I can’t believe it’s already been nearly 2 weeks ago that we made the camping flight to Lowlands paradise! I still feel the sunburn on my face, still scrape the mud of my boots and think back of a series of amazing festival performances.
The idea behind the festival is that you make a so-called camping flight down to the paradise that is Lowlands, where you dive into the festivities, junkfood and performances for an entire weekend. To ensure this experience, the festival terrain already opens a day before the performances take place and thus we left for Biddinghuizen on Thursday afternoon. The campsite are already open, so you can put down your tent camp nice and relaxed, without having to worry about missing performances later. Plus, arriving on Thursday gives you the perfect and rare opportunity to enjoy campsite sanitaries in its purest form – untouched, mudless and clean-scented. A part of the festival terrain is already opened on Thursday, so you can already go, enjoy some smokey goodness and dance along to the Silent Disco.
// Friday August 19, 2016
We started our Lowlands experience out with a performance that turned out to be one of my favorites of the entire festival: Tom Odell. The young British performer opened the Alpha stage of Lowlands, which he did with grace, confidence and a healthy dose of melancholia. His highly-anticipated second album, titled “Wrong Crowd” has just been released and the singer-songwriter seemed more confident than ever. He played a beautiful mix between melancholic ballads and powerful, more up-beat tracks. Tom Odell and his band (including the most beautiful pregnant lady ever and Andy Burrows) magnetized the audience with grace and strength.
After Tom Odell, it’s time for Jake Bugg to take the Alpha stage. It’s slightly less crowded than during the previous performance, when the 19-year-old artist performs his combination between straight-up country and stubborn rock music. After being confused during his entire performance, I have come to a conclusion about my opinion on Jake Bugg – I really like his darker, harder, more rock-oriented material and I really dislike his country stuff.
Being at a music festival is a constant alternation between performances and eating. So after Jake Bugg I was desperate for some really good junk food (Vietnamese egg rolls, spare-ribs, ice cream, more smokey goodness) and super cold Lipton ice tea green (side note: Lowlands is the only festival I have ever been to where they sell ice tea green and it made me indescribably happy every single day). The next band on my list was Causes, which is an upcoming indieband from the Netherlands. Again, the India tent was packed with people, amongst two people who hadn’t seen each for other for apparently several years and decided to do some catching-up right in front of my during the entire concert. So, not a lot of Causes, but I did see something of The Kills. The iconic British duo was fiery and sharp at the India stage.
And then it was time for the biggest struggle of Lowlands 2016: the holy triangle of Oscar & The Wolf, Biffy Clyro and Muse. Three of my all-time favorite bands were scheduled right after each other, on stages on the complete other side of the festival terrain. After a lengthy debate with myself, I decided to do the impossible: see all three of them. So I started with the pride of Belgium: Oscar & The Wolf. I saw the band perform at Down The Rabbit Hole (you can ready my review right here) and Pinkpop (you can ready my review right here) in 2015 and I loved every single second of their festival set. And just as I expected, the Alpha tent was packed with people when the band started with their new single “The Game”. Oscar had built an entirely new stage, with two massive pillars on which the drums and the keys were situated. Frontman Max Colombie danced on the ground, rocking his glitter pants and flaunting his eyeliner.
The Alpha was completely packed – too packed for my taste – so after a couple of songs I left the sauna-hot tent (speaking of the sauna, at Lowlands there’s a wellness island where you can enjoy one!). From the Alpha, I walked across the entire festival terrain to the Bravo tent, which is slightly smaller and situated near the entrance of the festival. Here, Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro took the stage. Frontman Simon Neil traditionally introduces de band as “we’re Biffy fucking Clyro” and kept repeating his favorite catchphrase all throughout the festival set. The Bravo tent was far from crowded, but neither the audience nor the band really seemed to care. The crowd shouted along to “Bubbles”, “Wolves of Winter” and “Living Is A Problem”, while the three Scotsman on stage performed with all the strength in their shirtless bodies.
Friday’s headliner was Muse and the concept of Muse performing in a tent still doesn’t make sense in my head. I have seen Muse headlining festivals, performing at stadiums, completely taking down the biggest stages in the Netherlands, but never on a stage that is as compact as in a tent. Muse had already started when we walked back from an amazingly fun Biffy, so we couldn’t get into the Alpha tent anymore. But we sat down by the waterside in front of the tent, so we could still listen to half Muse’s set and what I gathered from it, is that the performance was less epic and fiery and mind-blowing than usual.
// Saturday August 20, 2016
After a rather eventful night (the air mattress died somewhere in the middle of the night, so Boyfriend and I went to a moonlit walk towards the Hema store on the campsite and bought a new one), the second day of Lowlands 2016 had arrived. Once more, it was blazing hot and the tents had transformed themselves into free-entry saunas. The first performance on my list was Matt Corby, who was described by a couple of ladies in the shower building as “the sexy one”. Sexy as he might be, his enjoyable and dreamy singer-songwriter songs became a little repetitive after a while. So we left the blazing hotness of the tent and sat outside in the grass and ate some panini and salad.
But forget about sexy Matt Corby and panini, because my day didn’t fully start until Wolfmother‘s performance at the Alpha stage. The Australian rock band, led by wild-haired Andrew Stockdale, bewitched the entire tent, creating the very first moshpit of the day with hits such as “Woman”, “Love Train” and “Victorious”.
The next band to climb Lowlands’ main stage was probably one of the most-anticipated of the entire festival: De Staat. The band has created quite the live reputation for themselves and it seemed as if the entire Lowlands population tried to cram itself into the Alpha tent. People stood and climbed on barriers to get a glimpse of De Staat. And they were proven right. Although De Staat is not for everyone, their performances are a full experience. Especially their final track, called “Witch Doctor”. This is the infamous moment where frontman Torre Florim moves to the center of the audience and becomes a witch doctor himself. The crowd starts to circle around him, bewitched by the music, turning itself in a hurricane of flesh and sweat.
The difference between De Staat and the next band to perform in the Alpha could not be bigger. Icelandic postrock band Sigur Rós brought an entire installation and an incredible amount of talent with them. The band started their set hidden behind a curtain of twinkling lights and a sound so powerful and impressive it could have knocked down the entire Alpha.
From the musical and visual spectacle of Sigur Rós, we installed ourselves in the tea hut, where we waited until it was time for the next thing on my list. What is great about Lowlands, is that it’s much more than just a music festival, it’s an arts festival. In the Echo tent, films are screened all throughout the day, while at the art corner next to the Heineken, you can visit expositions and workshops. So just after midnight, we sat down in the Echo with the biggest bucket of popcorn known to man to watch “The Neon Demon” (2016). I was super excited to see it, because it’s the latest film by director Nicolas Winding Refn and the posters and trailers looked both mind-boggling and incredibly beautiful. After seeing the film, I can safely say that it’s exactly that: mind-bogglingly strange and incredibly, stunningly beautiful.
// Sunday August 21, 2016
Already on Saturday night it had started to rain and all throughout the night and the next morning it drizzled. Of course it started pouring just as we packed up out tent camp and we had to bring away our stuff to the car wearing our super sexy rain capes. As the rain didn’t until much later that day, we just conquered a place for ourselves in the tea hut and didn’t leave until that evening. There were some bands that I wanted to see, but the weather sucked and the tents were packed and the tea hut was just way too comfortable. Plus, it’s fun to just watch people walk by, see what they’re wearing and how they look after three days of Lowlands.
And then it was already time for the very last performance of the weekend! The Last Shadow Puppets completely conquered the Alpha stage, with Alex Turner shaking his ass towards the audience and Miles Turner shouting profanities in-between tracks. From “Standing Next To Me” and “The Age of The Understatement” to “Aviation” and “Miracle Aligner”, their performance was airtight – the audience knew it, and the puppets definitely knew it.
I already miss Lowlands and I miss it even more while writing this. It was my first time at the festival and I can honestly say it was one of the best festivals I had ever been to. The music was fantastic, the food was heavenly and the people were so friendly and creative and fun. Lowlands truly is a camping flight down to paradise.