In the beautiful nature reserve Drentsche Aa, right at the outer edge of Schipborg in Drenthe, only a stones-throw away from where I live (really, I cycle past it all the time) the festival FestiValderAa is held. I found out about that last year, but missed it due to other activities so I made sure I’d be there this year.
FestivalDerAa is -like many other newer festivals- a great cultural mixture in a more relaxed atmosphere. There is music, theater, entertainment and lots of activities for kids. There’s even a ‘road of art’ (which I stupidly forgot to travel… make a point of that next year!).
The festival started on Friday and would last a glorious three days, however I only visited on Saturday. I planned to only visit and not focus on photography too much, simply enjoying a nice day out, but is it is… I can’t leave it be and got out shooting bands. It’s an addiction, I swear.
As I arrived Leendert was just finishing his set at the Koepelpodium. Didn’t get any photos from him. I made my way to the main stage where Inge van Calkar started her set. It surprised me that it had already been over two years since I last saw her. Inge has an album out, has formed a terrific band around her and has played loads of gigs in the meantime and it shows. A fantastic band and the audience was enjoying it out in the field.
Unfortunately, by the end of the gig both batteries of my camera had stopped working. So for the first time ever I raced home during a festival and got back just before the next act started. Now you could call it bad preparation, but as I hadn’t planned on being too active, I really hadn’t prepared. Now however I was fully loaded.
Next act on the main stage was Zorita, a superb sounding band that mixes pop with a bit of balkan, latin, folk and makes the whole thing utterly danceable. Unfortunately during their set it started raining. And then it started pouring. Ans the band played on only a handful of brave people defied the rain and kept on dancing even through the heaviest of downpour. It only made the concert even more memorable (however I cowered under a small roof… there’s only so much I’m willing to take).
(click image for full set)
Back at the Koepeltent another revelation was playing. A bunch of young kids named themselves Yuko Yuko and as I walked to the stage, hearing the band play Joy Division and New Order immediately sprang to mind. And they’re not even old enough to have actually been around in the time of Joy Division. Yuko Yuko sounds rock-solid and were a joy to watch.
Walking back to the main stage Wooden Saints is already on stage and is instructing the audience to raise their left hand for a Belgium score and their right hand for an Argentinian goal. As a festival-visitor arrives with both hands raised in the air, there’s hope for a 1-1 :) Wooden Saints played a gorgeous set, but I need to get going for another act.
Besides the regular sets at the Koepeltent and main stage, there are aslo a few impromptu gigs by Tenfold and I’ve been informed by weedebee of Groningen based wishfulmusic that one of them would be at the entrance of the theater-act De Noorderlingen and I hurried to get there in time, which luckily I did.
Tenfold did a fully acoustic set in a truly beautiful setting on a sandy path surrounded by heath and forest in the sun. What more can you ask for? I’ve been following Tenfold on Twitter for a while now, it was fantastic to finally be able to see her play live. Lovely songs glued together with great, humorously chats between them.
At the Koepeltent the band The Blind Roofers took to the stage with lots of bravado. A terrific attitude, great music, and strong vocals. Unfortunately the band had about the worst slot of the evening: halfway during their set the football match Netherlands vs Costa Rica was played and the gig was put on hold. Still nice set though.
The band Calgary Woods was worse of however as they were playing during the match and just about everyone wanted to see the match. The location where Calgary Woods was playing was a bit of a hike from the general festival-grounds, but was by far and large the most beautiful ever! Period.
The band was playing fully acoustically on a tractor wagon in a field (named ‘Jaap’s Landje’ with a huge field and a terrific sunset as a background. There were lights along the stream on the side and it could not have looked prettier. The band played a fantastic set ending with a glorious cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene.
Once we got back to the main festival area it was clear the match was far from over. Extra time was added and then penalties. And all the wile the last act of the evening was waiting They’d start as soon as the match was over and so every minute of extra playing time was agony. Hoping for the Dutch to win and for the band to finally be ‘allowed’ to start.
When we finally won, we rushed over to the main stage where Wende’s band opened the gig with loud beats. Everyone that fell asleep during the match was now surely awake again. Wende, lovely, fantastic Wende, brought her Last Resistance tour to festival. Another transformation (from the small clubs, to the venues to the theaters and now festivals) and it works. Again! The ecstatic audience (we won the match after all) danced and cheered. After the first song Wende enthusiastically screemed along. There was a huge smile on her face all along the concert and the band and audience lifted the concert one and one. How different it could have been if we lost… But we didn’t and with the Dutch on to the semi-finals and Wende giving such a fantastic performance picking up at the audiences vibe, the night could not have ended on a higher note then it did.
It was a long but utterly rewarding day and I’ll definitely return to the festival next year, I loved it and the location!