Roskilde Festival Review: The Smile, Clarissa Connelly, Richard Dawson & Circle, Fatoumata Diawara, Mitski, July 1


While the third day of Roskilde was surely the least promising in terms of the weather forecast, there was still a lot to look forward to in terms of the music programming, most notably a performance by The Smile, the new project from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood alongside Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner.

“We are a new band called The Smile” said Thom Yorke by way of introduction, noting that they have one album out and were currently working on another “because that’s what you do.” The band played a set full of songs off of their debut A Light For Attracting Attention that really displayed their talents. Yorke and Greenwood played a number of different instruments throughout their set, switching between guitar, bass and electronics, while Skinner mostly stuck to the drumkit. There was even a harp onstage that Greenwood played at one point.

Overall, the band seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage, with Yorke especially playing to the crowd, egging them on for a bit more applause here and there, and dedicating a song to those just on the outside of the tent – he joked that if they weren’t able to come in from the rain, they might as well get another beer. Or maybe a burger. It seems that this new project may have revitalized Yorke and Greenwood a bit … which also might suggest that the wait for a new Radiohead album might be a while still. In the meantime, The Smile are a pretty fantastic live outfit in their own right and well worth seeing if you get a chance. After their show had ended, one fellow walking behind me put it best: “Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow.” Wow indeed.

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I had a few other ‘wow’ moments earlier in the day in the form of Clarissa Connelly, Richard Dawson & Circle and Fatoumata Diawara. Connelly put on a mesmerising performance of her strange yet beautiful music, which brought to mind Bjork, Kate Bush, and Joanna Newsom. Following Connelly on the Pavilion stage that afternoon, Dawson & Circle’s prog rock meets folk with a dash of heavy metal couldn’t have been more different from Connelly’s sound but shared the same spirit of musical adventurousness. And Diawara’s mainstage set was a blast of pure joy that brought some metaphorical sunshine to a somewhat rainy day.

While The Smile put on a great show and many of the most compelling performances of the day for me were from relatively new discoveries, of the acts I had already seen live on previous occasions, Mitski ended up delivering one of the best performances of the day. For the first part of her set, she made no real concession to the fact that she was playing at a festival, no “how’s it going, Roskilde” or any other such crowd work – just her usual performance, assured and rather theatrical. Pretty much staying in character the whole time as she posed dramatically, Mitski put on a performance with a capital P that was absolutely compelling. Then, roughly 30 minutes in, she finally addressed the crowd, introducing herself before asking the entire crowd, “What’s your name?” And then, with all the introductions out of the way, she kicked things up a notch, launching immediately into “Townie” and “Your Best American Girl” and then keeping the energy at that same level for the remainder of her show. A totally satisfying set.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts