Saturday, 27 August 2011

Lowlands 2011 Day 1: Explosive First Day

What a day before the Lowlands festival kicks off. A horrible thunderstorm causes a drama at the Pukkelpop festival with four people getting killed and many wounded. There's also lots of damage to the festival site and band equipment. The same day the Lowlands visitors who already were at the camping sites suffered heavy rain as well but fortunately it was nothing compared to their fellow festival visitors in Belgium. When the air clears up Lowlands is ready to kick off the 19th edition.

Lowlands 2011 Day 1, August 19 2011
Skunk Anansie and the Smith Westerns who are playing the festival had their equipment damaged at the Belgian festival drama and have to rent replacements. But for the rest Lowlands doesn't suffer any consequences. So we're off the usual way except for an unnecessary long wait at the festival site's entrance that causes us to miss The Wombats. Organization, deal with this next year please!

Fitz and the Tantrums (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
So the first band we see is the soul band from LA. The band of Michael Fitzpatrick is a good way to start with it's uplifting soul songs. The real star of the band is singer Noelle Scaggs with her impressive voice. The whole band is treating us to a lively performance and the crowd is digging it a lot. I'm sure they made many new friends today.

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Anna Calvi (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Time to check out the singer with the impressive voice. I read goog things about her performances but I guess today wasn't really her day. It isn't easy for her to keep everyone's attention in the half full India tent at this time of the day. Her voice is good though and although it's not really my cup of tea, she's still playing a solid set. Better go see her live in a small intimate club.

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Wolf Gang (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)
Singer Max McElligott's band Wolf Gang are playing the small Charlie stage and I agreed to meet some friends there. I can't find them but I see most of this band's show which is a nice one. His voice is good and they are playing catchy indie pop songs. It all stays really friendly though and it doesn't really stick out. If they take more risks and rough it up a bit this could grow into a bigger act in a few years.

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Jungle By Night (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
Another show by these young musicians, that I've watched a few times now. Are they able to play the Lowlands crowd as well? Of course they are. The crowd at the Lima stage are usually open minded and love a good party. So this afro beat party is a winner right from the start. And the young band know exactly how to play a willing crowd. They fire them up, let them participate and every solo is greeted with loud cheers. In a few years they will probably rock the big Alpha stage if they can keep this up.

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Miles Kane (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
With his friend Alex Turner he showed he's capable of writing good songs. But exactly how big is his part in The Last Shadow Puppets? His old band The Rascals never really could impress but as a solo artist Miles Kane is showing he's able to come up with some great jangling guitar songs of his own. And on stage it all sounds convincing as well. Too bad Turner doesn't show up although his Arctic Monkeys are playing later today.

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dEUS (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)
They are coming up with a new album next month, but still they let us decide what songs to play earlier in the week. Of course that results in a greatest hits set that shows how good this band is and how many great songs they wrote. Only one new song, 'Constant Now', made it into the set and for the rest all the big ones are there: 'Suds & Soda', 'Fell Off The Floor Man' where front man Tom Barman effectively squeezes in the words "Barbara Streisand", referring to the Duck Sauce hit. 'Nothing Really Ends' flows into 'Bad Timing' seemlessly, although I think the intro to the last song lasted longer earlier this year. The set closes with the ever brilliant 'Instant Street'. Although not as experimental anymore as they used to be, dEUS has transformed into a solid rock band over the years. I can't wait to hear the new album.

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White Denim (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)
After another great album I was dying to see White Denim live. And I wasn't disappointed at all. They play their complicated songs with such ease that it almost looks simple. The playful guitar licks, swinging drums and high pitch dreamy vocals sound great. The band is looking lively and fresh and these fine musicians impressed many people. I think they made many new friends today.

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Arctic Monkeys (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)
After two very convincing shows earlier this year I thought I knew what was coming and wasn't expecting many suprises. But I was wrong. The first surprise was Alex Turner's look: an impressive 'Teddy Boy' quiff and leather jacket for a true rock 'n roll look. It suits him well and seems to give him more confidence. The band looks totally different from two years ago when they were closing the festival. They treat us to a hot energetic show, playing their best heavy songs. 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor', 'When The Sun Goes Down', 'Brainstorm', all the favourites are there. Of course the ones from the new album are not missing out, including the great current single 'The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala'. Friend Miles Kane does turn up in the last song and great closer '505' to play some guitar. Can this band get any better?

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This day turned out even better than I hoped. Can the other two days even come close? We'll find out tomorrow, but first it's time to party. Titty Twister anyone?

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Lowlands 2011 Day 2 Review >
Lowlands 2011 Day 3 Review >

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