A Bit Of Pop Music reviews Lowlands 2017 performances

Lowlands 2017

For 3 days straight, life was one big party in Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands, as A Campingflight To Lowlands Paradise celebrated its 25th birthday. Musicians from all around the world visited the humongous sold out festival with 55.000 visitors. A Bit of Pop Music was there and tells you all about last weekend’s performances!

Linde Schöne (Friday 18/8, X-Ray)
For Dutch hiphop, R&B and soul singer-songwriter Linde Schöne it was a big dream to perform at Lowlands. Just one day before the festival started, she received a phone call because Raye cancelled. Therefore Schöne was the chosen one to open the X-Ray stage and she did so with a lot of passion. Her charismatic stage presence, raw and personal Dutch lyrics and kick-ass beats on tracks like ‘Sorry Maar’ and closer of her set ‘Liefde Van De Vloer’ get the crowd going, even in the early afternoon! Linde will be back at one of Lowlands’ bigger stages in the near future for sure!

Léon (Friday 18/8, Heineken)
Swedish Léon might not have had a proper hit single in the Netherlands yet, but at the start of her performance, the tent she is playing is completely full. Of course it helps that it just started raining, but she does deserve a huge crowd. Her soulful voice is just as powerful live as on record and she confidently moves around the stage, while her little chats in between the songs are awkward in a cute way. As Léon does not have an album out yet, she fills up her setlist with a Fleetwood Mac and Arctic Monkeys cover, but the highlights of the show certainly are her own singles like ‘Tired of Talking’, ‘For You’ and the latest soulfully swinging ‘Surround Me’.

Nothing But Thieves (Friday 18/8, Alpha)
It was unsure for a while if Nothing But Thieves would actually make it on stage in The Netherlands after singer Conor Mason had an accident with part of a knife ending up in his eye during Sziget in Hungary. In the end the the alternative rock band from Essex performed like nothing happened. With two albums to their name so far, they played a more than decent set with the moving ‘Sorry’ and their biggest hit to date ‘Trip Switch’ as hightlights. Of course they left the best, and most suitable, for last as they ended their set with the infectious single ‘Amsterdam’.

Sean Paul (Friday 18/8, Alpha)
Sean Paul was surely one of the most talked about acts on the Lowlands line up and this resulted in a more than packed mainstage just before his set kicked off. The Jamaican rapper and producer took to the stage with a DJ, an MC and dancers and of course this resulted in a spectacular show. Musically it wasn’t all that impressive though. Sean Paul did not bring any (backing) singers with him so all the pop hooks on his collaborations with artists like Sia and Dua Lipa were just played from the record. Sean Paul’s job was mostly mumbling some lyrics over the beat, but the crowd did not seem to care too much, as the set was one big hour long party!

Solange (Friday 18/8, Bravo)
Solange had a big year last year when she released her impressive album A Seat At The Table, which tells the story of an Afro-American woman in this day and age. The record gained her a lot of critical acclaim and so will the live show she created and choreographed as it looked absolutely stunning at Lowlands (she should have played a venue with screens to give everyone a better look). Solange, her dancers and band are all dressed in red and every single move they make is well thought out. Solange struggled with some technical difficulties at the start of her performance, but when she switches mics it all goes right. She walks through the audience for the empowering ‘F.U.B.U.’ and dances towards a climax on the swinging ‘Losing You’. Statement ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ is the only right way to close this personal, meaningful and most of all soulful show.

Moderat (Friday 18/8, Alpha)
With the new design of the Alpha stage, a lot more people were able to actually see the performances, but at the same time this means that there is a lot more light from outside coming in the tents. For an act like Moderat, who rely on an impressive light show, this is not ideal as they were scheduled for the very start of the Friday evening. The visual element therefore wasn’t as overwhelming as it normally would be, but nonetheless they gave a strong performance. The beats, the emotive vocals, the build up, it was all very much on point. It is definitely hard to not get chills when you hear thousands of people sing along to the incredible ‘Bad Kingdom’.

The xx (Friday 18/8, Alpha)
The xx were triumphant with the best performance on Way Out West festival in Sweden and they did it again at Lowlands. They closed the mainstage on day one with a flawless show on Romy’s birthday. The mix between their slower earlier material and more danceable tracks from their latest record I See You kept the audience on their toes throughout and especially the climax of the show was euphoric; an upbeat mix of their hit ‘Shelter’, followed by Jamie Xx’s ‘Loud Places’ and the band’s recent track ‘On Hold’ in combination with a laser light show and rainbow visuals had the whole of Alpha in awe of The xx. After they thanked their audience for this special night, they finished off with a stunning rendition of ‘Angels’. I can tell you it is pretty hard not to shed a tear right there and then!

Tove Lo (Saturday 19/8, Bravo)
Swedish pop star Tove Lo had an early start on Saturday, but she sure did make her fans bust their first moves of the day when she started out with the powerful electro pop of ‘True Disaster’. Her set mostly consisted of tracks of her latest record Lady Wood, but of course the hits of her debut, like ‘Talking Body’ (during which she flashed her audience) and ‘Habits’ (with which she finished her set singing together with every single audience member) were highlights as well. Compared to her festival appearances in 2015, Tove Lo grew a lot, both vocally and in terms of stage presence, convincingly pulling off new songs like ‘Keep It Simple’, ‘WTF Love Is’ and the infectious single ‘Cool Girl’. It is a shame Tove seemed to have trouble with her microphone and in-ears during the whole set, taking some of her enthusiasm away, but still one of the best pure pop shows at Lowlands.

Bastille (Saturday 19/8, Alpha)
Bastille was one of the main headliners of this year’s Lowlands Festival and they surely did not disappoint. With an incredibly high paced show they made every single crowd member at the Alpha stage dance. During ‘Flaws’ singer Dan made his way through the crowd while not missing one single lyric or note. During ‘Of The Night’, their quirky mash-up of ‘Rhythm Is A Dancer’ and ‘Rhythm of the Night’, they made every single person sit down to jump up when the chorus kicks in. Good fun! Their hit singles like ‘Good Grief’ and ‘Things We Lost In The Fire’ are sung by the biggest choir Bastille could wish for and of course Alpha completely explodes as soon as they start their iconic breakthrough track ‘Pompeii’. This was for sure one of the most upbeat and danceable shows of the weekend.

London Grammar (Saturday 19/8, Bravo)
As London Grammar is touring around the biggest festivals of Europe, the rain seems to be following them, Hannah tells the audience. Luckily they play with a tent roof over them and the audience this time and that tent was completely full for the sober and touching music of the British trio. Her voice was as impressive as ever, hitting all the notes in hits like ‘Wasting My Young Years’ and ‘Strong’, while moving a LOT of people to tears during a stunning rendition of their track ‘Hell To The Liars’. Unfortunately not everyone in the tent was there for the music, so the a capella first part of ‘Rooting For You’ did not make as much of an impact as it should have. Still it is incredible how this band seems to touch so many souls with their slow burning trip hop during every single festival appearance.

Halsey (Sunday 20/8, Alpha)
The organization of Lowlands must have realized they made a mistake in their programming when the Alpha tent was almost empty just before Halsey was about to perform. When her show was well underway, more people joined in, but still the area around the mainstage hadn’t been this empty during a show almost all weekend. The profile of the American pop star who had her biggest hit so far with Chainsmokers feature ‘Closer’, simply wasn’t big enough yet for her to play such a big stage and this badly affected her show. The smoke machines, the confetti, her talking about how her fans followed her everywhere, it all just fell flat standing so close to the stage and having so much space around you. Halsey tried her best strutting around the stage and singing her heart out (although she had to rely on backing tracks quite often) and at times it felt like watching a proper pop star show, but at the same time the setlist wasn’t great and ‘Hurricane’ certainly wasn’t the banging climax she seemed to think it was. Halsey does have some great tunes and a sound that fits big stages, but the Lowlands mainstage simply was too big for where she is in her career at the moment.

First Aid Kit (Sunday 20/8, Heineken)
The Swedish sisters of First Aid Kit were easily one of the biggest surprises of Lowlands 2017. They played the big Heineken tent and filled it up completely without losing the attention of the majority of their big audience. It turns out people of the Netherlands do love some country and folk! First Aid Kit delivers an endearing performance with flawless vocals and some big moments. Their intense ‘You Are The Problem Here’ about abuse of women gets loud cheers and towards the end ‘Stay Gold’ and ‘Emmylou’ have their fans completely in awe. Of course they close off with ‘My Silver Lining’ which is sung by literally every single person in the venue. Job well done, girls!

The Pretty Reckless (Sunday 20/8, Heineken)
The Pretty Reckless played the Heineken stage in the early evening of Sunday and although it was a little too sunny outside for their rock music, Taylor Momsen and her men managed to create the right atmosphere inside the tent. Dressed in black with sunglasses on, Taylor has the audience in the palm of her hand from set opener ‘Follow Me Down’ on. The band’s fans in the front rows lose themselves to hits like ‘Makes Me Wanna Die’, ‘Take Me Down’ and ‘Heaven Knows’ and before we know it the 11 songs set is over. It was fast, loud and a lot of fun!

Flume (Sunday 20/8, Alpha)
Australian producer and DJ Flume had a few big hits over the past two years and it shows these tracks work perfectly with a crowd that is finally enjoying the sun with a beer in their hands after having to endure a lot of rain for most of the weekend. The masses at Alpha move their hips and sing their lungs out to tracks like ‘Never Be Like You’, ‘Say It’ and Flume’s mix of Disclosure’s ‘You & Me’ while the DJ smiles the whole way through. The visuals are on point as well and Flume’s beats were destined to be played at mainstages at some point in his career.

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