Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Amsterdam Woods Festival 2015 Saturday

Although there are many festivals in my home town Amsterdam, funny enough there is no multiple day summer festival with indie bands and rock music. Until now that is, since this year the three day Amsterdam Woods festival saw the light for its first edition with a promising line-up of upcoming bands, some established acts and documentaries. We can't make it to the first day on Friday but needless to say I hopped on my bike the day after to visit the large city park Amsterdamse Bos (three times the scale of Central Park), where the festival is located.

Amsterdam Woods Festival Saturday August 29 2015

After a nice bike ride through the woods, we arrive at a lovely spot. We explore the festival ground which is quite tiny but feels like a mini version of my favourite festivals Into The Great Wide Open and Best Kept Secret. A big tent hosts the main stage "Grote Eik (Big Oak)" opposite the outdoor stage "Onder De Sterren (Underneath The Stars)". A tiny stage "Spruit (Sprout)" at the other site will host new and upcoming bands. Scattered around are bars and food trucks, a lovely spot has turntables and spins oldies singles and a small bar pours lovely "speciality" beers. At this moment it is still quiet but things already look good.

Nelson Can
First up for us are three ladies from Denmark that form a rock trio without guitar player. Drums, bass and vocals create a dark punkrock sound especially because of the low but strong voice of singer Selina Gin. It is still early for both the band and the audience and this is a band that probably would work better in the dark. The ladies are doing their best though and the songs are quite interesting. However the lack of a melodic instrument becomes quite obvious since the songs sound alike a lot.

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Alamo Race Track
Dutch alternative band Alamo Race Track stand high in regard in the Dutch music scene and their last album Hawks once again is quite a gem. Their songs embody a lot of atmosphere and tension. The skilled musicians are facing a half full tent and are obviously having some sound problems on stage. The show is off to a bit of a rough start that way and it's hard to recreate the same atmosphere of their albums. But in the end this band is so talented and professional, that it results in a pretty good performance nevertheless.

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Douglas Firs
Belgian musician Gertjan van Hellemont formed this band with Balthazar's Simon Casier on bass, drummer Christophe Claeys (Amatorski and Magnus) and his brother Sem on keys. Their songs are best described as Americana and roots rock with nice harmonies. The music sounds quite good and works well on this stage next to the weeping willow. Van Hellemont turns out to be a pretty good entertainer with a good sense of humour as well and it turns this performance into a pleasant one.

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Palio Superspeed Donkey
It's time to pick it up a notch though and the "Dutch Arctic Monkeys" are playing a home game. The young band once again show their talent and their catchy rock songs sound better and better every time I get to see them play. They got their British stage act together as well with the seemingly unmoved singer Sam Vermeulen and his fellow band mates jumping around him. It is going to be interesting to see where this is going to take them in the years to come.

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While the sun is still up the trees around the Onder De Sterren stage are already obscuring some of the light a bit, turning it into an atmospheric surrounding. Perfect for the spacerock of Tubelight that are stretching their songs into long hypnotizing jams. The Belgian band may not play the most original music, but they look quite professional and play their music in a convincing way. And on this stage at this time of the day it does come together.

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Moon Tapes
At the other side of the festival ground Moon Tapes are soundchecking and play 'Elephant Stone' by The Stone Roses. This immediately describes their music since it seems that is their biggest inspiration. In their set they also play 'I Wanna Be Adored'. Their own songs are a mix of this and The Smiths where singer Joep Meyer actually does sound like Morrissey a lot. The band picked up some of their guitar lines from The Cure and we get a kind of Madchester new wave vibe, which is working well. It turns into a nice party and this band definitely could be on to something. Now they need to find their own sound instead of copying too much from their main inspirations.

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I Am Kloot
Today's closing headliner is English rock band I Am Kloot that are pretty much an indie favourite. It is the last show of their festival summer and the band are in a very good mood. The beer is flowing like water and the crowd clearly have been looking forward to this performance and are into it right away. It turns the last show of the day into a very nice one, where I Am Kloot is showing why they are so popular in the indie scene, with skilful songs that sometimes rock and are intimate ballads at others. Quite a good ending to our first day at this new festival I'd say.

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This turned out to be a great day and since there is not night line-up or after party we take our bikes into the night to return home and get a good night of sleep.

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