Following two amazing days of music and entertainment in Hilvarenbeek, Best Kept Secret finally came to an end on Sunday with a stellar headline performance from Alt J. Read on for our full round-up of the last day.
The day kicked off with an intriguing hour-long performance from Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood, who had the London Contemporary Orchestra in tow with him. The set took place at 11am, on the premise that there was no ‘sound bleed’ coming from any other stages. The set incorporated the audiences own mobile phones in the songs, with his set demonstrating the talented nature of Greenwood, the guitar virtuoso. Radiohead will be returning with a new album sooner than you think, and nobody can wait. Yorkshire quintet Marmozets followed Greenwood on Stage ONE, absolutely destroying everything and everyone in their sights. Frontwoman Becca MacIntyre is a brutal and energetic vocalist, spending a majority of the set commandeering the crowd as she howled and growled her way through songs from debut album The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets. Manic math-rocker Vibetech proved to be the best wake-up call anyone could ever get at a festival, flittering between MacIntyre’s demand of, “show me what you got, show me what you know” and absurd math rock freakouts. Set closer Why Do You Hate Me? encompassed everything that the band do well, including cataclysmic riffs, huge choruses and a heavy-as-fuck breakdown worthy of any festival main stage. Marmozets are undoubtedly the future of rock, whether you like them or not.
Over on Stage TWO, Wolf Alice performed songs from their just-released debut album, My Love Is Cool. The quartet, who have been hotly tipped for success since last summer, played for 45 minutes as new album highlights Bros, Fluffy and older single Moaning Lisa Smile all made an appearance. The latter is a grunge slacker anthem that got the whole crowd headbanging, whereas the former is a sickly sweet indie track complete with jangly guitar riff. Australian/French quartet Sunset Sons followed back on Stage ONE, attempting to provide a good explanation for all the hype surrounding them lately. They somewhat managed to lay claim to this, particularly when they pulled new track She Wants out of the bag, its poppy and piano-led verses making for easy listening by the water. New EP The Fall Line is a promising step in the right direction for a band who have already been tipped by MTV on their 2015 Hottest list. Whether or not they’ll follow in the direction of contemporaries such as Imagine Dragons or AWOLNATION remains to be seen, but the signs are looking good at the moment.
Singer-songwriter Waxatatchee followed Sunset Sons over on Stage THREE, performing a mid-afternoon set to a rather full tent. Frontwoman Katie Crutchfield’s crisp vocals perfectly complemented the serene instrumentals, with the set leaning heavily on new album Ivy Tripp. She’s always posed herself as an alternative singer-songwriter, her songs occasionally bordering on the absurd. Crutchfield definitely managed to impress in Hilvarenbeek, paving the way for bigger solo shows in the future. One direction she could possibly go in is that of Swedish sisters First Aid Kit, who played the dreaded middle-of-the-day slot on Stage ONE. New album Stay Gold was drawn from heavily, yet the main set highlight came in the form of Emmylou’s sprawling folk melodies and serene vocals. Opening track The Lion’s Roar perfectly set the scene for the hour to come, encompassing a varied selection of darker and more brooding folk elements. First Aid Kit are musical underdogs; they’re performing high up on the bill everywhere yet they’re never going to be the first name on your mind when you think of popular folk duos. That should probably change soon, with the sisters forming the core of a slowly rising indie folk ‘revolution’. Over on Stage FIVE, Canadian quintet Alvvays performed a hotly anticipated set which drew from their self-titled debut, in particular standout track Archie, Marry Me. Its subdued tone complements the large chorus perfectly, with vocalist Molly Rankin’s sweet vocal tone enough to make even the hardest man shed a tear. Upbeat track Adult Diversion and slacker anthem Party Police also featured, the former getting as many people dancing as the latter got them crying with their arms aloft. They’ve only got one album to their name, but the record is strong enough for them to be considered one of the best indie bands around at the moment.
Stage TWO saw Black Mountain perform to a rather full tent, with the band touring in support of their self-titled debuts 10th anniversary. The fuzzy Don’t Run Our Hearts Around was every inch the grunge classic as it was back in 2005. Set opener Stormy High set the tone for the whole show, kicking off with a blues rock-esque riff and waspy background synths. The set did just about enough to prove that the band have still got it, even if the set in itself wasn’t as spectacular as many people had hoped. One band who did manage to stick to the ‘spectacular’ superlative for their set was US trio Future Islands, a band who many people will know for their eclectic frontman Samuel T Herring. Stage ONE played host to the band for a full hour as they opened their set with older track Inch of Dust. Its click-beat drum pattern and ambient melody line made way for Herring’s booming vocals as following track A Dream of You and Me sped the pace up slightly. A pulsating bassline and occasional guitar stabs accompanied a hazy synth line, all underpinning Herring’s superb vocals. This wasn’t the moment that everyone was waiting for, though. That moment came in career highlight Seasons (Waiting On You), by far the bands most celebrated track. From the moment it kicks off with a euphoric melody, you know that the next four minutes are going to be special. “Seasons change, but I’ve grown tired of trying to change for you” laments Herring during the verses, before a huge chorus saw the whole crowd sing along emphatically. The set ended when Herring decided to jump into the crowd, run across half the length of the field and make his exit by jumping over a fence and jogging back to his dressing room. It made for a memorable ending to a memorable set. Their hour made way for extremely popular duo Royal Blood, whose set was by far one of the best attended of the day. Bassist/frontman Mike Kerr and snapback-clad drummer Ben Thatcher made their way to the stage and kicked straight into the dark and brooding bass riff of Come on Over. Pits erupted from the off as its massive chorus saw the whole field once again sing along louder than ever before. Royal Blood definitely drew one of the biggest crowds of the whole weekend, something which only headliners Alt J would later trump. Recent single Ten Tonne Skeleton’s whammy-laden riff and stop-start drum pattern made for a slower moment in the set, before set closer Out of the Black saw Thatcher launch himself into the crowd at its close. Out of the Black was definitely one of the best tracks released in 2014, with its closing bass solo absolutely ferocious. Just like Marmozets demonstrated earlier in the day, Royal Blood are also flying the flag for the future of rock music.
Indie heroes Alt J had the honour of bringing Best Kept Secret 2015 to a close, performing a fantastic headline set on Stage ONE. Just as with their Heineken Music Hall show in February, the set opened with Hunger of the Pine’s bleeping Miley Cyrus samples, before leading into older favourite Fitzpleasure. Its heavy bass drop and tapped drums (courtesy of Thom Green) accompanied vocalist Joe Newman’s absurd lyrics perfectly, summing up everything that Alt J do well in one song. “Tra la la” sang the whole crowd during its ‘chorus’, before the Spanish guitars of Something Good helped the show pick up in pace. The set leaned dre equally from both debut album An Awesome Wave and 2014′s This Is All Yours, with the main set climaxing in the latter’s The Gospel of John Hurt in magnificent style. Earlier in the set, the band combined Bloodflood with its recent sequel, Bloodflood Pt II, for the most magical moment in the show. Once part one fed into part two, a sense of realized beauty flowed across Hilvarenbeek. “Dead in the middle of the C-O-Double M-O-N” sang Newman in his most drawn-out and serene style, melting hearts throughout the crowd. The band did something similar later on, combining This Is All Yours’ Nara and Leaving Nara to make way for show closer Breezeblocks. Breezeblocks is Alt J’s signature track, culminating in a heartfelt chorus of “please don’t go, I love you so”. This line was repeated continuously once the band left the stage, undoubtedly proving their worth as festival headliners. Alt J’s rise has been steady, and they’re now finally at a point where their music perfectly complements the way they’ve risen through the ranks. You couldn’t picture a better festival closer even if you tried.
And with that headline set, Best Kept Secret 2015 had come to a triumphant close. The festival will return for its 4th edition next year, taking place from the 17th till the 19th of June. Will we see you there?