Whereas Lowlands Festival’s opening day saw big names take control and shine, it was the weekender’s Saturday that laid a very clear focus on smaller, exciting bands. On a day which saw house duo Disclosure headline the Alpha to a crowd equally as packed as it was for Friday headliners Muse, it was the likes of Whitney and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard who both truly stood out far and wide above the rest.
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. Australian rockers Wolfmother followed on the Alpha stage, bringing new album Victorious to Biddinghuizen’s baying rock fans. Burning incense onstage as they played, Andrew Stockdale and co. hit the crowd with a barrage of anthems before set highlight White Unicorn presented fans with a new hit in the making. The set may have relied heavily on old classics, yet it was the new cuts which breathed a new sense of life and energy into a band who had worryingly descended into a near-tame existence. Wolfmother are back, and they’re ready to shout it from the top of every mountain.
Emo revivalists Sleeping With Sirens subsequently took the Bravo stage by storm not too long after, having spent a solid year transforming plain studio album Madness into a live beast which holds a candle up to its predecessors (in particular 2013’s anthemic Feel). The Kellin Quinn-fronted band may still have a home in the ‘scene’, something which the first six rows of their crowd proved, but they’re all the more determined to step outside of that box and become something bigger than what they’re perceived to be – poppy rock for teenage girls. And they overcame that presumption well, with set opener We Like it Loud seeing Quinn and co. bound themselves energetically about the stage. Fellow Madness cut Kick Me sparked similar riffage, with bassist Justin Hills the star of the show thanks to his creative facial expressions and knack for running around the stage. Early track Do It Now, Remember It Later was the first of various career throwbacks, although by the time the set came to an end an hour later it was almost as though Quinn and his band didn’t need to rely on their old tracks for much longer. The newer cuts may sound relatively different, but they still live and breathe the same air of energy that Sleeping With Sirens have possessed since the start. Following them on the same stage an hour later were pop punk heroes Sum 41, with both sets separated by a bass-heavy conjuring of the souls courtesy of Tsar B in the X-Ray tent. Once Sum 41 took to the stage, it looked like they’d pulled a crowd double that of what Sleeping With Sirens managed all set. Frontman Deryck Whibley is back from having never been gone, with fellow band members Brownsound and Cone ever-present as per usual. New album 13 Voices is due soon, although the band’s hour-long set seemed more like it relied on greatest hits than new material to keep the set flowing. New single Fake My Own Death did feature, and it carried all the hallmarks of a great Sum 41 track – riffs, a catchy chorus and brilliant closing section. Before the track, Whibley pulled four fans out of the crowd to watch the show from stageside, letting them sing along to classics like Fat Lip and In Too Deep, both of which unsurprisingly stood out. Sum 41 are back, and they aren’t afraid to conquer the world once more.
Over on the Alpha stage, some 15,000 revellers witnessed what seemed to be an absolute spectacle – Sigur Ros’ return to Biddinghuizen. A new album is currently in the works for the Icelandic trio, with their Lowlands set mainly comprising of older cuts save for set opener Oveour. The band were positioned behind a video screen for the first two tracks, with projections of astral patterns and beautiful soundscapes accompanying them. Standout track Hoppipolla may not have featured, but it didn’t take away from the group’s ability to put on absolutely mesmerising show which drew the crowd in for the duration of its 75 minutes. Once the trio put out a new record, there won’t be much stopping them as they project themselves further towards attaining cult hero status. Some may argue that they already are cult heroes, but Sigur Ros still have a long way to go before they can call themselves that with pride. 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. French electro pioneers M83 closed out the Heineken stage afterwards, presenting the crowd with new album Junk alongside a barrage of strobe lighting and boundless energy. Project leader Anthony Gonzalez has a great live vocal range, something which he presented on Do It, Try It and classic track Midnight City. Guest vocalist MAI LAN joined the band onstage during new single Go!, which is one of the best tracks released so far this year. They may have slightly slipped under the radar this time round, but M83 look like they’re definitely here to stay.
Lowlands concludes today with performances by Foals, The Last Shadow Puppets and Eagles of Death Metal.