Roskilde Festival: The orange feeling and the whole shebang


For over 40 years the small town of Roskilde west of Copenhagen has hosted one of the world's famed popular music festivals, recalling legends like Woodstock ( a one off) and England's Glastonbury. But Roskilde Festival is different; its Danish and exemplifies the Danish ideals of volunteerism and community. The festival has been nonprofit from its inception.

This hasn't stopped the event attracting big name acts. The main Orange Stage was brought by the Rolling Stones in 1976 and the band was back just a few years ago giving a performance they still talk about. This year the biggest acts were Eminem and Bruno Mars. Dynamic, interesting, famous. But it's the bands you never heard of and discover and the general atmosphere of the festival that leaves lasting memories.

For Tallinn Arts this was our first excursion across the Baltic Sea to Roskilde Festival. The mass of tents in the general campground is a sight to behold. As one Dane said, "It's like a refugee camp." The sheer number of campers is astounding, along with the dust and the fact that everyone strives to have a good time, to help each other and problems are few.

The number of volunteers is also impressive. And not all jobs are fun. Picking up garbage, service work and helping lost and drunk people comprises much of what volunteers are asked to do. It's done with aplomb, a smile, a positive attitude and the spirit of community.

For Tallinn Arts, we found ourselves walking around drinking. This led to unexpected encounters, funny conversations and new musical discoveries. We had never heard of Minds of 99, they sing in Danish, but it was a great show in mid afternoon. The symphony, opera and rap music seem an unlikely combination but it worked remarkably well in a performance on the final day of the festival, a reminder of the Danish ethos that everybody counts and can work across levels together. Johanna and Klara Söderberg are the Swedish sisters comprising First Aid Kit singing beautiful harmonies in what could be called Nordic country and western music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVVdlJCFtnA

Roskilde Festival is indeed a popup city with streets, taverns, restaurants and plenty of urinals. 100,000 people drinking beer and going apeshit. Delicious pizza. You might want it to never end but it has to. If it didn't the dust would give you emphysema, your liver would burst and you might revert to a more primitive form of yourself from living outdoors. Once a year is just right.

Much has been written about what the 'orange feeling' might be. A five year academic study was undertaken which decided roughly that it is has to do with 'humour'. Whatever it is the orange feeling lingers. It encourages getting to know strangers and improvising. Packing up and riding off on the bicycle there was the feeling that more could be good. At the airport almost a week after the festival's last show a group of girls were speaking animatedly about Roskilde. The orange feeling is hard to shake.


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