It’s been a good festival season. Back in April, the likes of Rotterdam’s Motel Mozaique and Schijndel’s Paaspop kicked off what was to be a jubilant Dutch festival season. Big shots like Pinkpop (featuring, amongst others, The Rolling Stones), FortaRock (with Iron Maiden) and Lowlands (closed by Queens of the Stone Age) were sandwiched inbetween recent newbies such as Down the Rabbit Hole and Best Kept Secret. Over the course of the last 5 months, a whole variety of festivals took place, with the Dutch festival season closing this weekend over two different locations. In Tiel, Appelpop featured headliners Kaiser Chiefs, whereas Amsterdam’s West’ival had London’s very own Breton. All Things Loud trekked up to the west of Amsterdam to experience what West’ival had to offer, read on for more.
So here’s the deal with West’ival – it’s a 3 day long festival, with one day featuring music. The 2 days before and after that feature art & dance, and it all takes place on a small square in a remote area of Amsterdam, far from any tourists. There’s a tiny stage in the corner, with room for 500 people. In and amongst the crowd you can find tons of deckchairs and beanbags, which add to the “living room” feel described by the festival. There’s also plenty of homemade organic food stalls around, offering great tasting food at cheap prices.
The evening kicked off just after 8:30pm, with Polish/Scottish producer Ela Orleans taking to the stage for a disappointingly tame set. Despite many attempts to get the crowd going, all but one of the crowd members stayed seated. At one point in the hour long set, Ela expressed her irritation to a sole woman who spent a majority of the set dancing solo and shouting at Ela. Before the last song, she told the crowd “this woman ruined everything”. You could sense a lot of people felt sorry for Orleans, with this woman clearly having caused disturbance all evening. Despite this though, the music was interesting and mellow. Echo-laden vocals interspersed with sharp beats and hypnotic piano suited the surroundings perfectly, with the whole crowd nodding along in approval. Although at times it did drag on a bit, there were enough interesting aspects to her live show (featuring vintage visuals) to make it a success. The crowd was essentially what ruined it for Orleans, with the whole front section being home to one woman.
A short 30 minutes later, and the front section of the crowd was packed almost completely as the 5 members of Breton took to the stage shortly after 10pm. Fronted by Roman Rappak, they opened with Pacemaker, from their 2012 debut album Other People’s Problems. Stop/start string melodies and breakbeat drums accompanied Rappak’s drawn-out vocals, before newer tracks Legs & Arms and Search Party sped the pace up. The former encompasses danceable trumpet synths and hazy mid-sections, whereas the latter is full-on tribal drumming and clubby outros. Older cut Edward the Confessor followed, sparking the best crowd reaction thus far. Grimy beats and plenty of emotion on Rappak’s behalf made it one of the standouts moments from the set. Governing Correctly went on to induce plenty of dancing with its funk-laden rhythms, before Envy’s summery melodies saw confetti explode into the crowd.
A slower section saw a dreamy 302 Watchtowers, one of many tracks from 2014’s War Room Stories, followed by a mesmerising Closed Category. Its jazzy piano line and smooth bassline made way for Got Well Soon’s dance funk rhythms and memorable line of “don’t get found out again”. The ending of Got Well Soon segued perfectly with the uber-anthemic National Grid. Its massive sing-a-long line of “I believe everybody has a right to surrender” saw hands in the air all the way to the apartment blocks surrounding the square. This upbeat section didn’t stop there, with Jostle going on to incite the biggest dance moment of the night. Funky grooves and Caribbean beats made way for a waspy synth melody and full-on rock out towards the end, with Rappak boldly shouting “marked out in hi-vis to stay blended in” over and over. It made for the most uplifting and epic moment of the evening, with recent single 15 Minutes closing the set by encompassing a rave section and dreamy verses. Two minutes after leaving the stage to jubilant cheers, the band returned to play one last song, regular set closer December. Live, the song is extended to a 7-minute long rave masterpiece which builds up continuously before exploding towards the end. It ensured that Breton closed the second day of West’ival in beautiful fashion.
Despite the day starting off on a disappointing note thanks to a poor crowd for Ela Orleans, Breton showed us that they are exciting as ever in a live setting, something which the crowd knew very well. From the opening moments of Pacemaker, Breton made it clear that they were here to celebrate a successful summer. 4 months and 36 festivals after their first summer festival of 2014, and Breton have shown Amsterdam that they never fail to pull off spectacular shows.
And with that, the summer festival has come to a successful end. For All Things Loud it has certainly been a busy summer, having covered the likes of Pinkpop, Glastonbury, FortaRock, Metropolis Festival, Lowlands and West’ival. Earlier this week, we rounded up our 5 biggest summer highlights, which you can read here. We’re already looking forward to next summer, and hope to see you at as many festivals as possible!