Tag Archives: music festivals

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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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