During the first weekend of July, the Brouwersdam is transformed into one of the biggest music festivals of the Netherlands: Concert at Sea. The first day of the 2016 edition is full of fanatic singalongs, surprising pieces of luck and seagulls. Especially seagulls.
In the early afternoon the Zeeland stage is opened by Cøver at SEA, a combination of Bløf and other artists, such as Lucas Hamming, who will perform at the Umoja podium on Saturday. The traditional openingsact has a special theme this year: “Heroes”. Bløf celebrates those artists we have lost in the past year, by performing covers. For instance, the familiar sounds of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and Prince’s “Purple Rain” graced the Brouwersdam. Despite the rain, the audience is good-spirited and for the time, the area in front of the Zeeland stage turns yellow with sunhats.
One hour later it is time for Douwe Bob to take the stage and almost immediately he takes off his sweater. The singer-songwriter is thanked by the audience with loud clapping and shouting. The message behind the action is crystal clear: Douwe Bob is on a mission. He is sexy and Concert at Sea shall – no, will – know it. Together with his band Douwe Bob starts his festival set with one of his biggest hits, “Sweet Sunshine”. Unfortunately the sun does not show, but the rain has cleared and the young, mostly female, audience sings along with every single track, from the lesser known ones to his Eurovision Songfestival hit “Slow Down”.
Even before HAEVN actually enters the Umoja Stage, the stage-presenter notices that the muddy field in front of the stage has never been more crowded. Welcomed by a bouldering applause from the audience, the four Dutch men climb the stage, after which they play dreamy and fragile indie pop. The musicians keep their eyes closed while they play their instruments and the audience follows their example, floating away with the music. During HAEVN’s performance it starts to rain again, but it’s actually kind of beautiful. The rain seems to match perfectly with the dreamy and modest sounds of HAEVN.
Long before Typhoon takes the Zeeland stage, the field is chockfull. The audience is clearly curious to see the man they heard so much praise about. And that praise is fully justified as Typhoon brings the summer, instead of the sun, to Concert at Sea. The cheerful mix between hiphop, jazz and reggae brings a smile to the many, many faces in the audience, as they are shielded by colorful ponchos and sweaters. On bare feet, wearing just a cotton blouse and shorts, Typhoon is dressed for hot weather and for just a glimpse of a moment, it feels just like that. The audience dances, sings and claps along with Typhoon. “Lobi da Basi,” he says, “Love is boss”. He addresses the audience, looking back on a turbulent year, and encourages them to look beyond their individual differences and instead be one together. As soon as the familiar sounds of “Zandloper” fly over the Brouwersdam, the entire field dances along, from the people in the front to those in the back.
It is a cold and rainy first festival day of Concert at Sea, but it does not bring the crowd’s spirits down one bit. There is dancing, drinking and laughing – in short, a cozy festival. Seagulls fly over the muddy festival terrain, diving to the surface in search of an easy prey: fries, chicken or traditional Zeeuwsche mussels. The entire day festival visitors point towards the thieves in the sky, joking: “Look, there is Guus Meeuwis already!” (translation: “seagull” is “meeuw” in Dutch). Funny, but he is not really there until the entire field dances and sings along. The entertainer brings his usual show to Concert at Sea, where proves it’s still a big success. And during the Brabantse sing-along of Guus Meeuwis, the sun finally makes its entrance.
When the foggers create thick clouds on the Zeeland stage in anticipation of the closing act, the sun disappears slowly but surely behind the still lingering grey clouds and finally behind the Noordzee. The friday of Concert at Sea 2016 is closed by Faithless, an iconic dance-act consisting out of British singer Maxi Jazz and producer Sister Bliss. An act like Faithless on a festival like Concert at Sea, that thrives on fun, family, and sing-alongmusic, is an unexpected choice perhaps. But it’s a choice that proves to be a right one. Faithless enters the stage in a cloud of smoke, mysteriously lighted and without any announcement. But as it turns out, an act like Faithless does not need any announcement; it speaks for itself as a dance act, but apparently also as an act that can be enjoyed by the entire family. When Sister Bliss sets in on the synthesizer, the ring in front of the Zeeland stage is filled with a great number of families. Mother sings along, as if hypnotized, and father moves his head towards the beat. The kids, too young to be familiar with Faithless’ repertoire, stare breathlessly at the truly beautiful and impressive light show. Eccentric singer Maxi Jazz joins Sister Bliss and his hand on the stage; long and skinny he towers above everything else. His deep voice, which is so characteristic for Faithless’ sound, is no longer what it once was. The vocals on “God Is A DJ” might be a few tones higher at Concert at Sea, but Maxi Jazz does not seem to mind. He hypnotizes the audience with his words, while Sister Rollo keeps them dancing until deep in the night.
Although I’m not a filmmaker, I made a little festival diary of my time at Concert at Sea 2016. You can watch the video down below. I hope you enjoy it!
This article was originally written for and published on 3VOOR12 – Zeeland.