Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’

“Ain’t no party like a Roskilde party”

02/10/2018

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All text and pictures by Henrik Gustafsson.

Morjens and greetings from the annual Roskilde Festival in Denmark!

The first Roskilde Festival took place in 1971, in July 2018 the Wrong Rock Show’s and Finland’s DJ Finnjävel visited the festival for the 21st time. You might already have heard my musical report from Roskilde, broadcast on Bush Radio 23 July 2018 – if not, you’ll find it here.

South Africans galore

Without examining all the old festival programmes, I’d claim 2018 might have set a new record for the number of South African artists playing Roskilde: BCUC, FAKA and Moonchild Sanelly all featured in this year’s line-up.

BCUC 1

BCUC’s Zithulele “Jovi” Zabani Nkosi

BCUC 2

BCUC’s Kgomotso Neo Mokone

Soweto’s BCUC knocked me out with their mind-blowing live show at last year’s festival, see my 2017 blog entry. This year, they returned to a bigger stage (moving from Gloria, with a capacity of about 1,000 people, to Pavilion, being roughly twice the size of Gloria). I’m happy to report that history repeated itself: the place was packed and we all went nuts, singing “ain’t no party like a Roskilde party” as we strolled out of the tent after the concert. If the band’s Roskildevolution continues like this, I guess BCUC will headline the festival in less than five years. (I might add that it really is quite rare for artists to play Roskilde two years in a row; more or less the only band that springs to my mind is Finland’s The Flaming Sideburns, who played both 2000 and 2001.)

There’s a nice little live video clip of BCUC on the Roskilde Festival YouTube channel.

The rest of the South Africans performed at KlubRÅ, an intimate club space first introduced in 2017, fusing art and music at the festival. The Johannesburg performance art duo FAKA had prepared a show especially for KlubRÅ, and earlier that same day, they also participated in a short artist talk about being black and queer together with Sandra Mujinga from Norway.

Mujinga

Sandra Mujinga

Desire

FAKA’s Buyani “Desire Marea” Duma

Gucci

FAKA’s Thato “Fela Gucci” Ramaisa

FAKA

FAKA

Just like FAKA, Moonchild Sanelly is also based in Johannesburg, and she brought her “future ghetto funk” – mixing music, fashion and dance – to KlubRÅ at the final night of the festival. She was also invited by Damon Albarn to join Gorillaz for one song, the last band playing Roskilde’s gigantic main Orange stage (with a capacity of more than 60,000 people) this year.

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Equality, art and activism

Starting in 2016, Roskilde Festival’s three-year standpoint theme has been equality, with a focus on political equality and human rights in 2016, cultural equality in 2017, and, finally, economic equality (and inequality, leading to migration and corruption) in 2018. The ordinary beer drinking, head banging festival goers might not necessarily have noticed this standpoint, at least not until they bumped into the “equality walls” situated near the Orange stage. These were copies of some of the prototypes of the wall that Donald Trump plans to construct between the United States and Mexico.

Walls

Equality walls

Initially, I wasn’t that impressed by this year’s Art Zone (situated between Orange and Gloria) exhibitions, but much of the artwork actually looked better at night.

Slumpies

Jillian Mayer’s (USA) Slumpies were a series of abstract furniture sculptures

Stones

Synthetic fluorescent stone sculptures by Nat Bloch Gregersen from Denmark

Pathway

Pathway, designed by SANO, an architectural office based in Copenhagen

Pasquini

Graffiti artist: Alice Pasquini (Italy)

Rueda

Graffiti artist: Farid Rueda (Mexico)

Graffiti has always been a part of Roskilde Festival, but usually the art curators also try to come up with something new and exciting every year. This year, there were a couple of fascinating installations in the foyer of Gloria. Pleun van Dijk from The Netherlands mass-produced little babies, while the Danish Lysbid duo (Maria Cramer Møller and Anna Østergaard Laursen) sold personalised jelly shots – in exchange for your fingerprints and access to your personal data…

Replika 1

Pleun van Dijk: Replika – Staging a Human Production-Line

Replika 2

Welcome to the body lab

Lysbid

The Lysbid bar

An “activist talk about rights and personal engagement” might not sound like the most exciting of events at a festival, but whistleblower Chelsea Manning spellbound the audience who managed to squeeze into Gloria at Roskilde Festival. And that shouldn’t surprise anybody, because few people alive can match her background, if you ask me.

She (or should I say he, because back then she was known as Bradley Manning) joined the US Army after finishing high school in 2007. In 2009, Manning was sent to Iraq as an intelligence analyst. In early 2010, she sent some 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, who published the material via The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel. Manning was arrested some months later, and sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 – the longest sentence ever given for leaking US government information. While in prison, she publicly identified as a trans woman and began transgender hormone therapy. In his last week in office, President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, and she was released in May 2017. And then, in July 2018, Chelsea Manning gave her talk at Roskilde Festival.

Manning

Chelsea Manning

After seven years in prison, Chelsea Manning found Trump’s America resembling Iraq (see video): ”I was very alarmed, you know. I went out and everywhere I looked, you know, I see, everywhere in America right now, it’s just heavily armed police, body armour, rifles… I see a domestic military operation.”

Chelsea Manning also said that everybody belonging to any minority has reasons to be afraid in America right now. Now, that sounds scary. Who of us does not belong to some minority? Chelsea’s talk ended on a happier note, though: she has taken up music again, so maybe she’ll show up as an electronica artist at future Roskilde Festivals.

Possibly boring but certainly important facts about volunteering and sustainability

Just like Bush Radio (albeit on a different scale), Roskilde Festival depends on the work of volunteers. 31,000 volunteers helped making the non-profit festival great again this year, and most of these return to work for Roskilde year after year. And once again, the festival was completely sold out (80,000 full festival tickets + 20,000 one-day tickets) well in advance. The Roskilde Festival Charity Society organises the festival with the purpose of generating funds to donate to humanitarian and cultural initiatives. Over the years, the society has donated more than 345 million DKK to charity – just to name one example: in August this year, the festival supported Copenhagen Pride with a 500,000 DKK (approximately 67,000 EUR) donation.

Roskilde Festival has an ambitious 2016-2019 strategy for social and environmental sustainability. The goals include the festival activities being carried out “without negative environmental impact” and “with consideration and respect for human rights and human resources”. A lot of work needs to be done before these goals are fulfilled, and the festivalgoers can also do their share. For instance, a lot of camping gear is left behind, and the festival spends 8 million DKK every year cleaning up this mess.

There are about 180 food and beverage stands at Roskilde Festival, and last year they reached the goal of serving an average of 90% organic food across all stands (with almost every fifth stand serving 100% organic food). This year, the food stands also presented “climate menus”, showing calculated CO2 emissions of every dish.

A few more highlights and one single Finn

I don’t even need to check the musical programme before heading to Roskilde; I just know that I will meet old favourites of mine at the festival and I will stumble upon “new” artists to fall in love with instantly. Let me present one each of these from this year’s line-up.

I’ve seen the Norwegian free jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love at least three times before at Roskilde Festival: the three-headed garage jazz beast The Thing played in 2006, the cacophonic free jazz ensemble Fire! Orchestra (with some 30 members) in 2014 – both of these are led by sax master Mats Gustafsson, by the way – and in 2014, Paal also played as a noisy no-wave duo with Arto Lindsay. Fantastic concerts, each and every one of these, I might add.

Paal

Paal Nilssen-Love on stage with his Japan Free Jazz and Noise combo

This year, Paal Nilssen-Love played three unique shows in Roskilde, blasting off on Wednesday with Paal Nilssen-Love’s Japan Free Jazz and Noise – and I guess the name says it all… A wonderfully brutal gig! On Thursday, it was time for another world premiere, Paal Nilssen-Love’s Brazil Funk Impro: “groovy, noisy, loud and hard”, in the words of Mr. Nilssen-Love himself. On Friday, Paal went to a jazz festival in Norway, only to return on Saturday with the big band Large Unit Brazil Edition.

Large

A small part of Large Unit Brazil Edition

You might have noticed that I haven’t been praising any Finnish bands playing Roskilde 2018, and the only reason for that is there were no Finnish bands playing Roskilde 2018… But wait! I still have an ace up my sleeve! The Finnish electronic noise artist Tommi Keränen is a member of Large Unit, and there he was, turning his knobs, stage left…

Tommi

Tommi Keränen, Finland

If Paal Nilssen-Love was well known to me beforehand, the same cannot be said about Rascasuelos from Argentina, playing passionate tango “with the intensity of a rock band”, according to the festival programme. They are one of the groups at the forefront of Buenos Aires’ contemporary tango scene, and since their live show featured dancers as well, I was in for a real treat.

Patricio

Rascasuelos with band leader Patricio Bonfiglio on bandoneón in the background

Tango

May I have this dance?

Russian

Most of the food I had at Roskilde Festival was quite disappointing, but this Vegan Russian was one of the most delicious drinks I have ever had

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