Text: René Rosierse
Photos: Wim Heirbaut, Sigrid Baart, Bart van der Putten
Last week the Dutch town of Hulst in the South of the Netherlands was the place to be for everyone who enjoys a good bit of music during three-day festival Vestrock. Vestrock is quite the intimate festival but its line-up makes major festival organisers green with envy. This year’s edition saw Editors and Within Temptation headline, boosted by a great mix of emerging pop, rock, indie, dance and rap acts.
Besides plenty of national and international bands such as Nada surf, Wolfmother and The Darkness there was also room for emerging UK-based artists that aren’t that well known yet in the Netherlands. That, however, is soon going to change based on the reactions during their sets.
October drift was already part of the line-up during the 2018 version of the festival, back then they hadn’t released their debut album yet but they did leave quite the impression on the organisation, who invited them back for the 2022 edition of the festival. They came back with not only an album but with another on the way as well. All the energy they’d bottled up the past two years, and the energy to promote their debut album simply had to get out. Vestrock were the lucky ones to offer the band the stage to do so. Right from the start the band gave a full 200 percent to the audience, who obviously loved it. Their set was a well-balanced mix of Indie pop and rock songs, with the first part taken from their debut ‘Forever Whatever’, and ‘Losing my touch’ as the opening track. Halfway through the set they threw in their latest single ‘Webcam Funerals’. They played two new songs from their upcoming album ‘I Don’t Belong Anywhere’ and with the title song from their album ‘Forever Whatever’ they left the audience in great excitement. This could well be their breakthrough in the Netherlands.
Not from the UK but from Horst, a small town in The Netherlands, are The Anaesthetics. Four guys started this band ten years ago and are about to release their debut album ‘1080’ later this year. They call their repertoire Modern New Wave and have been listening and being influenced by bands such as The Cure, Interpol and Radiohead. They took their time in making their debut album which goes to show in their songs. They play a great set for a very enthusiastic crowd. Their set ends with single ‘TV Celebrity’, the most up tempo song on their set list. Chances are that they will make their way to the UK at some point in the near future and when they do, you should go and see them!
A band we unfortunately don’t see perform in the Netherlands very often is And also the trees. The band came about forty years ago, supported The Cure and released 15 albums over the years, but for some strange reason they haven’t been able to conquer the Netherlands yet… Lucky for us they were part of the line-up of this year’s Vestrock, because the people who know them or have seen them live before are all big fans. They definitely made some new fans at Vestrock. Their set opened with ‘Slow Pulse Boy’ started with just guitars, then singer Simon Huw Jones joined and finally bass and drums finished off this great opener. Through classics such as ‘Shantell’ we get a great overview of forty years And also the trees, their set ends with a beautiful version of ‘Virus Meadow’.
Ist Ist is another one of those bands who are still working on making a name for themselves in the Netherlands. It’s the first time that the band from Manchester plays in Europe, Vestrock has the privilege and this won’t be forgotten. It is a very sunny afternoon and the band is performing in a small chapel built on the festival site. A perfect location but also a very warm one. Fortunately this doesn’t stop the audience from coming and enjoying the post punk and new wave influenced songs of Ist Ist. The set is equally based on the albums ‘Architecture’ and ‘The Art Of Lying’. Ist ist will be back in The Netherlands for a small tour in September and these shows are already sold out. Looks like we’re ready for Ist Ist.
The band that probably left us most impressed is York-based alternative pop outfit The Howl & the Hum. Already making their name in the UK, The Netherlands are soon about to follow. Sam Griffiths is a prolific singer/songwriter and together with the band knows how to perform their songs to the best of their knowledge. Especially a song like ‘Hall Of Fame’ works well for the audience, perhaps because Sam sounds very much like Sam Fender here. Yet another band at the festival which pleasantly surprised the audience.
Headliner Editors had no trouble pleasing the audience on the first day with a set of greatest hits combined with some new songs. These songs are taken from the new album ‘EBM’ which will be released later this year. Opening with their latest single ‘Heart Attack’ it shows how much the fans also liked the new more electronic based sound of the band. It worked very well with the classics ‘The Racing Rats’ and ‘Bullets’ that followed. Tom Smith was, as always, the charismatic and enthusiastic singer we love so much. The entire crowd sang along with songs like ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ and ‘Papillon’. The set and the first day of Vestrock ends with ‘No Sound But The Wind’.
Vestrock proved once again to be the festival where everyone is welcome. World famous acts aligned with newcomers, post punk and dance were lined up perfectly after another. Compliments to the organisation and we’ll be back next year!
Vestrock 2023 will be held on 2, 3 and 4 June 2023 in Hulst (NL).