Monday 10 June 2019

Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 3

Yesterday was a long day with lots of music, although I didn't even make my eighteen bands, not even close. My feet started to object against all the walking and standing. Today is a shorter day and I can take it slow. It promises to be a tropical day, so we need to hydrate. Beer is mostly water right?

Best Kept Secret 2019 Day 3, June 2 2019

Julia Holter

I listened to some of Julia Holter's music and quite liked her experimental and jazzy songs. This could be a nice way to start the day. However after a short while I notice this is not for me. It's definitely her more experimental side, but it is too slow for me. I simply don't like music that is difficult, just to be difficult. It doesn't mean I can't enjoy complex or experimental music, because I certainly can. I just can't watch music that is too much about being complex, which seems to be the case here. So after a while I leave and hurry to stage Five.

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At stage Five Lewsberg are at the end of their set. I have seen this band a few times before and like their music a lot. The nice ringing guitars, the talk singing, the groovy krautrock, the subtle solos, it's all so well done. But at the same time I just can't get around the apathetic stage act. I know it's all just an act, where singer Arie van Vliet is sometimes addressing the crowd in a cool, formal way as well. But somehow it just doesn't appeal to me, even when the music is that good. I want some kind of connection to happen between audience and artist, in any kind of way. Today this doesn't work for me, maybe because I wasn't there from the start.

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We stick around at this stage while the temperature is getting tropical. It is just right for the next band playing here, Romperayo from Colombia. Their insane mix of Afro-Colombian traditional rhythms and cumbia are perfect for dancing and cold beers. Drummer Pedro Ojeda, who you may know from Los Pirañas, is the driving force behind those rhythms. The groovy bass adds some seventies funk and the guitar mixes in some psychedelica. Finally the keyboard adds little layers of sound effects, playful organs and some tropical vibes. Everyone in the tent is dancing to this colourful band. Some songs come dangerously close to too much cheesiness, but the band is able to avoid it in the end.

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Whispering Sons

After dancing to some Colombian sun, it's time for Belgian darkness. Whispering Sons won Belgian music competition Humo's Rock Rally a few years back, where some of the biggest Belgian bands saw their career take off. The young band plays dark new wave and post-punk songs, that have an industrial sound. They are sometimes described as the Belgian Sisters of Mercy, which is not a bad reference. Even on this sunny day, the band's music doesn't miss its effect. Singer Fenne Kuppens is the absolute centre point of attention. Her low dark voice is a perfect match with the music and her stage appearance is stunning, singing her lyrics full of expression in a theatrical way. She knows how to balance it very well, so it never gets too much and stays completely honest. It is clear most of the people here are equally impressed, since the tent stays full and after playing the last song the band is greeted with a well meant roaring round of applause.

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Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Another nineties comeback was announced this week: Pavement are coming back. The band influenced so many bands and nowadays young bands still draw inspiration from the illustrious Californian group. Today one if its core members Stephen Malkmus is performing with his band The Jicks. It is different from Pavement, but not too much. His music consists of well written compact indie rock songs, with a nineties vibe. However today these tunes are performed in a quite uninspired way. Malkmus is kind of playing on auto pilot, even though The Jicks seem to be trying. Maybe it's the temperature but it all comes across as too lifeless to really enjoy.

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Kurt Vile & The Violators

On the main stage Kurt Vile is looking much more inspired. You know he isn't exactly a happy camper like Mac DeMarco yesterday, but his indie rock and folk sounds convincing today. As a former guitarist of The War On Drugs his music doesn't wander off too much from his former band. You can hear where it's all coming from. His songs are slowly passing by with lots of guitar solos, something that is perfect for the hot stage he's playing, in front of people that appear to be standing in a blistering desert. It shows that you can still play a convincing and inspired show despite an unmoved stage presence.

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The Raconteurs

We have to leave Kurt Vile early since we don't want to miss anything from The Raconteurs. Their return was great news and I was looking forward to his show today a lot. And boy, I am not disappointed to put it mildly. It's as if they have unleashed a bunch of caged tigers (yes, weak safari park reference intended) and the band fly into it with great power. We get to hear a couple of new songs and some golden oldies. Jack White says they wish they could play longer, which is obvious. They want to make every second of this performance count and don't waste any time in between. It's great to see the chemistry in this band, where they are looking at each other, walk towards each other and are simply having a blast. I love the combination of Brendan Benson's lovely, warm and calm voice, and Jack White's high, hoarse and somewhat hysterical vocals. Within no time the last chords of 'Steady As She Goes' have sounded and the band is finished. This was an hour of absolute rock heaven and I can't wait for a headlining concert hopefully to be announced soon.

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A thunderstorm is on its way to the festival site, but we don't need any other excuse to be at Interpol's show. It's part of the same tour I saw last year, which proved the band has returned to their best form. Tonight they steadily work their way through their setlist again, playing songs off their last album and EP together with some of their big hits. Like always singer Paul Banks keeps his distance, wearing sunglasses for the entire show. His thundering voice sounds strong and clear though. This band from New York has so many good songs, that never fail to impress or miss their effect. Again the band plays very tight, although I have the feeling it is not as tight as last year's show. This could just be an unjustified feeling and the fact that it is a shorter set. I still enjoy it a lot and let myself get carried away by their gloomy rock music.

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Christine & The Queens

When we get outside, the thunderstorm has passed and cooled of the festival site. When we walk onto the field in front of the main stage, it looks quit empty. Fortunately people were only hiding from the storm and are slowly returning for the closing act of the festival. It may have raised an eyebrow here and there, but I think Christine & The Queens is very good choice. She has impressed many people lately with well written pop songs and spectacular live performances. She proves it tonight with a live show that is well performed, very lively and also contains a message. Chris, as she calls herself now, mentions this is a judgement free area tonight, where no one will be judged for who they are, but everyone should be able to completely be themselves. It is a very relevant message today and one that comes across effectively.

The show is very well done, with dancers flying around the stage in stunning choreographed dancing, where Chris is always the centre point. Pieces of eighties music like Janet Jackson are mixed in and I can surely see the resemblance to that era. Her voice is clear and strong, seemingly singing and dancing with great ease. A piece of David Bowie's 'Heroes' finds its way into the show and it sounds wonderful. She addresses the crowd regularly, where you feel there's a real connection. It's hard not to connect because she's doing it with so much passion, enthusiasm and heart. It is a live show that has so much to offer and is high on entertainment that it is spot on as a closing headliner for this year's edition. Well done Chris and well done Best Kept Secret.

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This year's edition may not have been as perfect as last year's where every band seemed to excel. However something that is not entirely perfect can just be as good because the highs are more obvious. Maybe even better? It doesn't matter, since what counts is that it was another wonderful edition and we surely will return next year.

All Pictures

Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 1
Best Kept Secret Festival 2019 Day 2

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