Friday 29 June 2018

On Stage: Nine Inch Nails @ AFAS Live

Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails had a bit of a turbulent era. The band disbanded and sold all their equipment, but then Reznor reformed them again. After a few EP's, they suddenly dropped a new album Bad Witch only a couple of days ahead of their long planned show in Amsterdam. It's a short album but we were surely going to hear some new songs.

Nine Inch Nails at AFAS Live Amsterdam, June 27 2018

Indeed three songs of the new LP make it onto the setlist tonight: 'Shit Mirror', 'Ahead of Ourselves' and 'God Break Down The Door' are played back to back. So far the crowd has gone wild and now they can calm down a bit. The songs are so brand new, not many people know it by heart. The album does get very good reviews and the songs fit right in with the others.

You know that with every NIN show you're in for a wild ride. They are known for great light shows and tonight is no exception. Many lights are stacked up in a few piles on stage and their are plenty of strobes and other lights hanging from the roof, setting the stage in bright light regularly. The heavy industrial rock songs are played very tightly and the band goes through them very smoothly.

Reznor is always singing them with his intense style, giving the music an extra layer. The songs themselves sound angry which is quite fitting for the state of the world today. There simply is enough to be angry about and this music has a certain urgency to it. The restless music with that heavy pounding beat is creating a feeling of anxiety, but also at the same time a sense of trying to dance that feeling away.

That's exactly what a lot of people are doing tonight, with a big excited crowd in front of the stage. With a relentless speed the band goes through twenty one songs in only one and a half hour, playing 'Hurt' in the final encore. When the band leaves, we can still hear the guitar feedback while the stage is still lit. NIN left everyone out of breath tonight with a stunning overwhelming rock show.

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01. Branches/Bones
02. Wish
03. Copy of A
04. Less Than
05. Survivalism
06. Shit Mirror
07. Ahead of Ourselves
08. God Break Down the Door
09. Closer
10. The Lovers
11. Find My Way
12. The Day the World Went Away
13. Reptile
14. The Beginning of the End
15. Gave Up
16. The Great Destroyer
17. Came Back Haunted
18. Only
19. The Hand That Feeds
20. Head Like a Hole
21. Hurt

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Friday 22 June 2018

Pinkpop 2018 Day 3

Another day and another queue at the entrance. When we finally get in, we want to check out Tom Walker, but the tent is full and a big crowd has gathered around the tent. So instead we wander around a bit waiting for the first interesting artist to play.

Pinkpop Festival 2018 Day 3, June 17 2018

Brian Fallon

I like Brian Fallon’s music, the singer from New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem. It’s genuine and honest music, straight from the heart in the best Springsteen fashion. His solo work fits right in and is maybe a bit more on the roots side of rock. Fallon looks and sounds good and is truly enjoying himself. His voice is strong and the songs have lovely stories and pleasant melodies. He’s smiling a lot and is very relaxed. This is definitely one of the good guys and it looks like he has overcome the demons that were chasing him.

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Pinkpop loves Triggerfinger and the Belgian rock band loves them back. It’s the fifth time they are here and you know the band will live up to its impeccable live reputation. Of course I’ve seen them play this tour a couple of times, so I know what to expect. Ruben Block is firing up the crowd with sexy dancing, guitar swinging and his amazing rock voice. It is no surprise they put down a tight and heavy rock show, complete with shredding guitar solos, pumping bass and Mario Goossen’s cymbal licking and rock solos. Just the way I like it! As a surprise Belgian legend Raymond van het Groenewoud plays one of his songs 'Je Veux de l'Amour' with them.

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After Triggerfinger has finished, we rush to the other side of the festival site for Editor’s performance at the main stage. We know we won’t find a good spot this late so we have to watch it from a distance. Tom Smith’s voice never fails to impress and it’s a very good show that has both their big hits and new songs. The acoustic version of ‘Desire’ is simply gorgeous and ‘Papillon’ sets the crowd on fire, although this time without real fire and fireworks. ‘Magazine’ is a good closer after that, of a very strong performance.

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Greta van Fleet

We have to rush into the tent of the Brightlands stage, but many people have already gathered there to see this new sensational band from the States. These young guys look and sound like they are from the seventies. Of course they are copying a lot from Led Zeppelin, which is obvious from their sound and the voice of singer Josh Kiszka. His rock howls are coming close to Robert Plant's, although need to mature a bit more. That goes for the whole band that is playing very good, but need a bit more depth and their own sound. It is simply great to hear these guys play hard rock and blues from the golden age of rock with so much heart. Long stretched versions of the few songs they have with endless guitar solos and rolling drums fill their hour long show. They are looking really confident as if they’ve been doing this for years. The crowd totally loves them and is asking for more when they are done, but there’s no time for encores. It’s going to be interesting to see where these guys end up in five years time.

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And so I leave this festival with mixed feelings. We have seen amazing shows by some of the greatest bands around. But we didn't see many bands because of a lot of queues and huge crowds at the stages. You really need to plan ahead to see bands from a bit more up close, something I really hate at festivals. You also need a lot of patience entering the festival site, ordering drinks and food and wandering around the crowded site. The festival is legendary but seems to be too confident about themselves. They could learn a lot from younger festivals and modernize. Otherwise I won't be returning soon to the oldest festival in The Netherlands I think.

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Pinkpop 2018 Day 1
Pinkpop 2018 Day 2

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Thursday 21 June 2018

Pinkpop 2018 Day 2

Because of my own stupid fault leaving something in the car and having to go back, I arrive at the festival site late again so I missed a few bands. Let’s not linger any longer and go see some music!

Pinkpop Festival 2018 Day 2, June 16 2018

Gang of Youths

The Aussies of Gang of Youths played a good show at the Best Kept Secret Festival last weekend and Pinkpop should be a an even better place for them. This turns out to be true because the crowd really get into the band’s heart full rock songs. The set is identical to last week’s and even some small talk in between is similar. But the band works hard again and I’m sure they found new fans today. This could be the turning point in their career over here.

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A Perfect Circle

It’s been forever since I’ve seen A Perfect Circle play live. Like Maynard James Keenan's other band Tool they don’t release a lot of new music and only play a few shows now and then. I really like the new record even though it is a bit more mellow. The first half of the show follows this sound but they slowly pick it up. Maynard adjusted the colour of his suit to the festival’s pink colour and has goofy looking hair with pick tails wearing partly black face paint. Like a caged animal he’s walking around his small raised stage that he will never leave during the show. Guitarist Billy Howerdel is a lot more mobile and is showing his skills on every part of the stage. The small stages and some loose elements are part of the light show, but because it's in the afternoon and too bright it doesn’t really work as well as they would in the dark. Towards the end of the show they play a heavy version of AC/DC's 'Dog Eat Dog' as a tribute to the late Malcolm Young. After this convincing show I’m definitely going to see them in December when they return for a show in Amsterdam.

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I really like Noel Gallagher and would love to see his whole show with The High Flying Birds. But we know we need to be early at the main stage if we want a good spot for Foo Fighters. We watch three songs that sound really nice. Hopefully next time we will be able to see his full show again.

Foo Fighters

Like Pearl Jam yesterday you know that Foo Fighters will deliver. Together with Pearl Jam they are the reason we wanted to come here for three days. By now we know what to expect from them. They play a couple of new songs and most of their explosive hits. This band knows exactly how to close a festival day. There’s the usual goofing around, a lot of the Taylor and Dave show, and the fan Mike who lives his fifteen minutes of fame, spending a few songs on stage with the band. The crowd loves it and there are many smiles around. As a bonus a meteor burning in the atmosphere causes a fireball in the sky and creates natural fireworks. What a night!

I simply love this band, the rehearsal room vibes, the incredible energy, the joy in their playing, the no nonsense rock songs. It’s just two and half hours of uncomplicated fun and forgetting about everything else.

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It's been a day with some frustration about having to go back to the car, missing bands and a lot of queues again. But it's also been a day with a couple of good shows that made everything fine in the end.

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Pinkpop 2018 Day 1
Pinkpop 2018 Day 3

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Wednesday 20 June 2018

Pinkpop 2018 Day 1

It’s been over fifteen years since I spent three days at the Pinkpop festival in the south of The Netherlands. But when bands like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Editors are on the bill I simply have to be there the whole festival.

Pinkpop Festival 2018 Day 1, June 15 2018

We have a bit of a rough start due to a lot of traffic jams and people jams at the festival site. Somehow you always have to queue a lot over here. So when we finally make it in, we already have missed a couple of bands that I wanted to check out. We wander around a bit and are finally able to catch our first full performance of the day.


I’ve seen Blaudzun many times in the past and always liked his music. I’ve kind of lost him over the past few years and don’t really know his last couple of LPs, live he still is a unique artist though with his striking appearance and dramatic voice. His band is very excited and it turns into a festive performance. The crowd seems kind of mellow but Blaudzun knows how to turn that around halfway by playing with a lot of energy. He deserves a bigger stage though and I hope he will get it some day.

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We wander around a bit again. I didn’t have a lot of attention for Snow Patrol lately, but while we queue at the bar again and drink our hard fought beers I like what I hear and see.

Pearl Jam

The line up today was the least promising of the festival if you don’t count Pearl Jam. Because let’s face it, today is all bout them finally returning to the festival that saw the legendarygroup sky rocket into rock history in 1992. After their incredible show last Wednesday I am very excited to see them again. The band flies into it again with a grand opening. When the night progresses it becomes clear they are treating Pinkpop to their biggest hits.

And of course this band has no trouble filling two and a half hours with only hit songs. This includes one of my favourites ‘Given To Fly’ which is delivered with a lot of heart. The band looks so focused and full of fire, which is wonderful to see.

Eddie Vedder is giving small speeches criticising “the orange menace”, but also telling stories. His story about his famous jump from the camera boom stand in 1992 is heart warming. Mike McReady and Vedder are often running to both sides of the stage, giving everyone here all of their attention. This time the band ends with a lively 'Rockin' In The Free World' and Vedder's traditional tambourine hand out.

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This is why every festival is after headliners like this, which are simply of a unique level that not many bands can reach. They draw huge crowds, because they never disappoint and always deliver. And by the looks of it both young and old had a more than amazing evening.

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Pinkpop 2018 Day 2
Pinkpop 2018 Day 3

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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.

All Pictures

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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Best Kept Secret Festival 2018 Day 1
Best Kept Secret Festival 2018 Day 3

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Best Kept Secret 2018 Day 1

By now the Best Kept Secret festival feels like coming home. We have been here several times and we can't wait to move into our jungalow. By the time we do, the light drizzle has stopped and the sun is showing itself. We get comfortable in front of the jungalow and it doesn't take long to get into the festival mood. Let's go see the first band of the day!

Best Kept Secret 2018 Day 1, June 8 2018


I heard a lot about this band so I wanted to check them out. Their music is quite hard to grasp and I’m having trouble getting into it. Obviously these are skilled musicians but they are making things too difficult for me. The empty spaces that appear in the tent reveal I’m not the only one. Of course it is good to have bands like this who are taking a risk and make things more difficult, so kudos to them for taking a chance.

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The Districts

Time for a bit of action and The Districts are the ones to give it to us. Their songs remind of The Killers and are big enough to fill large venues and festival stages. The band plays with a lot of heart and are eager to win the crowd over. The band sounds pretty tight and solid, although they need a bit more variation in their music. But the group has the right spirit and when they keep working this hard on stage, things could work out for them in the end.

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Mozes and the Firstborn

Susanne Sundfør had to cancel and fortunately Mozes and the Firstborn are here for a DJ set so they can replace her. By the time we arrive at stage Three the band has already wrapped the crowd around their finger. There’s a party going on in front of the stage and there’s one on stage. These guys are having a great time and their energy is contagious. The young group have grown a lot and have improved their sound, their playing and stage appearance. This is a band you simply have to love.

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Future Islands

Another band you have to love is Future Islands. Of course for the largest part this is because of Samuel T. Herring, their charismatic front man. By now you know what to expect but his emotional and soulful performance never gets old. When you look at his sweaty face that seems to be in pain, you wonder how much of this is acted. I want tot believe it is all really him. The songs do sound alike a lot and the band is pretty much acting as wallpaper. Herring doesn't jump off stage to climb the fence this time and in general their performance is less impressive than the other times I have seen them. It's still not a bad way to spend your afternoon though.

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...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Death

Technical issues kind of screw up the first half of the show but when they finally get fixed this band sounds very powerful. I don’t really get the changing of position by Conrad Keeley and Jason Reece taking turns on guitar and drums. Although they do this quite smoothly the small breaks take away some of the momentum now and then. Fortunately they pick things up fast and their heavy sound is very convincing, resulting in a solid performance.

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Deerhunter can make it quite difficult for their audience but cleverly chooses to show their more accessible side. It is a smart move on a festival and they let people get in their music. The dark songs sound wonderful and the band shows how good they are without overdoing it. Interesting song structures combined with a very focused band makes this performance a winner.

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Arctic Monkeys

There has been a lot of talk about the new Arctic Monkeys album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. I simply love it and this band one of my favourite rock bands around. This raises high expectations and you can feel people are eager to know where the band stands these days. Boy, do they deliver tonight. The slow mellow new songs are amazing live and the band is in total control, shifting smoothly between slow and fast songs. Alex Turner has grown into a charismatic confident performer, who is moving around stage like a experienced dandy. I simply love his lazy delivery of his vocals and their songs are simply gorgeous. I think this group is one of the best bands of the past decades. The Casbah sounds like a good place to end this day in style. Rock the casbah!

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All Pictures

Best Kept Secret Festival 2018 Day 2
Best Kept Secret Festival 2018 Day 3

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