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angelic Lowlands visitor

After a semi-relaxed schedule on Friday the tables turned on Saturday and the running-around-like-a-blue-arsed-fly-phase announced itself. I even missed out on a couple of promising acts, but one must make tough choices in these harsh circumstances…

SATURDAY 21-8

Starting your Lowlands day at 1 PM pretty much feels like 5 AM on an average week day, but it was worth it for the silliness that was “Lowlands Sings“. The biggest festival tent was completely packed with people excited to start their day with the ultimate in cheesy communal karaoke. On stage: a few comedians presenting and about 30 people handpicked to be the choir, in fetching outfits. We sang classics the likes of Killing In The Name Of, Rammstein’s Die Sonne (choir dressed in lederhosen) and Hey Jude. The crowd was not having any R&B though, Alicia Keyes’ New York tune was relentlessly whistled to a halt. Guitars please!

Foals showed they can whip up a storm in any setting with their sublime brand of funky eighties electronic indie. I went to see them a while ago in Tivoli (much smaller venue), but they still managed to create the same atmosphere in the big Bravo tent. With a pang of pain I left before the end of the set in order to go and see Jack Parow and his Zef tunes. He was playing in the X-Ray and before he even started there was such a crowd they could have put a Y-Ray beside it. The tube-style venue was wafting fumes of body odour and stale beer in the heat, but people were sticking it out all the same. No wonder, Parow gave a very entertaining performance with massive beats, cool artwork and most improtantly, his trademark witty lyrics.

guy with Parow-style cap

As I walked across the festival terrain I decided to buy those protective ear plugs I used to snigger at (I’m getting on a bit) and it proved to be not a day to soon: the Blood Red Shoes gig was set to volume level ‘destruction’ I reckon. I’ve seen them a few times so it didn’t come as a surprise that they’re loud, but many of the people around me were covering their ears for fear of brain melt it seemed. The band was in good form, energetic and smiling at each other, giving it all despite the intense heat. Still I couldn’t help the sneaky feeling that their songs are starting to sound a bit ‘samey’, both musically and in the often repetitive lyrics.

Blood Red Shoes at Lowlands 2010 (photo Jelmer de Haas via 3VOOR12)

Time for some peace and quiet, some poetry, some contemplation: Villagers. Their debut album has steadily been growing on me over the last weeks and I was excited to see them. The setting was perfect, the sun just dipping behind the Charlie open air marquee, and Conor O’Brien taking the stage without band to do a ballsy acoustic performance of Twenty Seven Strangers. He had me at hello. I was struck by the heart felt and decisive delivery of O’Brien’s lyrics, for instance in I Saw The Dead and the sublime Becoming A Jackal. But the band is also well able to pick up the pace, with some of the songs ending in a howling O’Brien and band members frantically flailing arms at instruments. Part Elliott Smith, part Bright Eyes and a dose of Patrick Watson, sheer beauty.

Villagers

Hanging onto my mellow folky mood I was in luck: Local Natives were up next. I was amazed at how wonderful their harmonies were live, such a warm sound that reaches out to you. I can’t say anything to fault this show, they were just spot on. Warning Sign sounded like a classic seventies folk song in their rendition, with a taste of west coast peers Fleet Foxes. There was an absolute goosebump moment with the beautiful Airplanes. Can’t wait to see there guys in a full concert.

Local Natives live at Lowlands 2010 (photo Nick Helderman via 3VOOR12)

Here comes a little brokenbranches confession. Despite strict military planning I wasn’t able to go and see the LCD Soundsystem set in the tent due to the inability to stand for another minute. Running across the festivalgrounds takes its toll even on me, and so it happened that I was singing along to Drunk Girls whilst munching on a curry in the neighbouring food area. Slightly annoyed with myself, but what can you do.

I managed to recharge my batteries just about enough to go and see Beach House for a wonderfully dreamy end of the evening. The band took their time to get going, but at some point you could see they had the audience won over and I saw several lovey dovey couples canoodling during gems like Heart Of Chambers and Norway. One thing that’s even more astounding live: how did Victoria Legrand get her voice to be so husky?

Beach House

Collateral damage of the day: I wussed out at LCD, I missed the apparently great gig by La Pegatina and the Bloody Beetroots’ grimey beats. You can’t win’em all. This is also true for the Lowlands organisers who had a slight blemish on their otherwise immaculate festival: playing a late night film (The Expendables) in a tent with 8 massive pillars obstructing the view from about 75% of the possible seats in the tent. Fail.

I’ve been keeping an eye on video footage of my personal Lowlands favourites popping up on the net over the last few days. Here’s a selection, but be sure to check out 3voor12’s Lowlands page for more footage and obviously anything tagged “lowands 2008” on youtube.

Hot Chip – Ready For The Floor (audiostream)

Blood Red Shoes – Doesn’t Matter Much/ interview segment/ I Wish I Was Someone Better (video)

Does It Offend You, Yeah? – We Are Rockstars (short clip to show the mayhem)

Santogold – L.E.S. Artistes (video)
Clik here for an audiostream of the full concert 

Roisin Murphy – Overpowered (video)

Franz Ferdinand – Come On Home (video)
And another short clip to demonstrate the insanity during This Fire

Los Campesinos! – Death To Los Campesinos! & Knee Deep At ATP (3voor12 session at Lowlands)

Laura Marling – Blackberry Stone, Ghosts That Broke My Heart, Cross Your Fingers, Rambling Man (3voor12 sessie at Lowlands)

Sadly I couldn’t find any footage of Get Well Soon or anything halfway decent on other favourites Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Lykke Li and Black Kids.

And here’s some of the stuff I wish I could have seen (sadly no good clips of The Roots and Late Of The Pier):

Underworld – Born Slippy (looks/ sounds amazing! hang on for the massive balloons at around 4:25)
(check the higher quality tv-registration here, but the ones filmed by visitors better capture the atmosphere I think)

N*E*R*D – Rockstar

Elbow – One Day like This

The Hives – Tick Tick Boom

We Are Scientists – The Great Escape

Editors – Smokers Outside Hospital Doors

And Finally, The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name (because it was sort of our annoying yet amusing festival anthem, thanks to friend MB…)

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

As predicted, Friday’s afterparty back at the camping made sure that Ane Brun‘s early time slot on Saturday was an unattainable feat for this festivalgoer… To torture myself I listened to her session online at 3voor12 (I strongly suggest you do the same) and heard it was enchanting gosh darn it! 

Thankfully there was Laura Marling to ease the pain, what a charming surprise she was! Before coming to Lowlands I had only really knew one song and was slightly afraid she might be a bit of a self obsessed teenager with guitar, but no! She was wonderful (as was her very tasty violin playing band member) and her small folky compositions won over the Lima crowd easily, despite her shyness.

The Bravo tent had a double Dutch slot up next: The Opposites and De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig, it was nice to see the tent was absolutely packed for both home grown acts. I decided to squeeze into the sea of bodies to catch the end of The Opposites‘ set and was rewarded: they closed with Dom, Lomp & Famous (the very track that gave brokenbranches some serious traffic after this post) and the crowd went suitably mad. De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig took to the stage straight after and kept the crowd going with tight performances of best sellers like Shenkie, Voor Je Kijken Doorlopen and Hollereer.
Blood Red Shoes

Blood Red Shoes

Now things got very exciting: time to zig zag through the anxiously waiting crowd in the India tent to get up close and personal with my number one in the highest-festival-expectations ranking: Blood Red Shoes. It’s safe to say all expectations were lived up to and then some. They gave the India crowd a kick up the backside that had me jumping and yelling the entire gig, only after their last chord did I come back down to earth and take any notice of what was going on around me. The place was one big swirling sweaty sauna of jumping bodies, the entire centre of the tent turned into a mosh pit, I must have seen at least 15 crowd surfers (which is officially not allowed!) fly by. Highlights were (the obvious) Say Something, Say Anything, It’s Getting Boring By The Sea and the ripping set closer ADHD. Please come back next year with a new album!!

crowdsurfer at Blood Red Shoes

crowdsurfer at Blood Red Shoes

No rest for the wicked, just as the Brighton twosome finished up, Los Campesinos! kicked off all the way across the terrain in Charlie. Navigating my way through the thousands heading the opposite direction because the N*E*R*D* set had just finished (which was great according to my festivalbuddies), I managed to reach the energetic seven piece Welsh outfit in time to catch most of their performance. I was amazed at just how young these kids are when I saw them! But youth is obviously no deterrant for giving a great show, besides playing crowd pleaser You! Me! Dancing! they ended the show with Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks, which was a big hit. One blink for yes, two blinks for no, sweet dreams sweet cheeks, we leave alone!

Thankfully a brief dip in my hectic timetable allowed for some taking-the-weight-off and dinner, before it was time to join the hords for one of the festival headliners: Franz Ferdinand. They played some of their new yet to be released material, which sounded very promising. But obviously they got the Alpha all hot and bothered with well known Franz Frenzy-causing tracks such as Take Me Out, Dark Of The Matinee and most notably This Fire, which raised the roof. The audience kept chanting This fire is out of control, we’ve got to burn this city, burn this city!. Excellent performance, but the new album is long overdue. Get it out there already!

 James Rushent - Does It Offend You, Yeah?

At this stage of the day I had about 4 solid hours of jumping and shouting under my belt, but I had one little pocket of energy saved, because I knew I was going to need it badly: next up, Does It Offend You, Yeah?. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had a feeling it was going to get slightly silly in the rediculously small X-Ray container. In order to witness “the hype” up front we got there half an hour beforehand. Soon enough the place was inundated with bright young things, all painfully fashionable and glow stick accessorized. When the band took the stage the excitement in the air was incredibly tangible, and with the first synthesizer key being struck the X-Ray instantly turned into a tumble dryer of insanity. I was there with two friends, but we were immediately catapulted meters apart in different directions, unbelievable!

This insanity lasted the entire gig. Shreds of what I do remember: the vocals were quite lackadaisical (particularly on Let’s Make Out, my favourire track), but they were clearly secondary to the impact of the music, which could be felt in every bone of your body. James Rushent was extremely cocky and put down their radio friendly hit Dawn Of The Dead as “a song Spandau Ballet would love”. Morgan Quaintance insisted we scream “Fuck the Sex Pistols” rather a lot. Other than that it’s all a bit of a blur, but one I’m very glad to have experienced. What an end to an amazing second festival day.

Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Blood Red Shoes

Here it is, the official first post in the run up to Lowlands 2008! Coming week is the much anticipated time when the Lowlands organisation usually releases the bulk of the artists that have been confirmed for this year, so I will be hitting F5 on their website every ten minutes probably.

There has been a handful of official confirmations so far. Some very interesting (British Sea Power, The National, Roisin Murphy, Tunng, The Kooks) and some less so as far as I’m concerned (Korpiklaani, Killswitch Engage, Volbeat, Houdouken!). The of course there is the rampant rumour circuit, it’s highlight so far a very persistent yet totally fabricated story about Depeche Mode’s supposed appearance at the festival this year. But there are many rumours that are very likely to be true, because the artists/ bands in question have confirmed themselves in the media or on their myspace or websites.

One of the bands that are set to play Lowlands on Saturday the 16th of August according to the touring schedual on their myspace, is Blood Red Shoes. This makes me very happy indeed! This band from Brighton, Laura-Mary Carter on guitar and vocals and Steven Ansell on drums and vocals, kicks out some unbelievably powerful stuff for a mere two-piece setup! I can’t wait to see what they do live, but there’s no doubt in my mind it will be raw, fiery and have everyone shouting along and contorting on the dancefloor. Alternative Blog crowned them the highlight of the recent London Calling festival, describing them as an indiepunk steam-roller that had crowdsurfers reaching the bar all the way at the back of the room.

Check out their excellent single Say Something, Say Anything:

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