Over the course of the next five days, we’re going to be counting down the minutes ahead of Lowlands 2017‘s massive 25th anniversary edition. The festival will celebrate the milestone in style, featuring the likes of The xx, Editors and Mumford & Sons atop the bill alongside a barrage of huge acts, among them Iggy Pop, Elbow and Sean Paul. For the first instalment of our countdown, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane and look at the five performances which topped our list during last year’s edition of Lowlands.
5 King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
What we said: “One band who have already inducted themselves into the cult heroes Hall of Fame is Aussie outfit King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, whose new album Nonagon Infinity is one hell of a journey from start to finish (and from finish to start). The record comprises of nine interconnected tracks, all of which they played in Biddinghuizen. Performing an album as visceral and chaotic as Nonagon Infinity is no mean feat, with its manically repeated riffs (Robot Stop, Big Fat Wasp, Gamma Knife), slow jam moments (Mr Beat, Wah Wah) and closing freak-outs (Evil Death Roll & Robot Stop) all intertwining to form one massive melting pot of hysteria which lasted for nearly an hour. It was essentially one long song. Bands like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard don’t come round often, but when they do it’s guaranteed to be nothing short of a spectacle.”
What we said: “Indie outfit Whitney opened the day’s proceedings on the Charlie stage, bringing their free love for all vibe to a packed crowd which witnessed drummer/vocalist Julian Ehrlich make out with his band’s bassist following early track Light Upon the Lake. What’s great about Whitney (on record formed by Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kacakek) is their ability to bring swift and smooth indie pop which carries with itself bouts of soul and pure vigour. They combine crowd interaction with inter band interaction as bottles of Jack Daniels and French wine get swigged by the songs, all of which are pulled off masterfully. Early highlight Golden Days saw the whole crowd silent in awe until its jubilant closing section, before show closer No Woman received a justifiably big reaction from the tent. Whitney are a band who we ought to cherish for the future, because bands of this calibre are a dying breed.”
3 Biffy Clyro
What we said: “Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro took new album Ellipsis to the neighbouring Bravo tent not too long after, with Simon Neil and co. opening their set on the ever-massive single Wolves of Winter amidst a sea of strobe lights and visible lack of clothing. Early cut Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies stood out, partly thanks to Neil’s manic stares and memorable onstage antics. Brotherly duo James (bass) and Ben Johnston (drums) formed the band’s formidable rhythm section, one which formed the backbone of riff-heavy anthem Black Chandelier and catchy new single Howl. Biffy Clyro are festival headliners of the future, and this was just the beginning.”
What we said: “Teignmouth trio Muse closed out the first day in front of some 30,000 festivalgoers, performing a majestic set which drew from across the band’s vast back catalogue. Set opener Psychobrought with itself bouts of anarchy as Matt Bellamy’s virtuous guitar skills stood out. Early hit Plug in Baby made an appearance as the whole tent sung along loudly, something which they also did for the likes of Absolution cutsHysteria and Time is Running Out, as well as later cut Uprising and show closer Knights of Cydonia. It was a short set for Muse’s standards, but that didn’t make it any less powerful or memorable than it always is. Whereas most bands in Muse’s position tend to hit a glass ceiling at this point in their career, Muse are only just surpassing it.”
What we said: “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.”
Check back tomorrow for the second part of our countdown.