The latest addition to Holland’s festival calendar came in the form of Loose Ends, and what a debut it was for the festival. Bringing in around 3,000 punters by the ferry load to the Dutch capital, the line-up promised to bring “everything garage, punk, post-punk and new wave”. Although many acts came from further afield, including the Irish punks Fontaines D.C and NYC indie-rock trio Sunflower Bean, the excitement was really centred around the bands making waves in the Dutch scene.
The sun was beating down throughout, making it the perfect day to be outside, soaking up all those fuzz-punk vibes, and enjoy a few beers in the thirty-degree heat. The NDSM Wharf provided the perfect backdrop for the intimate festival, an industrial shipyard-turned-cultural hotspot in Amsterdam Noord.
First up, we managed to catch the latest recruit to Sports Team’s Holm Front label, Personal Trainer. The Dutch collective had to cram together on the festival’s smallest stage, making it a brilliantly tight affair. This band will be climbing the bill just like the band members climbed up their equipment during their set; two members scaled the speakers that flanked the stage, perhaps to give the rest of the band some space to move around.
Bigger stages are destined for this lot - not only because more people need to experience them, but also they physically need additional square metres to accommodate their ever burgeoning numbers. Cowbells, kazoos, guitars, keyboards, tambourines - think of an instrument, there’s probably someone playing it onstage. There’s this infectious energy that gives you the idea that a group of mates grabbed an instrument and decided to jam. The set culminated in frontman Willem Smit bellowing passionately through a megaphone, as the sound became ever more unhinged and disorderly.
There really seems to be a sense of community within this Dutch scene; members of other bands are either in the audience, or in guitarist Tender Blom’s case, onstage. It seems Sports Team want a slice of the Dutch action too, with frontman Alex Rice exclaiming “This is coming home, I feel very Dutch inside!” right before kicking into motorway madness track ‘M5’. After touring with Pip Blom and signing Personal Trainer to their label, they’re well and truly rooted in the scene, into which they are welcomed with open arms - a member of the audience hands Rice his beer, which he gladly accepts. Sports Team were at their swaggering and anthemic best, demonstrating to the Dutch crowd how English ennui can be translated into something that truly transcends language barriers. Latest single ‘Here It Comes Again’ is surely set to be the track of the summer.
We then head inside into the tent for refuge from the heat of the sun, but no such luck - the body heat from the crowd at Ploegendienst provides no respite, and we surrender to the sweat of the moshpit. When frontman Ray Fuego strips to his undies and starts chucking beers from his rider into the audience, the mosh pit steps up a notch. Although he is singing in Dutch, it’s easy to tell that Fuego is a deviously loveable frontman. It’s raw punk rock at its most contemporary - tracks such as ‘Schipol’ and ‘Borderline’ receive a roaring reaction. It’s fast paced, compacted, angsty and immediate - the perfect conditions for a heavy mosh pit.
The diversity of the Dutch scene is highlighted when we step outside again to see Lewsberg play outside. Their nonchalant demeanour is the perfect opportunity to grab a beer and take in the music without fear of getting an elbow to the face. Their crisp guitar lines buzz deliciously through the speakers, with the deadpan narration from frontman Arie van Vliet providing a welcome contrast to the other bands at the festival.
A true highlight of the day was Pip Blom. Buoyed by the reception of their debut album ‘Boat’, the band are on top form, primed for their slot at Glastonbury. The album tracks translate brilliantly live, with ‘Daddy Issues’ receiving a great reaction from the crowd. They also dropped in a few earlier tracks for good measure, such as ‘Come Home’. Their energy is truly infectious - Pip is a brilliant front woman whose vocal is intensely emotive and passionate, and their onstage demeanour is so brilliantly effortless.
If this festival doesn’t make you want to play guitar or be in a band, I don’t know what will. Here’s one very versatile word to describe the day: ‘Lekker’, meaning ‘cool’, ‘sweet’, ‘delicious’, or anything that makes you feel GOOD. And that’s exactly what Loose Ends did. Hey, now you know some Dutch!