4 Days Off – Day 1, PukkelPop

Early Thursday morning we headed down south to PukkelPop.  If any Dutch person asks you what that is, just reply “It’s the LowLands of Belgium” and they will nod their heads in understanding.  It’s not exactly like LowLands, but it’s the best comparison we have.

Thursday also happened to be the hottest day of a hot summer.  We met up with friends, who we are also staying with instead of camping at the event, and they showed us around the terrain.  Here is the entrance (only a short wait in line).

And is DB and friends in our first few minutes at PukkelPop.  It’s so nice a clean at this point!  And not yet crowded.

It was so hot.  We went from shady spot to shady spot, buying water and popcycles.  DB was in desperate search for a hat.  He forgot to bring one and was really afraid the top of his head would be fried if he didn’t cover it.  There were no hats for sale anywhere, and believe me we searched everywhere.  He finally bought a t-shirt and put it on his head.  He just looked like one of many balding guys with shirts or hankies on their heads.  Dutch men go bald very early and often I’ve noticed.

We did find shade in one tent where we listened to Jon Hopkins:

He makes electronic music that is intelligent, interesting and amazing.  I wanted immediately to buy a CD of his, but I wonder how it will sound in your house rather than in a dark tent with big speakers.  I’ll have to try it and find out.  I give him 9 out of 10.

While waiting for him to start I took this photo of the sound board, which was in the middle of the tent.  Kind of cool, no?  I’m liking this new camera.

We then went to another tent (hiding from the sun’s deadly rays) and heard The Big Pink.

I found their music kind of depressing, but good sound and very listenable.  7 out of 10.  While in this tent I was also playing with the camera a little.  I was sitting down, as you can see:

Yes, this is the mess left behind.  Even though a lot of people were trying to put their trash where it belonged, there are never, ever, enough trash containers around.  Never.  It always ends up like this.  After going to many festivals I’m kind of used to it now.

Back at the Main Stage, Maximo Park was playing to a small group of brave souls (or fanboys/girls) willing to stand out in the blazing sun in front of the stage.

Most of the others were sitting in the available shade.

There were a few places where people were hosing off passers by from water cans (I took advantage of that offer).  Overall, D. and I in particular were happy to have survived the sunny hot day without major sunburn nor headaches or passing out.  She’s just as intolerant of the sun as I am, so I didn’t feel like a weirdo at all.

Eventually it was time for the event of the evening and what everyone had been waiting for – the Special Guest Mystery Band!  At 8:00pm we headed over to the tent where they would play.  It was already filling up.  The Mystery Band was supposed to start at 9.  Rumor had it that the band would be the new “secret” super group Them Crooked Vultures (pretty terrible name if you ask me).   Just before we stepped into the tent I snapped this photo:

The wind blew in the clouds and it was looking pretty ominous.  I JUST missed capturing the lightening that flashed a split second later.  At 8:30pm, while we were in a packed tent waiting for music, the rain started to come down.  It rained in buckets full.  The tent became even more crowded as people tried to escape the rain.  First the sun and now the rain!

At 8:45pm the blanket was taken off the drum kit so you could see a drawing of a vulture on the bass drum.  The crowd went a little crazy.  At 9:00pm the band came out and the tent irrupted.  These guys are legends.  OK, ONE of them is a legend and the other 2 are close calls.

Dave Grohl was on drums and man does he beat the hell out of those things.  He’s a wild man.  John Paul Jones stood in front of him, looking pretty good for the years on him.  Josh Homme was in front of course on the microphone, although all of them sang at some point.  There was a fourth player, who isn’t mentioned as being part of the group in any of the articles I saw, but his name is Chris Goss (thanks to Henk Kannig for twittering that info).

The music was damn good.  It really was a blend of styles and you could hear Zeppelin and QotSA in the music.  I would have loved to have stayed in the tent and finished the set there, but it was rather full of very sweaty smelly men, all taller than me, and I couldn’t see much anyway.  We went outside the tent and listened to the last of it from outside.  It had quit raining by then and didn’t rain again the rest of the night.

Here are some photos:

What a cool thing to see these guys playing together!  If you get a chance to see them on this tour, take it.  I’m sure they will be at LowLands Saturday night for THEIR Mystery Band slot.  It’s only a rumor at this point, but I’m sure they will be band to play then.

We then went to get a little something to eat, then met up again with D. and M. to see Faith No More.  I don’t really know their music.  They started out with a beautiful cover of “Reunited” (originally by Peaches and Herb in the 70’s) wearing pastel suits and ties.  Then the jackets came off, the heavy guitars came on, and the real music began.  It was some hard stuff.  And we were too tired to take it.  By this time everything in my body ached and with the sun, then the rain, I was feeling fried then frozen.  We headed home around midnight, full of sights and sounds and hoping to get some good sleep before another day came too soon.

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