Best Kept Secret Festival – Beekse Bergen Park, The Netherlands – Day 3, 21st June 2015

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

Katja Ogrin brings the curtain down of the successful Best Kept Secret Festival with coverage of day 3:

Sunday brings us a rainy, humid weather in the morning but by midday and the last big but luckily short downpour the sky clears and sun starts to shine.

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

The first order of the day is Mew playing on the second stage. Mew is a Danish alternative rock band formed in Copenhagen in 1994. They had a significant impact on the Danish indie music scene and found commercial success in 2003.  They describe their music as a balance between feeling and thinking and they are known for their thoughtful and experimental musical elements, which mix perfectly with the emotions expressed in their lyrics. This is a recipe that Mew have followed on their latest album +/-. with newer tracks like Satellites, Water Slides and My Complications slotting in seamlessly with the older songs like The Zookeeper’s Boy, 156 and Snow Brigade.  They create a truly special experience and a masterclass in both musicianship and tugging at the heartstrings and it’s not surprising that the tent if full to bursting with people who came to see them.

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

Next on the main stage are Swedish siblings Klara and Johanna Soderberg that perform under the name First Aid Kit.  As a photographer the first thing I notice is just how strikingly good looking they are, Johanna with flowing blonde hair dressed in a white lace dress and Klara the polar opposite with her dark hair dressed in a somewhat sombre black cardigan and pants. They take country, folk, pop and indie and combine them to produce songs that cover first loves, death, friendship and nature. Opening with a huge number like ‘The Lion’s Roar,’ Johanna whipping her hair back and forth, it becomes apparent that the pair are particularly impressive when it comes to their dynamic versatility because they’re as beautifully fragile as they are thunderous. They’re still unbelievably young and maybe this is what makes their passionate approach all the more convincing.

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

First Aid Kit are a difficult act to follow but I get the impression that Future Islands who take on the main stage next are up to the task. They are an American synthpop band based in Baltimore fronted by the very charismatic Samuel T. Herring .  This is one of those bands with a frontman you can’t take eyes off and it’s not because of his looks because you probably wouldn’t look twice if you saw him walking down the street but once he comes on the stage he transforms into what I can only call a ball of energy and emotions that is absolutely mesmerising to watch.  I look back over the crowd and they appear just as transfixed as I am. His dance moves are strange but heartfelt and unafraid, and it’s an absolute blast to watch him in person. His voice flies from piercing theatrical wail to death-metal gurgle-scrape and makes it sound easy and Herring’s bandmates on synth, bass and drums seem happy to let the singer remain the focus.

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

I could have easily gone home after seeing Future Islands because they were hands down the best thing I’ve seen so far at Best Kept Secret festival and I think the world would be a darker place without a band like this in it. If you get the chance to see them play live then do yourself a favour and go, preferably in as small venue as possible.

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

Still under Future Islands spell I wander towards stage two where Typhoon are due to appear next.  I have absolutely no idea who they are and reading the festival booklet where all the bands with short description are listed doesn’t help as it’s in Dutch so I don’t understand anything.  I soon learn that they are Dutch, there’s ten of them in the band including a brass section, guitars, keyboards, drummer and two frontmen who rap.  I did some online searching afterwards and found out that Typhoon is actually the name of the lead singer who is a Dutch MC and performs with a backing band.

The music is an unexpected combination of jazz, funk, soul and latin all mixed with rapping by Typhoon and another rapper on the stage with him.

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

It is difficult not to smile looking at them and I find myself bouncing about to the beat of the music whilst taking photos.  The crowd is probably the liveliest I’ve seen this weekend, jumping about with hands up in the air and following up on every move they are told to do including holding hands up to form heart shapes.

Following Typhoon on the same stage was something entirely different, Vienna based electro musician Christopher Taylor aka SOHN. On his Twitter he describes himself as ‘English not Austrian, solo not a band. Also not a girl. Part-time Jesse Pinkman lookalike’. So, now you know.

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

His work isn’t the usual sing-along music and the way he is producing and singing his songs live  on the stage is pretty spectacular.  The beautiful lighting and backdrop projections add to the overall magic of his performance and make the concert experience so intense that you forget you are standing in a crowd of people. SOHN is wearing his signature hat and cape, which makes him look a little like a preacher behind his altar of instruments, he doesn’t interact much with the audience but it’s somehow not needed as the music is all the interaction one needs.  If you like electronic music but also value good vocals then SOHN ticks all the boxes.

Best Kept Secret Festival 2015 - The Netherlands

The last headliner on Sunday night closing the festival is alt-J. I love their music but if it was up to me I would like to see something a bit more upbeat and energetic as the last performance but then again this type of music goes perfectly well with the relaxed vibe of Best Kept Secret festival, the arena is packed and all eyes are on the main stage waiting for alt-J to appear. They come on stage, all dressed in black and without acknowledging the audience in any way start playing. There is no show in a classical sense of the word, no one is jumping about, no inflated egos and no swagger to speak of.  Alt-J’s trademark is unassuming and understated and they came a long way sticking to this plan.

And so my first Best Kept Secret experience ends.  I feel slightly sad the following morning when I’m packing my tent away ready to drive back to UK but it’s also raining so perhaps that’s the sign that all good things must come to an end.

I really can’t think of anything bad to say about this festival, it’s in a beautiful setting, in fact one of the nicest I’ve been to as far as festival sites go.  It’s not too big so one doesn’t have to walk for miles to get from stage to stage (Glastonbury, anyone?), delicious food on offer and friendly, happy people everywhere.  I want to come back again.

Words and photographs: Katja Ogrin

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