The 5th of March 2016 will forever remain a special day for John Coffey. It marked the day that the hard rockers transformed Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg into a special community in order to celebrate the release of upcoming EP A House for Thee. Joining them for this milestone date were Dutch/German outfit Swain, garage punks Mozes & the Firstborn, Aussie psych lords King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and UK progressive post hardcore quartet Black Peaks. We spent the whole day with Black Peaks, documenting everything they did from their disastrous load-in scenario to a post-show knees up in John Coffey’s dressing room. Interested to see how they got on? Then keep reading for a minute-by-minute lowdown on the whole day.
No sign of Black Peaks. Rumour has it that the band are unable to track down the Tivoli’s elusively hidden loading dock.
Black Peaks frontman Will Gardner shows up with his saxophone to quickly practice his guest spot with John Coffey. In the meantime, we’re on the phone with the rest of the band trying to manually navigate them into the loading bay.
Utrecht is a hectic place.
Black Peaks have arrived! Their former Royal Mail postal van has just rocked up in a chilly underground loading bay. In tow are the remaining band members (Liam, Joe and Andrew), their driver, and photographer Ben Gibson.
The first important port of call in the dressing room is a much-needed taste of John Coffey’s very own beer – The Sinking Ship. The beer, which was brewed by one of Holland’s top breweries, is praised highly by the whole band and crew. It subsequently becomes a talking point throughout the day.
Lunch – the most important meal of the day.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard arrive onsite. They proceed to speak with nobody outside of the band and not touch a single beer in their fridge.
Band members have gone walkabout, with Will on the verge of falling asleep. The news of an onsite masseuse excites the whole room, with her booking list filled instantly.
Joe and Will have a guitar vs saxophone battle. Nobody emerges victorious, but Will does introduce the room to his fambience (it’s a new word).
Doors have opened, with some 2,000 fans expected to venture into a TivoliVredenburg which was transformed especially for today. There’s a tattoo artist available for 50 quid a pop, as well as food & drink stalls courtesy of Wild at Heart BBQ, Just Like Your Mum and The Village Coffee. John Coffey have managed to turn their homecoming show into an unmissable village fete.
Metal vocalist by night, session saxophonist by day: it’s Will Gardner.
Liam has become visually encapsulated by a cup of tea which the automated machine filled till just over the brim with boiling hot tea. The next couple of minutes are spent debating how to best pick it up without spilling any and burning his hands.
Swain take to the stage and kickstart the Homecoming in a heavy fashion.
Swain have just finished, so it’s time to load in Liam’s cymbals and get the drums ready for later use. It’s still cold in the loading bay, and people in tuxedo’s have started walking around in preparation for a separate show by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra next door.
Mozes & the Firstborn bring some fuzzy garage rock to the table with a thirty minute set in front of a half-full Ronda.
Thirty minutes till showtime for Black Peaks. Will is getting hyped up and has been injecting himself with rage for a solid 20 minutes in preparation.
Fifteen minutes to go until Black Peaks give the Ronda something to get angry about. The band seem more than ready to take everyone by storm.
And they’re off!
The first crowdsurfers and stagedivers have already shown their faces. It’s taken 12 minutes for Black Peaks to give birth to the show’s first pit.
Black Peaks end their set on a chaotic rendition of Glass Built Castles, one which sees Andrew and Joe launch their instruments towards Liam’s bass drum.
Liam is visibly psyched with what he describes as “the best show we’ve ever played”.
Will has booked himself in for a massage with the already-famous John Coffey masseuse.
The seven Aussies in King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard take to the stage for what is one of the last shows of their mammoth European tour. The band only released latest record Papier Mache Dream Balloon late last year, but they’ve already announced a new one – Nonagon Infinity. A 15-minute long closing track (which is actually I’m In Your Mind Fuzz’s first four songs blended together) gave their set some chaotic flare.
King Gizzard leave the stage as the big build-up to John Coffey begins.
John Coffey take to the stage to the sound of Utrecht’s very own ‘song’ – Als Ik Boven Op de Dom Kom. A raucous rendition of Broke Neck opens the set in rousing fashion.
The first stagedivers make their way back into the crowd. A real sense of community has started building up in the Ronda, and it’s very much evident that John Coffey treat their fans like one huge family.
Will is set to join John Coffey onstage for a confetti-laden Heart of a Traitor. Here’s him practicing his sax below.
John Coffey’s 20-song set ends on a manic rendition of Eagle Chasing Flies, sending the crowd into a chaotic frenzy of limbs and beer.
David (John Coffey) post-set.
Team Black Peaks signing off for the day.
Black Peaks’ debut album STATUES comes out on April 8 via Easy Life/Sony UK.