Before a festival begins, there are things to do. Pack your bags, say farewell to loved ones, work out how to get there. It’s a journey, and a journey that’s up against the clock. The first acts at Down the Rabbit Hole begin at 10am (that’s if you forget the pre-party one night earlier). This is not possible; it’s too ambitious, there’s no chance – only a fool would dare. It’s not disinterest in the acts, it’s just that there’s only so far that optimism can get you. Even after you’ve left your house you’ve got to get the stop train to Wijchen(!), then a deserted local bus to the Groene Heuvels (where?), then walk to the gates, then get through security, then set up your tent, then avoid drunk Belgians, then walk to the main gate, and only then do you find the stages. A series of quadrilateral urinals, sand and drunks stand between you and the music. You see, for the rest of the year, this is just a recreation centre. It takes time to cross these sandy fields, but we don’t always have that time. Humans have things to do, OV Chipkaarts to load up, tents to set up, places to be. We also had things to do, and places to be. Sometimes the result of these things and places cannot be explained better than with a list. Because who doesn’t love a list? Here at All Things Loud we live for the self-validation which putting together a list gives us. To round off our coverage of another fantastic Down the Rabbit Hole, we’ve painstakingly analysed all of our notes in order to present you with the 25 best performances which graced Beuningen’s many stages this weekend. It wasn’t easy (it was mainly just bloody hot), but we managed. Jack Parker and Steven Morgan introduce you, act by act, to Down the Rabbit Hole’s twenty five best performances.

25 UNDERWORLD

What we said: “Saturday night headliners Underworld picked the energy back up with their nostalgic brand of dance music, transporting everyone back to the 1990s. By the time they got to Born Slippy it was impressive to see the number of people mouthing along to its stream-of-consciousness vocal line.” SM & JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

24 SKEPTA

What we said: Skepta showed the Teddy Widder stage exactly what a Shutdown is supposed to look like, tearing the ominous blue tent a new one over the course of a sweaty sixty minutes. The London grime rapper has slowly but surely become one of the most prominent names in the genre, leading the way for a brand new generation of rap and hip hop.” JP

 (c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

23 ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER

What we said: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever sounded so much more intense live than their recorded counterpart would suggest. I was fully prepared for the reverb to wash over me and take it easy, but it didn’t take long for the audience to start dancing as the band ripped through their short yet impressive back catalogue, with French Press, in particular, getting things going.” SM

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, pictured at an earlier show. (c) Jack Parker

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, pictured at an earlier show. (c) Jack Parker

22 dEUS

What we said: dEUS powering through a redux version of their critically acclaimed album The Ideal Crash was a sight to behold. The album came out twenty years ago but still sounded so modern under these circumstances. Perhaps since their age makes it harder for them to indulge in on stage acrobatics, many of the songs were punctuated with a series of dancers moving through a series of visceral moves to the songs they played. It was a nice touch and used relatively sparingly, creating something new out of something old.” SM

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

21 GRACE JONES

What we said: “It’s no secret that 80s icon Grace Jones is a bit of a diva, yet for those still unaware she did that one little thing which drives the crowd absolutely mad: show up late. Not just by a few minutes, but by a full half an hour. It’s the kind of brazen act which you can only pull off well if you’re at a level of notoriety which warrants it; luckily for Jones, she is. Donning a golden skull mask and flamboyant outfit, she kicked off the sit on a brooding rendition of Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing, a staple opener in her live shows for as long as you can remember. Jones had the entire tent in the palm of her hands for the duration of her time on stage, once again proving her worth not only as a performing musician, but also as an artiste.” JP

 (c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

20 DE STAAT 

What we said: “Nijmegen’s De Staat opened their main stage set with Down The Rabbit Hole, a song which summarizes the perfect synergy of everything this festival is about. Dressed in a silver suit, Torre Florim is a commanding frontman with a god-like presence. It’s a role he was happy to indulge in as an elevating platform lifted him above the crowd to give the entire audience a good view. Songs like Tie Me Down from their latest album Bubble Gum remind you that this is the most exciting band in The Netherlands right now. The additional backing vocals from Luwten proved as the perfect counterpoint. The whole set was so strong that the inevitable circle pit in Witch Doctor just felt like the cherry on top. Closing out the set with KITTY KITTY was the perfect ending and left you feeling that a future headline slot from the band wouldn’t be an entirely unreasonable idea.” SM

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

19 THE ROOTS 

What we said: “Many people weren’t brave enough to face the heavy rain at the main stage for The Roots, despite it being, well, The Roots. Every partially covered space saw people crammed in them, hoping for the rain to stop as The Roots kicked into jam after jam. The cameraman couldn’t get enough of Questlove, giving him disproportionate air time as the show continued. As the rain began to die down though, people flocked to the Hotot stage and the energy finally matched with what they could see on stage.” SM

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

18 ROBYN

What we said: “Robyn‘s been around for the best part of two decades, having now entered an era of fresh prominence on the back of new album Honey. Released through her own Konichiwa Records, Honey is a rebirth of sorts for the Swedish pop songstress. Taking to the Teddy Widder stage swiftly after Foals raised the bar a few hundred metres down the path, her and her live band glistened on a stage covered in angelic clouds and curtains. Old hit Dancing On My Own unsurprisingly marked for the show’s most exciting moment as a blistering With Every Heartbeat bringing the hour to an end.” JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

17 KHRUANGBIN

What we said: “Both visually and musically, Khruangbin don’t come across as the kind of band who you’d associate with the state of Texas. Surprisingly enough, though, that’s where the funky trio hail from. The band have slowly but surely crept up from within the undergrowth (in part thanks to Bonobo’s Late Night Tales), becoming a ferocious live force to be reckoned with in the process. This is something which is largely down to their enchanting live performances, which include shredding solos, synchronised dance moves and a setlist packed with noteworthy moments. Infectious Thai funk and surf rock are the main attractions here, with the Hotot field absolutely lapping it up. If Khruangbin’s status as spectacular live band hadn’t been cemented yet, then assume that it has now. They further hammered this home on memorable curtain call People Everywhere (Still Alive). Don’t sleep on this band. JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

16 DONNY BENÉT

What we said: “It is practically impossible to dislike anything Donny Benét does. The Australian funk and soul hero has carved out a nice little niche for himself over the last few years, breaking through worldwide on last year’s impeccably groovy The Don. Live, Benét is the ultimate showman, treating a packed Fuzzy Lop tent to only the very best cuts in his sprawling back catalogue. Early highlight Working Out set the tone wonderfully, incorporating airtight grooves alongside Benét’s soothing voice. Ain’t no party like a Donny Benét party.” JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

15 SAMPA THE GREAT

What we said: “It was Sampa The Great’s surprisingly early set that got us up and at them. Her jazz-infused music was the perfect thing to make you snap back in the zone, with Sampa going out of her way to get the audience coming up with her. Pitting the left side against the right as to who could join in with the song the loudest stirred an illogical sense of tribalism that saw the masses do exactly as she asked. In many ways, it’s very kind of her to name herself Sampa The Great, since it makes it clearer for the audience that the experience they are about to undertake will be great. Other artists should adopt this model, such as Matt Corby The Boring, or Lewis Capaldi The Surprisingly Bland.” SM

14 SLOWTHAI

What we said: Slowthai was a ball of aggressive energy with such intensity that the crowd could not get enough of it. There was no breaking in gently, it was straight in from the start with the energy level relentless throughout. Debut album Nothing Great About Britain is one of those records which will go down in the history of British rap for all the right reasons.” SM & JP

slowthai, pictured at an earlier show. (c) Marc Prodanovic

slowthai, pictured at an earlier show. (c) Marc Prodanovic

13 CORY HENRY & THE FUNK APOSTLES

What we said: Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles played that perfect afternoon main stage spot where at the start there’s only a handful of people, but by the end the field is packed. Their straight-up big-band funk renditions set the tone of the day, with a lot of jazz and big band elements running through the line-up. They may not do much to push the envelope and are unafraid of covering the Bee Gees in a sincere manner, but as far as early afternoon main stage bands go, they’re a great wake up call to prepare for the day ahead.” SM

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

12 VAMPIRE WEEKEND

What we said: Vampire Weekend were the perfect soundtrack to the Saturday night sunset, with their post-Rostam line-up sounding just as tight as they’ve always been. The new songs sounded amazing across the main stage field, but old cuts like Oxford Comma and A Punk got the best reactions from the packed crowd.” SM

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

11 KAMASI WASHINGTON

What we said: “This was all resolved by the devastatingly good Kamasi Washington. Stood on stage next to his father, Rickey, the whole set was a mind blowing and impressive display of musicianship crafted in songs with enough to draw you in so as not to just be purely indulgent. Such is the way with big bands, Washington felt the need to introduce each member of the band multiple times, as though worried we’d forget who they are. It seems that once a band size increases above six members, the frontman feels the need to do this. While it was very considerate for his other players, I don’t remember any of their names.” SM

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

10 PARQUET COURTS

What we said: “With this being the third time that Parquet Courts had played Down The Rabbit Hole, they’re almost becoming the house band, and it’d be a welcome thing. Kicking off with the two-punch openers of Master Of My Craft and Borrowed Time, it was a set off to a strong start. It was enough to make you almost notice one of the band members looking a bit different, with the others explaining that Sean Yeaton couldn’t play bass that night as he’d been arrested and so they’d gotten a replacement in. The majority of the set drew from their fantastic last album Wide Awake!, with the title track, in particular, getting the people dancing with abandon.” SM

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

9 JANELLE MONÁE

What we said: “The final day of Down the Rabbit Hole served as one centred on strong and empowering female pop stars. With Janelle Monáe atop the bill, it seemed like very little could go wrong. That’s because Monáe is, as we all know, a seasoned live performer with impressive live production to match. Last year’s Dirty Computer is by far her strongest release to date, making for an impressive centrepiece in a show which was full of surprises. Highlight Pynk came halfway through the energetic 75 minute set, getting the decently full field swaying in time with each and every move Monáe made. She may have raised some eyebrows when it was announced that she’d headline (over Foals, who headlined in 2014), but Monáe and her dancers ticked each and every single box in their pursuit of the perfect headline set.” JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

8 AGAR AGAR

What we said: “French duo Agar Agar are perhaps one of the most intriguing acts on Down the Rabbit Hole’s line-up this year, topping the bill on the intimate Fuzzy Lop stage as Sunday evening slowly turned into Sunday night. Vocalist Clara Cappagli’s wailed tones haunt your mind from start to an end, sounding particularly hypnotic on set highlight Prettiest Virgin and the brooding I’m That Guy. Both tracks served as centrepieces during a set which was nothing short of mesmerising.” JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

7 FOALS 

What we said: Foals had the tough task of taking on the Hotot stage right after the Dutch women’s football team suffered a heartbreaking defeat to the US. Could they cheer up the crowd? Well, of course. Frontman Yannis Philippakis is a seasoned veteran, commandeering the crowd at the click of a finer. New album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt. 1 served as the focal point of the show, with popular singles Exits and In Degrees both proving to be highlights during the show. They’re a lot slicker than Foals’ earlier output, ditching the raw intensity for a sense of wonderful danceability which earlier cuts nearly lacked. The show’s peak came on finale Two Steps, Twice, which marked one of Philippakis’ many trips over the barrier and into the crowd. He also did this during earlier tracks Inhaler and What Went Down, ending the night set in and amongst a happy crowd.”

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

6 FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES

What we said: “When the weather’s good and the opening day energy is buzzing through the crowd, you need the music to match. Fortunately, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes were on hand to do just that. Creating more heat in the Fuzzy Lop tent than most people could cope with, Frank belted out the likes of Tyrant Lizard King and Kitty Sucker with an energy that was as contagious as it was intense. Any artist who can start an audience-wide circle-pit from words of encouragement alone knows what they’re doing.” SM

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

5 EDITORS

What we said: “Grace Jones’ inability to schedule didn’t serve as that big of an issue for headliners Editors, a band whose steady growth on Dutch soil has seen them slot in nicely to the role of festival headliners. They did it at Best Kept Secret in 2016, and Lowlands in 2017, with last night marking their first appearance at Down the Rabbit Hole. Tom Smith will forever remain one of the most charistmatic frontmen in alternative rock, commandeering the stage with little to no difficulty as he and his band powered through 90 minutes of greatest hits, and a small glimpse of the future. Said glimpse came in the form of show finale Frankenstein, the mental new single which features a hook so earworm-worthy that it’ll be stuck in your head for days. With a fireworks show to boot, Editors gave Down the Rabbit Hole’s full main stage field a night to remember on the opening day.” JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

4 HENGE

What we said: “An unexpected highlight on the little Future Fuzzy Field tent was the outrageously weird Henge. Dressed as though literally from another planet, they were such a sight to behold. It was a welcome distraction from the looming dark clouds lingering overhead. Their high-concept and wild style drew the crowd in instantly, and it wasn’t long before the entire crowd were bouncing around looking simultaneously confused and happy. With so much going on, you almost don’t know where to look, and with the additional touch of two themed dancers for certain songs, it was very much an audiovisual overload. Visual gimmicks aren’t all there is to the band either; this is not novelty music. The timing of them playing In Praise Of Water with the sudden rainstorm was beautifully timed, but also a great reminder of quite how good that song is. By the end, the rain became too much, with tropical levels of water coming down on the crowd. Later that night, Henge’s leader – Zpor – met with All Things Loud for a new episode of Real Power Talk.” SM

Henge's Zpor unleashes his juices into the mouth of Underscore, who hosts the next episode of All Things Loud's Real Power Talk. (c) Jack Parker

Henge’s Zpor unleashes his juices into the mouth of Underscore, who hosts the next episode of All Things Loud’s Real Power Talk. (c) Jack Parker

3 PARCELS

What we said: “Allow us to paint a picture for you: it’s Sunday noon , and it’s the final day of Down the Rabbit Hole. Revellers slowly find themselves waking up and figuring what to do with their day, knowing full well that getting onsite at the god awful early hour of 12:30 to watch a band is probably the last thing on their hangover-infused to do list. Usually, anyone who finds themselves performing that early will understand the familiar struggle of playing to a half-full tent of weary-eyed visitors. Unless your name is Parcels, though. The Australian funk outfit made a huge impression on Down the Rabbit Hole in 2018 when they appeared on its Fuzzy Lop stage, taking on the role of Sofi Tukker’s replacement on the Teddy Widder stage this year. Taking to a packed tent(!) as the first band on is quite the achievement, something punctuated by the insanely catchy Tieduprightnow and smooth Comedown. Parcels are one of the best live bands around today, and so it comes as no surprise that their set was one of Sunday’s – and the weekend’s – best. Everything fell into its right place, just as we like it.” JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

2 THOM YORKE

What we said: “It’s not every day that you get to witness reclusive Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke in a setting as intimate as the Teddy Widder stage. On Saturday night, though, exactly this happened when he treated an overflowing tent to a very special Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes show alongside producer Nigel Godrich and visual artist Tarik Barri. Yorke’s new album ANIMA served as the focal point of the night, his eerie vocal wails echoing through the tent like an intense fever dream on a hot summer’s day. Whilst the likes of Impossible Knots and single Default set the crowd on metaphorical fire, it was Dawn Chorus which marked the set’s absolute pinnacle moment. Yorke’s voiced travelled through the tent with such sheer emotion and sonic beauty that it managed to do something very rare: silence the Dutch crowd. He even managed to break out a wry smile here and there, quite clearly a sign that the crowd’s reaction was far more heartwarming than he anticipated. Most people are used to seeing Yorke on massive stages with his Radiohead, but there was something so incredibly special and powerful about witnessing him stun a small tent with the dulcet and hypnotic tones of his far more introverted and experimental solo work.” JP

(c) Jack Parker

(c) Jack Parker

1 ROSALÍA

What we said: “The future of pop lies in Spain. More specifically, the future of pop rests in the hands of new superstar Rosalía. The Catalonian vocalist made her name a couple of years ago when she took the flamenco world by storm, subtly leaving it somewhat behind as she delved headfirst into Latin pop on last year’s El Mal Querer. Its release propelled Rosalía into the upper echelons of modern day pop music, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect when you bear in mind the successes that Latin artists have enjoyed in 2019. The choice to book her for Down the Rabbit Hole marks a bold move by the promoters to give pop music a more prominent place at ‘indie’ festivals, and it could not have worked out any better. Backed by a group of dancers, backing vocalists and a percussionist, Rosalía delivered pop perfection with the utmost swagger and assurance. Set closer MALAMENTE served as the highlight of the early evening show, cementing her status as the future Queen of Pop. Spectacular.” JP

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