Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Lowlands 2013 Day 3: Girl Power!

After a sunny day we wake up to grey clouds and rain. But by the time we make it to the festival site the sun is breaking through. Within no time I'm eating an omelet in the sun. Ready to take on this last day.

Lowlands 2013 Day 3, August 18 2013

Jacco Gardner
More and more people are hearing about the boy wonder from the town Hoorn in The Netherlands, who got his inspiration from the psychedelic bands of the sixties. His album Cabinet Of Curiosities is full of beautiful songs in the same style. Live this may seem to lead to a static performance, but fortunately this is not the case. Gardner is chatting to the crowd from time to time in a relaxed way. His presence is kind of innocent and disarmingly. His music is doing the rest and it is creating a magical atmosphere. His band is his reliable support with his friends from Lola Kite and Mr Cool himself, Jos van Tol on drums. Surprisingly the India tent is only half full, but I'm sure next time he will draw bigger crowds.

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Another hype are the Haim sisters. Just like Jacco Gardner they knew to create something of a buzz, without even releasing an album. Already they are getting bookings for festivals and club performances. According to the MC who's announcing her, they partied hard the day before. The girls do look a bit hung over and their set isn't always really tight. They sound a lot more rough on stage than they do on record. Guitarist Danielle knows how to handle her guitar, but her vocals don't always sound powerful enough. They help out drummer Dash Hutton on percussion a lot as well. Bass player Este Haim sounds pretty groovy despite her funny faces. All put together it is an interesting performance. Although not legendary it does sound promising. I'm looking forward to their album that is coming out in a few weeks. By playing many shows they should be able to grow more tight and sound better. I'm sure they'll be a different band within year.

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Noah and the Whale
We decide to check out Noah and The Whale. The band from London make harmless indie rock songs. The band's performance is like their music: nice, happy and a bit too correct. It does make for an enjoyable performance though. And of course you don't expect to find a "wall of death" at their show. Despite some nice songs you could wish for a bit more bite though.

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Alabama Shakes
Of course Alabama Shakes should already have been programmed last year. This year they are already considered big enough to perform on the big Alpha stage. The band does have Brittany Howard who can fill any stage and I mean that in the most respectful way. Her voice is so strong and her presence is overwhelming. It's a delight to watch her sing. The rest of the band have gotten tighter because of all the shows they played. They sound very laid back and have made peace that they are performing in Howard's shadow. It doesn't take long for the crowd to surrender to the intense soul and blues songs. Although the faster songs are less impressive they are a welcome variation and make for a merry intermezzo.

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We rush ourselves to the other side of the festival site to catch the second half of the Foals show. I'm really glad to have made that effort. Their last album won many people over including myself. Their show is a lot more rocking than I expected. It sounds bombastic from time to time but always tasteful. The band is focused and knows what a festival crowd wants: dancing. The tent is more empty at the end of the show than at the point we came in, but that's probably because many people were already making their way to the Alpha tent for Franz Ferdinand. Foals deserved a bigger crowd for their hard work and convincing performance.

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Franz Ferdinand
Indeed many people show up for the glorious return of the Scottish band. They have been away for a while but apparently not forgotten. I haven't seen the Alpha more packed this weekend. We cannot even get in for a good spot and decide to party outside. Since it's a huge party the band is throwing. They have so many songs that get a crowd to go wild. People are dancing and jumping everywhere, even on the slopes at both sides of the tent. New song 'Love Illuminiation' fits in seamlessly and already sounds like it's always been in their set. 'Can't Stop Feeling' is probably a homage to the late Donna Summer containing a similar hook. The band even mix Summer's hit 'I Feel Love' into the song. I don't think anyone expected this big welcome back for the band. But they showed to be totally worth the wait. I can't wait for their new album.

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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
So after this high, Nick Cave was going to close the festival. How was he going to top the party loaded set of Franz Ferdinand? By doing what he does best: play a dark and intense performance as if the devil himself is on his tail. Cave is all over the place in his usual fashion. Sometimes hanging backwards, his arms raised in front of him, like he's enchanting the crowd. Other times he's hanging over the front row, pouring out his sharp words on the first few rows. Or balancing skilfully on top of the fence, supporting himself by holding the hand of one of the fans. The terrific Bad Seeds know exactly how to back him up. Gently playing along in the slow and intimate songs, but wild and rough in the louder parts, sparing no one to enforce Cave's words.

This doesn't miss its impact. The performance is spot on. A vicious and evil 'Stagger Lee' follows the dramatic 'The Mercy Seat' and brilliant 'Higgs Boson Blues'. Songs of the new album sound just as strong as his best songs. 'Push The Sky Away' is dark, spooky and fills the big tent with silence. I've never heard a big crowd go so quiet. Many people were questioning if Nick Cave was a good headliner to close this last day. With this magnificent performance there's no doubt any more. He closes the set with the always gorgeous 'Into My Arms' which make this performance a perfect one.

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Still stunned from the performance we get ourselves some of the last bitterballen and some beers. So what about finally going to the Titty Twister? Another huge line!? Crap! Grolsch Beugelbar it is then.

Another good edition of Lowlands has come to an end. I really noticed an increasing number of people come here to party and music comes in second. The Lowlands organization seems to targeting that group more and more, which is a real shame. Hopefully music will never come in second for them. Or should I start looking at a different festival?

More Pictures

Lowlands 2013 Day 1
Lowlands 2013 Day 2

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