Swapping benches for beaches

Distortion festival first rocketed to the fore back in 1998, starting out as a one-day festival that cemented its name into the annals of Danish clubland lore with a vengeance. Since then, it has grown into a five-day event that transforms the streets of Copenhagen into carnival-esque party scenes awash with over 100,000 merrymakers dancing to the tune of electronic music. Acts such as Hot Chip, Simian Mobile Disco, Pete Tong, Josh Wink and Feadz have graced Distortion with their presence in years gone by, though the focus is usually on less established names within electronic music.


In recent years however, the fun has somewhat been marred by interest conflicts with residents living in some of the areas the festival passes through, particularly in the city centre. Complaints of the stench and mess left behind by the urinating masses, and the losses suffered by the festival itself, have caused some to cast aspersions as to its future.


City centre residents might be relieved to learn that Distortion has decided to veer clear of Cph K and its narrow streets this year, replacing one of the most exciting but ultimately one of the most challenging days (as far as planning and organisation is concerned).


But while the substitute, the Friday beach party, may well fail to recapture the intimate festive feel of the city centre, it also provides a refreshing new party dimension that is awash with numerous new cathartic experiences.


This notwithstanding, Distortion remains one of the fixtures on the calendar that one dare not miss out on, and this year is no exception.


Day 1: Nørrebro
Distortion kicks off with a bang in Nørrebro this year. The first day of the shenanigans is usually one of the most chaotic, so expect to hit the floor running. As is the case with the rest of the festival, the afternoon street parties are free, though the evening gigs at specific locations require payment. There is a so-called ‘god stil’ armband on sale for 100kr per street party as well −  the proceeds of which are used in the clean-up activities after the night’s festivities have run their course. The first day’s evening hosts include Copenhagen’s electronic music mecca, Culture Box, where veteran legend Jeff Mills will be playing. Local club Rust and the legendary Stengade will also be staging decent-looking programmes, with Søpavillion completing the picture, albeit with a more commercial line-up.

Day 2: Vesterbro
Vesterbro’s wide streets and grunge aesthetics provide the ideal location for Thursday’s tomfoolery, as the festival swings into full gear. There are only two night hosts, however, which is surprising. Langebro will be hosting the much revered Erol Alkan, who makes yet another visit to Copenhagen with his heavy take on electronic music, whilst Pumpehuset plays host to a less-well known line-up that may well turn out to be refreshingly surprising.



Day 3: Beach party, Refshaleøen
A seemingly apt antidote to the chaotic street parties of the first two days, Friday’s beach party ought to set the stage for the rest of the weekend. Night hosts include Halvandet, who’ll be hosted by Parisian label Ed Banger and feature one of the most jaw-dropping musical line-ups of the entire festival.
Fri May 31

Day 4: Final party, Refshaleøen
Those who missed the street parties can get a final taste of the Distortion feeling at the closing party on the somewhat isolated Refshaleøen island. The set-up will resemble that of a standard music festival, with different tents (and trucks) hosting varying artists. The Red Bull Music Academy and Eloq are but two tent hosts to look forward to. Unlike the street parties, participating in the final party does require payment.

Sat June 1; tickets 280kr
Day 5: Chill
The organisers of Distortion have been amicable enough to dedicate an entire day to chilling out and recuperating in the wake of the stormy days of the first few days of partying. No specific locations have been announced yet, but the final day usually consists of little else other than lolling around in the sun (or rain).

Sun June 2


Special highlight:

Reggae to Distortion presents Mad Professor

Why wait until Sunday to chill out when you can start as you mean to go on with the legendary dub music producer and engineer, Mad Professor. The British artist, who is often credited with bringing reggae and dub into the electronic age, is headlining a six-hour concert that will feature a host of big names from the Danish hip-hop, reggae and electronic scenes. So chill out and sink a couple of jars of Flying Couch Reggae Dude that Jah Jah himself would enjoy.

Blågårds Plads, Cph N; Wed 16:00-22:00