Since 1993, Lowlands Festival in Biddinghuizen, an island three metres below sea level around an hour East of Amsterdam, has become an institution in the Dutch’s summer schedule, as well as many people from further afield. 2018 will be NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION‘s first time at the festival, but from what I’ve been told, I am very excited to experience the promised clean and efficient campsite, chilled out atmosphere and of course to get a little taste of the glamping lifestyle!
The festival offers is unique in that it offers no day passes, meaning if you are going, you are committing to a weekend of great music, comedy, theatre, film and food. At a capacity of 55,000, Lowlands tends to sell out every year, especially given the number of big headliners and diverse undercard it attracts. This year, the headliners are Kendrick Lamar, Gorillaz, N.E.R.D, The War On Drugs, Dua Lipa, James Bay, Stormzy while legends such as De La Soul, Nile Rodgers, Patti Smith, and Dropkick Murphys will also perform. While I’m very excited to see many of these acts (K dot mostly) I also love sourcing out the best talent on the smaller stages, so here are my personal Top 6 picks for Lowlands 2018!
OK, I am cheating a little with this one, as Grizzly Bear have very much established themselves as freak-folk veterans at this point, but they remain one of the most engaging and challenging indie-pop acts out there, armed with a slew of fantastic tracks in their back catalogue, perfect for a sunny evening festival set. Last year’s Painted Ruins proved the band could still hang with the best of them, with immediate anthem tracks such as Mourning Sound a sure-fire festival hit in the making. Past that though, the Brooklyn quartet always have an amazing ability to create an intriguing atmosphere while leading you down unexpected paths and peaks and troughs, as tracks like Four Cypresses or Three Rings prove. Then, of course, there’s Yet Again and the unstoppable Two Weeks which is sure to have one of the biggest singalongs of the weekend.
King Gizzard and Lizard Wizard
Trying to keep up with the 7-headed Melbourne, Australia Lizard can be quite a daunting task, the band are so prolific they released an unheralded five (5!) studio albums last year, the last of which coming on New Years Eve 2017. Fortunately, the band are such a frenetic force live that even casual fans can dip a toe in by catching them live at a festival such as Lowlands. Their psychedelic, prog-rock stylings are a wonderfully fun throwback to the 60s with updated production values, which the band nail consistently with every myriad of releases. On top of this, they are a perfect festival band to get lost in to on a sunny day, making them a must-see for any festival they play. One would assume there won’t be another album to dive into before next week, but one also never really knows with this band.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
After becoming breakout stars with last year’s The French Press E.P the (also Melbournian) Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever managed to follow up on their promise with their excellent debut full-length, this year’s Hope Downs. The band have equally been impressing audiences from across the US and Europe as well as their native Australia, and promise to be one of the most exciting up-and-coming prospects at this year’s Lowlands edition. There is a summery vibe to their sound such as on The French Press title track or recent single Talking Straight that promises to be the perfect accompaniment to the (hopefully) sunny weather.
Simon Green, better known as Bonobo, has seemingly been touring last year’s Migration LP for what feels like an eternity, but then when the reviews of both record and live show are so good, why wouldn’t you take advantage? As well as being a stand-out record from 2017, Green’s live show took on a whole other plane level of existence, by insisting his largely electronic-based music be performed by a full live band of some insanely talented musicians. Brilliant a genre electronica is and can be, it can be a tough sell to some who feel those who try and make up for it in innovative visuals, such as Flying Lotus‘s 3D Show, can sometimes lack in energy without any live accompaniment. Not the case for Bonobo, who’s band brings a real energy and connection to the crowd that allows it to stand well above many other similar acts.
Brooklynite Yaeji has become of the internet’s hottest prospects over the last year or so, on the strength of a handful of single and EP releases, leading to a nomination for BBC’s Sound of 2018. While the wait goes on for her to drop her debut full length, she has already produced a very impressive little back catalogue to play with, including an excellent cover of Drake‘s Passionfruit and her own certified banger Raingurl. Her late Friday night set will be an excellent opportunity to groove deep into the first night proper and see what tricks she has up her sleeve.
Speaking of late night grooves, Daniel Avery‘s dark masterpiece Song for Alpha is one of this year’s low-key contenders for album of the year 2018. Avery has been active especially on London’s dance scene for almost a decade now, but this is only his second full-length release, the reward of years of honing his craft both in the studio and in a live setting. Now having received a truly great record from Avery, his live show we expect with be something of a major highlight in his Saturday post-headliners nighttime slot, right in the middle of what will be an excellent weekend.
Full line-up and additional information can be found right here.