Roskilde – Denmark’s largest and highest profile international music festival and a glorious and diverse celebration of music, art, activism, and freedom – celebrated 50 years this year with a fantastic line-up across multiple stages, with Robe moving lights playing a major role on the famous Orange Stage and in the expansive Arena Stage venue.
The fiftieth anniversary had been due to take place in 2020 but was delayed two years due to the pandemic, and while a small version of the festival took place in 2021 in one of the barns on its site just south of Copenhagen, this edition had an extra special resonance in addition to guests being able to enjoy the fabulousness and dynamics of live music and real in-person human interaction again.
Lighting designer Sune Verdier and his team once again ran production lighting for this stage, ensuring that all visiting lighting designers, directors, and operators were well accommodated and that all artists on the stage – bringing their own LDs or not – looked great.
Due to the substantial ground support at its core, the Arena Stage tent can accommodate the largest amount of flown production elements – and the greatest headroom – of all the performance areas on site.
The production lighting design featured 40 x Robe MegaPointes and 48 x Spiiders at the heart of the rig, positioned on 10 automated trusses plus front and back fixed trusses and left and right side-ladders.
This setup meant that even if a single performer was onstage – like a singer-songwriter or a DJ – the space could be filled with lights.
Sune has been heading up the Arena Stage lighting team since 2013 and involved in the festival since 2005, and the main objective is to offer “the smoothest and best festival lighting technical experience.”
In advance, guest LDs are presented with a lighting rig ‘Menu Card’ featuring 8 dynamic and different trussing configurations created using 10 trusses on an automation system, so each performance can look unique. Once selected, the stage is set by Sune and his FOH team during the changeover.
Some will bring in additional touring lighting and LED specials packages which are dovetailed with the house ‘top rig’.
Above and beyond the standard technical requirements, there is always a warm welcome waiting at FOH together with a supply of festival essentials – energy drinks, water, beer, sweets, chocolates, and other snacks for those needing a sugar boost whilst working there. And, naturally, the famous Arena Stage FOH sofa and coffee table zone, which is squeezed in each year despite an ever-expanding production area.
“We want to make guests feel comfortable in all ways and ensure that everything – from programming to getting refreshments – is easy, efficient, and convenient and delivered with a smile!” underlines Sune, who advances the concept and the overall attention to detail each year based on assorted feedback.
He once again worked with his key regular team including Nicolai “Gubi” Schmidt, Fredrik Heitmann, Christian Olsson and – making his Roskilde debut – August Thede.
New for lighting production this year were the two side ladders, each rigged with a 3×3 matrix of Robe Spiiders, which made a real difference in emphasising the depth of the stage and were also great for filling back-of-camera shots for the IMAG video mix.
Dust is a massive issue in the Arena Stage as that part of the site is normally an equestrian arena, so the ground is covered with a special fine mulch specifically for horses, which with all site activity and stage action results in clouds of super-fine particles everywhere, including in the fixtures. Sometimes, haze is not even needed.
Sune is a big advocate of Robe fixtures and usually there will be some Robe products somewhere on whatever rig he is working on, and while the sealed optical chambers of Robe’s FORTE and ESPRITE would be ideal in this situation, he also has to work with the appointed rental company’s stock and to budget.
“I was very happy to have MegaPointes and Spiiders as the main lights,” he commented, “MegaPointe is a fantastic signature luminaire – powerful, versatile and providing so many choices.” He said the same is true for the Spiider as a ‘foundation’ product that is robust and reliable, “bright, and with a great range of colours.”
Apart from not having any issues with the lights, Sune notes that all LDs and operators are happy to see Robe on a festival rig spec.
Other lighting on the Arena stage this year included wash moving lights outlining the stage, 27 x 2-lite Moles for blinders and 20 strobes, plus a load of 2K conventional fresnels for front general lighting and six profile moving lights for keys.
The Arena Stage hosted 25 eclectic performances over the four main Roskilde days with a particularly action-packed Friday featuring 10 bands, so changeovers are tight, and with pre-programming starting at 9 in the morning and the final acts going on at 3.25 a.m., the days are long! However, the pace is steady, and Sune and the team plus their counterparts in audio and video have it tuned to a fine art.
As well as delivering a great service they also all enjoy the camaraderie of the Arena Stage and the amazing vibes of the overall event.
While 2022 was August’s first Roskilde, Fredrik, Sune and Gubi have all been working together on this stage for some years, and it was Christian who originally passed the lighting organisation over to Sune in 2013 allowing him focus on the demands of his day job working as a top Microsoft software engineer.
The technical production co-ordination starts several months in advance for Sune, and Christian always returns to work the event weekend each year, enjoying the spirit of Roskilde, the music and staying connected with everyone.
Also integral to the lighting team’s smooth running was Joakim Krogh, head electrician on stage from the rental company, and Louise Voigt, who co-ordinates all the advance production with bands both before and during the festival.
This year the Roskilde Orange Stage lighting production was also a Robe lighting rig with 82 MegaPointes, 80 Spiiders, 10 BMFL Wash XFs, four BMFL LTs (Long Throws), two BMFL Spots and a 6-way RoboSpot system which was supplied by Victory Tour Production. Orange Stage lighting technician Mathias Jensen commented that everyone was super-impressed by the RoboSpot system with the four BMFL LT fixtures shooting almost 75 meters to the stage.