Finally some more friends made their way to the terrain and we met up for The Shins in the Grolsch tent. Despite the fact The Shins never really had a big hit in Holland, the tent was pretty much full. I’m guessing maybe their prominently featured songs on the superb Garden State soundtrack had something to do with that. However, I got some surprised looks when I started singing along, there weren’t a lot of fans around in the back. Sadly, The Shins’ often understated songs without a clear repeat-after-me-chorus all but drowned out by the time they reached the back of the tent, making the show a bit of a let down for me. Again, this music seems much better suited to a more intimate setting, but beggars can’t be choosers. On the up side: New Slang was still amazing! “And if you took to me like a gull takes to the wind…”

I couldn’t find any decent footage of the concert itself, but here’s an ‘exclusive backstage cabin session’ of Australia they did during the festival voor 3voor12:

After The Shins I started to get a bit restless… Only a few hours until Arcade Fire! Luckily I managed to infect London-friend MT with the bug and he didn’t need much convincing that we should take serious measures to get to the front of the -undoubtedly huge- Arcade Fire crowd. This meant already manoeuvring our way into the separate front section of the Alpha before the previous concert. Thankfully that was hardly a chore (like, say for instance a full Motörhead concert would be for me…), seen as Sonic Youth were up first.

I was feeling slightly like a hypocrite taking up space in the front of that show, as I’m hardly a hardcore Sonic Youth fan. But then again, I only spotted about two of them around me (not a single bit of youtube footage to be found of the show either). And as it turns out I really enjoyed their show! Particularly the full on noise sessions. There was something nostalgic about it. As if I was listening to the parents of all the bands I used to listen to in my musical coming of age years: Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, The Breeders, Radiohead…
I’m not entirely sure, but I think I heard Kim Gordon give the pretty passive audience a smack in the face when the band came back on for the encore after a few minutes of cheering, when she simply said: “you woke up”.

The second Sonic Youth left the stage, the battle was on: a frantic scramble to the front row by all the people who were obviously doing the same as us: waiting for Arcade Fire. It took no more than twenty seconds in total before the crowd turned into one solid mass of immovable bodies, but we made it! We managed to secure a spot about four rows from the front, firmly wedged in between other diehards. The tent was absolutely packed.

In the following 45 minutes before the concert began, I learnt a few things:

  1. Three festival days with reasonably warm weather, attending concerts in warm tents, makes everybody pretty darn smelly…
  2. Nothing gets Dutch people more territorial than claiming a spot in a line, it gets ugly. One tiny girl was separated from her boyfriend who made it to the first row, and it took some serious persuading from surrounding visitors to convince one guy to let the girl get in front of him to be reunited with her boyfriend.
  3. Arcade Fire fans are generally a really pleasant bunch. Once we were all settled into our square three inches of space, the guy in front of me was constantly making sure I could see past him and even ducked when I took pictures.
  4. It is possible to have completely lost all sensation in your lower extremities, yet remain upstanding.

The band took to the stage in a massive wave of applause. They were already all smiles, looking like they were excited to play their socks off (well, except Win Butler of course, who had his trademark world-war-III-is-upon-us face, but still manages to be ever so charismatic). The stage had the neon bible image in the background and of course ‘The Organ’, all automatically conjuring up the sensation of coming to a sermon in a church way down South in the US. There were also several small round screens displaying the different band members playing their instruments. In the front of the stage there were four red neon pillars, with which Win proceeded to have several arguments throughout the concert, throwing the one in front of him to the ground. Twice.

(My best shot:)
Arcade Fire @ Lowlands

Keep the Car Running was a good choice for opener, immediately followed by that other great car-song: No Cars Go. In no particular order I think these were all the other songs played : Intervention (goosebumps!), Haiti, Wake Up (the entire Grolsch doing the AAhhhhh OOhhhhh’s), Ocean Of Noise, Black Mirror, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (one of my favourites!), Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) and crowd pleasing closer Rebellion (Lies).

I’m having trouble being objective about this one, I just loved it. all I can say is I was temporarily lifted to some warp time zone were all I was experiencing was that concert right then. The hour flew past and I was sincerely surprised it was over: surely there would be an encore?? But no, the sermon was finished and the bible closed…
Although Arcade Fire weren’t the official festival closing act (Tool had that honour in Alpha), anybody who was there knew that this was the real crowning glory of Lowlands 2007.

A clip of Wake Up, not great quality, but the best I could find…

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish my festivalweekend!! What a treat. I left the Alpha feeling (and looking) like I had taken 5 happy pills. We headed over to Groove Armada to dance the night out, as did about 90% of the 55.000 festivalgoers judging by the fact that there was about the same amount of people outside as inside the Bravo shaking their groovething.

Oh well. Only 359 sleeps until Lowlands 2008!

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