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November 2019
Live Review

Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing

Tame Impala, Billie Eilish and a reckless sense of fun dominate the Netherlands festival
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Published: 5:04 pm, August 22, 2019Words: Ali Shutler. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing

While Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds Festivals have spent the summer shuffling things around to accommodate Billie Eilish’s ascent from online sensation to global phenomenon, Lowlands has always known exactly where she needs to be.


Storming out to the Main Stage, there are crowds of people absolutely everywhere, who all start moving as soon as the looming hammer of ‘Bad Guy’ starts swinging. The heavens open but no one’s going anywhere. There are tears for the tender walk of ‘Wish You Were Gay’ and giddy rage for the promise of ‘You Should See Me In A Crown’. Inbetween, there’s jubilance, excitement and bright colours shone on topics that fester in the dark. It’s precise but unpredictable.

Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing

Which is perfect for A Campingflight To Lowlands Paradise (or just Lowlands, to its friends). An hour away from Amsterdam, the genre-agnostic festival puts good times above everything. There’s a lake, surrounded by hammocks, sit-down restaurants and an actual sauna, while just around the corner there’s the cabaret chaos of Sexyland (which features everything from magicians and poets to things that can never be put into words) and the welcoming sweatfest of Adonis. The whole festival shivers with a carefully curated chaos. The lineup is just as jagged. PUP’s gnarled punk rock inspires physical reactions and purged lungs, with the songs from this year’s ‘Morbid Stuff’ demanding the most extreme reaction while The Chats carefree anthems of getting drunk and doing whatever they feel like sit right at home with a rowdy afternoon crowd. A few hours later, that dirt-under-the-nails party turns Fontaines D.C.’s set into a celebration of all things rough and ready.

Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing

Not to be outdone, A$AP Rocky’s appearance is met with relief and joy after his recent run in with the law, but the energy he conjures quickly takes over. For the next hour, mosh pits dominate the mainstage. There’s a cover of House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ and a karaoke rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, “I’m just going to play songs I love,” he explains. It’s his own songs that hit hardest though, from the warped ‘Wild For The Night’ to the shuddering ‘A$AP Forever’.

Anderson Paak are more jump around, then push it back but the urgency is just as contagious while an epic two hour DJ set from Helena Hauff is a masterclass in tempo, raise and release. The National are a different beast. Careful, deliberate and with pin-point accuracy, their headline set on the Bravo stage is reflective and heartled. Elsewhere, Twenty One Pilots bring a condensed version of their Bandito Tour to the mainstage for a headline performance that’s more playful than you might expect, but is still defiantly them.

Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing
Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing

It’s left to Tame Impala to bring the weekend to a close. Ethereal, moody and heavy on the vibes, it’d be easy for the band to lose a crowd ready for one last blowout, but their pointed set leans into their more incendiary moments and a appearance from A$AP Rocky for ‘L$D’ and Sundress’ gives it a sense of occasion. Dancing under the lasers and with confetti raining down, the rambling strobe of ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ burns bright and underlines Tame Impala’s position at top of the pack. Turns out at Lowlands, everything is in the right place.

Precise and unpredictable, Lowlands Festival knows exactly what it's doing

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