It wasn’t going to stay sunny forever now, was it? The third and final day of Lowlands was met with heavy bouts of rain which, until the late afternoon, didn’t really seem to stop one bit. Without any intention from the rain gods to give up on their wet and windy ways, it was up to 55,000 rabid festivalgoers to bare the mud and wet sand one last time. Lowlands’ last day featured a top-heavy billing consisting of the weekend’s finest offerings, amongst them The Last Shadow Puppets, Foals and headliners LCD Soundsystem.
Scandinavian vocalist Aurora kicked off proceedings on the India stage early on in the day, presenting the audience with her serene voice as she drew heavily from debut album All My Demons Greeting Me As a Friend. Although quite shy, Aurora has a vocal tone to be reckoned with; it starts off sounding quite frail and distant, yet it grows into an absolutely spectacular concoction of dreamy melodies and silky smooth harmonies. She’s already been making waves on Dutch shores for a good year now, but it’s finally looking as though Holland’s festival crowds are falling at Aurora’s feet. Another female vocalist taking the world by storm is Kosovan/British artist Dua Lipa, who performed in front of a packed Heineken tent. Taking to the stage alongside a three-piece band, Lipa sang and danced her way through a whole variety of sickly sweet dance pop classics, some more accessible than others. Dua Lipa’s vocal talent is matched equally by her ability to hold the crowd in the palm of her hand, with hit tracks Hotter Than Hell and Be the One both receiving miraculously loud appraisal from the tent. Although she operates in a completely different sonic field to Aurora, Dua Lipa is just another female vocalist leading a pack of artists ready to take over the airwaves.
Over on the Bravo stage, the multi-talented Anderson .Paak and his band The Free Nationals proved exactly why they’re 2016’s absolute festival must-see. New record Malibu offers up a pristine summer soundtrack which capitalizes on Paak’s many musical abilities, whether it be sun-kissed neo-funk (Am I Wrong) or catchy hip hop (Luh You). He might be a jack of many trades, but it’s very much evident that he excels in each one equally as opposed to just trying out as many things as possible. Away from the music, Paak is also a born frontman, interacting with the Lowlands crowd from the word go. “Damn, that’s so many white people!” he jokingly declared early on, before receiving loud cheers upon asking “all the white people in the room to make some noise”. He embraces the fact that his music has become a hit with people from all walks of life with open arms, and it’s this crossover appeal which makes Anderson. Paak & the Free Nationals such a spectacle to witness onstage. With the Heineken in absolute awe of a future household name, it was up to The Rumjacks to appeal to a totally different audience on the Lima stage. The Irish/Australian outfit hit the full tent with an absolute barrage of alcohol-infused pub rock which blends elements of bands like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphy’s. The Rumjacks are essentially a party band with a knack for causing absolute crowd carnage wherever they go, with the amount of crowdsurfers and pits in the Lima tent proving that it was no different this time round. Standout track An Irish Pub Song was the kick in the teeth which Biddinghuizen needed, sending many a festivalgoer away happy as can be.
Back on the India stage, former Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon and his band The Crowes performed a short-but-sharp set which drew heavily from Fallon’s debut solo effort Painkillers. Set opener Nobody Wins set the bar high, with Fallon and co. bringing their set towards an end by means of a cover of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream. Perry’s version is a polished pop banger, with Fallon’s rendition sounding like something which wouldn’t go out of place on Ryan Adams’ 1984. He may not be a household name just yet, but Fallon has a strong enough back catalogue to cement his status as one of rock ‘n roll’s finest songwriters. Electro soul producer James Blake took to the Bravo stage not too long after, with new record The Colour in Anything featuring heavily for the duration of his hour-long set. Despite the serene LP being one of the year’s finest, it still took a lot for Blake and his band to keep the crowd’s attention for more than a few minutes at a time. Earlier cuts Limit To Your Love and Retrograde still packed quite a punch, with Blake’s static and shy onstage persona the only thing which held him back. Give him a smaller stage in a more intimate space and you’d be gifted with an absolutely stunning set; it’s just a shame that his Lowlands show didn’t meet expectations. One set which did meet expectations, though, was The Last Shadow Puppets’ triumphant show on the Alpha stage. New album Everything You’ve Come to Expect sees Alex Turner and Miles Kane head down an orchestral path, having subsequently introduced a four-piece string section to their captivating live show. New tracks Bad Habits and Aviation made for early highlights, both of which were preceded by a handful of older tracks (Calm Like You, Separate and Ever Deadly & The Age of the Understatement). Alex Turner has finally found his place as an all-conquering rock legend, with his stage presence unbeatable and second to none. Compatriot Miles Kane may take more of a vocal backseat for the duration of the show, but it’s undeniable that his guitar-centric additions are nothing less than sublime. The Last Shadow Puppets may be a side-project, but it’s certainly one of the most successful supergroups to hit the charts in recent years.
Oxford quintet Foals had the tough task of headlining the Bravo stage, managing to pack out the whole tent for the duration of their 75-minute long set. New album What Went Down featured predominantly alongside its predecessor, Holy Fire, with the funk-infused My Number and manic Snake Oil featuring early on amidst a mixture of hectic strobe lights and various attempts by frontman Yannis Philippakis to get on personal terms with the crowd. Philippakis is a born and bred frontman, mastering the art so well that he descends into the crowd at various points throughout the show, most notably during What Went Down’s menacing title track. Next week, Foals will close Reading Festival in what is set to be the biggest set of their careers. Lowlands was just a warm up for the quintet, and boy what a stunning one it was. Alpha headliners LCD Soundsystem had a tough time following up Philippakis and co.’s memorable set, closing out the whole weekend with a 90-minute long greatest hits show worthy of main stages the world over. It’s no surprise that the James Murphy-fronted supergroup love a party, something which early cut Daft Punk is Playing At My House incited from the word go. Set closer All My Friends made for one of the weekend’s biggest parties, with Murphy and co.’s huge disco ball shimmering above the stage as the band basked in all their glory. Whether or not LCD Soundsystem will continue following their reunion tour remains to be seen, but it sure would be nice to see them stick around for good.
Lowlands Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary on 18, 19 and 20 August 2017. Find more information here.