“Damn, I’m fuckin’ cold. I thought this was summer!” Cardi B is shivering on the massive Orange Stage at Roskilde Festival, clad in nothing but a green two-piece leotard, as her steely crew of dancers strike a pose behind her.
Honestly, I relate—not to her larger-than-life presence as an international pop sensation, obviously, but to the fact that I only packed cute summer looks to a festival in Denmark and I am currently freezing my everloving ass off while trying to show up for one of my favourite artists of the past decade. But we both took it in stride; when Cardi dumped an entire bottle of water on herself for “Drip”, then slammed into a perfect split, I screamed until my body temperature skyrocketed to an acceptable summer swelter. And this was only night one.
Roskilde often gets unofficially billed by festival-goers as continental Europe’s answer to Glastonbury, and indeed, its profile among diehard music fans is almost as high as that of Micheal Eavis’ yearly shindig. There’s also a sea of somewhat muddy tents, populated with grinning punters inhabiting every known level of public intoxication, which might sound unappealing to the more refined music fan, but in actuality makes the experience of trudging through the crowd that much more interesting (shout out to the man who tried to make out with me while I was taking a sunset photo on day four, you will live on forever in Instagram infamy). Roskilde is also a non-profit festival, meaning that there are no pesky advertisers or signage anywhere, which makes for more of a community feel, even with well over 100,000 people in attendance every year.
One of the things that stood out about Roskilde was the sheer diversity of the artists performing. While tried-and-true favorites ruled most of the four-day fest (Tears For Fears’ brilliantly nostalgic early headline set on day one, for example, or Wu-Tang Clan’s hip-hop rap-along love-in on day three), discovering artists, an increasing rarity at festivals of Roskilde’s size when you’re just trying to get from stage to stage without losing your temper, or your €30 poncho, was a breeze.
Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara found a fan for life with her soul-affirming set on day two, which was like seeing Nina Simone front Led Zepplin, and teenage Jamaican up-and-comer Koffee blew me away despite playing the ungodly hour of noon on day four. Speaking of early set-times, X-rated Chicago rap superstar Cupcakke performed at noon on day three, sending well-meaning parents fleeing with their young children in tow while Danish teens screamed along to such modern classics as Squidward Nose and Vagina.
Other highlights included a moving, understated set by Tirzah, a full-band glam-goth freakout by Yves Tumor, warm indie vibes from Penelope Isles, an experimental pop demolition derby by SOPHIE, Jorja Smith reminding us all what it’s like to be young, soulful, and in love, and of course Robyn reaffirming everyone’s faith in the human race. But it all came to an end with The Cure. Robert Smith and his band of unmerry men tore the proverbial roof off of the Orange Stage with a two-hour-and-fifteen-minute career-spanning set that kept the audience enraptured for its entirety. As I stumbled back to my tent, blissful and utterly exhausted, even though my feet hurt, I hadn’t had any water in hours and my tent was splattered with rain and mud, I was ready to do it all again.