Yes, festival season “officially” ended around mid-September, but that hasn’t stopped Holland’s party capital of Noord Brabant throwing one last hurrah in the form of 2-day event FestyLand. With a headline performance from La Pegatina, FestyLand’s first day also saw performances from the likes of Jett Rebel, Birth of Joy, Memphis Maniacs, Navarone and De Staat. All Things Loud was there for the first day, so read on for more about this eclectic first day.
FestyLand takes place in the Dutch town of Uden, which is relatively far from life considering that there isn’t even a train station nearby. However, this didn’t stop thousands of (mainly) young revellers descending on the sleepy town for 2 days of music, alcohol and various other shenanigans. The festival site opened just after 6pm, with Dutch rising star Jett Rebel opening the Jupiler Live Main Stage at 7:30. Let’s just put Jett Rebel’s success thus far into perspective – he hadn’t yet released a full album but had already sold out massive venues like the Paradiso. With debut album Venus & Mars now finally having been released, he plays the biggest show of his career at the 5,000-capacity Heineken Music Hall next year. He’s basically bigger than most of the line-up today combined, but here he is opening the main stage ahead of a DJ and a cover band. Backed by a 5-piece band, Rebel’s extremely flamboyant ego outshines his whole band for an hour long set of powerful funk, RnB and indie rock. When not swaying around stage with his guitar, Rebel has his hands all over the rest of his band, as he finds himself all over the place. Towards the end of mega hit Louise, he collapses onto the stage in a flurry of chaos as he wraps his shawl around his face like an old woman. Rebel, real name Jelte Tuinstra, is only 23 but performs like a seasoned veteran with a voice like no other. His frequently used falsetto rivals that of his female backing singers, so much so that he overpowers them most of the time. It certainly makes for impressive work as Rebel and his band play long, drawn out versions of songs from his impressive debut album. Less impressive, however, was Dutch “megastar” DJ Yellow Claw, who followed Rebel on the main stage. His set was marred with technical difficulties from the start, when it seemed almost as if Yellow Claw’s equipment refused to turn on. This resulted in the Claw’s MC engaging in extremely cringe worthy crowd interaction, as he attempted to get the “funniest” crowd members onstage to tell jokes. Needless to say, every single joke was booed despite the offer of free drinks for anyone who laughed. The only laughable thing here was the show itself which, once it did get started 20 minutes later, saw the same irritating MC continue to haul crowd members onstage whilst shouting “Yellow Claw are in the building” over and over again. I suppose it’s a case of each to their own, but it certainly is music which is only enjoyed after a few shots too many. A set like this was better off in one of the four dance tents, as opposed to a big main stage tent.
Over on the smaller 3fm Stage, the atmosphere was completely different as blues rock trio Birth of Joy took to the stage. Despite it being quite a sparse crowd, these three young guys certainly knew how to fill the place up with their combinations of guitar, drums and organs. That there isn’t a bassist in Birth of Joy isn’t a big problem, but an extra member certainly wouldn’t be missed. The set leant heavily towards epic, shredded guitar solos and powerful blues rock, with many songs seguing so well into one another that it almost seemed like one long song was being played. The lack of audience didn’t matter at all, as frontman Kevin Stunnenberg kept the crowd in the palm of his hand by means of haunting vocals and fierce guitar work on the likes of Make it Happen and Mad Men. Following them on the 3fm Stage were the more established rockers of De Staat, who gave the whole of FestyLand a run for their money with an extremely mesmerizing set. Frontman Torre Florim has the demure stature of Nick Cave, the energy of Editors’ Tom Smith and a magnificent voice. The 60 minute set saw their groove filled hard rock get the near-full tent dancing from front to back, particularly on the Queens of the Stone Age influenced groove of All is Dull. The set culminated in a raunchy cover of Jason Derulo’s Talk Dirty (interspersed with a verse from Ol’ Dirty Bastards Da Mystery of Chessboxin’), with its signature trumpet melody being transformed into an oriental guitar riff. Every song saw the band filled with boundless energy, with the likes of Down Town and Sweatshop also being set highlights. This is a band that could easily be massive outside of Holland, and it just seems like that day is waiting to come, and that it’ll be here very soon.
Over on the Jupiler Live Stage, it was up to Dutch cover band extraordinaire Memphis Maniacs to get the crowd buzzing for headliners. Dressed like a glam rock, parody version of the love child between Kiss and Rammstein, the likes of Skrillex, the Human League, Ray Parker Junior and various other novelty anthems were given the cover treatment alongside a mix of fancy lighting and pyrotechnics. Climaxing in a sea of confetti, Memphis Maniacs showed that they certainly knew how to keep a crowd entertained despite not having a single original song to their name. It’s by no means original or revolutionary, but it is fun, which is exactly what the audience was after. And once Memphis Maniacs left the stage, the fun was only set to increase as headliners La Pegatina followed thirty minutes later. Taking to the stage in front of a full crowd, the Catalonian seven-piece kicked off with 2007’s Despierto as colourful confetti cannons exploded left, right and centre. Just like their April show in Amsterdam, it was followed by the uber-catchy Lerei and slower carnival anthem Llename de Veneno. The upbeat El Curandero also featured, before the combination of Penjat and Ara ve lo Bo preceded La Pegatina’s flagship song Gat Rumberu. Its festival anthem chant saw the whole tent singing back at Adria Salas and his band as further confetti erupted out of two large cannons. It might have taken 20 minutes, but the epic unity of Gat Rumberu managed to lift the spirits of the whole audience. From then on, La Pegatina had the crowd in the palm of their hands, getting them to dance from left to right and sing back everything asked of them. One moment in the show saw Accordionist Romain Renard play a magnificent Accordion solo as the whole band knelt around him, almost as if in worship of him. His Accordion skills are so good that you could even compare the Kilt-clad Frenchman to Brian May in terms of his shredding skills. As the band left for the encore, the confetti cannons were reinstalled and the band came back to play classic Dutch carnival anthem Er Staat Een Paard In De Gang. The crowd reaction to this was like no other, as Catalonian flags emerged in the audience and people young and old lost themselves to a song about finding a horse in your neighbours’ front hall. The set closed with more confetti and a repeat of the Gat Rumberu chant, before the band made their way into the crowd to play a selection of melodies on an acoustic level. This headline set certainly cemented La Pegatina’s status as the go-to band for a good time. Nobody does a party like La Pegatina, and that is exactly what tonight proved.
FestyLand is a fun festival, but it doesn’t go much further than that. Its lakeside location may be pretty and picturesque, but the amount of obnoxious dance music littered around what could be a really credible line-up slightly ruined the atmosphere. It could definitely do with toning down on the EDM, with 4 stages dedicated to it which could easily be replaced by a mix of other genres. If there’s anything that FestyLand proved, it’s that rock music in Holland is definitely still alive and kicking thanks to the likes of De Staat, Birth of Joy and Jett Rebel.
The second day of FestyLand continues with sets from Kensington, Kovacs, Paceshifters and Typhoon.