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Roskilde Music Festival

DENMARK | Tuesday, 9 July 2013 | Views [394]

I arrived in Copenhagen and took trains to the town of Roskilde's station. From there I wasn't sure how to get to the festival, but I knew that there would be either signs, people to help, or in the worst case sineario, I could just follow the other backpackers and hippies like my friend had told me to. I got off the train and I think no one really knew what to do because the other people went in all different directions. So I followed a couple of girls until I heard the sound of bongo drums- then I followed the bongos until I (eventually) made it to the festival. My Danish friend had picked up my armband for me and brought it to me and also got me the job that paid for my ticket (thank you Josefine!). She showed me to our campsite and the tent that she had bought for me to stay in all week (again, thank you Josefine!) which fit one backpacker, and her bag, perfectly. 

I had never been to a music festival this big before so I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I knew there was going to be a lot of drinking, a lot of music, and a lot of crazy hippies - all of which I'm completely comfortable with. There were people dressed up in all sorts of crazy costumes, outfits and sometimes absolutely nothing at all. Some highlights include: a full Borat costume, Pikachu, the village people and any sort of fury, animal costume you could think of. There was even a sexy sax player, playing an actual saxophone. 
Every campsite had its own speakers, that ran on a car battery, so people could play their music out loud. Some people would play their music so only their camp could hear it and others played Taylor Swift so loudly at 4:45am, that it woke up the people around them. I was walking through one of the main areas and heard Usher, heavy metal, techno, top 40, 80's R&B, and some Danish song from the multiple camps as I was walking along. 
The one thing about having 100,000 people camping and drinking massively for a week straight is how to deal with the basic human needs. Lets start with food: there were so many different types of food stands (most of which sold into the early morning) all over the festival site, that no one could go hungry. That and the amount of food that most people brought in themselves meant that there were options at every turn. All of that food meant there was going to be a lot of trash. Apparently it is only a festival thing, but no one would throw away their trash- and there were no trash bins around the camping sites. I didn't see a trash bin or bag until my 5th day there. This meant that everyone (myself included sometimes) would just throw their trash an beer cans on the ground. It got really old and really smelly , really quickly. Some of the beer cans had refunds for cash and there were people collecting them, but no one was touching the other trash on the ground. Now for restrooms: there were porto-potties everywhere with sinks and TP provided (which was so nice after Nepal) but most of the men wouldn't go that far to pee. New rules: don't walk next to the fences, and never step in mud (it only rained slightly on one of the first days). 
On the the music! There were 4 main people/bands I wanted to see and I got to see 3/4 (The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Rihanna, and Miguel). The first main band I saw was The Lumineers! None of my Danish friends knew who they were so I went alone, which kind of worked out perfectly because I got to work my way up pretty close to the stage. The Lumineers were really good live and it wasn't too crowded because they aren't well known here in Denmark. I also saw a little bit of Kendrick Lamar and Animal Collective that day. Both were pretty crowded so I was further away, but were keeping the crowd engaged. 
The next day had 2 of my 4 artists playing so it promised to be good. A couple of my new Danish friends also really wanted to see Of Monsters and Men so we stood in line for what the call 'the pit' which is the area right in front of the stage. We got there almost 3 hours before the concert started and it paid off- we were in the 2nd row! It was amazing to be that close to the only band that has made me buy an entire album in the last 8 years. Afterwards we went to Rihanna and the line to get into the pit was about a quarter of a mile. So we decided to jump into line near the front and got places in the last row of the first section! Rihanna was 35 minutes late getting to the stage and was singing over a voice track, but she can shake her ass when she wants to. Overall, I'm glad I saw her but I don't know if I would pay to see her again in such a big arena. I didn't get to see Miguel because I was working, but I'm glad I got to see the other 3! 
Other music: I saw about 5 minutes of Slipknot that evening and in between songs, the lead singer called the audience 'motherfuckers' 3 times in 2 sentences. I don't think heavy metal is really my thing. I caught most of a band called Dead can Dance just because I was waiting to meet up with my friends. They were a little too new-age for me but would be perfect for a little Israeli restaurant the caters to hippies and serves all vegetarian, organic food. I caught a little bit of Bobby Womack while waiting for some food - he's still got it. After Rihanna was a Danish heavy metal band called Volbeat. I didn't stay to hear them but their music was so loud, I could hear it while lying in my tent with earplugs in. I also overheard Metallica but wasn't super interested and was having a good time drinking somewhere else. I also got to hear this great Aussie DJ called Flume. He was good. 
This specific festival (Roskilde Festival) tries to differential itself from other festivals by promoting an anti-drug campaign. There were posters on all the fences (I would steal one, but remember the rules!) and they played a video before every major artist. I did smell some weed every now and again, but not every single day. It is a hippie fest but the Danes like their hygiene apparently. Not only did all of the people in my camp go home to shower at least twice (the armbands gave anyone in-and-out privileges) but all of the women around the festival had clean hair and nice clothes on. I on the other hand, had exactly 4 shirts and wore then each twice. I felt like they were cheating on the festival experience, but that's just how the Danes do it. The only bad thing about Roskilde Festival is that on Sunday night, when all the bands have finished playing and mostly everyone is on their way home, the really drunk or stupid people choose to gather all their crap that they are going to leave behind and light it on fire- specifically the tents. They go around and light tents on fire in a field of tents! I don't know who came up with this idea but its going to cost me- I was going to spend Sunday night in the tent, but because I don't want to be lit on fire in my sleep, I headed to Copenhagen a day early. 
Last thoughts: I leaned a couple of great new drinking games that I can't wait to use when next camping. The sun not only sets at about 10:30pm, but it also rises at 3:15am. There are only about 3-4 hours of complete darkness each night. It was fun to not be the only white person again and actually somewhat look like the rest of the people around me. The Danes are incredibly nice. I may have gotten groped a few times, but I never felt unsafe or threatened. I only heard of one fight the entire week! 
An the final big question: Would I do it again? I don't regret doing it, I had so much fun and its an experience that I'll never forget. I now know that I could come a little later in the week and not spend an entire week camping without a shower. Bring more of my own food and boos (although I didn't spend a lot for 1 week of traveling). I probably wouldn't work or I'd try to get better shifts. My work shifts collided with a lot of the music and I felt like I missed a fair amount. It would have to be a bit of a better line up for me also- 4 main acts isn't quite enough for me to come all this way again. But yes, I would do it again. 
Skul (cheers) Roskilde! 

Tags: camping, denmark, festival, music, roskilde


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