Roskilde 2018: Bluegrass intimacy found at the smaller stages


The trio of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan have been making the slogan “I’m With Her” famous since 2014, long before Hillary Clinton commandeered it for her presidential campaign. And last night’s performance at Roskilde proved that the bluegrass band was doing anything but playing second fiddle to the higher-profile political machine.

Intimate like their name
The group’s folk music was a breath of fresh air among the omnipresent beats of EDM and St Vincent’s heavy metal. The crowd surrounding the Pavilion stage –albeit a much smaller gathering than the 100,000 that turned out for Eminem – were starstruck and truly in tune with their ethereal performance.

The reduced crowd size lent an intimacy to the atmosphere – a unique quality at a festival as big as Roskilde – and a feeling unheard of for the shows at the Orange Stage, where the main headliners perform.

I’m With Her played a number of hits, some originally written by other artists, as well as many of their originals. ‘Send My Love’ by Adele was a particularly well done cover, as indicated by the crowd’s overwhelming applause.

Who needs electricity when you can make your own
But the highlight of the performance came at the closing song, an I’m With Her original entitled ‘Overland’. With a minute left, the group’s mikes cut out, silencing their voices, guitars and banjos. Without missing a beat, the trio disentangled themselves from the now-useless wires and moved to the edge of the stage, projecting their voices naturally over a starstruck crowd.

While many attend Roskilde for the big-name artists, the true magic of the festival is found not at the Orange Stage, where every technical glitch is corrected immediately, but rather at the low-profile venues where magic flourishes in the organisational imperfections. Although I attended and enjoyed Eminem’s energising performance later that night, his pyrotechnics and back-up singers were unable to match the magic created by a mere sound mistake.