This weekend took me to Beekse Bergen, a safari park in Hilvarenbeek in the Netherlands for the third installment of Best Kept Secret Festival. As far as festivals go, it’s still a baby, but with what it has to offer it seems the Dutch have it down. From gourmet food and wooden floors, to wristbands that double as wallets and a keep it green recycling policy, there’s not much more you could want from a three day event. Not to mention its stages hosted acts such as the Libertines, Balthazar, A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, Royal Blood, Noel Gallagher and Alt-J, with well thought out schedules which means hardly any clashes.
But that’s not all, for example, the whole festival is cashless. Some UK and other European festivals have started operating a token system when it comes to drinks, but BKS tooks things even further. On your wristband there’s a little plastic chip, which you top up (up to 150 euros a time) and anything you buy whilst inside is done via the balance on your chip. No more scrambling for change, so more losing tokens or paper tickets, your wallet has relocated to your wrist. Which is an even better thing when you realise that the food lineup is almost as good as the music one. Wood fired pizza, smokers that boast delicious pulled pork, vegan friendly cheesecake and stuffed meatballs, it really doesn’t get much better. There’s also a massive tent run by ethically sound TOMS, where for every cup of coffee sold they donate to wateraid, complete with a lounging area that where you can sit, relax, and look out over the huge lake that sits just right of the main stage.
With such entertainment and tents as this, it’s relatively easy to forget why i’ve made it all the way to Holland in the first place, but remembering the line up quickly bring me back.
MUSIC // FRIDAY
Friday saw the likes of two-piece rockers Drenge and the scouse Circa Waves take to the main stage, entertaining crowds with their own version of indie rock, with Stage Two boasting Earl Sweatshirt, who although rocked his set, would probably have been better suited to a later show, but all in good time, as The Jesus and Mary Chain worked the second stage when it came to their set. The evening brought with it stylised folk in the shape of The Tallest Man on Earth, but The Libertines, the ones it seemed everyone was waiting for eventually took to the stage at 10:30pm.
Pete and Carl rocked up, hats and all, and as per usual they did not disappoint. If anyone was wondering what ever did become of the likely lads, I can tell you that they are back and definitely not going anywhere soon. Though last year saw them play a few shows throughout the UK and Europe, their first show of 2015 has meant that they have firmly rooted themselves as rock gods once again. Even standing in the crowd you could feel the energy radiating. With a set list as strong as it could be, including new track Gunga Gin, it was an exciting time for anyone who dare call themselves a fan of the boys in the band.
MUSIC // SATURDAY
Friday came and went and Saturday rolled on through, and with it a tiny bit of sunshine. Vibing up Stage Five were spanish rock quartet Hinds, not yet well known, but ones to watch who kept the energy high and created plenty of fun for the crowd. Belgian blues rockers Balthazar tore up the main stage, lulling us all with melodic riffs, followed shortly by The Vaccines, who are set to cement themselves in the music hall of fame with the *impending release of English Graffiti, and the legend himself Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds ending the day on Stage One with his own brand of British indie charm, not to mention a couple of Oasis tracks thrown in for good measure. But Saturday for me was all about Stage two and A$AP Rocky. Not knowing what to expect, I crammed myself into the packed tent ready and waiting for what he had to offer, and though he seemed to not pay much attention to the scheduled stage time (fifteen minutes late) he definitely put on a show, using the backdrop to play self curated clips and images that was set to the music and the whole performance. Something a little different from a hip hop show that was much appreciated.
SUNDAY // MUSIC
By the time sunday came around, the hope for sunshine had definitely evaporated as we seemed to start the day with a heavy downfall, but a bit of torrential rain never stopped me at a festival before and I wasn’t going to let it this time either. With plenty to see, the day kicked off with Wolf Alice, a london group reeling in the excitement of releasing their debut album My Love Is Cool on that day tore up the stage, swiftly followed by Gengahr and then back to the mainstage for some melodic tunes by First Aid Kit. One of the highlights of the day for me however were Royal Blood, who came on complete with extra speakers and stadium lights, just in case anyone had any doubts about the ability of the two piece to put on a show. After getting the crowd a little riled up (must say there’s been a few mixed reviews on their attitude) they ended up putting on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and the moshers in the middle seemed to agree. But coming to a Dutch festival, especially one with the vibe of Best Kept Secret, it’s clear the winners of the weekend were Sunday Headliners Alt-J. Paying back to their Dutch fans – they were bigger in Holland than they were in the UK at the beginning of their indie rock reign – the bond became apparent as they ended the festival on a massive high.
Overall, Best Kept Secret has a lot to offer. I must admit the vibe is incredibly different to anything I’ve ever been to before. A bit politer, and a lot more ‘high-end’ its perfect for anyone who likes to listen to some good bands, eat some yummy food surrounded by scenic views and a stunning lake, and lets face it, who doesn’t?