The Thick of It


Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I've been away on my holidays having been to Amsterdam and the Lowlands festival. Having previously been to Benicassim in Spain (just four times) I was interested to see what the Dutch would make of the music festival. It had no beach but it had real toilets, free saunas, showers and no mud. And the Dutch who are the most easy going people I've ever seen at a festival. No pushing or shoving, fantastic - unlike Benicassim which has now been taken over by us Brits.

Is Lowlands the world’s most easy going festival? Dubbed “A camping flight to Lowlands paradise” and with a line up to match any UK festival it is hard to disagree. In it’s 15th year, Lowlands attracted top billing from The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Arcade Fire, Interpol, Editors, Motorhead and Tool. The 55000 sell out crowd were treated to superb acts at a festival so well organised it puts the British mud-baths to shame.

Substitute portaloos with real toilets, mud with proper drainage, poor sound with fantastic sound, dirt with real showers and queues with the easy going Dutch. Lowlands is a music lovers’ paradise.

All the things that annoy me about festivals don’t apply here. Did I mention free laundry and saunas and that returning ten beer cups gets you a free drink?

The Killers rocked Friday to the rafters of the vast Alpha tent with a superb hit-laden set. Pure energy from start to finish, revellers were treated to Brandon Flowers at his best, stomping across the stage in a silver suit and pumping his arms to tune.

Calvin Harris played his first overseas festival date and proved that he has what it takes to continue exciting fans with his 80s fun pop. Fans packed in to see West Londoner Jamie T though I left feeling a little short changed from his set.

Saturday saw a fine display of powerful post-punk from moody New Yorker’s Interpol who delivered the good for me as a big fan. They had a great light show and played all their best songs, which helps. Kaiser Chiefs naturally lived up to expectations and had the whole festival pogoing away on Saturday night. They really do sound more and more like Blur.

With the sun blazing down on the lakeside site, on Sunday Kings of Leon finally lived up to their hype - the fourth time I've seen them now - and delivered the perfect prelude to godfathers of grunge, Sonic Youth.

I signed off the weekend with Canadian art-rockers Arcade Fire, ten on stage and I was in thrall thrall as the festival drew to a close, with a string of storming tracks from recent album Neon Bible and against a stunning backdrop including a church organ, screens and all sorts.

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