Roskilde’s Sellout Wash-Out

Only the remarkable efforts of the organizers and the patience of the fans ensured this year’s 75,000-capacity sellout Roskilde Festival went ahead.

Torrential rain matching anything seen at Glastonbury turned the site into a bog.

"I was there early on the Friday afternoon and from the main stage I could see 10 vacuum trucks sucking up the mud," said Flemming Schmidt from Live Nation’s DKB Concertpromotion, which had production crews manning four of the stages.

"After that, it poured down for the next 20 hours. The ground was already soaked with the rain from the previous four weeks. They made one hell of an effort to keep that site as clear of mud as they possibly could."

The following day, the festival released a statement playing down the "sensation stories of every kind that exploded when Roskilde Festival started."

Two days into this year’s July 5-8 gathering, some of the Danish papers were carrying pieces suggesting people may get drowned and that fans and volunteers were leaving the site in droves.

"Friday at Roskilde Festival displayed an audience in top form," was the press release’s view. "Yes, many had gone home, had taken hot showers and put on dry clothes, and many made good use of the facilities provided, such as sleeping in the stage tents, access to showers at Roskildehallerne, shopping for dry charity store clothes and tumble drying at the laundries in Roskilde town.

"But the audience is invincible. Those who had gone home came back. Volunteers reported for extra jobs and laid out huge amounts of wood chips – an effort that continues today."

As soon as light broke on the Saturday, volunteers were continuing their efforts to repair the ground, laying out wood chips and clearing up puddles of mud.

At the camping area, the mud was vacuumed and hay was laid out on the roads and main walkways.

The crowds poured back to see a bill including Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who and Flaming Lips, but after two more long and heavy showers, the still huge audience was starting to turn the site back into a sea of mud.

Running repairs kept the festival organisers abreast of the problem and, by the Sunday, a little fortune smiled upon the land, as sunshine dried some of the mud.

In the days immediately after the festival, the Danish papers began speculating on the costs of having the vacuum trucks clearing the site, the other extras needed to cover the general cleanup and the possibility that the entire area may need new grass.

One or two major papers suggested the extra money needed may mean Roskilde’s annual charitable donations and funding of social projects may be severely curtailed over the next 12 months.

It wasn’t possible to get comment from the festival at press time.

The acts on the Roskilde bill included Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Who, Muse, Arcade Fire, The Killers, Beastie Boys, Mando Diao, My Chemical Romance, Basement Jaxx, Slayer, Mastodon, Wilco and Queens Of The Stone Age.