other narrative franchises that should have ended sooner, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Die Hard to name but a few.

We had just finished watching The Roots’ tuba player sprint across the stage (with tuba) for the final time and were at kind of at a loose end. What do you do at a time like that?

You go and watch a band of Congolese polio survivors in wheelchairs. Duh.

If you read my last collection of words and punctuation, you’ll no doubt remember that I like to view festivals as an opportunity to see stuff I wouldn’t usually have a broad enough mind to see. I can think of nothing that fits that bill better than Staff Benda Bilili.

As I’ve said, this amazing group hails from The Democratic Republic of Congo and has overcome poverty and crippling disease to play one of Europe’s biggest festivals. Rather rude of them when I consider how insignificant they make my modest achievements in life seem. Nevertheless they produced a fantastically fun cross between rumba, soul, and something called Congotronics.

Before too long however, it was time to make our way to the main stage to see The Boss. No, we hadn’t been caught stealing tubes of Pringles from work, I’m referring to Bruce Sprinsteen.

To be honest, I wasn’t that excited about it. It was something I felt like I should see rather than something I really wanted to. Like a child’s school concert. I should have realised though, that there is a reason he’s called “The Boss” and not “The Junior Vice President” or “The Foreign Janitor.” I was soon swept up in his authority like an old person on one of these.

In keeping with the Jack White trend, Bruce saved the big ones for last. ‘The Rising’, ‘Born in the USA’, and ‘Dancing in the Dark’ all got an enthusiastic singalong from the audience. His monologue about playing in a cemetery as a child wasn’t as exciting.

Afterwards, as any normal people would do after midnight on a Saturday, we thought it was time to catch some über-cool Berlin beats. That meant Paul Kalkebrenner, however our Berlin techno session was cut short by the fact we had to work the next morning.

If this were a visual presentation I’d have a slick time-lapse video to denote the passage of time, but this will have to do.

 

We rushed out of bed the next morning to get to work in time, and it was lucky we did because here’s what ensued:

Thank god someone came in time to fill these outdoor chairs!

The first half of the shift passed pretty much in this way, except when we were told to get to work and moved our conversation from the back of the bar to the front, in full view of patrons.

Once our shift ended, we decided one inspirational African band wasn’t enough. So we dropped in to see Amadou and Mariam. This blind Mali couple were just as remarkable and enjoyable as Staff Benda Bilili. I’m trying to be as positive as possible about the acts here so I’ll just say I wouldn’t have complained if they played right through Björk’s time slot.

After Björk there was nothing else to do but hit the final party hosted by DJ Static. I’m not massive on DJs but even I could appreciate a show that included over 80 performers and a big band. Much fun and dancing ensued and my lower back may have seized up, but all too soon we had to make our way back to camp for the last time.

Slick time-lapse video again and I was packing up my free t-shirts (still three of them) and joining the exhausted masses on their way home.

Therein ended my first experience of a European festival. It occurs to me that I may not have been particularly positive about all the aspects of the experience. While there are undoubtedly some unpleasant elements of festival living, they are things you have to go in to it expecting. Overall I immensely enjoyed my time there and I am looking forward to extending my collection of free t-shirts next year.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

*It also occurs to me that there may not be any new words, irrelevant images, or baffling videos posted here for the next week or two. This is not due to laziness. Or at least not in the sense that I’m here and perfectly capable of posting things. Rather, my laziness will be taking place in Turkey and on a boat where I’ll be re-enacting scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one). If you’re wondering, I’ll be dressed like this, A’hoy!

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It’s Not A Tuba! Wait…Yes It Is: Roskilde Part 3

23 Jul

Yes, my epic Roskilde tale still drags on like an Olympic-sized traffic jam. Still, I’ve no doubt that future generations will come to revere this radtastic (industrial language) work in the same way as Viking Eddaic poetry or Homer’s Odyssey.

Though I admit this has to compete with other contemporary classics such as:

 

My tale resumes with me in the Odysseus role, awaiting safe passage home for me and my free T-shirts (the number of which had then grown to three!). It was a regular Friday morning, regular except for the fact I was in Denamrk, at a rock festival, and had used the term “urine-soaked” more in two days than in my previous 25 years.

It had also begun to rain. Luckily it wasn’t the kind of rain that plagued the infamous 2007 festival.

Accounts of that day vary, but I choose to believe that the Orange Stage became a floating barge that toured the campsites bringing sweet music to all the soggy people.

No, luckily this was just enough rain to blanket all the fantastic odours that come with festivals. Mercifully, it also abated halfway through the day.

Our group didn’t have to work until 7pm, so we spent our day enjoying volunteer-priced drinks and watching Roskilde-priced music acts with all the full fee-paying chumps. The pick of these acts was probably a fun set from US band, Gossip.

By the time our second shift came around, most of the initial bugs had been ironed out. We had working cash registers and everything! The shift passed mainly without incident. When I wasn’t schooling people on the taps I was being schooled on Scandinavian languages. Now my Danish is better than most (in that I know more than none at all), but I was reduced to listening intently for just two things. 1) the number of drinks they wanted, and 2) the type of drink they wanted. If they wanted two different things I was up the proverbial creek.

A friend and I did find the chance to take a well-timed break to see Jack White. With only a half-hour break (may have been 43 minutes) to take, we did extremely well to be there just in time to hear him play “My Doorbell” and, after a few other good songs, finish with “Seven Nation Army”. I find it a shame when fans are relieved to hear an act play their biggest hit. I’ve never pulled in to a Shell only to hear the attendant say “sorry we’re not selling fuel anymore because that’s what everyone would expect us to do, frankly we’re sick of it, but how about some firewood?”

Did I mention that our shift went until 4am? Who seems like the chump now? By the time we’d finished, had a beer and walked back it was almost full daylight.

By the time we awoke it was raining again, and again it stopped without causing too much trouble. It was to be a good day because we didn’t have to work until the following day. Sadly, we still missed the pun-tastic music of Cerebral Ballzy who played at midday, but come five o’clock we were sure not to miss The Roots. Having not been the right age to enjoy The Roots (in any form) in the mid-90s, I had not heard much of their work. But I approach festivals as a chance to see stuff you wouldn’t usually see, and I’m glad I did.

I’ve never seen such energetic work from a guy carrying a tuba. That’s commitment I say. When they started out he could’ve gone for a trumpet, trombone or an electric kazoo and no one would have thought less of him. But he said “no, I’ll take the heaviest, brass-iest instrument I can find and I’ll still run maniacally around the stage.” Fantastic fun for all involved.

Well, that’s it for yet another installment. If I keep this up it might even run longer than Peter Jackson’s King Kong. But at least it’ll be more entertaining.

 

Safe travels, thanks for your readingship. J

The Language of Industry: Roskilde Part 2

20 Jul

It’s come to my attention that I need to use more “industrial language” in my blog.

I’m not really sure what this means for me as an amateur “travel” blogger, but in the world of professional sport it’s licence to use all kinds of wonderful phrases.

That’s right, it seems because you’re on a football pitch you are able use phrases like “fีแารืเ bสฟแา cีืะ” and fีแารืเ kืนิ้ำฟก” with reckless abandon, as long as you term them “industrial language” or say you were repeating them sarcastically. (Editor’s note: I bought this computer in Thailand. So to avoid offence I used Thai characters, but you can use your imagination.)

In the same way, I’m assuming my previous use of the word “goosing” is entirely justifiable as industrial language, as such things happen on the tube all the time.

Anyway, the real reason you probably tuned your internet dial this way is to hear more of my regaling about the Roskilde Festival. So let’s move on.

After a wild night of gleefully dancing in urine-soaked territory (its just what you do, and my use of “urine” is industrial language), all awoke rather rusty. In saying that I mean we felt like rat shit (industrial language), and we were not able to really do anything meaningful until about four o’clock.

I did find time to cop an eyeful of scrotum (industrial) in the communal showers though. They really should have someone out front to warn people.

The reason we finally roused ourselves at four was the fact we had our first volunteer shift. Upon showing up early, we soon found out the disorganisation stretched to all aspects of Roskilde.  This being apparently the norm however (we didn’t have working cash registers for the first few hours), everyone just got on with it rather well. In my case, I soon found out that my volunteering would consist largely of this:

I promised blurry pictures, and I don’t disappoint my adoring crowd.

This was interspersed with periods of being yelled at by thirsty but well-meaning Scandinavians. Also at some point during the shift the festival music started.

Eight hours later we emerged in the midst of the festival and began festival-ing. I realise that’s probably not the verb meaning ‘to festival’ but it’s industrial language, so anything goes.

Our festival-ing consisted of quaffing the pre-mixed “water” bottles we’d brought in before watching a supergroup called Apparatjik. I’m not sure you can call members of Coldplay, a-ha and Mew a supergroup, but they certainly knew how to put on a show.

In short, things got weird. It was without doubt the strangest thing I’ve seen this side of the shoe-mounted dustpan. When you weren’t fixated on the band’s antlers (yes, antlers), you got to watch a catwalk show of…well, stuff like this:

I’d love to sit in on the production meeting for this.

And also this:

“I’ve got it! Giant balls on a stick!”

Possibly to break things up, and possibly because the guy from a-ha is like 93 years old, there was also a pretty fun 40-minute DJ set in the middle of the show. In any case, people at Roskilde are always in that “pretty much anything goes” kind of mood, so it was all received rather well.

Some time around 3am the set finished and we traipsed back to our less squalorful camp for the requisite 3-4 hours of intermittent sleep.

I’m going to leave it there for now, as great writers don’t put all their best material in one piece. Since I don’t have anything I think is worthy of the label “best material” other than pictures of giant balls and pointless inventions, I’ll just say that an amateur “travel” blogger doesn’t post all his filler stuff in one go.

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

The Lengths You Go For A Free T-Shirt: Roskilde Part 1

17 Jul

You’re extremely lucky I care enough about this “palace that words built” enough to rouse myself from an exhausted stupor just to tell you about how I came to be in said stupor. If anyone didn’t know already, the reason there have been no new words or irrelevant images here for about a week is that I’ve been selflessly volunteering my services.

The reason it may have been any longer than a week is pure laziness.

Anyway, the fact my volunteering got me a free ticket and other stuff at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark would cause many to question my motives. So I won’t mention it. Here’s what happened:

The trip that ended in an exhausted stupor began in an exhausted stupor as I crawled out the front door at 4am. I’m not sure how much I saved by booking the earliest flight but I’d wager it wouldn’t buy me enough Danish hot dogs to be worthwhile. Before too long however I was enjoying the infinite pleasure of assisted lateral movement:Before much longer I was making my way across Copenhagen towards Roskilde, stopping only spend some of the money I saved on the early flight.For the uninitiated (and those who love to be surprised by amazing facts), here is some painstakingly researched information about the Roskilde Festival that certainly did not come straight from my free information booklet:

  • There are around 110,000 festival-goers, 30,000+ of which are volunteers, artists and media (makes my commitment seem slightly less significant).
  • Each person at the festival creates on average 25 kg of garbage (that includes 22.5kg of plastic cups)
  • The clean up operation after the festival takes nearly the rest of the year before it comes around again.
  • Owing to the amount of human waste produced, the top 2cm of soil has to be lifted from the ground across the whole festival area, cleaned, and then replaced. Personally I’d just keep putting a fresh layer of newspaper down, but they’ve been at this a long time.
  • The festival is run as a non-profit organisation, and helps to fund a number of worthy causes.

Upon arriving at Roskilde station I promptly discovered that this was a festival celebrating disorganisation in all its forms. Yet despite the fact that nobody knew where they were going of how to get there, by happy coincidence everyone seemed to drift aimlessly until they arrived successfully at their destination with little or no fuss.

In this same roundabout way, I found myself checking in and picking up my free T-shirt. Therein achieving my goal of a free T-shirt, I promptly tried to get back to the train station to leave immediately. Somehow though, I ended up in the festival grounds and with the group of friends I was to volunteer with. Faced with roughly the same journey to get back, I figured it was quicker and easier to just stay five days for the festival then leave with everyone else.

Being part of the exclusive 30,000-strong volunteer force meant we were allowed to camp in the “restricted camping area”. This basically meant we were able to live in less filth and squalor than everyone else. By contrast, “general camping” meant constant deafening noise, having most or all your camping equipment stolen, and leaving your waste wherever you happen to be standing at the time.

On reflection, restricted camping wasn’t that much different. Except for the waste part.

Luckily the overwhelming redeeming feature of general camping is that it is a sprawling shanty-city of wild debauchery. Which is why it was our first port of call that night. Various DJs and speaker systems are dotted around the camping area so that you’re never far from the sweet, seductive sounds of ‘Call Me Maybe’.

After much merry-making and doing our best to avoid suspect-looking puddles (even more suspect given it hadn’t rained there for a while), we somehow made our way back using only a power-generating windmill as a reference point. This is pretty impressive when you look at this image I took from my personal zeppelin.

“I think we’re past the big windmill and to the left a bit”

That will have to do for now, as I can tell I’m going on a bit. Besides, if I break it up I’ll have more material to use in the coming days so you won’t have to wait so long to get your fix of mildly interesting words an alternative to actually talking to each other on your way to/from work. In any case there’ll be more about the subsequent days of Roskilde soon.

Thanks for reading, safe travels. J

Courtesy Post: Time Flies When It Has To Escape The Weather

3 Jul

So the “irony approach” (whereby a hosepipe ban was adopted by water departments to combat the “drought” Britain was in) has well and truly worked. We are no longer in “drought” and the restrictions have been rescinded. All is well with the world!

Except that the crappy weather has stuck around like that friend-of-a-friend who “just needs to crash for a few nights” but ends up staying a fortnight, using all your hot water and eating your last bagel. So as someone once wisely proclaimed, I’m outta here!

That’s right! As surely as you just clicked on a Shania Twain video, I’m making my way to the blisteringly warm shores of Denmark again:

This weather has me so excited, I might even be able to break out my scarcely used “moderate clothing.”

I just typed “moderate clothing” in to an image search. Though I may have accidentally typed “post-apocalyptic chic”.

Anyway, this weekend (my weekends beginning on Wednesdays, of course) marks my much publicised, selfless volunteer stint at the Roskilde Festival outside Copenhagen. See earlier post for details, but I’ll generally be making sure festival goers are too inebriated to care about the infamous “urine dust“. A task I take extremely seriously.

If your not one of the roughly 100,000 people who will be attending, fear not! For I promise you the next best thing to actually being there. That’s as long as you accept the next best thing is a series of short, poorly-worded blog posts which may or may not be relevant to the topic promised. There may also be blurry photographs.

In the meantime, try and fill the time between posts by doing something profound and meaningful.

 

Safe travels, massive chunk duce for reading everybody. J