At one point during Machine Head’s mainstage set, frontman Rob Flynn complimented Roskilde for it’s diversity and inclusiveness, noting how all kinds of genres come together and everyone supports everyone else. He commented on how the first time they played there, the band went on right before Willie Nelson. He seemed especially impressed that Willie watched their whole set and said that they, in turn watched his. Because he’s Willie Nelson. “That’s the power of music,” said Flynn, and it really is true. Roskilde is the kind of festival where anything goes, where toddlers and grandparents enjoy a Refused show or some teenagers take in a set by Ars Nova, a vocal ensemble dedicated to the music of composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Music is just music at Roskilde, regardless of genre divisions. That dedication to diversity meant that on the final day of the festival, I took in a bit of everything, from the choral music of Ars Nova to the swampy New Orleans funk of Dr. John to Bjork (Bjork is her own genre) to the extreme metal of resurrected grindcore legends Nasum.
The Swedes lost their vocalist Mieszko Talarcyk in the tsunami of 2004, making a true reunion impossible, and in the words of Nasum’s remaining members, it wasn’t really a reunion at all. “You thought Nasum was dead? We are. This is not resurrection. It’s farewell, for good.” So said the band in a statement announcing their farewell tour/celebration of what would have been their 20th anniversary. ‘Nuff said. With Rotten Sound vocalist Keijo Ninimaa taking Talarcyk’s place, the band was ready to say goodbye to their fans and apparently enjoying themselves immensely in the process. You can’t really tell from the photo above, but their guitarist is quite possibly the happiest guy in metal. He looked so excited and stoked to be playing. When he wasn’t grinning from ear to ear, he was making metal faces, licking his guitar, lifting his guitar in the air triumphantly, and often spitting in the air then trying (and always failing) to catch it in his mouth. The rest of the band was no less intense as they blew through their songs at a breakneck pace with incredible passion. I know the Refused reunion was way more heavily hyped and it’s obviously not a competition, but for the record, as much as I enjoyed Refused, as far as reunited Swedes making heavy music go, Nasum were better.
Also passionate about their music were ’90s NYHC survivors H2O, who offered up a set of catchy. positive, melodic hardcore. Echoing Rob Flynn`s comments, singer Toby Moore was preaching the power of how music, specifically hardcore in his case, can have a huge impact on the course of one’s life. “Because of this music, I haven`t had any drugs or alcohol for 42 years. I haven’t eaten meat since 1988.” They then launched into “What Happened,” a lament for the state of punk today. A totally high energy set.
Also high energy and ridiculously fun was Santigold‘s set on the Arena Stage. This woman knows how to put on one hell of a show. Since Ricky`s already written at length about the greatness of her shows in the past, I won’t go into great detail on the specifics but based on the descriptions of those shows, it was business as usual for Santigold. Maybe even better. Santigold is an assured performer, her backup band is great, and her backup singers/dancers were, well, great. They kind of reminded me in some way of the S1W guys who used to appear onstage with Public Enemy. They somehow kept a straight face no matter how crazy their dance moves. Speaking of dance moves, the most memorable moment in Santigold’s set almost became it’s downfall. When she invited the”best dancers” in the crowd to come onstage, the obliging security crew just kept letting more and more people through. “Guys, no more,” she pleaded as more and more bodies flooded the stage. That said, once they did get onstage, they had some pretty impressive moves and Santi was totally feeding off their energy and really stepping up her game in response. “I remember you guys now,” she said, recalling when she played Roskilde a couple of years ago and echoed a sentiment repeated by a number of performers throughout the course of the festival, that this crowd is one of the best crowds they’ve ever played to before. I know a lot of the time, they’re just saying that, but at Roskilde, I get the feeling that they’re not just saying that.