Lowlands Festival, Day 3 – 23.8.15 – The Full Verdict

Following two action packed first days, Lowlands Festival finally came to a close yesterday with performances from Tame Impala, Kendrick Lamar and headliners Major Lazer. Read on for our full verdict of the final day.

Sunday kicked off in the can-shaped X Ray, where psychedelic rock quartet Pauw had the honour of starting proceedings. The Dutch four-piece’s music can best be described as an eclectic mixture of Temples, Tame Impala and Allah-Las combined, yet with an added element of oriental groove and rhythm. Recent single Shambhala stood out during the short set, outshining the rest of their exciting music by a million light years. Pauw are definitely one to look out for in the future, with a hotly anticipated debut album coming out later this year. The X Ray was relatively full considering the early start Pauw had, which is testament to their hard work and perseverance over the last months. Over on the Charlie Stage, US folk rockers The Districts pulled off a fantastic set in front of a full tent. Recent album A Flourish and a Spoil featured heavily as frontman Rob Grote celebrated his birthday in energetic style. He was unstoppable for the majority of the set, jumping around with his guitar just as much as he careered across stage with just a microphone in hand. Set highlight Funeral Beds progressed and built up to make for a cataclysmic ending, leaving many people with dropped jaws. It’s not going to be long before The Districts reach their peak and start selling out venues twice the size of what they’re doing now. One band who were in their position just two years ago is the alt pop duo Twenty One Pilots, a band known for their hectic, no holds barred live show. New album Blurryface managed to combine elements of rap, rock, RnB and indie effortlessly to create an attractive end product which ultimately came across well live thanks to quite some backing tracks. Both vocalist Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun took to the stage wearing balaclavas, kicking into the dirty grime beats of Heavydirtysoul. It wasn’t long before Joseph found his way offstage and into the crowd, doing so during Holding On to You. Later on in the set, at the end of new track Ride, drummer Dun’s drum kit was carried into the crowd by roadies, with Dun finishing the song atop the crowd. How Twenty One Pilots manage to keep up this boundless energy night after night is quite a mystery, but it’s undoubtedly part of the reason why they’re such a formidable force live.

Back in the Charlie, Aussie psych project Pond (who share members and crew with Tame Impala) presented new album Man, It Feels Like Space Again to a full tent. With Kevin Parker watching from the side, it was all eyes on frontman Nick Allbrook as he tore his way through set opener Waiting Around for Grace. Its glam rock stomp and mesmerising synth line were both drawn out beyond belief to create an extremely hypnotic end product. The upbeat Elvis’ Flaming Star followed, utilizing electronic drums and a bouncy bass melody. Later on, Giant Tortoise’s massive riff sprawled in and out of consciousness as Allbrook careered across stage manically. Pond are often described as “Tame Impala on steroids”, yet for however many amazing songs they put out they’ll always be in Kevin Parker’s shadow. Back in the Heineken Tent, Enter Shikari’s roadies were hectically loading in and setting up after being stuck in traffic, subsequently arriving a mere half an hour before starting. It didn’t delay Rou Reynolds and co, though, with the quartet kicking their set off with The Appeal & The Mindsweep I, from new album The Mindsweep. Its manic electro melodies and forceful hardcore riffs tore through the Heineken at such pace that pits started erupting from the word go. Reynolds was predictably chaotic in his onstage presence, dressed in a smart shirt as he urgently put his points across. During Radiate, he took out his guitar and tore through the track at lightning speed whilst running around and intertwining with bassist Chris Batten. Batten’s bass ended up in the crowd more often than not, as Batten took it upon himself to let the crowd carry it to the sound desk and back. Reynolds also ventured into the sweaty crowd often, inciting a circle pit around his microphone during The Paddington FriskThere’s a Price On Your Head saw Batten in the crowd whilst Reynolds climbed the stage scaffolding, covering himself in a black curtain and swooshing his arms like a bat. The set ended on a chaotic Gandhi Mate, Gandhi, which was complete with a Can You Feel the Love Tonight snippet. The show ended on an instrumental pounding so heavy that the earth might as well have shattered to pieces altogether. Enter Shikari didn’t just blow the whole of Lowlands out of the water, but the whole of 2015 too.

After Shikari’s set ended, Interpol followed them on the same stage an hour later. All dressed in matching smart suits, Paul Banks and co. drew from across their whole back catalogue, including 2014’s El Pintor. Set highlight Everything is Wrong sprawled, whereas All the Rage Back Home rocked back and forth throughout the whole tent. Despite all this, though,
something still seemed ‘off’ about the band. There wasn’t too much interaction with the crowd, and Banks looked like he would rather be somewhere else. It put a slight damper on the set, yet that didn’t make it any less musically tight and intricate. As the show came to an end, people started filing out fast and heading to the Alpha for newfound rap god Kendrick Lamar. The tent was absolutely packed to the rafters as Lamar and his band performed a handful of songs from spellbinding new album To Pimp a Butterfly. King Kunta predictably made for the highlight of the set, yet These Walls’ funky basslines and groovy rhythms also came quite close. The crowd received Lamar extremely well, and it became very clear quite quickly that Lamar is going to be a household name very, very soon. It isn’t without reason that To Pimp a Butterfly received so much critical acclaim that it’ll end up in year-end lists the world over. Another artist who released a year-end worthy album this year was Kevin Parker’s very own Tame Impala, whose record Currents has been wildly praised by critics and fans alike for its new, synth-based direction. Their set in the Heineken drew an equally massive crowd once more (it’s the fourth show in a row in the Heineken that has packed out the whole tent), with the live quintet walking on to pull off a mesmerising intro track. Comeback track Let it Happen followed, all eight minutes of it bathing in disco-psych glory. It was just the start of an ultimately exhilarating set that showed off every aspect of Kevin Parker’s genius. Fellow Currents tracks The Moment, The Less I Know the Better and Eventually all stood out, yet one of the best performances from the record came in the form of ‘Cause I’m a Man. Its groovy bassline and anthemic chorus saw the whole tent sing the words back, but it only turned out to be a warm-up for what came next – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards. Alongside Elephant (from 2012’s Lonerism), this track received the best reception of the whole night as everyone sang along to every word euphorically. The show ended on a hypnotic, drawn-out rendition of Apocalypse Dreams which, alongside extremely trippy visuals, ensured that not a single person left the tent without a huge grin on their face. Most of these people eventually went over to the Alpha for mainstream dance collective Major Lazer, yet the real fun was taking place over in the Bravo with London-based quartet Django Django. New album Born Under Saturn is a fantastic piece of work, and their live show does it plenty of justice. Although the Bravo was barely half-full (Major Lazer, on the other hand, packed out the tent and neighbouring hills), it didn’t faze Vincent Neff and co. from pulling out all the stops. It was Neff’s birthday too, which made the evening all the more worth celebrating. Set opener Hail Bop’s flickering strobes, art rock guitars and waspy synths started the party with ease, being followed by the subsequent likes of Shake & Tremble, First Light and Reflections. The latter featured a live saxophonist onstage with the band, whereas the former saw everyone from the front to the back on their feet. Towards the end, set highlight Default received the biggest reaction of the day as everyone quite literally lost their minds. For people who really didn’t like being subjected to Major Lazer, Django Django were the perfect remedy, regardless of how many people actually showed up. If seven people turned out for the show, Neff and co. would still find a way to go crazy.

As Django Django’s set came to a close, the live music part of Lowlands also reached its climax. What followed (alongside a heavy rain storm) was a slew of crazy nightlife performances from the likes of DJ TennisBaauer and Boys Noize. The final notes of Joost van Bellen’s DJ set then signalled the end of Lowlands’ 23rd edition, which had finally climaxed after three highlight-filled days. Although marred by lower ticket sales, people still turned out in their droves to each show and made the whole weekend worth waiting for. Next year, the hope is that an even bigger and better line-up will get Lowlands back up on its feet and raring to go once more. For now, though, it’s time to enjoy the last three days and take in the whole experience, because that’s exactly what Lowlands is – an experience. They don’t sell day tickets at Lowlands for a reason, because otherwise that would disrupt the idyllic ethos and mesmerising moments which you don’t get if all you did was buy a ticket to see All Time Low. Lowlands is a festival which you need to either experience from start to finish, or not experience at all.

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