on a monday morning and i'm sitting in a field 'on my own'. eating oats in water out of a tin bowl. custard creams on the side, a festival staple. this is the way they say the future's meant to feel.
yesterday was the least complex first day of roskilde in my limited but significant experience. so very simple it was almost plain. but calling it the first day somehow denies its nature. the twelve month period between each festival collapses down into a void. i was here yesterday, and i was here the day before that. i saw the yeah yeah yeahs. i saw bob hund. i saw basement jaxx. i saw sonic youth.
so again we set up a fisk camp in the worker field, special armband required, and then everyone leaves me. but that's ok. i like holding the fort. i like the silence up here on my hill. the breeze. being able to retreat from the chaos and lie naked hanging out of my tent. you can roll around in the long grass without cutting yourself on broken glass or burning yourself on recently discarded cigarettes.
waiting in one of the organisational buildings i'm looking at the old roskilde posters from years gone by, reading the lineups from 94, 95 and 96. and what i'm reading is a list of my favourite bands from when i was 14, 15, 16. in the mid-nineties roskilde was the best festival in the world. every other band was brilliant. and look at the lineup this year. it pales in comparison.
anyway. i was worried i hadn't eaten enough food yesterday, but two humongous trips to the toilet, one before bed and one when i woke up at 10:30 (late due to clever tent pitching, facing west to minimise morning sun) suggests otherwise. although it was mostly nachos and pizza crust, neither appetizing nor nutritious. the studenterhuset camp is close to the vege-unfriendly lasagne and pizza stalls. so it goes. at least i got some rice and potatoes. shant complain. the funniest thing is how the organic pizza isn't organic anymore, how they just painted over the word 'organic' on their sign.
i accidentally slept fully clothed, so i've been debating whether to put clean underwear on (you can always benefit from a spare pair), but fuck it. i'm actually going to take a shower. cleanest boy here. and with nails the colour of the sky. crypsis. so i when i fall in the wrong direction you'll never be able to find me. also the blue of max havelaar, which is useless unless you want to hide in a coffee shop.
it's a tuesday morning and i'm back again with my tin bowl. i love my bowl. and the birds circling above me. and the raven.
if you describe a week at roskilde you describe every roskilde. you describe a single day and it covers the whole week. if you can describe a single moment that's all you need to understand the whole universe of roskilde. it's fractal in structure and hence why it's such a huge shared experience. we are all in every moment the same moment. and no i'm not on drugs.
but this doesn't help you. not when you're getting your ass kicked at connect4 and backgammon. not when you're looking stupid because you joke with someone you'll only play them for money, only to find out their a regular gambler. i'm the shittest hustler.
acutally it was going pretty well until we found the bottle of rum in the middle of the path. so many criss-crossing paths, and it has to be on ours. one swig made a norwegian stumble across the skatepark and collapse in nasty wretchings. kids. we were dancing to reggae, then i got lost with two vegetarian swedish sisters. their friends gobbled their pizza down before i even had a chance. i was being polite and the rum was long gone. and then i was lost again. running away from the coffin soundsystem.
everyone is interesting for thirty seconds. interested.
like the girl who confirmed she could snog me after i'd told her i was 28. "no sorry you can't". she had a thing for english guys. she hated them. so hopefully i helped to restore some of her faith in us. that we're not all scum (just most). although she didn't believe me that i was english, so nevermind.
and it's great to be able to pass someone a hipflask of jagermeister, pulled from nowhere, straight after they tell you it's their favourite drink. that's the festival magic working its hardest.
then wednesday morning and i could lie her all day staring up watching the birds surf the wind currents.
point was, everything was fine until marta stole a box wine, creeping across the grass in the most overemphasized sneaky walk cartoons have ever known, only to dash away in a flash when she discovered it to be full. and of course everyone was watching the spectacle. that's how i ended up at 5am, long past my bedtime, begging the sun to sink back below the horizon. all the wine. everyone was so fucking drunk yesterday. all day. almost getting into fights due to a misunderstanding over a pizza slice. and a jump off a skate ramp. i have the graze to prove it.
can you see the pattern re-emerging?
then lene is running around sticking a water gun filled with vodka in people's mouths. until someone stamps it into the dust. shapefind on an epic scale. i'm just sitting here laughing to myself. the hilarious hookups. the lolwhoops.
the symbols the sun etches on your retina. flicks of the extraocular muscles trying to create meaning through the noise.
speaking of eyes, mine were butchered by thick eyeliner. which is better than no eyeliner. better than jolle repeatedly standing infront of me when we were trying to talk to "kirsten from kirsten ketsjer" (ketchup would easier). better than losing your shoes and walking from C to M barefoot. but not as fun as it would be to datamine the roskilde SMS database, if only one existed.
i just remembered that i was shouting at the cops. that they were racist fascists. lolwhoops again at 5am. they were probably arresting that guy for good reason. but it's no fun seeing cop cars driving around the campsite. and it's impossible to not feel some kind of solidarity for the black guy being pushed into the ground.
eating only once during the day was bad too. even if it was the largest feast. we'd pilled together all the floor food we could find around the junior pavillion area. and when we were done there was enough for others to come skank too. but they didn't.
i wish everyone would just leave the complicated conversations at home.
and i want to call you up and have you play 'one more hour' down the phone.
and the beautiful lightning that never quite managed to follow through.
and nothing about people drinking wine from the piss bucket. who was to know? apart from the person who put it in there.
thursday and i'm really beginning to appreciate the apricots. i don't want to drink anymore, but unfortunately we all have a date with hjortene and several bottles of jagermeister at 2pm. about the same time i have the big fisk meeting. it'll work out i'm sure. these things always do.
but it's nice with some kenneth. with my wine bottle being constantly refilled before i even have a chance to empty it. and it's nice with katrine too. just hanging out and talking for hours. sitting chilling in a tent, the only thing visible between the tops of the trees and the edge of tent are black clouds in all directions. then suddenly the sun breaks through from above and illuminates everything. a strange vision.
and it's also nice with the '200 litres of liquor' party. all that free vodka and rum and someone still had to steal two crates of their beer. no concern for karma. this is roskilde.
the private psychedelic reel. climbatize. anti-gravity love song. stockholm syndrome. byob. old.
the queue for the breakfast tent is unbelievable. i want a coffee but forget it. two days ago my coffee only lasted ten seconds in the studenterhuset camp before a combination of other people's drunkness and highness sent it all over the ground, sleeping bags, and several friends. anyway, coffee is for wimps.
i like the guy wearing his glasses whilst showering. i just don't understand him. the worst thing about the showers is all the horrific tattoos you can't help but look at whilst trying to avoid all the cocks and beer guts.
and who thought i'd be able to find a needle and thread to repair my shorts twice.
friday and i just woke up from a lovely doze behind the fisk stall, listening to florence and the machines. required sleep. i had my night shift last night, from 2am to 10am. it wasn't bad but i needed more sleep and less wine. i needed for my co-workers to not change shift at 6am. but it was nice with a hot cup of mint tea before going back to bed.
i really wanted to punch dipsy.
the longer i spend at roskilde the more i realise how nice swedish and norwegian people are, and the less i like the danes.
i just realised kenneth is waiting for me outside. did i plan to meet him? i wrote "1:30 at fisk" in my book, but that was hours ago.
so it's saturday and i'm back in my tent again with my oats and i'm needing more shade. the pavillion we bought last year is now behind the stall, which benefits everyone, but we should have bought a second one. i'm also annoyed that bands are scheduled to play at 3am, so that i'm not in bed until 5am. i'm annoyed that the sun is already up. which cycles back to there being no shade, and my makeshift 'matress over tent supported by box wine' is not sexy. also i'm annoyed that women are forced to constantly queue. i can walk straight into the shower, but the women's line is way over half an hour long. not to mention the toilet situation. there is an evident lack of women involved in the organising of the festival (apparently the booker is a woman, but that doesn't help you relieve your bladder). for sure part of the problem is women taking unnecessarily long in the shower, that's their own fault, but a little rebalancing wouldn't hurt.
but kudos to the girls who took over the urinal, covering the entrance with a blanket (unfortunately about 30cm too high off the ground). that's the way to do it. how about introducing women only pissing areas for the less prudish, where you can piss through a grill? perhaps it's not very practical.
really i'm not annoyed at all. not even at the people using hair dryers in the toilet trailer.
but back to thursday, i managed to walk straight into the main festival area with nine litres of wine (twelve bottles). it's a lot but i should have brought the vodka too. so i'm the hero of whoever i'm hanging out with. then the fisk meeting/dinner was delayed, and luckily long enough to see the whole hjortene concert (but mostly just naked idiots making nuisances of themselves) and make it back for homemade african food. i ate the hottest small yellow round chilli thing i've ever eaten.
the main concerts started with serena maneesh. blinding swirling noise rock and instantly one of the best gigs of the festival. the kids can rock. then there was some efterklang, which was good but not much to look at. apart from the most incredible eyes i ever saw, so pale blue they were almost white. i'd rather sit in the shade, bathing in the peace of outdoors. this was shortly destroyed by sick of it all, who i saw just to see and wasn't really in the mood for. later was the gorillaz (were?). too many people crowding around the orange stage and i only knew one or two of the songs they played. but at least i've seen one half of the clash.
you can't get within two metres of a fence or wall before you're squelching in piss.
at 3am i was sitting in our own personal fisk toilet. no lights and the lock doesn't work (at least it's ours and there's never a queue). then comes the familiar sounds from further down the toilet trailer. it starts like diarrhoea. moves into more of a vomiting kind of noise. then it sounds like sex. i'm bewildered, and in the darkness and red wine haze i open the stall door just in time to see someone fleeing down the steps. wtf indeed.
sunday morning finally and the spiders like me, crawling on my face whilst i'm trying to sleep.
my writing has missed a day. well, most people seem to have missed days. all too hungover to leave the camp. so it's me and kenneth compensating by seeing thirteen bands. this was friday. it wasn't all full concerts, but enough for a good taste. music to enjoy whilst sitting in the sun or in the shade, eating free nachos in over abundant supply. whole plates of pasta. so much waste.
but there was the hypnotic brass ensemble, the bear quartet, john olav nilsen & gjengen. we hung briefly with the hjortene boys (apologising on behalf of our absent band member) and the brand manager for jagermeister. "you know why i drink jagermeister? it's because of these guys", pointing to two thirds of probably the best stoner rock band in denmark. i totally ftw, but we never did get those ice cold shots. we saw some of circle, who are slightly confusing.
the party officially started with casio kids. "bikkjen min aller beste venn, eg skal aldri miste deg igjen." we drank the equivalent of four bottles of wine in little over twenty minutes. they were fun and we were pretty. too pretty sometimes.
there was alice in chains who sounded good considering, but they were ultimately boring. then there were wooden shjips, who were better. there was also nisennenmondai blowing everyone's fucking minds. that or boring them to death. for the first fifteen minutes i thought they were just trying to expel the non-hardcore people from tent with a continual feedback note and a looping "clip boop tchkk" that changed painfully subtely. the wait paid off when the drummer started. but even then it was an exercise in patience. they were amazing, but it would have been nice to have seen their eyes just once.
we saw some of them crooked vultures. old guys playing boring rock music. so we went to see health instead, a bunch of kids rocking the shit out of the pavillion stage. i don't even know what they were playing, something akin to a cross between 65daysofstatic and sigur ros. forget the old guys. roskilde teaches you that youthful innovation is where the party is at. all these old bands just suck now.
then we couldn't find more wine. everywhere was sold out due to the new rules forbidding you to bring in your own alcohol. so laurence fetches the final box wine and we try to drink this one a little slower. watching guys in wheelchairs play reggae. or something. then we follow the crowds over to see den sorte skole. the crowd is packed beyond the tent and all the way up to gate 7. people are probably partying beyond it too, outside the festival area. den sorte skole must be happy with the turn out. it sounded great. especially considering a week before they hadn't even practised (they're our practice room neighbours).
we ducked out early, fighting the crowd, to see bonaparte. they're a berlin band who phil had been raving about all day. i couldn't promise to turn up, but had he told me who they were i wouldn't have hesitated, even at 3am. the best moment was when i dived into the front to try and find lene and phil and i suddenly recognised the band. then they played the song i knew. crazy cabaret brilliance.
on saturday i slowed it down a little. less bands and less walking. kings of convenience in the morning. nice but blah. then hanging out amongst free plates of food. failing to meet kenneth. sitting under the trees, cooling in the shade between the trails of piss. watching patti smith. a perfect day ("absinthe in the park"). the wind blowing bubbles at startling speed through the crowd, skimming around and past people into the dusty haze of the late afternoon soon.
to retreat and relax in camp with vodka and juice. baileys coffee and i'd give you anything for a pimms and lemonade. we tried to assemble a plan to get the largest group possible for prodigy. fun in numbers. but it's difficult. we saw muse ("moose") who were ok from a distance. they played the two songs i wanted to hear early in their set so i was soon bored. afterwards we met up with more people and found a good spot with adequate sound and no view of the stage for the prodigy. completely removed from the band, we may as well have been listening to the CD. but if you ignored the crap that they were shouting ("yo fuck, where are my fucking people?") it was a good fun gig. they ended on their law so i was pleased enough. kicking up the dust.
everything so dusty and filthy. even though i've showered every day. rinsing my nose out. choking up sand, sore throat from all the dust, and someone told me you just need to drink more water. slight biological problem there.
i tried for a final band of the night, moderat, who started at 2:45, but i just didn't want it enough. i walked home happy and alone and was glad for it.
suddenly it's tuesday and i'm sitting on the grass in our courtyard and i'm incapable of doing anything but writing in my little book. i can't face my computer, can't face the internet, with its inbox of yet unknown enormity.
i've had a lot of compliments on my ability to find food. whole plates of pesto pasta (still hot), half a belgian waffle with ice cream (still cold). a full box of potato wedges with tasty mustard dip. endless swedish mash potato. rice, noodles, even better noodles. falafels. rice in vine leaves with olives. if i ate fish i'd be eating sushi. if i ate meat i'd be eating everything. i'd never need protein again. but then the one time i actually want to buy food, the amazing quorn burger, the bastards are sold out. it's typical, but at least i broke my festival spending record. there was 50kr towards a crate of beer on the first day, then two times 10kr for coffee. one of which i never drank. i almost spent as much escaping from the festival, but that's a story for later.
we're on sunday. it was a slow morning and i couldn't sleep enough. i took a shower, if not only so i could say i showered every day, and i didn't queue once. didn't queue for anything. not yet. i talked to the fisk girls some. one of them was being all sad because the only reason she came to roskilde was to see prince and she had a shift during his concert. my plan (the sensible one) was to leave before prince even started. i thought about it a while, and came to realize i didn't really have a choice, i had to take her shift (getting a car ride home into the bargain) so she could see prince. this is where everything began to go wrong.
so i packed down the tent, all my gear, and stored it in someone's tent. went to find "my roskilde people" (yes, still taking the piss). when i enter the studenterhuset camp all i hear now is "hey laurence, long time no see, where have you been?". as if bands aren't actually playing. so it's me and kenneth again. we see some converge before watching the bizarre die antwoord. funniest and weirdest gig of the festival. aqua crossed with atari teenage riot in every way, a perfect average, and a much better performance than the prodigy.
motorhead were boring, as the rules of roskilde dictate. nedry were playing at the same time on a much smaller stage, boys with laptops and guitars and a japanese woman playing bass and screaming. much more interesting.
later falling asleep at camp. everyone trying to finish the red wine. so many undrank bottles and boxes. the last of the fernet branca ("the fernet must never be gone at roskilde"). wake sleep wake sleep repeat. i've had worse sundays, but been able to pull through since my girlfriend's been here. suddenly i wake up and we have to leave straight away for a chance to see the national (their last two songs were great). so there were fast goodbyes to whoever needed them and could pay attention long enough. some awkward, some redundant, some sincere or otherwise. see you all next year. or sooner. or never. enjoy your life. that i mean, at least.
your final gig is important. a gig to summarise the festival. to leave on a good note. and you can't beat bob hund in 2008, but pavement can try. we're down the front with so much space. as if everyone has forgotten them in the last ten years. as if i ever knew them that well, i couldn't even name a song, but i know them. slackerlicious. and they're the only bunch of old geezers who manage to pull off a decent roskilde show.
so to the fisk tent to pack down and clean up. we did good. pulling clothes from the hangers, pulling blankets down, wires from the walls. everything in bin bags. and by the time prince finally shuts up most of the store is in the back of the van. we run to the camp and collapse the final tent down, walk off in the wrong direction for ten minutes because it turns out we don't know where the car is. but i'm a forgiving kind of guy. we find the car in the carpark and it's almost a miracle, but then in over half an hour the escape queue only moves two metres. when i'm not falling asleep i'm freaking out. i need to get home and i need to sleep so i can get up tomorrow to work. but most of all i need to see my girl. the buses aren't even leaving from the west gate anymore, nothing is, so it's time for desperate measures. i put my boots back on and start walking the distance to roskilde train station. i don't even know if the trains are still running, it's almost 3am, but there's nothing else to do. i'm exhausted and optionless and about to cry.
half an hour later i'm at the east gate and the buses are still leaving but the queues are huge. then i notice the very badly sign posted night bus to copenhagen. so i queue for almost an hour and then die on the bus. i wake up desperate for a piss and have no idea where i am until i see fisketorvet. and i have never been so happy to see fisketorvet. i can't wake up the girl beside me, and then when she wakes up she can't move the guy who's passed out in the aisle. it's morning and the sunset is filling the entire sky, jagged clouds beating out a rhythm more colourful than any samba band ever did. i'm so fucking hallucinating. and i wrote sunset instead of sunrise. i'm asleep by 6am, if you can call it sleep. semi-concious paralysis.
my alarm goes off at 9:30am and soon i'm back in the fisk store trying to deal with the rest of the clean up operation. people trickle in to help, but we're so many zombies. delirious. we're finally done by 6pm. everyone hates and loves everyone else. roskilde happened and we kind of survived. can i end on that? i don't even care anymore.