Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Four days loving the Loww-life

Thursday afternoon we arrived at Biddinghuizen, Flevoland, The Netherlands to go to A campingflight to Lowlands Paradise 2007. I went with a good friend of mine, his cousin and a bunch of friends of that cousin. They were all very nice people, but I was really amazed at the amount of food and other stuff they carried with me. First law of camping: Only take what you can carry. They did not follow this rule, which lead to exhausted faces and a bit of a cranky mood on the first day. That thursday my tent was finally up at 22:00, at a little spot I found at the end of camping one. I was lucky to find some space for our group, because Camping One (of six) was becoming full very fast. We enjoyed some food, a beer and went to bed to wake up for the first official day of the experience that is Lowlands.

Friday morning it was a bit cloudy, it had even rained during the night, and we were all a bit afraid that the festival would again become a mud-fest. Around 12:00 however the clouds stopped depositing their rain, the sun broke through the clouds and it stayed that way during the next three days. Some clouds, some sun, some little drops of rain, but nothing serious.

So we went to the terrain to enjoy our first day. The first act we saw was Alamo Race Track in the Alpha. A dutch band who just finished a tour in America. They sounded solid with some good songs and a nice performance. I cannot remember anything else to note, but I guess that is a good thing in case of a dutch band. After that we went to the Rakes, which was boring. Chord-progressions which are simple, old and..well..just boring. I know those songs might sound nice, but there are so many bands that play nice songs. It's just not the thing I`m looking for in music...I`m looking for something good and unique. I found this at the next performance of My Brightest Diamond. Do yourself a favour and get your hands on the song Dragonfly. It drifts somewhere between earth and heaven, so beautiful. She put up a good performance with a nice dress and a special hair-do, although she joked that it was a failed experiment. I was soon mesmorized by her beautiful voice, and was quite suprised at the limited number of people who showed up at the Lima. You missed something people!

Then it was time for some food. Spare-ribs. Delicious. When it comes to festival-food, Lowlands has the most variation of the big three that I visited (Pinkpop, Lowlands, Werchter).

After this soulfood we went to The Eagles of Death Metal. Along the way we saw a piece of the Battles, which was impressive. A lot of detailed cut-and-paste work was going on at the stage, and I enjoyed what I saw.

I never imagined the Eagles to give a better performance than at the Effenaar last year, but they did, especially thanks to the crazy crowd in the Grolsch. Jessy Hughes looked sleazier than ever before with that long greasy hair and pink t-shirt, and made some great moves on stage. Luckily he also talked a lot less than at the Effenaar, and just played the music, which sounded loud, but good at the front of the stage. There was a bit of crowd-surfing, and a lot of jumping and some (irritating) pushing, all the elements that show that this was a good performance.

After the Eagles we went to the Basement Jaxx. Three years ago I was really impressed by their performance at Rock Werchter. Now they were closing the Bravo stage on friday. We arrived early to get a nice spot in the middle behind the stage to enjoy the show at its fullest. And it was again a great song. The thing that amazes me about the Basement Jaxx is that they wrote so many good songs that you don`t directly assosiate with their name. Where's you head at?! was of course the grand finale. Later it seemed that this little line could be heard at a long distance from the terrain. A brilliant performance, although sometimes the music felt a bit "too crowded", as if they are making too many sounds at the same time. But this was only a minor point in a perfect set.

After the music we went to the Echo to see Death Proof. Yup, Quintin Tarentino's Grindhouse movie. It was great. It reminds you why it is so great to be a man (because women are sooo beautiful), and that Kurt Russell is still alive. He, by the way, is brilliant in this movie as the psychopat who likes to lure pretty girls in his Death Proof car. It was past 3:00 when the movie ended, so we decided to hit the sleepingbag.

Saturday was a bit of a hard day. I was still a bit tired from last night, and had a bit of a hang-over. We started the day by going to Games in Concert at the Alpha stage. This was an initiative of the Metropool Orchestra and a dutch gaming-website. In short: A complete orchestra was playing the tunes of computer games. Most of the tunes were not that impressive though to hear in this way. I did not know any of the games, untill they started playing the Zelda tune, which I remember from the days when I had a Gameboy and was playing Link's Awakening. Really a feel-good moment. After that they played the famous Mario tune in a small ensemble. A great sing-a-long song, since the whole Alpha was clearing their throats.

The Rifles at the India stage disappointed just as much as the Rakes a day earlier. Just another rock band playing the usual rock songs that sound a lot like that song from the other 100 "The" bands. After three songs we left. We gave them a chance to convince us, but they did not. So we went for some food, and to the Grolsch stage for Turbonegro, a band from Scandinavia. First of all the singer as the biggest beer-belly I have ever seen. It was really hypotising me during the first songs of the set. Then you had a guy behind the keyboard/guitar who was trying his best to move around as "gay" as possible. I looked to the right of me, and saw a giant mosh-pit. I looked to the stage. I saw this guy making is moves. I looked again to my right and saw some guys dressed up in their TurboJugend jackets. Which kind of looked as intimidating as the jackets the Hells Angels wear. I wonder if those though guys noticed those dance-moves that guy was making. I still haven`t talked about the music. It was between ok and good. Hardrock like it should be, without any nuances.

After this show I had a nice chat at the Lima with a lady from near Haarlem. She asked me some interesting questions and I asked some back. Implicitly she told me to take a job that I really like (telling me about her experience), and also tried to convert me to vegetarianism. She was convincing, and nice, but not enough to let me drop my addiction to meat. During this talk Nosfell was playing in the Lima. He sounded very interesting, but we had to go to the Bravo for the second time this weekend to see Cansei de Ser Sexy. It was there were my friend left me temporarily to see Interpol . Sometimes I think it is best to just break up, even when you are only with two persons. He wins by seeing Interpol, while I win by seeing CCS. I would not have been happy at Interpol (booooring), while he was not happy at Cansei de Ser Sexy (a bit to simple/crazy for him). CSS was great. I especially looked forward to seeing the singer jumping around in her jumpsuite, and I was not disappointed. The best non-music moment was when she just struggled herself out of the crowd after a little bit of crowd-surfing and said: "Thanks for not stealing my shoes" and "Actually they are not that expensive anyway". They played a very danceable set and I really enjoyed myself although my feet were aching.

After this I went to Patrick Wolf, not knowing what to expect. Within a few seconds after he went on stage I knew what to expect: A unique show. He kind of looks like E.T. who missed his flight back home about 20 years ago, and decided to get adjusted to life on planet earth. Well. Maybe not completely, but he does look like a being from another planet; neither male nor female. I will never shave my legs by the way. He was making maximum use of the stage and jumped and moved around like crazy, during songs which sounded fresh, unique and especially good. I missed Mika, but I think Patrick Wolf surely made up for that with his stage presence and songs. After this perfermance the saturday was over. We could have watched Borat, but I was too tired and decided that it was also nice to meet up with his cousin & friends at our tents and to enjoy some beers & burgers with them.

The last day, Sunday, was the day of the hard choices and nice surprises. We went to the terrain a bit early to see a little piece of The Enemy in the India. They sounded solid. If this is going to be the next best thing according to the NME, I will approve it with less of a hassle than for instance The View. After this came Patrick Watson. From the description in the little lowlands-guide we learned that he sounde a little bit like Radiohead or Jeff Buckley. The first name I know, they second I don`t. He and his band were impressive and very musical. The songs were very nicely structured, with changes in rythm and speed. There was also a great singalong during "Man Under the Sea" where the band gathered in front of the stage to play a stripped down version of this sing. One of the best moments of my Lowlands 2007. Thank Patrick Watson!

After this we stayed for Loney, Dear, again a group from Scandinavia, but now of the sing-songwriter kind. They play beautiful songs throughout the whole set, but it took about 30 minutes before they really won me over. I think they got a bit more confidence of their ability to please the crowd during the set, something that made them relax and smile. Smiles which were reflected by the audience. The guys from Patrick Watson joined in for the last song, which made this the perfect feel-good afternoon.

After this it was time for a big stretch of Alpha stage action. First of all the Kings of Leon. They impressed my as a band, but the song from the last album miss that unique "touch" that made the first two albums special. I am afraid they will just turn into another rock band. but since they only have made three albums, the first two still dominated the set, which was great! They really rocked out at some points during the set (Spiral Staircase, Molly'd Chambers), and it was great to finally see them live.

After that I saw a piece of Sonic Youth, my friend in the mean time going to Moterhead, which I painfully decided to skip to get a nice position for the Arcade Fire. Although I did not intended to see Sonic Youth, I must say they impressed me from the hills outside the stage. It sounded raw and noisy, and I like that kind off music.

Then came Arcade Fire. I had a lot of expectation for this group. I was still waiting for that chicken-skin moment where your whole body is just in a state of extasy. It did not come. It was a very, very good performance though, but just a bit too short. I blame the festival-organisers for that. One small hour of Arcade Fire is just not enough! The song Wake Up however did almost bring me to a state of eternal happiness. The chorus is just massive. Especially when 30.000 people sing it. I also really like the look out of Regine Chassagne's eyes. It looks like they are trying to eat you up. Sadly she is already married to the frontman of the band. Do I stand a chance, be honest?

Finally I received a call from my friend. Motorhead had a pretty bad sound and so I came back to see the Arcade Fire. Whom impressed him. We met up near the left-front of the stage for Tool, the headliner and last act of the festival. I already saw them last year, but since my friend had never seen them perform I decided that it could not hurt to see them again for a second time. Tool is really a band you should see, even when you don`t like the music. Their sound is so massive that it pretty much blows you away. Especially last year at Pinkpop you could feel the bass got through your body and bones. The played a good set of songs, which again impressed me due to their complexity. I don`t think you can really call them "songs". Maybe you should call them "things". Some of them where 10 minutes long. They got commentary from a dutch music site that they were boring the crowd with their improvising. I didn`t really notice the improvising. I don`t know any of their songs actually. Still, when a band plays a tune of which I cannot follow the rhythm by drumming with my hands on my legs, you really have to give them some credit. I`m an expert at leg-drumming, and Tool amazes me with their complexity and massive sound.

At this point the festival was over. Well not really. There was still a lot of stuff going on with some DJs playing, but my feet were just to tired to really go dancing. So we went back to our tent to meet my friend's cousin & co. for a cold review of the day. I went to bed.

The next morning I woke up and realised it was all over, too soon. I packed my bag and we went back home. We lost my friend's cousin & co. along the way back home, I just didn`t feel like waiting any longer. I really enjoyed their company though, and hope that they aren`t to angry about us taking a lead over them on the way back home.

So this was Lowlands 2007. A festival without any disappointments. Maybe that is why I did not get that chicken-skin moment; the standard that this festival gave me when it came to music was just constantly very high. I did get the moment though when I relistenend "Dragonfly" from My Brightest Diamond. As long as song like this are written I will remain very happy and grateful to live on this big blue planet.