It started ominously before I had even left. I was still at my brothers place & it had been boiling hot (about 32 degrees), but that day, it suddenly got darker & darker & before long, we were treated to a spectacular thunderstorm with torrential rain & pink lightning! I waited out the storm before I left on the Thursday evening. The train journey was long & tedious & half an hour late & I finally got to the Lowlands site around 11.30pm. The part I dread the most is the queue to get in - sometimes it takes hours! But this year, I just walked straight up to the entrance & was inside within 10 minutes - result! :D Then followed about an hour of wandering around trying to find a tent sized patch of grass to pitch my tent. My usual campsite was full, but soon found a decent spot, a little way off the main path & 2 minutes from the shower block & 5 minutes walk from the festival entrance - double result! :D Had an early night to prepare for the three days of musical loveliness to come!
Woke up around 11am on the Friday to blue skies & warm sunshine. Freshened up then took one of my two bottles of vodka & grapefruit juice (to save on buying a few drinks!) & joined the happy throngs of people as we crowded around the entrance with its big jolly sign saying 'Welcome Home' Gradually we inched closer & closer & finally got through the gates & into Lowlands Paradise once again - hooray! :D My first stop was the hallowed pancake stall. I've waited a year for these pancakes & oh my, that first bite was just wonderful! Just let the record show that I had three of these each day!
My first port of call was to see White Lies, a band that I'd never seen live before. In fact about 3/4 of the bands I saw this weekend I had never seen before! A friend of mine promised me that they are even more spectacular live than on record & they weren't wrong. They tore through pretty much all of their debut album, the highlights of which were a stomping Farewell To The Fairground & a climactic set closer Death. An awesome start to the festival! Then a hop & a skip over to Passion Pit who filled an hour of the day with the most gorgeous, joyful, life-affirming, uplifting sounds - musical sunshine, put simply & a perfect feel-good festival band. With barely a pause for breath, headed over to Klaxons who were completely glowstick-tastic! :D Their anthem Golden Skans was cleverly thrown in midway through the set & it sounded stunning. The eerie Isle Of Her & the headrushing Its Not Over Yet were equally magnificent.
There then followed a little break where I wandered around & refuelled with beer, cola & food before the first of this years festivals perfect moments. Faith No More have reformed & this evening they stormed Lowlands with their magnificent, deviant rock that manages to throw every genre you can think of into the mix. They wandered onstage to huge cheers & launched into the hopelessly naff Peaches & Herb song Reunited (because they're back together - get it?!) & it was brilliant. Then any cobwebs were blasted into oblivion as they blasted their way through From Out Of Nowhere that sounded truly formidable. A few songs later, came one of those perfect festival moments - they played Evidence - my fave song of theirs & it was understated, smooth as silk & fantastic. Its their mellowest song & it sounded incredible & gave me scores of goosebumps. Mike Patton wandered down among the front rows & asked people to sing along in Dutch!! For the rest of the set, we were treated to pretty much a greatest hits set - Epic, We Care a Lot, Midlife Crisis & their super smooth cover of the Commodores' song Easy. Mike Patton invited everyone to a party at their tent afterwards & asked anyone who wanted to come to ask for Mike Bordin! An awesome set by true deviant rock legends! :D Now my recollections of Kasabian are a little hazy - I don't know why, so I apologise for the fact that all I can reprt is that it was a stomping great set & Shoot The Runner & Empire sounded truly skyscraping. i was at a bit of a loose end afterwards & wasn't sure where to go so I wandered back through the site & walked in on something that sounded nice & fairly chilled. It took a while before I realised I was in the company of Grizzly Bear! A bit embarassing really, seeing as how I have their latest album! All I can say is that their set was generally mellow & lovely & a very nice way to end the first day of Lowlands 2009! :D
So, onto Saturday then, which dawned ominously with the sound of heavy rain on my tent - uh-oh, I thought! But I needn't have worried - it was just a heavy shower & the skies soon cleared to blue sky & warm sunshine again :)
Another pretty early start found me onsite & headed in the general direction of The Airborne Toxic Event. A friend of mine dearly wanted to see them with me but couldn't, so this set is dedicated to my dear friend :) What can I say? They were a complete headrush of rocking & rolling & rollicking good songs & the set centrepiece Sometime Around Midnight was slow burning & truly heart wrenching & just magnificent - another awesome festival moment! :D At every festival, I end up watching someone that I've never ever heard of, in the name of my endless quest for musical loveliness & this year, the accolade went to one Jessica Lea Mayfield. I was walking past the tent she was playing in (one of the smallest tents on the site) & something about her lilting acoustica & her voice just drew me in & it was lovely & folky. I was glad that I'd stopped :) A long gap followed, so I used the time to refuel & take in some of the wonderful sights of Lowlands, namely a game of musical chairs & a giant version of Tetris (renamed YouCube!), that involved a giant electronic screen & people having to build each block & then jump on podiums to position the blocks as they fell down the screen!
Now onto today's highlight, the magnificent Maximo Park. In Paul Smith, they have one of the best frontmen in music - dapper, well dressed, chatty, charming & with the energy of a wind up toy on speed! Virtually every song was prefaced by a little intro from Paul Smith. A perfect festival moment came when he said that the next song was about being in love with someone who can't be with you & I knew what was coming & it was Books From Boxes (my fave song of them) & it was heartbreaking & beautiful & sad & a few tears leaked out. We also had Going Missing, Questing Not Coasting, too many others to remember, but one that I can't forget was a beautiful, desolate & rare live outing for Acrobat. Paul Smith said that its a song that they don't play live that often, but they hope we like it. Oh, we liked it! This song is nothing like anything else they've ever recorded - all slow, washed out backing, gentle sad spoken word verses & a gently soaring but crushingly sad chorus & it sounded beautiful & was another perfect festival moment. This was the biggest Dutch crowd they'd ever played to & I was hugely happy to be part of that crowd today! :D
I know nothing at all about Wilco apart from the name, but I spent a nice hour or so sitting outside the tent where they were playing & made a mental note to stock up on their alt country/folk as soon as possible! I then went to get something to eat from the Indonesian food stall & was sat there eating when a girl came up & asked if she could have a mouthful of my food, then before I could say anything, she grabbed my fork & took a mouthful of rice & veg then said thanks & gave me an affectionate rub on my arm! A guy sat near me asked me if I knew who that was & when I said that I didn't, he said, that it was Lady Sovereign, haha! How awesome! :D
Basement Jaxx, up next, were just spectacular & they peppered their dance-tastic set with the hits & a few little asides. We got Good Luck, the stunning Red Alert, Bingo Bango & Where's Your Head At amongst others. Thrown into the set were lots of great little moments, like when we suddenly had everyone singing the chorus to Kings Of Leon's Sex On Fire, or the trumpet soloist that played the riff to The White Stripes' 7 Nation Army, or the singing Happy Birthday to various band members or prefacing Where's Your Head At with the opening verses of The Commodores' Three Times a Lady! It was just brilliant & huge fun! Afterwards, headed over to catch a little of Kaiser Chiefs. Only caught a little of them, but was treated to a brilliant & furious The Angry Mob, some massive singalongs & ending with a truly epic version of Oh My God. Well what a great day! Roll on Sunday!
Sunday dawned very very warm - far too warm to stay in my tent, so headed out early again & made for Squarepusher & a little completely mental drum 'n' bass. It sounded brilliant but it was just a little too early in the day & a little intense! So wandered over & watched Vampire Weekend who are just the perfect festival band. Anyone who can't move their feet & sing along to the likes of A-Punk, Oxford Comma, One, I Stand Corrected, The Kids Don't Stand a Chance & Walcott must have lost the ability to have fun & VW provided it in spades! A little break then over to see Victoria Hesketh AKA Little Boots & her lovely 80's sounding electronica was made for the festival! She bounded onstage dresses all in black & bounced through an immensely joyful & happy set that already sounded like a greatest hits set - Remedy, Meddle, New In Town, Symmetry, Stuck On Repeat....it was all just brilliant & hugely enjoyable & she was having the time of her life - a real feel good show! :D Then I hotfooted it over to Metric. The tent was almost empty until about 10 minutes before they came on but it filled up nicely & the band came onstage led by the bouncy Emily Haines dressed in a shimmering silver dress & they started in the best possible way with the hypnotically wonderful Help I'm Alive that had Emily bouncing around & banging a tambourine & it was brilliant - another great festival moment. gimme Sympathy sounded like a complete anthem & Blindness was pretty much one long chorus - awesome! But sadly I had to leave early as it was getting close to BP time & I wanted to get there early enough to bag a good spot!
So to the highlight of the whole festival, namely Bloc Party. They were in the biggest tent & it was packed. Kele & co took to the stage & treated us to a breathless & truly breathtaking set that visited all their albums as wellas a few non-album songs. In short, we got This Modern Love (who's in love? asked Kele before the song), Mercury, Song For Clay that when it kicked into life sounded like the most intense thing you've ever heard, the stuttering Positive Tension, Two More Years, a beautiful gentle interlude with Signs. Before Once More Chance, Kele asked us how cool we were & after this glorious headrush of a song with its simple & lovely & euphoric refrain of "give me one more chance to love you", he realised that we were indeed very cool, haha! :D The set ended with two belters - Flux & Helicopter. I knew the songs were gonna sound awesome but I wasn't expecting Kele to be so happy & chatty! He has a reputation for being a bit intense, but this evening he was on the form of his life, chatting to us between songs, waving hello to everyone sitting on the hill outside, to asking the back, centre & front of the crowd to cheer in turn, to asking us to make the biggest noise ever & we responded with a deafening roar & the stomping of thousands of pairs of feet. BP were just brilliant but I have just one tiny quibble - they didn't play So Here We Are! :'( Apart from that - a pretty much perfect set & just awesome energy & everything! :D
Then outside to sit by the lake & listen to a little bit of The Maccabees. The moody & atmospheric No Kind Words was my highlight. It was also thanks to them that I found out that England had won The Ashes against Australia in the cricket, when they dedicated the set to the England cricket team! Finally back to the biggest tent for Arctic Monkeys who played a bold & brave set that leaned heavily on their hugely different & experimental latest album Humbug. All I knew of the new album was Crying Lightning & it sounded awesome, as did the many other track from it that they played & a cover of Nick Cave's Red Right Hand was a curious surprise. The set ended with a brilliant & bouncy Fluorescent Adolescent & my fave of them, the epic & beautiful 505.
So that was my festival more or less, so time for the dedications! Thank you for the pancakes, the beer, the cocktails, the cola, the exotic food, the lovely kind warm & sunny weather. Thank you also to my newest Lowlands buddy - it was so great to finally meet you! :D A hesitant thank you to the folks that I camped near - I'll never forget being woken up every morning with a CD that appeared to be called 100 best Dutch Folk Songs, haha! Thank you to the organisers of this wonderful festival, thank you to the beautiful bands that soundtracked my festival this year, thank you to the friendly & lovely Lolwnads festival-goers, thank you to all of you, to everyone, for everything! :D
When I walked off the festival site for the last time on the Sunday night there was a little sign that simply said "Bye-Bye" & a few tears came to my eyes. But I was cheered by the thought that it is now less than a year to Lowlands 2010! :D Bring it on & here's to next year! The slogan for this year's festival was "Shake The Planet" & I think, for three days, just under 80,000 people & countless wonderful bands did just that!
Do you wish you'd been here? I wish you'd been here! Thanks for reading & I'm now going to soak my poor tired fingers from typing this!
Lowlands 2010 - the countdown has started!! :D