Thursday, 14 June 2018

On Stage: Pearl Jam @ Ziggo Dome

It's been a few years since Pearl Jam visited our country. Now they are on a big tour even though a new album is on the way only somewhere next year. Of course these guys don't need a new LP to sell out arenas, nor do I need a new LP to go see them.

Pearl Jam at Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, June 13 2018

Even though I have seen them several times I never can get enough from this legendary rock band. You know that every night the setlist is different and every setlist will have a a few gems on them. They open the night with the incredible 'Release' and then slowly build it up. The first half is quite heavy and raw, which is just the way I like em.

Eddie Vedder has become a rock icon and for a good reason. He's always in a good mood, although tonight he mentions he really misses his daughter. He comes across as this really friendly guy and you just want to give him a hug. Fortunately he is surrounded by his buddies, because that's what they are. When you see them playing their music, throwing smiles and looks of admiration at one another, you can see they have a lot of respect for each other and are having a lot of fun together.

And who wouldn't love guys like Eddie Vedder, guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard, bassist Jeff Ament, and drummer Matt Cameron. They are a group of guys I would love to have a beer with. It is this kind of energy and vibe they radiate and why so many people like them. And because they are simply one hell of a rock band, that made so many good songs, that they can play more than twentyfive songs in over two and a half hours.

'Even Flow' is one of those near to perfect rock songs that still stands tall after so many years. The beautiful ballad 'Just Breathe' sounds so fragile and intimate, showing Vedder's amazing voice. 'Once' and 'Black' go back to back in the encore before the place is lit with the rock monument 'Alive'. The place is torn apart and the crowd keeps going during 'Rockin' In The Free World' and 'Yellow Ledbetter'. Ok, this post reads back like a fanboy's memory but come on, what's not to like about this epic band? See you again at the Pinkpop festival fellows!

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01. Release
02. Present Tense
03. Animal
04. Last Exit
05. Lightning Bolt
06. 1/2 Full
07. Untitled
08. MFC
09. Even Flow
10. Light Years
11. Glorified G
12. Can't Deny Me
13. Mind Your Manners
14. Unthought Known
15. Inside Job
16. State of Love and Trust
17. Do the Evolution
18. Porch
19. Bee Girl
20. Man of the Hour
21. Just Breathe
22. Once
23. Black
24. Rearviewmirror
25. Alive
26. Rockin' in the Free World
27. Yellow Ledbetter

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Best Kept Secret 2018 Day 3

The Casbah got the best of me last night so I'm a little slow this morning. But a few litres (yes, we have the metric system over here) of coffee gets me going. So after a while we are heading to the festival site for another glorious day in sunny paradise.

Best Kept Secret 2018 Day 3, June 10 2018


Yesterday we spent a lot of time at stage five and we find ourselves back there for the first show of the day with Moaning. Singer and guitarist Sean Solomon looks tiny but packs an amazing baritone. The band have a relaxed and loose way of playing their powerful songs, still the show is very tight. The post-punk songs with fuzzed guitars sound dark and heavy. Once and a while the band goes wild on stage, swinging their guitars around. At the end of the set Solomon balances his guitar on top of his head for the last trick of a very enjoyable show.

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Since I saw the trio from Houston play the Into The Great Wide Open festival last year the band has created a lot of buzz around them. Their album Con Todo El Mundo is well received and people seem to love the mellow disco and rock n roll sound. I am not that impressed and find it a bit too cheesy and boring. But it has brought them to the second biggest stage of the festival where it has filled up completely, so I'm going to give them another try. Every song is greeted with loud cheers and people are really digging the easy listening tunes. Mark Speer is a skilled guitar player showcasing many styles. I still think it isn't all that special and probably don't really get it.

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Gang Of Youths

I like the Australian band Gang Of Youths a lot better later on at the main stage. It's halfway the afternoon and it's hot in front of the stage at the lake. The band needs to work very hard to keep people going. The band has studied their rock poses well, especially singer David Le’aupepe. In the end it pays off though and people actually start responding to the band's positive energy. Not all songs are great though, especially the mid tempo pop tunes aren't really memorable. But when the band starts rocking heavily, steering close to Bruce Springsteen and The Gaslight Anthem, they actually have something good going on. In the end the band deserves a big hand for energizing the somewhat apathetic crowd.

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The incredible story about Sixto Rodriguez is the subject of the by now well-known documentary Searching For Sugarman. Although it isn't clear to me if the story was made bigger than it truly is, you really wish the old bluesman the best. But the singer looks lost on stage and isn't really capable of playing a truly good show. The eager crowd really wants to give him everything but the show never really takes off. In the end it is the legend that remains but with a bit of a bitter taste.

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Ty Segall & The Freedom Band

Fortunately Ty Segall lives up to his reputation. The productive rocker even shines in his best matter with an inspired and lively show. With his The Freedom Band he's standing in half a circle so we can only see him from the back from our bad spot all the way to the right of the stage. Segall seems to be going through all his faces today, moving between garage punk, rock, glamrock and some more of his pop tunes. The pit in front of the stage gets bigger and bigger, while crowd surfers keep popping up. His cover of Hot Chocolate's 'Everyone's A Winner' fires them up even more. Segall definitely is a big winner today.

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Spoon is one of those bands that simply is made for festivals like this. Their song writing skills are amazing and live those songs sound better than ever. Britt Daniel is a charismatic singer that knows how to play a crowd. Today he has no trouble getting people into their groovy songs. The wonderful 'I Ain't The One' makes everyone hold their breath and this show only has highlights.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Back at stage Two Ruban Nielson and co have started their set. The band has grown bigger and bigger over the years, but they are known for their capricious performances. I've seen great shows by this band, but today they sound a bit messy. Jumping between songs from their entire catalog, the many styles lack coherence and the band seems less focused. Nielson can still rely on his amazing guitar playing though and a string of very good songs. In the end it leaves mixed feelings about this show.

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Father John Misty

Another good album God's Favorite Customer makes me eager to see Father John Misty. He plays a very smooth running set with a tight band, with a lovely brass section. His rich compositions sound lush today with a well balanced set that never goes weary. He is not in a chatty mood but when you have so many great songs, you can let the music do the talking. That's exactly what he does while the sun is slowly setting.

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LCD Soundsystem

After two days of headliners that lived up to their huge reputation, expectations are high for James Murphy and co who are closing the main stage. They played an incredible set of shows at Paradiso last September so I kind of thought what to expect. The band has an out of this world set for us tonight though, one that is aimed at a festival crowd that wants to go all the way one last time at the main stage. All hits are lined up in a smooth running show that never seems to have breaks, except for that short toilet break Murphy announces a few songs too early. The huge disco ball was never more at its place than tonight, which turns into a lovely dancing party filled with good vibes. Murphy is clearly having a lot of fun himself, smiling a lot and cracking a few jokes. This is one of those nights where a band and a crowd totally connect for a wonderful unforgettable party. Last year we saw two dream headliners Arcade Fire and Radiohead on this festival, but LCD Soundsystem was probably the perfect headliner for a close to perfect festival.

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We head to The Casbah one last time that is exploding with energy. This year's edition was one of the best festival experiences I have ever had and one that climaxed with utter joy and positive vibes. The weather turned out to be perfect, the bands were incredible and the crowd was really into it as well. I think I saw a glimpse of paradise this weekend.

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Best Kept Secret Festival 2018 Day 1
Best Kept Secret Festival 2018 Day 2

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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Best Kept Secret 2018 Day 2

After a very good first day I am preparing for a very busy one. My time schedule is pretty much impossible so I'm gonna have to go with the flow and see how this day develops. One thing is for sure: this should be a good one. Best Kept Secret 2018 Day 2, June 9 2018


After that amazing first day we can use a band that will wake us up and put is in the right mood again. Omni are the right band for this. Their post rock with unexpected breaks and changes is a hookier and lighter version of Ought with a bit of Lou Reed in there, that sometimes has a restless feel. Frontman Philip Frobos has a very laid back style of playing his bass and singing. And laid back is exactly what we need right now.

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Fronted by ‎Alicia Bognanno, Bully don’t look like they are going to be laid back. I like their nineties Seattle grunge sound with a pop coating and their new LP Losing is pretty good. On stage it misses a bit of an edge although Bognanno is screaming on top of her lungs now and then. At the end of their show the band do let things rip for a final climax.

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Whenever I get the chance to see Johan play I’m gonna be there. Many people have turned up at the second biggest stage of the festival to see this wonderful band. The new songs of their latest album already sound familiar to the fans and the rest of the crowd can appreciate them as well. Old hit songs are greeted with loud cheers. Johan has no problem handling larger stages like this.

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Wolf Alice

On the main stage Wolf Alice return to this festival for the third time. In a few years time this band has grown pretty big, especially in their home country across the canal. The young group shows why they are getting this big with very good songs and a confident performance. Ellie Rowsell is a strong and at the same time charming front woman. All band members show a lot of energy and heart on stage. It is hot in the sun this afternoon but Wolf Alice make sure no one is dozing off. After the show we quickly run over to the other side to see Pip Blom play. The young woman with her equally young band have already started her last song unfortunately but by the looks of it she did very well.

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After seeing Mattiel play London Calling recently I really want to check her out again. Dressed in a red overall she impresses me again with her no nonsense attitude and incredible band. I know some people don’t really like her voice but when you do, it is clear how good her songs are. The compact soul and rock songs with a garage style approach go down pretty good.

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Downtown Boys

Today we kind of stick around stage five mostly since there are so many exciting bands lined up here. One of them is Downtown Boys who released a very good album earlier this year. Live the political songs about living in the USA nowadays sound even more urgent. Singer Victoria Ruiz’ stage presence is full of fire but very positive at the same time. The mostly Spanish lyrics sound fierce while she’s dancing around stage. Backed up by a very focused and lively band the leave a lasting impression.

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Cocaine Piss

Cocaine Piss is keeping the fire going with a aggressive and powerful performance. Singer Aurélie Poppins is a ball of energy bouncing around screaming her lyrics on top of short punk songs that the band fires at us. At the same time this is a very positive show as well, with a band that are heaven so much fun. At the end Poppins runs off stage and lands at my feet halfway the tent with a huge smile on her face and dripping from sweat. It’s a fitting end to the last show of our run at this stage. Time to make our way to the main stage.

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The National

When you’ve seen this band play you know you’re up for something good. By now they are a most wanted headliner since they will always deliver big. Tonight the band is even at their best with a very relaxed Matt Berninger who is in a good mood. While the sun sets the dark songs sound even better than ever. The crowd is totally into it and in the quiet parts of songs you can hardly hear anything as everyone listens to Berninger’s dark voice baring his soul. Traditionally this tour the band ends with an acoustic and unplugged version of ‘Vanderlyde Baby Cry’ at the front of the stage while the whole crowd joins in. It’s an impressive ending to this amazing day, one that was dominated by bands fronted by powerful ladies. Time to hit The Casbah again!

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All Pictures

Best Kept Secret Festival 2018 Day 1

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