Bebel Gilberto @ Commodore Ballroom - 7/01/2000
Destroy All Monsters @ Center on Contemporary Art - 7/14/2000
High Sierra Music Festival @ Quincy, CA - 6/30-7/03/2000
Legendary Pink Dots @ The Showbox - 7/11/2000
Kid606/Cex/Marumari/Zammuto @ The Knitting Factory - 7/09/2000
Mayhem/Hate Eternal/Exhumed/Nocturnus @ State Theatre - 7/14/2000
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult/Meg Lee Chin @ Catwalk Club - 7/07/2000
Roskilde Festival 2000 @ Roskilde, DK - 6/29-7/02/2000



[ bebel gilberto ]
Bebel Gilberto
@
Commodore Ballroom
July 1st, 2000
Vancouver, BC Canada

Links:
Bebel Gilberto

For such an exotic singer, I needed something a little more extreme than seeing up-and-coming bossa nova legend, Bebel Gilberto, squeezed into a tiny space in Seattle. I grabbed toothbrush and passport and went north of the border to catch the first show of her North American Tour at the Du Maurier Jazz Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia. Daughter of bossa nova master João Gilberto, Bebel carries the smooth tradition into the 21st century with her remarkably sublime debut album, Tanto Tempo. Live, she brings an extra level of sparkle and energy to the music that is lost in the sterility of the studio. Backed by a tight band of drum, keyboard, guitar, and flute, she charmed the assembled Canadians--who, rightly so, knew where to be on Canada Day. Performing most of the songs from her debut album as well as a few well-remembered favorites, she delivered an incredibly poised and polished performance for her first night out.

I spent the rest of the weekend being reminded of her album in all the windows of the local CD stores and I can only hope the fervor following her performances follows her on her jaunt across the continent. Truly an inspiring and remarkable show, I mark this one as one of those shows that was outside of my normal genres, but I am so glad to have been enriched by the new sultry-voiced queen of the Brazilian sound.


-Mark Teppo
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[ destroy all monsters ]
Destroy All Monsters
@
Center on Contemporary Art
July 14, 2000
Seattle, WA

Links:
Destroy All Monsters

I must confess, I didn't even know about the art opening at the Center on Contemporary Art for their 20th anniversary celebration; I just ended up there with friends. I had never heard of Destroy All Monsters before that night and I am extremely happy that I ended up there. Seeing Destroy All Monsters perform at COCA was unquestionably a gift from the gods of experimental rock music history or anti-rock music history, whichever you prefer.

Once inside the COCA, there were about a hundred people roving around looking at the inventive art and watching the experimental music event. Destroy All Monsters were spread out in the center of the gallery in what looked like a yard sale or a thrift store gone improvisational performance. Destroy All Monsters founding members Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, and Cary Loren reunited for a four-hour computerless multimedia performance. Kelley and Shaw's two ten-by-twenty-foot murals illustrated and documented the Monsters' seminal upbringing. There were the artist's videos playing constantly throughout the opening along with Niagra's recent paintings, prints, and photographs demanding attention from the walls. Tons of Mike Kelley's rag doll toys (featured on Sonic Youth's Dirty album) were strewn about the stage floor along with Speak and Spells, toy keyboards, talking toys and kids books, and some old toys I honestly haven't seen since I was in grammar school. They also played guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, as well as some homemade instruments. The whole performance was encapsulated by a painted yellow-lined rectangle that defined where the performers were and where the audience was to be. Destroy All Monsters were surrounded on all four sides by the audience, this layout made the multimedia performance work well.

While Destroy All Monsters performed, I couldn't help having the feeling of being born too late. These guys were defying rock 'n' roll clichs long before I was even able to say "Destroy All Monsters." Seeing all of their art surrounding them while they played made the show even more remarkable. The chaotic music and the punk art combined was physical evidence of the revolutionary music scene that they helped develop in Detroit and Ann Arbor in the '70s. All of the old flyers and memorabilia intermixed with the art really conveyed a sense of history to me. This was a dynamic music scene that a friend of mine, Steve MacKay, had told me about. Steve is from Ann Arbor and was playing his trademark baritone saxophone in a band called Carnal Kitchen in the early '70s, when none other than Iggy Pop and the Stooges enlisted him to perform on Funhouse. MacKay also toured with the Stooges and gained a strong cult following as a dynamic and innovative sax player. Steve MacKay is another important "forgotten hero" from the Michigan scene and the time before punk rock. Whenever he'd tell me stories from this Michigan music scene, I could only imagine what it was like. Destroy All Monsters helped me put all of his stories into perspective and the Monsters gave me even more respect for Steve MacKay and this important and under recognized music movement.

All of the art on the walls and the aesthetic of Destroy All Monsters had a familiar look to it. What I saw at the COCA were all of the things that come with knowing the music, image, and collaborators of Sonic Youth, the photographic esthetic of Richard Kern, and the drawings of Raymond Pettibone all rolled into one event. While Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Renaldo and Steve Shelly are known for breaking down the walls of rock music with strangely tuned thrift store guitars, Sonic Youth's defiant New York pop trash style, which has been so ingrained in the underground music world, has predecessors. Destroy All Monsters was doing it sooner. Not that this reduces the importance of Sonic Youth; it only deepens the history of the genre. It was exciting to see music and art that obviously influenced bands like Sonic Youth and Half Japanese. The only thing missing from this show was Niagra, the diva of Destroy All Monsters, who couldn't attend the event. Her presence would have made this performance event more monumental. If you missed the performance at the COCA you still have until August 31st to see the artwork and history of Destroy All Monsters and the rust belt music revolution of the pre-punk era.

-Danny Murphy
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[ high sierra music festival ]
High Sierra Music Festival
June 30 - July 3, 2000
Quincy, CA

Links:
High Sierra Music Festival

Hey all you hepcats and crazy chicks out there, I want to say something to you (and it ain't plastics): High Sierra Music Festival! The name starts to say it all, but a lot gets left out of the picture so I'll flesh it out with the good, bad and trivial observances. I set out for Quincey, Cali with more than a little trepidation, although I should have saved it for the lead-footed return trip where I got a ticket for sailing my friend's Saab across the Nevada wasteland. So fine me. I drive a wheezy '88 Tempo and if I have a chance to drive 90-plus mph I'm all over it.

As someone who worked through a serious hippie (if there is such a thing) phase I worried a bit that I would end up milling around in a haze of cannabis smoke and tie-dyes with a bunch of Jerry-atric Dead Heads and candy kid posers. Well, I did, but there was so much else going on that I didn't mind. The spectacle reminded me of the old Oregon Cuntry Fayre, except that everyone here was invited to the night shows as well. It was a party 24/7 for the four days it lasted. The battle cry of the diehards punctuated the air at all hours of the day, night and even the mornings with: "FESTIVAAAL"--a reminder of why we were there.

Why were we there? For the music, silly, but it's also not that direct. I found the big name draws like The Radiators, Los Lobos, Leftover Salmon, and Jorma took a back seat in my highlights of the festival inventory. They got me to Cali, but bands I'd never heard of made it a great time. The big guys did well, so buy their stuff in any music store. [ earpollution would like to encourage you buy the music at your local, independently run music store. --ed.]

The Blue Rags had the eye of the tiger at this festival and get my vote for knock-down drag-out rockin'-'round-the-clock. They took their rockabilly boogieing to new heights and new sideways and new places that I'd never imagined. Even when they got lost they never stumbled, and just when you thought the thread was gone entirely, the hole they dug themselves into would burst out into the fresh air and sunshine...of China. What a gas. They accompanied the irascible Reverend Chumleigh in a hilarious all-night revival and Vaudeville show. For a teaser I'll tell you it involved an attempted underwater handcuff escape trick that would take much too long to describe, so see it for yourself at the next camp meeting. However, the album of theirs I chose to leave with was a disappointment though---The Blue Rags in New York has wasted-time interviews and poor sound recordings of them jamming on the subway and elsewhere. See them live and get a more polished record.

A very sweet voice and smooth grooves combined with playful lyrics to put ThaMuseMeant in the top 100 of my favorite bands at the fest. The bass player sounds like Patsy Cline and it made my day, night and heart flutter to listen to her. The rest of the band didn't slouch either with some fierce fiddle, mandolin, and guitar jamming. They summed up the festival spirit with their anthem "Grow Your Own and Pass It 'Round," which is also the name of their last album.

Big applause goes out to Joules Graves, a solo singer who accompanies herself with a djembe (no mean feat) for the really rousing sing-alongs. She's got boundless energy and it's impossible to not get worked up when she's on stage. To compare her or Libby Kirkpatrick to Ani DiFranco gives only the slightest hint of what they do. Libby uses her rich voice and guitar to spin some great tunes. The Yonder Mountain String Band jammed so hard I had to go soak my head to cool off even before I got out dancing. I thought they earned the psychobillyyondermtnslammgrass scepter for their show.

I had heard great things about The Slip and The Motet, but I ran short on time, energy, and options (I forget which) and never saw them me'self. Hugh Masekela was a great smooth jazz and jammin' change of pace. Los Lobos got on stage an hour late and cranked out a mediocre show. If you still miss Jerry G., check out the Steve Kimock Band for some airy, mindless noodling. He ended the festival and left me frankly disappointed and wanting anything more upbeat and inspirational for a final note in my ear.

My biggest complaint of the show was the lack of four or five more hours in the day to see the myriad of other bands and amusements or else catch twenty-three more winks. Thoughtless people combined with porta-johns to create some unpleasant episodes, but as any festival-goer knows the outhouses beat the alternative. Offsite parking was a minor inconvenience. The heat became overpowering at times, but thank god for the sod laid in the Music Meadow Arena and the shady groves scattered about the fairgrounds. I was jealous of the vendors and musicians for their grassy, cool campsites, but was usually so tired whenever I found my tent that I didn't mind the sun-baked, dusty spots where the pedestrians flopped. In truth we ended up in a great tent city neighborhood, camped next to the inflatable pool animal acid kingdom. Those guys from Berkeley were better than T.V. and sliced bread combined.

The timeless jester was omnipresent, spreading his vibe with wit and tricks. Mark Henson had a booth full of great images; some erotic, some sad social commentary. A bus on a meandering schedule took festers up to the Feather River to beat the heat at a swimming hole that sported two rope swings. That was another definite High light. In fact, if I had to pick a favorite aspect I'd say all four days were the highpoint.

-Brad Willis
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[ legendary pink dots - photo by danny murphy ]
photo by danny murphy

The Legendary Pink Dots
@
The Showbox
July 11, 2000
Seattle, WA

Links:
Legendary Pink Dots

The Legendary Pink Dots are absolutely extraordinary live. This band has been around for so long dwelling in the depths of underground music, that it's a rare luxury to have them come to the United States. They came here all the way from Holland at the tail end of a world tour that started in January. The Pink Dots began making music in 1979 and have been consistently putting out intriguing albums ever since. They have such a large collection of work that is extremely daunting to buy one of their recordings; you feel as though whichever one you buy you are somehow missing the best one. They have 26 or 27 full-length albums and of all of the albums of theirs that I have (three), I didn't recognize a single song that they played at the Showbox or at the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1998.

Critics, fans, and quite possibly themselves have often categorized the Legendary Pink Dots as a goth band, but the reality is that they are a great deal more than just goth. The Pink Dots' music has a gothic overtone but is also very psychedelic, dreamy and surreal. Sometimes it's almost jazz. The whole feel of The Legendary Pink Dots and their music somehow coincides with the phenomenon that The Residents create; the two bands are oddly similar to me.

Edward Ka-Spel, also known as The Prophet, is the singer and original founding member of the Pink Dots. He delivers a very ominous tone in his voice when he spills through his poetically abstract and apocalyptic lyrics. There is this playful storytelling tone in the way he sings that makes everything sound somehow kind of cheerful and mischievous. Maybe it's the English accent, who knows? Ka-Spel, the exiled Englishman, plays keyboards like a mad professor in a circus side show when he's not busy singing. The most amazing element to the Pink Dot sound is in the fact that they combine electronic music with wind instruments, stringed instruments, and a drummer. Niels Van Hoorn, who has been playing saxophone and flute with the Pink Dots since 1991, is responsible for a great deal of their distinctive sound while his personality is radiantly entertaining. At one point in the performance, he slowly wandered around the crowd at the Showbox with a light beaming out of his saxophone while the rest of the band jammed on stage.

Phil Knight, also known as "The Silverman," has been the master of their electronic devices and soundscapes since 1980. He is a musical genius, another founding member of the Pink Dots, and co-captain of the artificial side of their music. Martijn de Kleer is their main guitar player who managed to pull a couple of magical guitar solos out of his bag of tricks without making any cocky rock star faces. The drummer and bass player of The Pink Dots, Ryan Moore (a Canadian), wandered about the stage and played just about every other unoccupied instrument at one point or another during their set.

The Legendary Pink Dots are a cast of very professional and astonishingly incredible musicians who know how to feature each musician's individual talents without being ostentatious performers. They are so prolific and persistent at their craft that it is a wonder they don't have a bigger following in the United States and the world. Oddly enough, the largest show they have ever played was to 2,500 people in Mexico City in 1995. Somehow it seems as though they should be better known. Maybe it's good to see them while they are a well-kept secret, before their world tour takes hold. The one great thing about their small cult following is that fans can see them play in smaller clubs and not have to wait in long lines for tickets. Whatever happens in the future for The Legendary Pink Dots, it is certain that they will continue to explore new avenues of their sound without ever stagnating. By the time they come back to the United States they will probably have put out another five albums. Be sure to catch them when they come back to North America, you will be in for a captivating musical revelation.

-Danny Murphy
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[ marumari - photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

Kid606/Cex/Marumari/Zammuto
@
The Knitting Factory
July 9, 2000
New York, NY

Links:
Marumari

Kids these days. They do the darnest things. Some take the stage with the poise of a veteran performer, pull all the stops and trump even the tightest of acts with their juvenile antics. But others avoid the stage altogether. They hark back to the days of yore when electronic music threatened to debunk the rock star from his spotlit perch.

Though ostensibly a showcase for the upstart Carpark Records and the even younger Tigerbeat6, the night turned out to be yet another occasion to revel in electronica's dirty little secret: it's deadly boring to see live. Carpark may sport a solid roster of budding acts, but it's near impossible to have a laptop do all the work and hold a room's attention.

Knowing full well that the odds were against him, Zammuto decided to call a spade a spade. He put his gear inside a black filing cabinet and then propped the unseemly box on a table at the center of the stage. He ran two cables from the cabinet to a small mixing board hidden all the way at the back of the room. After peeking into his musical contraption one last time, he scuttled toward the back. His music is an abstract thicket of shifting sounds that is hard enough to appreciate if you're paying attention, but strictly impossible in this setting: The crowd talked straight though his set.

Marumari followed next, armed with little more than a small strobe light and his signature sugar-coated beats. The ever present risk of an epileptic outbreak in the audience contrasted nicely with his shimmering melodies. For all his squelchy beats and oddball sounds, Marumari rarely strays from the three-minute pop form, so nary a moment goes by without him offering a new ditty, which was fine by my standards, though Earpollution's Craig Young found the frequent interruptions off-putting: "I thought continuity was the whole point. He doesn't really have to press the space bar every time."

The night was starting to drift, when Baltimore's Cex began to roil about the audience wearing a mask. After a short dance among the crowd, he took the microphone: "I'm Cex from Maryland. I know that about half of you are music critics, so this next song is so you remember my name." And who could forget how he managed to get the room to chant "C-E-X" on cue, while he darted through the audience. He's an obnoxious performer; a one-man happening that gets the crowd going despite his music. [Click here for a Carpark Records MP3 from the June 29 show in New York]

A little past midnight, Kid606 made his way onstage. Unfortunately, he brought a handful of technical difficulties with him and had to wrestle with the sound system for a couple minutes. I presume the stage lights had something to do with it, but he was sweating. He tried to regain his poise, staring intently at his PowerBook. However frantic the music--and Kid606 is not known for letting samples run their leisurely course--the blue glow of his laptop didn't even flicker.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her cohorts were disappointed to see an old man behind a curtain pushing levers and dials that make the Wizard roar. At least he was turning and pulling things. Kid606, on the other hand, may have just raised an eyebrow once or twice.

It's not that the lack of physical effort that undermines the music. Zammuto, Marumari and Kid606 stand head and shoulders above the rest of the pack, but clearly there's nothing to see. It's music after all.

-Edgar Ortega
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[ mayhem ]
Mayhem/Hate Eternal/Exhumed/Nocturnus
@
State Theatre
July 14, 2000
St. Petersburg, FL

Links:
Mayhem
Hate Eternal
Exhumed

Road trip! Jason and I headed off for a nice relaxing evening of black metal in lovely downtown St. Pete. It was a great evening and show except for two things. First, either the sound guy or the PA equipment stunk. It's possible we were just in a bad acoustical area of the club, but all night we heard the high and low ranges, but no mid-range. On the bands that used only low range it was okay, on the others it stunk. The second is a problem for Exhumed: No T-shirts. After their performance I know my husband wanted to buy a shirt. I don't understand Relapse sending them on the road with no merchandise. I know Relapse recently moved so maybe it's a faux pas and they'll get shirts later in the tour. I sure hope they have enough money to stay on the tour and eat.

Nocturnus opened the show with a technical metal set that was hurt badly by the lack of a mid-range and one whole guitarist that was dropped out. We watched him flail away and heard not a thing. They had a few songs that were really excellent, but most were so nondescript with the sound problems that it's unfair to judge them on this performance. Out there picking up their equipment and setting up were the bands (most all except Mayhem); we give them all high points for taking care of their equipment. Exhumed stormed the stage in their really-too-tight leather pants, bullet belts loaded for bear and bods that were fashioned by beer and bongs. Did I mention that their necks must be on a swivel to swish their hair continuously while playing at the speed of light? These guys are a visual treat if you get into irony. The perfect tour: Exhumed, Marduk, Angelcorpse and Immortal--it could be the bulletbeltwarfest. Glen Benton from Deicide came out and performed a song at the end of their set. Eric Rutan (Morbid Angel) and Hate Eternal were not only next, but also suffered the worst at the hands of the soundman/equipment. Visually they were interesting, poised and energetic. The drums were absolutely incredible. I'll keep my eyes open to see them again, hopefully with better sound. Mayhem crept out and whipped the audience into a frenzy. I think that I expected Mayhem to be larger than life and when they were just pretty good I was a little disappointed. The only songs that really stood out were the ones from Deathcrush and their new CD, Grand Declaration of War. I was kind of hoping they brought the pig's head. Maybe it would have been different with Euronymous and Dead. Blasphemer (I think) was the stud of the night stealing the spotlight from Maniac who was okay but not enthralling. I give him credit: He was stunning with the mesh T-shirt over cut muscles and gauntlets and that medieval Three Musketeer look was sheer genius. However, several young groupies were hovering over Maniac so I guess my taste isn't the same as the kids. Jason still thinks that Exhumed had bigger breasts than me or any member of Mayhem. It was a great show and a lot of fun to see the legendary Mayhem, but I regret not seeing them a long time ago.

-Sabrina Haines
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[ meg lee chin - photo by mark teppo ]
photo by mark teppo

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult/Meg Lee Chin
@
Catwalk Club
July 7th, 2000
Seattle, WA

Links:
My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult
Meg Lee Chin

I was excited to see the Thrill Kill Kult again, as they always put on a great show. As for Meg Lee Chin, my girlfriend Lisa and I didn't really watch much of her performance... Lisa said it was like a "gothic geisha girl cheerleader strutting on stage with Orbital's DJ" and then walked straight to the bar. And like a good boyfriend, I followed her. Despite my girlfriend's rapier review, I liked Meg Lee Chin's music. It went down very well with a whisky sour while sitting in the bar with the others that were only there to be seen, or just waiting for the Thrill Kill Kult to play. From my 30-second glimpse of Meg Lee Chin's set, I caught the notion that the stage show had the potential to be really intriguing and faintly gothic. Since Seattle was the first date of the 27 date North American Inferno 2000 tour, Meg Lee Chin and her cohorts will have plenty of time on their way to Detroit to develop their show and get those people out of the bar with their drinks in hand.

When My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult finally took the stage, at what seemed to be 1:00 a.m. and several whisky sours later, I was certainly ready to take notice of their luxuriously dark melodies. Their sexy sinful sounds filled the club immediately and the playful action on the stage instantly inspired a lot of groping and sweaty lustful randomness in the crowd.

The Thrill Kill Kult have been bringing their music to the world from Chicago since 1987 when the Boston musician Buzz McCoy met the poet/artist/singer Groovie Mann. They were originally going to make a cult film but instead they came up with the music that universally inspires people to dance. Their sound and image certainly has a cult film feel that is hard for other musicians to emulate; it makes the audience become the actors and the band directors.

Almost the entire Earpollution staff was in the front of the stage at the Catwalk Club taking pleasure in a rare Seattle performance of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. [or, mostly likely, it was for the rare opportunity to be graced by the lovely meg lee chin. --ed.] It is proven by gothic and industrial experts alike--and those at Earpollution--that The Thrill Kill Kult are a band that is best experienced live or listened to in a nightclub. Groups of people around their music make for a lot of delightful indulgence and utter mischievousness to develop in a crowd. While their recordings are always great, the full force of their music somehow plays out best with an assembly of inhabitants in a dark, smoke-filled nightclub. They always create an atmosphere that brings the audience together for a sort of communion. They were even generous enough to play "Sex on Wheelz" and "Days of Swine and Roses" for all of the fans that adore those songs. So if you go to any gothic/industrial show and are looking to make out with a total stranger, then My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult is the show to make a priority.

-Danny Murphy
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[ roskilde festival 2000 ]
Roskilde Festival 2000
June 29 - July 2, 2000
Roskilde, Denmark

Links:
Roskilde

Thursday, June 29, 2000
Copenhagen, Denmark
Unfortunately, I could not drag myself out of my warm and cozy hotel room in Copenhagen after some 12 plus hours of traveling, to enjoy the first official day of the festival. "Official" I say because the bell boy tells me people arrive a week early to get a good camping spot near the festival gates and to listen to music on the camping area stage that is reserved for up and coming Scandinavian bands. They also come, of course, to get completely shit-faced. However, for some reason, laying in my dry bed watching MTV Europe (far better than ours by the way) sounds much more comfortable than being in the pouring rain listening to Nine Inch Nails. Though it would have been interesting to see Iron Maiden, and I am sure I would have enjoyed Smog, Roni Size and (gulp) Bush...only to make fun of them of course.

Friday, June 30, 2000
Roskilde, Denmark
Arrived at the festival grounds today in the pouring rain, wearing a skirt, and attempted to and successfully put up my tent. It is dark, dreary, and cold, not your typical Scandinavian summer weather, but quite typical, say my Danish camping buddies, for the festival. I am told that by Sunday it should clear up and that by Monday I will be sweating balls. Right now I don't really care though, I just can't believe I'm here. So now I am off and on my way to do, see and hear what I came all this way for...music. But I have to admit that my objectives have changed. After much consideration, I have decided to somewhat neglect all the big names that originally attracted me to this festival: The Cure, Pet Shop Boys, Everything But the Girl, Oasis, Lou Reed, Pearl Jam, Underworld, The The, Live, Chumbawamba. Today, I am on a mission to understand the current state of Scandinavian music, to explore a realm of music I have never known about other than Bjrk, The Cardigans, Aqua, and ABBA. I have received a few suggestions from the bellboy at the hotel as well as from my alcoholic Danish camping buddies.

System F3: Sound System (DK)
Club Roskilde Stage
My first Roskilde encounter with Scandinavian music was three white Danish guys playing electronica/dub--and very good at that I have to admit. Consisting of three members of Denmark's most successful electronica outfit, Future 3, Thomas Knak, Jesper Skaaning and Anders Remmer, put out deep bass, spacey Jamaican-style grooves that stick to your soul and make you long to be far away from this northern rain. A true sound system, Danish style and three unbelievably hip DJs that could put most any American DJ to shame. Later on I will check out their solo projects: Opiate, Acustic and Dub Tractor. The program tells me that these "promise to make a drowsy and slightly stoned afternoon complete."

Superheroes (DK)
White Stage
A true Danish pop band, and I wasn't disappointed one bit considering I am extremely picky about my pop, usually preferring mine UK style. Seems like these Danes have picked up where the UK has left off, combining '80s style synth music with good old pop lyrics, reminiscent of early Pulp before they went Bowie-esque. 18-year old singer/lyricist/keyboardist Thomas Troelsen brings youth and energy to the bands performance, making them my new favorite "jump up and down bubble gum la-la picking flowers band."

Ferus Mustafov & Band (MAC)
Ballroom Stage
I never knew there was such a thing as the Macedonian saxophone, until today that is. Regardless, Ferus sure knows his shit and belts out these Turkish and Greek inspired ditties at speeds I've never quite seen or heard before...a kind of polka/jazz/Arabian mix that no one can quite resist dancing to. Today he is accompanied by an accordion player, a bassist and a percussionist, performing his "Macedonian Wedding Soul Cooking." If only all "world music" could be this good...

Willie Nelson & Family (US)
Green Stage
Okay, so I can't resist a "big name" act, although I'm not really sure how big Willie is in the Norse countries. To my surprise, the tent is packed and I can hear people all around me singing "On the Road Again." I ask someone next to me whether country music is big in these parts and, unfortunately, he doesn't know; in fact, he's never even heard of Willie Nelson. I start asking around and it seems that people are just more curious than they are fans. After a half-hour of being fondled by some short, drunken Danish freak yelling "Villie! Villie!" the man and the familia take stage. I stick around for a few songs, including "Vhisky Viver" ("Whiskey River"), but the cold, the jetlag, the rain and my frustration begin taking over. What I am realizing from this Willie Nelson experience is that it seems these folks don't know much about music or who certain musicians are, but that they are here to absorb and experience new things, not to mention that everyone likes to dance. This is a shock to my system and at the same time a blessing considering Seattle is a town where no one likes to dance and where there is plenty of good music. These are some of the most open-minded people I have come to know when it comes to music. Like in Japan, I think anyone can make it big here. Scandinavia is an untapped resource for emerging bands.

Kent (S)
Orange Stage
After Willie I am frustrated--this festival is already kicking my ass. I am cold, I am wet, it is pissing rain, I am covered in mud, these (god love them) fucking Danes are too tall to see and take pictures over...music no longer brings me any pleasure and I have called it quits. I crawl into my tent and assume the fetal position and fall fast asleep in my warm sleeping bag, which I never want to leave. That is, until the sweet nothings whispering in my ear--the sweet nothings from the Swedish guitar sounds of Kent--wake me. Even when I wake I feel I am still fast asleep, their melodies being from out of a dream. But as soon as I get up to go see them the music ends...just as all good dreams do. I fall back into a deep sleep.

Pearl Jam (US)
Orange Stage
I wake up again from my deep sleep, only this time confused as Eddie Vedder counts "one, two, three" over and over again. No one is singing, so I assume he is upset because of this. They sound good though, but the show ends abruptly. "Oh well," I think to myself, "I can always see them when I am back home in Seattle." They did sound good though. Anyhow, I decide that no one in their right mind could be or should be sober when attending this festival, so I decide to join everyone else in their "as all hell drunken nirvana state." I throw in the towel and buy myself a box of wine at the beer and wine stand next to my tent, hoping this will get me back in the festival spirit. It works, I forget about the cold and the rain and I remain drunk for the next three days.

St. Etienne (UK)
Techno Stage
By the time St. Etienne comes on stage, I've had what seems like 50 bottles or so of the Carlsberg Special beer, which is 10.5 percent by volume, if you can believe it. By the way, collecting bottles, cans and plastic beer mugs is a way of life for many folks here, as you get a deposit back from the many recycling centers on the festival grounds. I have learned from many folks here that some people attend the festival solely for that reason and can walk away with thousands of kroners. Anyhow, I can remember hearing a lot of good things about St. Etienne, being there, dancing to them and liking them, but that is all really. I consult my festival guide later to find out how incredibly hip I am, as "St. Etienne is God's gift to sophisticated people who like pop music and have good taste...credible pop for connoisseurs." I also realize, from basic French courses, that when certain words end in consonants and the next word begins in a vowel, you slur the two together. I am enlightened to learn that the name of this band reads "Satan" (if you stutter a little). Or does everyone know this already?

The Cure (UK)
Orange Stage
I decide to drink some beers before I go see The Cure. As I am doing this, Festival Manager Leif Skov introduces himself over the loudspeaker. In tears he announces that several people have been injured and that some have even died during the Pearl Jam concert. A moment of silence is observed and Skov announces that The Cure will not play because of this incident and it is not known whether the festival will continue after tonight and in proceeding years. No further details are given.

Rinôçérôse (F)
Techno Stage
A sobering feeling has come over the festival after Skov's announcement, so I decide to cheer myself up by drinking even more large quantities of Carlsberg and dancing the night away at what might possibly be the last night of Roskilde 2000 with a Danish girl I met at the beer stand. At 3:00 a.m. I am mesmerized by the sounds of this French guitar and electronica monster that reminds me of Bentley Rhythm Ace. Their bass lines and dance beats feed my soul and my ass and their guitar riffs make me want to bash my head into a wall (in a good way). I am later to find out that two of the members, Jena Phillipe and Patou, are psychologists and realize these sneaky Frenchies had been performing some sort of musical experiment on my body and mind.

Saturday, July 1, 2000
The news of the day is of course the Pearl Jam fiasco. As of this morning, eight people have died and 30 others have been seriously injured. The festival daily newspaper, Roskilde Politiken Live, details the numerous factors that may have contributed to the most tragic event in the festival's 30-year history: rain, mud, the iron gates and wave breakers in front of the stage and, perhaps most importantly, a faulty sound system. It's understood that only half of the sound system was working during last night's Pearl Jam concert causing the massive crowd of an estimated 40,000 people to push forward so as to hear better. In the commotion people were trampled to death as the slipped in the mud or were pushed up against the iron gates and suffocated to death. Despite this tragedy, Roskilde 2000 will continue, says Skov: "My understanding is that the festival should continue. I would not say that doing so showed a lack of respect for the dead. Life goes on." Also, while deaths at the festival have indeed occurred in previous years, most have been drug-overdose related. Many folks are comparing this accident to The Who's Cincinnati concert in 1971, where eleven people were also crushed to death.

Cat Power (US)
White Stage
After this morning's news and my severe hangover, the last thing I want to do is to rock out. Instead, I decide to punish myself with even more sadness by going to watch Chan Marshall rip my heart out. Instead, what I get is one sassy kitty, the most vocal and outgoing I have ever seen Marshall yet. With only her guitar in hand, she went so far as to do a cover of "Knocking on Heaven's Door," asking for audience participation in singing the chorus that she is famous for excluding in most of her cover songs. This was followed up by a humorous and right-on Dylan impersonation. It was as if Chan Marshall had put her selfish (but much loved) self-pity out of the way to realize there are bigger problems in life than her psychosis...like last night's deaths. When I walk out from underneath the white tent the sun is shinning for the first time this weekend.

Bloco Vomit (UK)
Ballroom
Along with Superheroes, Rinôçérôse and Kent, Bloco Vomit is one of my festival sweethearts. As much as I have always liked samba, punk rock and cross-dressing, I would have never thought the three could ever go so amazingly together. But this bizarre and talented group from Scotland manages to pull it off as if this was what they were born to play, their sole reason for their existence. Perhaps the most fun and much-needed uplifting music I have heard at the festival yet. I can't imagine that any of these Danes here at the show have any clue to what was to be expected of these blokes, but they are dancing even more than usual to the nine percussionists and one guitar player. "Holy shit!" is all I have to say, these guys are amazingly cool.

Moloko (UK)
Green Stage
As a last minute addition to this year's festival, Moloko seemed to be a festival favorite. Like Kent, this band woke me from my dreams as I napped my hangover away. With a voice that is Edie Brickell-meets-Bjrk, singer Roisin Murphy and band mix elements of trip-hop, funk and house with pop tunes.

Oasis/Pet Shop Boys (UK)
Orange Stage
Both bands, in order to pay their respects to the eight young men who died in front of the Orange Stage last night, cancelled their festival appearances.

Magga Stina (ICE)
White Stage
I wonder if it is a requirement that any musician who comes from Iceland has to be so damn hip? Like her predecessor, Bjrk (but a little more on the sexy side), Magga Stina is cute, unusual, spunky and fashionably hip. Oh yeah, her music isn't so bad either. With a violin in hand, Magga Stina belts out haunting banshee-esque vocals set to death metal/funk/pop/jazz that would make great accompanying music to any Errol Morris flick. Sure, a little reminiscent of that other Icelandic pixie, but after all, she is the first artist to sign with Bjrk's record label, One Little Indian.

Hip-Hop Night (Various)
Yellow Stage
I received a basic introduction to Scandinavian hip-hop tonight here, and later on the state of Swedish hip-hop from J, a 17 year-old Swedish boy who I hung out with all night. Timbuktu, Thingy Thing, Sportrunnaz, Loop Troop all are here and all come recommended. Others performing tonight include Danish groups Sund Fornuft, Essensen, Klart Der and Copenhagen Scratch Masters. Another cancellation that I am devastated about is that of the recently reunited 3rd Bass.

Sunday, July 2, 2000
Everyone was right about it being unbelievably hot today. Also, due to the warmth, the one million or so honey buckets (which by the way are kept up miraculously for a festival of this grandeur) are starting to stink, and I want to vomit. It is shower day and when I go to take one, I think of how fucking incredibly cool of a country this is that there are communal outdoor showers and that nobody is gawking at each other (except for me the foreigner of course...how can you resist looking at these Scandinavian gifts from the gods!) . The news today is that Live have cancelled due to illness.

Urga (S)
Ballroom Stage
Today I continue to scope out the Scandinavian music scene and bump into this dark pop/ska/circus party band whose lyrics I can't understand one single word of due to the fact that:

  1. Unlike a lot of Nordic bands who sing in English oftentimes, Urga sings not a damn word in ingleska, and...
  2. They sing in Urga, their "own invented language that allows them to adapt vowels and consonants to their music." Huh?
So basically, it is a sort of chanting/yelling simultaneously, one of the many traits that have labeled this band as an anarchistic one. It is also a type of music that part of the band picked up as musicians in Cirkus Cikr, hence the paten leather clad contortionist they brought out for a few songs.

Blazing Eternity (DK)
White Stage
Considering that 50 million death metal bands were playing at the festival and I had yet to see any for my lack of interest in the genre, I bit the bullet today. Not your typical death metal crowd, in fact, pink seemed to be quite a popular color at this show. Looking and listening past the stereotypes I had created in my head, I found I quite enjoyed Blazing Eternity and their "Nordic night metal." Melancholy and strangely sweet and romantic, in the "kill your mother" kind of way.

Love Shop (DK)
Yellow Stage
Yet another Danish synth-esque pop band (see Superheroes) and yet another one to adore. Veterans of the Danish scene who once use to be the best kept pop music secret, Love Shop makes me long for the days of EMF and Jesus Jones. Singing in Danish, their sincerity, energy and innocence still seems universal in the sense that all music should be. Sounds of summer teenage love and heartache, even if I don't know anything in Danish except for l (beer), Tak (thank you) and Du Er Lkker/Jeg Er Lkker (you are good-looking/I am good-looking).

Summing Up Sunday...
After seeing Love Shop, this festival is starting to be the equivalent of being in any world-class museum for more than two hours: you know the art is good and something you realize you should still be appreciating, but you go through the motions anyhow, getting numb, so as not to kick yourself later for realizing how big of an unappreciative twat you truly are.

The Wannadies (DK). Say "wanna die" as in "it stinks of piss and shit so much here that I wanna die(s)". Remember the poppy la-la lyrics "You and me always and forever" from Romeo and Juliet? Meanwhile, sitting on top of the door pyramid, Andreas Johnson swept me off my feet for the few minutes I heard him singing, yes, that's right, more Scandinavian pop love ballads. Critics call him the "little Swedish cutie pie," though you can say that about most Swedes. After that it was back to the Orange Stage to hear Lou Reed and a "Greatest Hits" performance, but not for too long. At the Yellow Stage I was a little confused with the American Kelis. Who the hell is that? I had to check her out because the program ranted about her "well-trained gospel voice and hard hip-hop beats," but all I saw and heard was the American Spice Girls. However, I have to admit that I thought Kurt Cobain had been raised from the dead to perform "Smells Like Teen Spirit"--a truly amazing imposter. Everything But the Girl performed remixes of their remixes and of course sounded like the perfectionists that they seem to be and should be after 20 years on the pop music scene. Ben Watt was in excellent form considering his illness and all, but I wonder if string bean Jean Tracey Thorn is the one who is actually sick? Last, but not least, headlining the festival was Denmark's own D-A-D who I was, unfortunately, was terribly disappointed with. But the Danes love them, you see; in fact, they are sort of the national band and have become regulars at the festival. All I saw and heard was a washed-up '80s glam band, if even that. Their big hit, "Disneyland After Dark," is how the band got it's name I am told, having to shorten it later to D-A-D for legalities with the park. But even this infamous song couldn't sway me with its repetitive "It's after dark now, and Disneyland is closed". And anyhow, just because it's dark out doesn't mean Disneyland is closed, they just turn the lights on.

The Burning Festivities
I definitely got back into the festival spirit when the burning festivities began, perhaps the ultimate Roskilde tradition (next to getting totally shit-faced and finding that you have slept in the wrong tent). In the past years there have been problems with fires getting out of control, so Roskilde authorities started "self-contained fires" throughout the festival grounds this year. Nevertheless, tents and furniture were ablaze everywhere, with nothing and no one being spared unless your mates were guarding your camping area. I of course had to be a part of this tradition, joining my Danish buddy "Rat Face" in the burning and the looting, combing over burnt camps for beer, alcohol and food.

Ahhhhh, Roskilde. Viva Roskilde!

-Edna Gonzalez
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