Let’s start with saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY PUKKELPOP! Cause this year Pukkelpop is celebrating its 30th birthday.
Saturday August 22 2015 (day 3).
Colors, flags, and lots of food. That’s Pukkelpop described in a few words. Because I normally go to metal festivals, I’m used that everybody is wearing black band shirts. But Pukkelpop is more all-round so there’s a lot more color. Most festivals have common fast food stands like fries, pizza, hamburgers, … and sandwiches. But Pukkelpop is different. Name it and they have it. Frozen yoghurt, Ice cream, tapas, vegetarian food, … So many I can’t even remember. Yeah, they had also regular fast food and sandwiches.
No Drugs, but more sex. Pukkelpop really wanted to make sure that there were no drugs on the festival, but I’ve never heard so many artists (and even the announcer) make so many sexual puns.
So I arrived in Kiewit (where Pukkelpop takes place) and had to walk to camping B. Camping A is across the festival, but on the Pukkelpop website I already read that camping B was a bit further. So I expected like a 15 minute walk. Then after passing campsite A, 10 minutes later was a sign that said campsite B. So I thought ‘That’s not so bad’. I entered and after 10 minutes of walking I thought that it was quite a long walk, still thinking I was almost there. After 20 minutes I thought I ended up in a maze where the road you had to take was highlighted, so you couldn’t get lost. After 30 minutes I started to ask the people (there were 2 or 3 crew members on almost every turn in the highlighted maze road) if I was almost there. And their answer: Still 15 more minutes of walking. So that was the trickiest route to a campsite I’ve ever seen. A 45 minute walk through the forest of Kiewit. I was happy I took a train earlier so I was still pretty early at the festival. After that I asked how long I still had to walk, the crew people on the next corners were starting to put motivational notes on the sideline. It was pretty funny. When I finally arrived at campsite B after my 45 minute walk, I had a laugh with the friendly security guards and got my camping bracelet. I put on my tent and started the nice 45 minute walk back to the festival. Because I was pretty early (around 12 O’clock) there weren’t any cues so I could walk straight on to the festival. After I got my festival bracelet, I went to check out the festival site. It’s huge. It’s about 50 football fields big. So within 1 hour I got myself a tattoo sleeve and buttons with my own picture on it. There were lots of things you could do beside enjoy the music. You could get a picture taken and send it to your e-mail address or at another stand you could get your picture taken and put it on a button. You could also personalize your own hat by choosing the text you wanted on it. Also you could fish for Coca Cola bottle’s, win a smartphone by running up a slippery hill and throw balls at the right numbers within 30 seconds, and you had a huge carousel. That’s something different than a Ferris wheel.
After I checked out some of the many side animations, I went to the main stage to see The Subways. They played some of their hit songs like ‘Good Times’, ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘Kiss Kiss Bang’ and ‘It’s A Party’. At the end of their show, lead singer Billy Lunn wanted to be closer to the fans and started crowdsurfing.
Then it was up to All Time Low. They started with ‘Satellite’, a more slow song and the first track of their new album, so that didn’t really get the crowd in the mood. But after that one song, they got the whole crowd at their feet. Lead guitarist Jack Barakat showed his funny and energetic side and didn’t stand still for a second. He literally used the whole stage. The interaction with the crowd was huge. Lead singer Alex Gaskarth read some signs from the crowd and replied to them. Jack saw an inflatable whale in the crowd and said that he wanted it on stage. And he got it on stage. He played guitar while riding Free Willy. All Time Low released their new album this year called ‘Future Hearts’. They promoted it well on stage by playing ‘Satellite’, ‘Something’s Gotta Give’, and ‘Runaways’. They also played hit songs ‘Weightless’, ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’ and ‘Time Bomb’, the song they closed their show with. And to make it a day not to forget, they invited some fans up on stage. It was really an awesome show. Later that day I got a chance to say hi to Jack, he’s a really nice guy.
Next up were The Sore Losers. They’re a Belgium band, so they were talking in Dutch. Personally I never like bands talking in their own language the whole time. There are always people on festivals who don’t speak the language of the country they’re in. Also lead guitarist Cedric Maes is the first guitarist who I see playing Gibson and Fender guitars. But he got the Fender Strat from playing with Eric Clapton and he got to keep his guitar, so I think it’s acceptable. It was a good show, but they got a smaller crowd than All Time Low had.
The War On Drugs played before The Offspring. But to be honest, I was so excited for The Offspring that I didn’t really pay attention to them.
Then The Offspring took over the stage. With the first few songs there was something wrong with their sound, but luckily they fixed that quickly because you couldn’t really hear lead singer Dexter Holland at first. The first song they played was ‘You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid’. Funny, cause it’s the second time I’ve seen them live and there is 6 years in between the 2 times and they started with the same song. Also The Offspring is kinda predictable and they don’t really have a show, they just play. And for some reason that’s awesome and that gets the crowd pumped. Songs you can expect every show are their number one hit songs ‘Come Out And Play’, ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’, ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ and ‘Self Esteem’. As soon as you hear ‘Self Esteem’ you know the show’s over. I like that. You know when you can give it all because it’s the last song you can freak out to. They played continuously apart from the selfie lead guitarist Noodles took with his new selfie stick and Dexter asking once how the crowd was doing. The other songs on their set list were their latest single ‘Coming For You’, ‘Genocide’, ‘Kristy Are You Doing Ok’, ‘Want You Bad’, ‘(Can’t Get My) Head Around You’, ‘Have You Ever’, ‘Staring At The Sun’, ‘All I Want’, ‘Why Don’t You Get A Job’, ‘Hit That’ and ‘Bad Habit’. It was a nice mix between old and new songs. Normally they play only new songs but now they didn’t so that’s cool. Surprisingly they didn’t play any songs of their latest album ‘Days Go By’. I kinda expected that. I noticed that the fans were very happy with the show, but the media were really upset with them. A lot of reviews said that they were old and didn’t sound that good anymore. I agree that they don’t really have a show and the crowd basically entertains itself. But they’re definitely not too old and they still have their own old punk rock classy Offspring sound and style. So I’m definitely satisfied as a huge Offspring fan. It was an awesome show.
I left my place at the main stage and walked to The Shelter, a smaller tent. Baroness was playing there and later up In Flames would close this festival and their tour. While watching Baroness I was still zoned out from watching The Offspring live.
In Flames got me out of my zone and woke me up. Compared to Graspop, there was a much smaller crowd here. I thought the crowd wasn’t going to fit in The Shelter, but it really wasn’t that busy. Graspop is a metal festival and Pukkelpop is more all round, so that might be the reason for the smaller crowd. In Flames burned the stage and the crowd by playing classics like ‘Paralized’, ‘Take This Life’ and ‘My Sweet Shadows’. Lead singer Anders Fridén asked for crowd surfers ‘to keep the security guards busy’. He got some, but he didn’t break a record like he did at Graspop.
When In Flames finished I prepared myself for my 45 minute night walk back to my tent. While I walked out of The Shelter, Netsky finished his show at the main stage. Very nice fireworks ended the day, Pukkelpop 2015 and the festival summer. And I’m going to say it again, it was awesome.
So, I started my 45 minute walk to the camping. I have to say, there were busses to take you to the camping, but I wanted to walk anyway. That way I could take my time to think over the day and let all my memories reach and settle in my brain. And I’m happy I walked. In the last part of the route, they set up a creepy but cool scene. They were playing mysterious music and projected moving people (white light) on the trees. Like I said, it was cool, but creepy. Also just before I reached the campsite, there were those things you see with Christmas, those things who look like ice that’s melting and water is dripping off of it. It made your shadow move places very quick if you walked under it. I’m happy I walked, otherwise I wouldn’t have seen it. Though I do have blisters on my feet.
Is Pukkelpop worth going to?
Yes it is. It’s huge and it has its own style of music for everybody. Because it’s so huge, you can’t really see everything in one day. There were 8 stages (I’ve seen 2) and a lot more stuff that I didn’t get to see. But there was so much cool stuff that I did get to see and to do. I do have to say that the time schedule did suck this year. It was announced on Tuesday august 4. 16 days before the festival. The Offspring played quite early, at 19:45. Then Alt –J is playing at 21:35. Personally, I think those two should have been switched. The Offspring deserves a place more to the end of the day and maybe some more time to play. Then they planned Halestorm at the same time as The Offspring. This is also something I wasn’t really happy about. Then they let In Flames play at The Shelter. I definitely think they deserve a place at Main Stage.
Lots of food, lots of music, lots of colors and you don’t have to feel bored cause of the many things you can do. And if you do feel bored, you can just walk to campsite B and back.
I did miss signing sessions at the festival. They did a lot to keep the floor clean with the slogan ‘The festival loves you, love it back’. But it didn’t really work out that well. I think Graspop had a better way of making people recycle with their ‘Ducks of Trash’. And still, it’s a festival. The field is going to get dirty, no matter what kind of angry reviews you are writing about the festival goers or how many garbage bags you’re going to put up. They also tried ‘Green Id’. If you recycled plastic cups you could get up to 3 free drink tickets per day-ticket and up to 6 free drink tickets per combi-ticket.
Pukkelpop also had a new way of keeping drugs away from the festival. Special media forces were checking Twitter and Facebook for words that were related to drugs. Because they announced it, people were sabotaging it. It could actually have worked if they didn’t announce it.
I also expected the merch stand to be a lot bigger. They really didn’t have a lot of merch. And most of them were t-shirts. Sweaters were hard to find (not that you needed those with this weather, but still).
Because it was up to 29° out there, you could buy water for half a food/drink ticket except for 1 food/drink ticket. Believe me Pukkelpop, we music fans thank you for that.
You didn’t have to worry about anything at the camping. There were a lot of stands on the camping itself. There was a breakfast stand were you could buy fruit and a huge variety of sandwiches. There was a cigarette and a hygiene stand and there was even a second hand shop where you could bring your stuff you didn’t want anymore and were other people could buy it. You could also charge your phone at the camping. What’s also cool is that the tents that were left by people were given to homeless people.
The only negative thing is that the camping was also huge, about 20 football fields, so if you had to go to the bathroom you still had to walk another 10 minutes. So I walked my miles that day.
People who had combi-tickets almost all had camping A, so they could spare their feet and walk their miles on the festival itself. Camping A was even bigger. That one was 37 football fields.
All Time Low with fans on stage (Pukkelpop official video):
The Offspring playing Come Out And Play (recorded by me):