Roskilde Festival, Part 3: Shuffle Like You Just Don’t Care
I have a confession. I’ve never partied hard at Roskilde. I know, it sounds unfathomable. The combination of lots of fresh air, walking miles on end, standing for hours at concerts, the burning midday sun, the stream of alcohol and the constant social interaction is enough to knock me out by eleven thirty. It’s not that I pass out, I’m just suddenly drunk enough to admit that I like sleeping more than people.
Friday after the Rihanna concert was no different. Although stone cold sober, I still managed to freeze my ass off in a tent, rolled up in a hammock and with a carpet over my head, I kid you not. I was reminded that alcohol not only is a social lubricant, but works very well for accommodating the uncomfortable realities of camping. At least until morning.
I wanted all the best for Rihanna. Being the musical leper that I am, I didn’t know a lot of the bands playing this year. I do know Rihanna and everyone I’d talked to was abuzz about the Barbadian. The line for the pit was longer than Chris Brown’s criminal record and it seemed to be the party to be at. However, one 25 year old pop star is not enough to validate thousands of Roskilde tickets bought and the high expectations created a slightly unfair backlash. My favorite moment was when this guy took out an umbrella during the song “Umbrella” and smiled at everyone around him and pointed at the umbrella like “get it? GET IT?” Dude, I got it.
There is this Roskilde concert moment, that is unlike no other. It’s this feeling when a band completely owns the audience and you forget the roughness of the concert medium. It’s only happened a handful of times for me and not this year. Overall, there are three types of festival concerts here:
1. The Fandom. You’re a huge fan of the band, you only bought the ticket for this one show and you are going to enjoy the fuck out of it, no matter who criticizes it. It can be incredible and if it’s not, you are going to claim otherwise, only voicing your concerns with selected fans who gets that they totally like had an off day or something, everyone can’t be great all the time and it was actually kind of awesome so shut up.
2. The Random. It’s started to rain and you huddle under a tent with a friend who knows the band playing and it freaking blows your mind. You aren’t really committed to liking this band, but now that you are here, you are just going with the flow, getting sucked up in the frenzy coming from the more hardcore fans. You end up dancing, cheering and clapping more than at bands you know and you come out from the experience with a dazed expression on your face like you just sneezed eight times.
3. The Huh. You kinda know the band, you have friends that are going, you sing along to the song that you know, but you are painfully aware of your feet and the fact that you can’t find a lighter. It’s not bad, really, it’s just… huh… You go get something to eat after four songs and your friend is kind of pissed.
I followed a friend to the Of Monsters And Men show, where three things struck me. They are objectively great, I will never ever be watched by as many people as them right now and man, am I getting old. We’re surrounded by teenagers who are dancing and making out and most of what I am thinking about is how much my legs hurt, how annoying it is to be pushed and concert envy. Concert envy is a concept I’ve invented to explain the pangs of longing you feel when it looks like another section of the crowd is having more fun than you. I know rationally that I would just be the person in that crowd that is annoyed that everyone is jumping around me, but grass is greener and all that. Literally though, the weed odor comes and goes randomly at concerts and it makes everyone turn around like bobble-head dolls.
There is a strong music festival culture in Denmark and I think I know why. It caters to all the things Danes are good at. Drinking, sitting around not working, bitching about the weather (hot or cold, makes no difference), paying too much for everything and concert dancing. Our typical way of dancing, which consists of shuffling our feet and flailing our arms a bit is perfect for concerts. I’d even go as far as saying that our concert dancing is indicative of our national mindset. If someone is jumping too much about, we scoff and look at them disapprovingly while we wait for the concert security people to order them to stop crowdsurfing/sitting on shoulders/hopping too much/having fun.
Walking out of the tent and into the fading sunlight, towards the camp site, I can feel the bass in my shoes and the distant tones of crowds losing it everywhere. My sun burnt shoulders are relieved as the sky turns deep blue and a thousand glowing lights guide me into the night.