Back in February, most people wouldn’t have called you crazy if you said that Europe’s longest uninterrupted festival, Pinkpop, had taken a considerable step down in terms of quality names for their 2015 edition. Where 2014 had behemoth names such as The Rolling Stones and Arcade Fire (the latter of which weren’t even headlining), Pinkpop came trudging along with a swathe of national acts and merely a handful of stellar names – Muse, Robbie Williams, Faith No More, Sam Smith and Foo Fighters, with the latter two both cancelling. As time went on, though, the line-up got stronger as the festival expanded yet again, selling out instantly. All Things Loud was there for the whole weekend, and below we’ve rounded up our Top 15 performances from the whole weekend. Read on to find out who made the cut.
15. EAST CAMERON FOLKCORE
Texan folk group East Cameron Folkcore may have attracted what looked like the smallest crowd of the weekend to their mid-afternoon Stage 4 set on Saturday, yet that didn’t stop the group from pulling out all the stops in terms of onstage energy. The band take a varying selection of instruments and utilize to a point where they all converge and become one. You have to definitely give the band credit for the way that they remained energized throughout the show, something which the sparse crowd certainly didn’t. The Texans did their utmost best to keep a meaningful connection between themselves and the audience, something which the heart-wrenching Salinger is Dead demonstrated the best.
London-based alt rock behemoths Placebo were drafted in as a late replacement for Sam Smith, who cancelled his set due to an operation on his vocal chords. The trio, strengthened by added musicians onstage, tore through a powerful 60 minute headline set on the 3fm Stage, pulling songs from across their whole 22-year career out of the bag. Set highlight Loud Like Love, taken from their 2013 album of the same name, rocketed through the PA with effortless ease as frontman Brian Molko carried the band with his demure vocal tone. The show ended with a two-song encore which featured a cover of Kate Bush classic Running Up That Hill, redone in a style which perfectly complements Placebo’s music. They may have lost their touch in recent years, but Placebo are still undoubtedly an incendiary live band and you have to give Brian Molko and co. credit for that.
Picture by Bart Notermans for 3voor12
13. COUNTING CROWS
Counting Crows are the closest you’re going to get to sitting lazily in a field on Sunday afternoon whilst you watch the world pass by. Their output of late hasn’t received as much recognition as earlier releases, yet the songs are just as strong. In some cases you’ll find that their newer output even exceeds the older songs, particularly lyrically. Set highlight Palisades Park proved this, encompassing everything that Counting Crows do well. Vocalist Adam Duritz was in great shape, flittering between the floor and his piano bench regularly throughout the set. Big hit Accidentally in Love didn’t feature, although the rest of the set was so strong that this omission didn’t faze all too many people.
Picture by Jelmer de Haas for 3voor12
12. BODY COUNT FT. ICE-T
If this countdown concerned the heaviest performance of the weekend, then Body Count would have been head and shoulders above the rest at #1. Their brutal hour-long set opening the main stage on Friday may have been marred by considerable bursts of bad weather, yet it didn’t stop frontman Ice-T from engaging with the crowd non-stop. One part of the show saw him call out Barack Obama and the NSA, before later on renaming himself to Ice “Muthafuckin” T, “bitch”. The powerful banger Talk Shit, Get Shot featured towards the end and saw plenty of little pits erupt in and amongst the front parts of the crowd. The whole band, including Ice-T’s son Little Ice-T, put plenty of energy into the set, a mean feat when you consider that they had a gig in Luxembourg later the same day.
Picture by Jelmer de Haas for 3voor12
11. EAGLES OF DEATH METAL
It’s been seven years since Eagles of Death Metal last put a record out, with their headline set on the Brand Bier Stage already promising a look-in at their hotly anticipated new record (Zipper Down, out in October). Frontman Jesse Hughes has tended to fly the flag solo onstage in recent years, with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme only taking part in the project within the four walls of a recording studio. That changed on Saturday though, with Homme taking to behind the drum kit for a special guest performance with his ‘bit on the side’. With Homme and two extra musicians in tow, Hughes led the band through an hour of danceable rock, ranging from indie to classic rock and a hint of rock ‘n roll. One new song did feature, yet the main highlight of the set was its finale, the energetic Miss Alissa. Its upbeat drums and gritty guitar line are perfectly crafted for indie discos the world over, something which the Brand Bier Stage briefly became on Saturday night. The Eagles are back, and they want you to dance.
Picture by Bart Notermans for 3voor12
10. LONELY THE BRAVE
Lonely the Brave are no strangers to Holland, having played five shows here in the last two months alone. Their Stage 4 set may not have pulled in a massive crowd (the tent was just over half-full), yet it didn’t stop the band from pulling out all the stops. Their 2014 debut album, The Day’s War, was heavily drawn from during the set, with Trick of the Light and The Blue, The Green making for two strong moments in the set. Frontman David Jakes once again resorted to spending the gig standing at the side of the stage, barely moving from his spot. This meant that it was up to the rest of the band to provide energy, something which guitarist Mark Trotter did (and always does) extremely well. Even though Jakes isn’t the most energetic frontman you’ve ever seen, it still makes for interesting viewing as people stand and wait to see if he’ll move. If their Stage 4 set proved anything, it’s that Lonely the Brave are festival headliners of the future. They’ve got the charisma and music for it, so now all they need is plenty of public support to get them where they truly belong – at the top.
Guy Garvey and his friends have spent the last years forming one of music’s most unstoppable forces – the magnificent Elbow. Their songs don’t tent to have a middle ground, either flittering between headbang-worthy rock and stadium sized ballads. The quintet, who sub headlined Muse on Friday, dipped into their back catalogue whilst a small string section joined them onstage. Guy Garvey is a born and bred frontman, seamlessly commandeering the crowd and engaging in light conversation between songs. Standout track One Day Like This was dropped surprisingly early into the set, yet that didn’t stop the whole crowd from singing along as if the end was nigh. “One day like this a year will see me right” sang Garvey during its chorus, accompanied by swirling strings. Set closer Grounds for Divorce proved a worthy finale, complete with a massive riff and catchy bassline. Don’t be all too surprised if Elbow’s next Pinkpop show turns out to be a headline set, because they’re not far from that moment now.
8. JOHN COFFEY
Dutch hardcore punks John Coffey played to a packed out tent on Saturday afternoon, with the show going down in Pinkpop history thanks to frontman David Achter de Molen’s catching skills. During the set, Achter de Molen decided to get stuck in by launching himself into the crowd. It was at this point that one fan hurtled a beer glass at the singer from afar, with David catching it in one hand, taking a sip and chucking the drink away. Moments like this are exactly what punk is supposed to be about, and John Coffey offer up nothing less with their eclectic hardcore-flecked tunes. Earlier track Romans was made for the pits of festivals like Graspop and Download, with newer cuts Heart of a Traitor and Broke Neck adding more melody alongside the brutality. The stage, which was flanked by two massive balloon animals, will always be unsafe when the Utrecht-based lads in John Coffey take to it.
Indie rockers Peace were one of the many UK acts who attracted a smaller crowd than they truly deserved to Stage 4. The Harry Koisser-fronted quartet played a 50-minute long set in front of a crowd whose first few rows consisted simply of die-hard fans. The set opened with the catchy Lovesick, taken from their 2012 debut In Love. From that point on the set alternated between songs from In Love as well as 2015’s Happy People, which sees the band head down a poppier path. The likes of funk-heavy Lost On Me, anthemic Money and proggy set closer World Pleasure all featured, yet the highlight of the show came courtesy of Bloodshake, its infectious riffs inciting dancers all around the tent. Peace haven’t had much luck making it in Holland, yet their popularity could just be on the rise following a set at one of Holland’s most renowned festival.
6. TWIN ATLANTIC
Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic also took to Stage 4, performing an hour-long set on second day of the festival. The promotional campaign accompanying new studio album Great Divide is almost at an end, with the band now ploughing through Europe for a few more festivals before they head back into the studio. Frontman Sam McTrusty’s vocals were on top form all night, the emotional intensity in some songs thus resonating extremely well with the crowd. Although the tent was by no means packed, McTrusty was still happy that it was their “biggest ever crowd for a Dutch show”. Set closer and former Dutch radio megahit Heart & Soul received the best reaction of the show, with its addictive guitar line and electric drums making way for a massive chorus. In Scotland, Twin Atlantic are big enough to comfortably sell out an arena, yet on Dutch shores the band still have quite a way to go. It shouldn’t be too hard, though. This band are made for the big stages, and that’s a fact.
5. RISE AGAINST
Chicago-based punk rockers Rise Against brought a much-needed dose of heaviness to Landgraaf on the final day of the festival, taking to the 3fm Stage in front of a packed field. Their set, which spanned their whole career thus far, drew in highlights such as Collapse (Post-Amerika), Give It All and massive set closer Saviour, a song which bears a chorus so catchy and energetic that you can’t help but go crazy. And that’s exactly what the crowd did, with crowdsurfer upon crowdsurfer descending upon security and thus giving them one hell of a tough hour. Rise Against are one of very few heavier bands well and truly making their way up the rock ladder, and it’s definitely something which they worked hard to achieve. Humble frontman Tim McIlrath expressed his gratitude at various points throughout the set, proving himself a worthy leader both onstage and off.
4. FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS
Punk-meets-folk troubadour Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls brought the Sunday off to an energetic set as they powered through a 45-minute long set in the sweltering heat. Set opener Recovery saw the whole band filled with energy as Turner’s voice soared over Landgraaf, before a cover of Foo Fighters’ Everlong slightly made up for the fact that Dave Grohl and co. had to cancel their headline set. New song Get Better took a punkier direction, before I Still Believe made for a high point during the set. Turner’s voice is nigh-on flawless, even when he’s found running around stage and interacting with the crowd. Set closer Four Simple Words saw him jump into the crowd, before preceding track Try This at Home saw the whole crowd get down before jumping and dancing once the drums kicked back in. Frank Turner is not your usual ‘bloke with a guitar’, he’s far more than that. He’s a legend in the making.
3. FAITH NO MORE
Legendary American prog metallers Faith No More are a band who can’t be pigeonholed into a genre that easily. Prog metal in itself is a very broad description for a band whose heaviest songs are as borderline absurd as their ballads are sickly sweet. The Mike Patton-fronted group, whose billing was unusually low for a band of such stature, took to the flower-covered stage as they kicked into the brooding Motherfucker. “Get the motherfucker on the phone” sang the crowd enthusiastically as Patton emerged with a megaphone. Smash hit Epic appeared later on, receiving the best crowd reaction of the set before classic Commodores cover Easy made for a mass sing-a-long. There was onstage banter aplenty, particularly between Patton and keyboardist Roddy Bottom, whose discussions about yoga caused the crowd to laugh a lot. Faith No More aren’t legends for no reason, just look at their back catalogue. A band whose music spans such a wide variety of genres that still have as much relevance in 2015 as they did in 1989 is a band who deserve to be massive. Faith No More are a perfect example of this musical relevance, which is just as encapsulating as their personal nonchalance. They’re easy, just like Sunday morning.
2. ROBBIE WILLIAMS
Saturday headliner Robbie Williams was originally considered a rather unorthodox choice for topping the bill, particularly considering the so-so state of his most recent output. Having said that, though, the world-renowned Williams is a man of many talents. His 20-song headline set demonstrated all of them, with the whole set being filled with hit upon hit. Williams took to the stage in front of 70,000 people just after 10pm, his set kicking off with the energetic Let Me Entertain You. An encouraging video message preceded the song as his band made their way onstage, with the blonde-haired Williams walking on to ecstatic cheers from the crowd. The funkier Rock DJ followed, making for a one-two double whammy of hits. Various covers and mash-ups made their way into the set, including a stellar rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The Dutch love Queen, which meant that the song went down extremely well as everyone sang along at the top of their lungs. Williams was quick on the ball with banter and crowd interaction, in particular when he jokingly told the crowd members under 30 his life story. A blonde girl from Breda joined him onstage during Candy, with the both standing behind an upright, digital bed which projected suggestive visuals unbeknownst to the girl. It made for a lighter moment in the set, which ended on a one-two of anthemic hits Feel and Angels. Although Williams’ most recent musical output has fallen further off of the mark, his live show has still proven that he is an incendiary performer. Williams doesn’t just play a gig, he puts on a spectacle. It may have been a surprising booking for rock-centric festival, yet it was definitely the right choice.
There aren’t many bands around right now who are as batshit crazy as Teignmouth-trio Muse. Their conspiracy theory-loving frontman Matt Bellamy, accompanied by bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard, is one of the best guitarists of modern day rock music, something which was evident for the duration of their headline set on Friday night. New album Drones has just been released, hitting the #1 spot in England, Holland and the US (the latter for the first time ever). Their set at Pinkpop opened with comeback single Psycho, its 16 year old riff causing the crowd to go absolutely mental. “I’m gonna make you, I’m gonna break you, I’m gonna make you a fucking psycho” whispered bassist Wolstenholme eerily as Bellamy led riff-laden proceedings. Older single Hysteria followed, encompassing one of the best bass lines in modern music. Its chorus saw the whole crowd jumping and singing along extremely enthusiastically, a trend which was uphold for virtually the whole gig. The riff heavy New Born was dark and gritty, before Supermassive Black Hole’s Kaoss Pad-centric improvisation demonstrated Bellamy’s eccentric guitar work. Drones single Dead Inside slowed the pace slightly, before Madness (which had to be restarted after Wolstenholme’s Kitara bass was out of tune) saw the show reach an emotional high by way of its massive outro. Older track Resistance and new instrumental jam Munich Jam were sandwiched in between the two, the former’s euphoric chorus and powerful outro making way for the latter’s drum and bass prowess, courtesy of Howard and Wolstenholme. Rare piano track Apocalypse Please remained in the piano slot for the show, encompassing a pounding piano line and eerie visuals which depicted green-coloured neighbourhoods and navy satellite screens. The Drones imagery was very much present throughout the whole show, particularly during Stockholm Syndrome’s visuals, which depicted the band as drone targets. Massive breakthrough single Plug in Baby saw the whole crowd sing and mosh along to its huge riff, before Time is Running Out went to similar lengths by means of a fuzzy bassline. New single Mercy introduced tons of confetti and streamers, adding an extra layer to the already-epic proportions this song goes to. “Show me mercy from the powers that be” declared Bellamy during the chorus, keeping in line with the concept Drones follows. The main set ended on an enigmatic rendition of Reapers, with confetti-filled black balloons being launched into the crowd during its manic outro riff. The encore break was subsequently filled by Drones skit JFK, leading straight into Uprising’s eerie stadium melodies and glam-rock drum pattern. “We will be victorious” declared Bellamy during the chorus, before the “’tits’ in Morse code” drum beat of Starlight made for one last melody-centric moment. The show ended on an extended version of 2006 single Knights of Cydonia, preceded by a staple intro of Ennio Morricone’s Man With a Harmonica courtesy of Wolstenholme on harmonica. Knights of Cydonia is a song which demonstrates everything Muse does well – bombastic riffs, menacing progression and empowering vocals. Previous albums The 2nd Law and The Resistance saw Muse go to bombastic lengths, experimenting with a variety of genres which the guitar-centric Drones (almost) completely ignores. If their Pinkpop set was anything to go by, then it’s that Muse are back at their absolute best and will remain that way for quite some time to come. Here come the drones…
Picture by Hans Peter van Velthoven
Although it will be extremely hard for Pinkpop to put on a line-up as strong as that of 2014, the 2015 edition proved that there were still plenty of highlights worth talking about. Even though the unfortunate breaking of Dave Grohl’s leg meant the band had to cancel their headline set, the festival still went on as Pharrel Williams brought the weekend to a funky close. Pinkpop 2016 takes place from 10-12 June, and you can be almost certain that Dave Grohl and co. wil be making up for their missed set this year.
Check back throughout the week for further coverage of Pinkpop 2015, including interviews with Twin Atlantic, The Deaf and John Coffey!