163. “The luckiest girl in the world”

I was succesfully fooled by the labarinth that is Copenhagen airport and in a fit of blondness was waiting at the wrong gate. When I finally realised, it was just after my flight to Milan should have departed. Once I got to the right gate I was relieved to find out it had been delayed, and I just made it! Everyone was already waiting in line to get on the tiny plane, and once I got to the gate all the Danes stared at me, while all the Italians either laughed, shook their heads or smiled and said “Oh you are the luuuuckiest girl in the world!”

Don’t I know it! Should have bought a lotto ticket that day.

162. Branded Emergency Services

When I saw a building that said ‘Falck’ on it, with a giant logo of a falcon, I assumed it was just another business. As I got closer, it started to look more and more like a Fire Station. Sure enough, there were bright red tanks and even some red and white vehicles in the shape of ambulances. I’d seen ambulences before in Denmark and they were bright yellow, so I wasn’t sure what was going on. Are the emergency services branded here? Why would that be necessary? As it turns out, there are a number of private contractors to the government for emergency services, an entirely novel and bizarre concept to me. Thankfully they all have a central, government controlled dispatch system, but it seems scarily like it is heading in a direction of having to have your private health insurance provider on speed dial in case you need an ambulance.

161. Burn Witches

On the 23rd of June is a midsummer celebration called Sankt Hans/Midsummer’s Eve where the Danes have huge bonfires to both celebrate the balmy summer evenings and to remember all of the women who were burned back in the witch hunting days. Often they will even have a little scare-crow-esque “witch” figure on fire too. Early in the evening we had seen one being set up, and a BBQ just near home. The intention was to go by later in the evening when the celebration started, but time got away on us. Easily done in the north at the moment, as the sun doesn’t really go down until after midnight, so it is easy to think it isn’t late yet! Around 10pm we went for a drive and saw the embers of the fire, everyone having cleared out as it was actually a night more typical of a Danish summer: cold, drizzly and grey. We carried on driving to Horsens, where there was a fire on a raft in the middle of the lake, and even a band and bar

156. Dagmar Terte – The ultimate Danish Pastry

If there was ever a true Danish Pastry (the ones we call Danishes are supposedly Viennese) it would be a Dagmar terte. Particularly as it is one giant pastry of pastries designed to be shared! This particular one had a delightful combination of custard and marzipan too. I definitely recommend it, if one is seeking out a classic “Danish” whilst in Denmark

154. A Concert In A Prison

Horsens, funnily enough named after the fact that the town used to be a very important horse trading spot, has in more recent years become well-known for having a huge prison. The local government wanted to do something about that, with a kickstart from a man named Frank Panduro to bring them all together and seek funding and ideas. He invited a number of key people over for dinner, promising a really good meal and warning them that their dinner was going to cost them, but no further details. 17 out of 20 respondents showed up out of curiosity, where he pitched the idea of making Horsens a cultural hub rather than “the town with the prison” (which has long been closed). The end result was the prison yard being turned into a concert venue and lots of big name acts being invited. Inside the prison itself is a museum, which includes equipment historically used by some prisoners to escape. No surprises why they decided to build a new one!

Rasmus Seebach

One of the first concerts held there was Rasmus Seebach. He is a huge pop singer in Denmark, and has even recorded a song with Lionel Richie. The concert was great, and I also got to see Burhan G, who was like Danish/Turkish Justin Timberlake. He had a few pretty epic songs, especially the one with an electric guitar solo atop a lit up staircase with flames in the background. I challenge a pop-star to get more epic than that on stage!

It was a nice, though small, venue, with a cozy 10,000 people singing and dancing away. The most entertaining part by far was when I looked over to one of the walls and realised this was probably the only prison yard in the world with a giant “Exit” sign.

152. Discover Danish Music

Northside Festival was a great chance to discover some Danish bands I hadn’t really heard of before. One of my favourite acts of the entire festival was The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, who are gathering a bit of fame after one of their songs was on an iPod commercial. Their music is great – really fun and upbeat, and they put on a great show, too. The main singer is a tiny little girl with gigantic blonde hair and a voice to match, and I definitely recommend checking them out!

Oh Land is another really popular Danish singer. Her father was a famous composer, and her song White Nights is on every other commercial on TV (Gotye/Kimbra’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ features on the rest). She had a particularly fabulous brightly coloured spandex jumpsuit on. Anyone that can pull that look off definitely deserves a high 5 in my books!

Lukas Graham was another favourite, with some very catchy tunes. Although I can’t stand Bruno Mars, he definitely reminded me of him. Freja Loeb and Emelie Sande were pretty good Scandinavian singers with great voices, though I didn’t get to pay much attention as I was working through their sets.

Finally, worth a mention even though I really was not a fan, was Maijke De Koln a pair of Danish rappers. Not only is rap really not my thing, but I find it quite absurd that they would be singing like they were in the ghetto in one of the most wealthy countries in the world with the strongest social welfare system. It’s just ridiculous, and totally unoriginal. They should maybe go find some real problems in the world and sing about them if they want to gain some respect.

151. The Hives

The Hives just deserve their own post! Their set at Northside was great. From the backdrop, to their Top Hats and Tuxedoes, to the stage hands in ninja outfits. Add to that I was in the front row for most of it, and they played all their classics brilliantly! They put on a marvelous performance with all kinds of theatrics. Even the lead guitarist sitting on the edge of the stage and pulling Antony Dixon eyes.

150. The Cosiest Music Festival

Danish culture tends to be very focussed on being “cosy.” Well to be fair, the Danish word for it doesn’t quite translate. “Hygge” (pronounced hu-geh) is a term that originated in Norway, though the Danes “embraced it like a fat baby.” Which kind of sums the term up. Hygge is used in many ways, as an adjective, whose best approximation is “cosy”, as a verb, to say something was really nice/friendly/cosy for example saying you had a nice time, as a noun – “tak for hygge” is often said to say “thanks for the nice time” and also as an adverb (hyggeli).

If you could combine a music festival with that term, Northside would be it. A relatively small festival near the centre of Aarhus, everything was laid out in a large circle – bars and restaurants around the edges, two main stages that alternated performances, and the part that really made it particularly hyggeli was all the seating areas, activities (like ping pong tables, art installations, creations made of recycled wood) and interactive tents of activities – from lego to photo booths. It was a relatively intimate seeming number of people with barely any queues for food and minimal ones for drinks.

There were two main stages, though only one band on at a time, meaning you never waited more than 5 odd minutes to hear more music and there was no need to prioritise who you did and didn’t want to see. The other aspect I particularly enjoyed was how environmentally friendly the festival was. From the giant Hollywood-esque ‘Northside’ sign that was powered with the same amount of electricity a toaster would require, to the fact that all drinking vessels (except for shots) were recycled, it was definitely a step in the right direction, and probably almost as good as you can get at a festival.

Another particularly cosy and considerate moment was when the screens flashed with a message asking everyone to please stop pushing and move backwards, so no-one would get injured. Supposedly it was as a result of a horrible incident at Roskilde, definitely Denmark’s and possibly Europe’s biggest festival (an 8 day fiasco) where some people where badly injured in a crowd a few years back. It seemed about half the bands were british, the other half Danish, though there were a few from other countries (like Justice).

The Kooks, The Hives, and Kasabian were definite highlights that I was really looking forward to seeing. The Hives were particularly good as I was front row! And pleased to see they still perform in top hats and tuxedos. Though by the end of their set most of them removed their jackets and waistcoats at the very least! I had never actually seen Kasabian live, or even really watched the videos even though I love most of their songs, so I found it particularly entertaining that they completely conformed to the brit-rock sterotype: looking like the unkempt version of the beatles. Except for the guitarist who was exactly the kind of person Russell Brand takes the piss out of. Justice really exceeded expectations, as I had assumed it would be just another DJ set, but they had a pretty fantastic light show. It started out with two giant walls of speakers on either side of the stage, and later on i was revealed that the fronts of the speakers were all LCD screens. There was also what I think was meant to look like a giant mixing deck or audio equipment, but kind of looked like the CPU of a public school in the nineties. Still looked very cool!

Noel Gallagher and the High Flying birds weren’t bad, but should really just call themselves Oasis Lite. Snow Patrol was actually a lot better than expected too. I’m not really into their music, but they put on a pretty good show! Bat for Lashes, Noah and The Whale, James Blake and The Stone Roses were also great. I was really looking forward to seeing The XX, but they were actually a bit of a disappointment. They were on pretty late on Friday Night, and for some reason (possibly having heard some of their remixes) I thought they might put on a bit more of an upbeat show, but alas they were really mellow. On the upside they sounded really good – as though you were listening to their album. I think they would have been much better placed earlier in the afternoon instead of right before Justice. The final surprise was the Eagles of Death Metal. WIth a name like that I had written them off as not my thing at all, but it was a very misleading name and they were actually really good!

149. My Back Yard

A few photos from my backyard – the lovely village of Elling, where I am working as an Au Pair during term time. It is just the most picturesque place on a sunny day, and a bit of a special village as it was one of the few areas that refused to relocate when the local government decided farms should be all spread out along the roads rather than radiating out around a central village.