We arrived at the festival terrain on Thursday evening, all excited and anxious to set up camp. Our enthusiasm was flushed down the drain when we had to wait for hours for the 5th camp ground to open when the first 4 were already full up in no time. However, after having staged a small war against the security people at the gates, they finally let us in and we managed to get a very decent plot for our little camp. All was well!

The next day it was finally time for some serious music consumption! Here are my three highlights of day one.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
What a show to start with! Picture this: on stage two people, seated on stools, with Spanish guitars, in front of them: a massive tent that houses an audience of 10.000 people. It seems like a recipe for disaster, but they pulled it off. At first the tent was about half full, but soon enough it filled up and they captivated the audience with their incredible brand of rockflamenco. The most striking thing has got to be the speed and skill with which they play (particularly Gabriela), which was cleverly shown by projecting their hands on a big screen. And who knew you could use a guitar in so many different ways? They get such a range of percussive sounds out of their guitars that you never miss a drum kit on stage. They manage to keep the crowd interested with little guitar battles and by playing the occasional flamencofied version of well known songs, which prevents you from thinking “hmm I miss some lyrics” after 15 minutes of jingle jangle guitar work. When they played Wish You Were Here, the young couple beside me looked puzzled when everybody started to sing the words on Rodrigo’s cue. The girl said “it must be a generation gap, look how old all the people are that are singing along”, and indeed I suddenly felt very old! A great way to kick off the festival!

Watch them play a bit of ‘Foc’ at Lowlands:

Damien Rice
Damien Rice LL07
I wonder if Rodrigo Y Gabriela and Damien Rice had a chance to have some beers backstage as they toured together for a while, I was hoping they might join him on stage but alas… Well as I said before I was a bit worried about the huge Alpha tent and even though I got near the stage where people were very much into the show, I definitely did feel like he had some trouble ‘gripping’ the massive crowd at first. However, he wisely chose a set that contained less of the small intimate songs and more of the ones that end in an all out distorted shouting frenzy like I Remember and Rootless Tree, or simply the ones that are louder to start with, such as Woman Like A Man and Me, My Yoke, And I. My personal favourite was Coconut Skins, which I hadn’t heard live yet. Halfway through that song he broke a string and decided to solve it by retuning his guitar. He had to tune it twice and forgot the words for a moment too. This was actually the first time he cracked a smile and had some interaction with the audience, which improved the atmosphere of the somewhat routine-like gig up until that moment.
Listen to his show through 3voor12 by clicking here.

Watch Damien Rice play a ten minute extended version of I Remember at Lowlands:

The Killers
Killers LL07
Basically The Killers deliver what you want from them: a tight set with the best of British rock covered in Vegas glitter. And all my wishes were granted, from the antler-adorned synthesizer to the glitzy outfit to the setlist. he tent was absolutely packed an expectations were high. To be honest I have no idea if Brandon Flowers’ dramatic voice was in shape or if the band was at its best, because I was just too busy having a good time. There wasn’t a single body in the front of the tent (and quite probably a lot further back too) that wasn’t jumping up an down and shouting along. They had to obey the audience’s raucous demand for an encore and they did in style. Brandon came back on asking the audience “If we fell would you catch us?” which was answered with loud cheers. He then introduced Bones by saying “We all got problems. We all got hearts. And we’ve all got bones!!!”  Closing song Mr. Brightside had the tent raving. Sure, they’re a well oiled machine and I saw pretty much the identical concert on tv when BBC was broadcasting Glastonbury in June. But why complain when it’s so goddamn good?

Watch When You Were Young at Lowlands:

 After the Killers show both friend MB and myself were absolutely shattered, having to lie down on the grass to get some oxygen into our systems. What better way to end a first festival day than exhausted with a satisfied grin on your face?

More Lowlands reporting coming soon!