Saturday 8 June 2019

Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 2

After such a fun but long day as yesterday, it's hard to wake up. But there's fresh coffee and fried eggs, sunny weather and good company, which ought to get me going. And the thought of another glorious day with so many bands to check out. I have marked no less than eighteen bands in my schedule. So better not waste more time and get this party going.

Best Kept Secret 2019 Day 2, June 1 2019

The Beths

The day starts in a relaxed way with Auckland indie rock band The Beths. Front woman Elizabeth Stokes has written catchy punk pop songs full of hooks and nineties vibes. The songs have a light touch and are easy on the ears. The music is pretty good and a big crowd has gathered around the tent. It does stay on the safe side though and it never gets wild. But it is very nice to wake up to on this sunny morning and have our first beer of the day to go with it.

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Sports Team

Time to really wake up now and no better way to get the sleep blown out of our eyes than Alex Rice and friends. This guy is quite a character, running around stage like Mick Jagger with ADHD and high on speed. But this human elastic bouncing ball is wonderful to watch as he moves himself into crazy positions, makes funny faces and seems to be talking and singing all the time, even when there's no mic around. On top of that there's lifeless keyboard player Ben Mac who doesn't show any expression and seems to be applying for a position in today's headliner Kraftwerk. The music is very nice though, maybe not always very tight. It doesn't matter when you have a guy like Rice flying around stage. A killer tune like ‘M5’ is hard to resist too.

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On the main stage the temperature is getting high and Wallows have to play in front of a sunbathing crowd. It is a sympathetic band who work hard and try to connect to the people in front of the stage. Singer Dylan Minnette is succeeding in that quite well, which may because he is the lead character in Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Something I just found out while writing this post. The indie rock they play is quite nice and it's a pretty convincing performance by this band, although the main stage may be a bit too big for them right now. But anyone playing such a fun version of The Cure's 'Boys Don't Cry' is okay in my book.

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We haven't spent much time at stage Seven, where it gets really hot during the day. It's not the main reason but when you have to choose between bands, it could be the decisive factor. I do want to check out Mildlife though, whose jazzy and spacy krautrock seems perfect for a sunny afternoon at hot stage. The Australian band is getting even a high approval from fellow countryman Tame Impala's Kevin Parker and I can see why. The warm gentle grooves combined with Adam Halliwell's guitar lines and sometimes flute go down very well with a cold beer. The band itself stare somewhat apathetic to the swinging crowd in front of the stage.

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Snail Mail

We hurry to stage Five, that fortunately isn't that far away. There we can catch the end of Snail Mail's set who has managed to gather a large turn up. I really like Lindsey Jordan's somewhat slow indie rock and her clever songs. Her voice is great with occasional Björk like outcries. Last year I saw the band for the first time and was a bit disappointed by the washed-out performance. Today is not much different, where Jordan isn't exactly trying to win the crowd over. Maybe it's her young age or maybe it's the image she has chosen. Hopefully many miles on the road can make her performance just as impressive as her music.

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Fat White Family

This British band has no trouble performing live and even has quite a good live reputation. They went through quite a rough period and line-up changes since I saw them on this festival for the first time. But they have fully recovered and released a stunning new LP this year, that shows a more mellow but at the same time more mature side of the band. In this show they are also going that way, with many songs from the new LP. This means their performance is less wild and chaotic, but it is more intense. Their music is now more nasty and to the point, which causes it to hit the audience by even more force. Singer Lias Kaci Saoudi is mostly keeping his sun glasses on like the rest of the band who keep going unmoved. Saoudi is crying out regularly, spitting out his lyrics, making this one of the best shows this weekend.

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Guided By Voices

Another one of the golden oldies bands from the nineties, who seem to act as a blueprint to some of the new and young bands playing this festival. Guided By Voices was founded over thirty five years ago and are known for their lofi indie rock. The band plays an inspired show on the main stage and the oldtimers are obviously enjoying it a lot. It's nice to see some of the younger visitors can appreciate this band as well. I like their sound and it's too bad I apparently missed them in the nineties.

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Mac DeMarco

I really don't know what to think of Mac DeMarco and maybe he would love that. I like his relaxed mellow songs and the vibe of those sunny guitar tunes. His songs are light indie rock songs that are easy to listen to and actually quite clever. But his shows are so full of cheesy jokery that I find it hard to really like it. While the sun sets and baths the main stage in a golden light, DeMarco is walking on his hands, blowing bubbles and joking around with his band, all with a big grin on his face. But it makes it hard for me to get into his show and truly enjoy his music. He seems like a nice guy though, one that seems a lot of fun having a beer with, while his record plays in the background. If he could keep a better balance between the clowning around and music I think I could really like this. The boy and the girl shown on the big screen, that are dancing in the water to his music have no trouble enjoying it though.

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Cigarettes After Sex

I'm not really a fan of this band, but since there's nothing else for me to see I join my friends to this show. I can only handle it for a couple of songs, since I just don't like the same slow tempo in every song. It's like a record playing on half speed, despite Greg Gonzalez' clear and high voice. The cover version of REO Speedwagon's 'Keep On Loving You' sounds like a band on valium playing it and doesn't come close the original version. It's clear I will never become a fan so I leave to find me some rendang. Unfortunately the fries with rendang I find are quite disappointing as well.

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The thought of twenty thousand people wearing Kraftwerk 3D glasses, made me look forward to their headlining show today. Yes, I find that kind of stuff really funny and I know Mac DeMarco would agree. I am not disappointed when I look around me and see what seems a scene from a sixties SF B-movie. Kraftwerk are of course legendary pioneers and I do like some of their music. I did see them play live once and although I quite liked it, I do realize that without all the imagery their performance would be quite boring. But the 3D visuals work very well and make this quite a spectacular show. Satellites and space ships seem to hover in front of our eyes, musical notes fly right through you and we are truly driving on the Autobahn. All of their hits are here tonight, while the four members are standing almost motionless behind their synthesizer deck in their usual fashion. We are the robots indeed! Some of their music is starting to sound outdated, but as long as they can be this inventive with visual shows they could keep this up for quite some time.

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Viagra Boys

By now this busy weekend is running its toll on my legs and feet so we relax for a bit until we get the final blow of the day. Viagra Boys are a Swedish post-rock band that are known for their lively shows. That wasn't a lie, since the band has a singer that is quite a sight. It's not just his heavily tattooed body and beer belly that is a striking sight. His stage performance is an act on itself, crawling around stage, his somewhat drunken posture and the interaction with the crowd. All the time wearing sunglasses and a drink. You would forget that their music is well done too. Dirty rock with a hysterical saxophone and an unstoppable groove. And of course a crazy song like 'Sports' that has all the ingredients for a sweaty and dirty night of rock and roll dancing, with loads of beer.

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This day had a couple of very good shows and ended on a high. I didn't come close to the eighteen green circles in my schedule of course, so I had to make some tough choices. Hopefully I will get to see the bands I had to miss some other time.

All Pictures

Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 1
Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 3

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