Roskilde Festival 2005, Day 2 (in English)

What would heavy metal sound like played in super-slowmotion? Something like Sunn O))): A deep, almost motionless drone – a primordial soup of distorted guitars and bass synthesizer. From the outside it sounded like the Odeon Stage had been transformed into a huge, electric didgeridoo. And Hungarian singer Attila Csihar managed to make his gritty chanting voice blend into the massive noise. Not a band I’m dying to hear again, but I was impressed by the sheer vision of it.

Sylvie Marks & Hal 9000, on the other hand, didn’t quite convince me. Their blend of electronic beats and live drums and keyboards is not very original. And most of the time there was just to much doodling going on with no real focus (some of the live playing even sounded a bit shoddy).

They say that no matter how international Abba (or any other Swedish act)tried to be, you could still hear an echo of Swedish folk music. In the songs of the exuberant Håkan Hellström it’s much more than an echo: He’s a Swedish take on the rock singer/songwriter style, at times almost mutating into a young, playful Scandinavian Springsteen (in the best possible way). All the Swedes had at great time – and the young girls sang along to every word.

This just in: Grunge is not dead. No, really: Audioslave has held on to the good parts of genre: Gritty, powerful guitar riffs, heavy, but funky drum beats and muscular dynamics. A perfect platform for Chris Cornell’s energetic heavy metal shriek. Now, this is rock’n’roll!

Canadian The Dears can whip up a storm. And when they do – at the peak of some emotional chorus – they blow you away. However, their songwriting often gets a bit too cerebral for my taste: C’mon guys, it is possible to write a song in a regular 4/4-beat – and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Less brain and more rapture, and this band would be irresistible.

I only heard a few songs by The Tears (the new band fronted by the former masterminds of Suede), but their powerful melancholy seems to have survived. And Brett Anderson really is a remarkable performer – so full of nervous energy he’s actually shaking impatiently between songs.

I wouldn’t exactly call it a trip down memory lane, but Black Sabbath played a number of songs I listened to intently 20 years ago – and haven’t heard since. They look a bit worse for wear – surprisingly, Ozzy seems to have aged more gracefully than the rest of them. And the old rocker still seems to love what he’s doing – puttering about the stage in a most un-heavy-rock manner, grinning happily as his shrill voice cuts through the massive riffs. The crowd loved it.

The concert billed as “The Other Sides of Sonic Youth” was – noise. Pure and simple. The band plus guests added layer after layer of distorted sound to an everchanging texture of fuzz and feedback. Skilled and daring stuff – they could have played an actual song or two but went for the extreme instead.

People keep suggesting that I should like Autechre. And yes, I can appreciate the complexity, the originality and the attention to detail, and yet: Their sound palette is too alien and their beats not really danceable. I would love to like them, but somehow they leave me cold.

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