Best Kept Secret 2014 – Fashion Backward

Last weekend we went to Best Kept Secret – the music festival that began last year (we were there) and had an expanded version this year.

We showed up Friday afternoon with our tent, 7 friends and their tents, and 15,000 of our other closest friends.  We left on Monday morning, exhausted but happy and ready to do it again next year.

Of course there were bands and lots of good food, all of which you can see and hear through the very nice movies that the event themselves made. The official site is here, their youtube channel here, and you can always like them on FB.

What I want to tell you about, which I always report on from festivals, is fashion.  At festivals I spend my time listening to music and observing the crowd.  There’s always a fashion trend.  Always.  And every year it’s different.  One year at LowLands it was the huge variety of rain boots.  Last year at BKS it was jeans shorts with black tights (for girls) and long hair wore up in a top knot (for boys). Thank god those trends were hardly to be seen this year. Ugh.

Now, based on this little video, the festival itself would have you believe that the fashion trend was flowered shirts (for both sexes) and while I agree they were certainly to be seen, by far the most popular pattern was this….

Just look at this guy.  He’s the trifecta of plaids – shirt, shirt lining and backpack.  Plaid, folks, is the new festival fashion of 2014.  Back to the ’70’s of my youth, or back to the ’90’s of many other festival goer’s youth.  Be it Neil Young or Seattle grunge, plaid is hot once again.

Plaid shirts…

Plaid shorts…

Plaid accessories…

And not only plaid for boys, also plaid for girls…

And of course, plaid in the band…

I put 30 of my favorite plaid photos into an album here.  I took at least 50 photos of plaid. And then I just got tired of it and stopped.  There was too much!  Neil would have been proud.



Monday night I brought one of the pink tangled skeins to knitting night.  My friends got a hold of it.  How weird is it that we ALL find it fun and soothing to sit and untangle yarn and wind it into a ball?  They practically fought over it.

In the end they wouldn’t let me take it and go home until they had finished getting it into a ball.  I was there WAY later than usual.  Ball wound, everyone stood up to leave.  Job done!

Best Kept Secret – the secret it out!

We spent this past weekend at Best Kept Secret Festival in Beekse Bergen, just outside Tilburg. Three days of music, camping, sun, rain, food, friends, fun. This was the first year of this festival. We were all guinea pigs, but willing participants in this experiment. What’s it like to go to the inaugural year of a festival? In this case, fantastic. The organizers have had years of seeing how other festivals are organized and have taken the best of the best and tried to bring it all together on the beach of a manmade lake.

The festival web site is showing photos and clips from the event, and you can also see a lot on the 3voor12 web site. And a nice short movie that captures the event feeling very well here.

The Camping

We got to the campground early. It opened at 10am and we were there at 11am. As you can see, we thought we’d found paradise and were ready for a quiet camping experience like no other festival ever.

Four hours later, and the scenery had changed quite a bit. It became just like any other festival camping with people crammed in, tent stake to tent stake. Ah well.

At least they had thought of everything at the camping, with a camp store, plenty of showers and toilets, phone charging station, and hot cooked breakfasts available. We were usually up very early compared to everyone else (being old people you know) and didn’t have to wait in long lines for anything. Early bird gets the worm.

Friday night, however, was pretty sleepless. I’ve never in all my festival going years heard so much partying and screaming all night long. I think this was because there was no place on the festival grounds itself for people to party all night if they wanted to, so they did it in the campground instead. Bummer. It really sucked to go to the second day of the festival without much sleep.

Saturday night was marginally quieter, but I also took a sleeping pill and had my earplugs in, and that was the Best Slept Secret for me.


Food is important at a festival. At least it is for me. I appreciate having decent food choices when you are a captive audience. LowLands is famous for great food. Into The Great Wide Open also had really good food. I think this is the trend for festivals in the Netherlands since this festival also made sure to have the best festival food possible. Gourmet burgers, big BBQ’s with whole chickens and pigs on a spit, vegetarian and organic food and excellent coffee bars. K. and I decided to go into business with coffee and cakes since there were such long lines at the coffee bars. In our dreams anyway. Absolutely nothing bad to say about the food here. Only compliments to the organization.

Festival Grounds

You wouldn’t think that it’s so important to mention here, but it is, because something happened at this festival that is unique and fantastic – it was CLEAN! No trash anywhere. People put their trash in the bins. Grounds people were everywhere picking up what didn’t make it into the bins. It was such a nice change from the trash pit that other festival grounds become after only one day. This made the whole thing much more enjoyable. We aren’t toddlers who can’t pick up after ourselves. We’re adults and we should just pick our crap up. Somehow at this festival it happened. I have a theory about this, and it’s really a theory that goes for any environment where people live. We don’t actually like living poorly. If a standard is set in the first 5 minutes of coming into some surroundings, those standards will be maintained by people. Thus, if you enter an area and it’s a garbage pit, you will throw down your trash like everyone else. And the reverse is also true. If you see a place is clean, you are likely to also keep it clean. The organizers certainly made the right decisions to give us a super festival grounds.

OK, now that I’ve said the good part, here are some tips for next year to make it even better. First, MORE TOILETS! They put out more places for men to pee after the first day when there weren’t enough and men were peeing in the woods everywhere. Solved. What about the women? The queues for the toilets were just crazy long, all the time. More toilets please!

Second, tent TWO needs to be sorted out. It was too small for some of the bands playing there. We were inside when Alt-J was playing and were so packed in that it became scary full. People started to become aggressive. We left, but getting out was not fun or easy. We saw fights nearly start. The problem is that there is no space around the outside of the tent to just hang out and still hear the music. For example, at LowLands, outside Alpha you can sit on the grass on 3 sides of the tent, which hundreds of people do. That wasn’t possible at tent TWO. OK, the rain didn’t help, but still, there needs to be more space around the stage and tent for more people. Or just make the tent itself twice as large (and keep the ticket sales the same). Also, I found the acoustics at TWO pretty bad. I read that some people didn’t think it was loud enough. It was plenty loud, but just badly set up. Far too much echo and bouncing sound everywhere.


Festivals have to make money every way possible and shopping is another way. At BKS there was very limited shopping and I was just THRILLED to see that they had set up a row of Etsy shops! What a fantastic idea. Totally non-commercial and fun and interesting stuff for sale. I bought a little wallet made of tape measures. I bought it on Friday and went back through there Sunday and that shop was gone. I hope they sold out. Also, on Saturday between the camping and festival grounds there were tables set up by independent record labels and record shops selling vinyl and CDs by artists you are not likely to hear on the radio. Great idea.


There are always fashion trends at these events. Several years ago I made a little movie about the trend of the year at LowLands. This year? No movie, just photos, of girls in cut off jeans and black tights. OMG. Whoever said this was fashionable was just plain wrong. And all the girls who blindly do as they are told are just plain silly.

Fashion that’s trending up but not yet mainstream? Men with long hair wearing it up in a knot. It’s coming. Look out.


Unfortunately, the weather has a part to play in festivals. We had typical Dutch weather this weekend – a little bit of everything – sun, wind, rain, clouds. You’ve seen some photos with sun, now here are a couple of good rain photos.

You can’t do much about the weather, so let’s just move on….


Finally, the music. This is why we came, right? Right. The festival advertises itself as focusing on the music (no art installations, no movies or discussion groups, no street acts) and that it did. There were 3 stages in total. It’s a small festival and it was easy to get from one stage to the next in time to see what you wanted to see. The only time it felt crowded and full was Saturday night, but was still manageable.

Here are my picks of the weekend.

Best Boys to Keep Your Eye On – Mozes and the FirstBorn – These local guys had lots of energy and charisma and catchy tunes, all sung in English. We will be able to say “we saw them way back in 2013” some day after they make it big. The lead singer looks scarily like a young David Crosby. He also had skills.

Most Improved – tied with Bloc Party and Alt-J. Both of these bands I’ve seen before, live and live streamed, and both gave much better performances than ever before. Alt-J with a full rich sound and singing on key! Wow! Bloc Party with more energy and fantastic drummer. Too bad that Alt-J was at tent TWO instead of the main stage ONE. The should have been at ONE. It was hard to really enjoy the music when you’re busy coping with such crowds of people.

Most Surprising – Damian Rice. It amazes me that one man on a big stage with a guitar and piano can hold the attention of thousands at a festival. He did. While I thought he was going to be boring and weepy, we were actually spellbound by his voice and stories. Now I’d love to see him in a smaller venue too. I’m a new fan.

Best all round – how can you pick just one? I can’t, so my 4-way tie goes to Maccabees, Balthazar, Fuck Buttons and Suuns.

Balthazar we’ve been following since first seeing them at LowLands (I think it was 5 years ago) and we’ve seen them 5 times now. Every time they are better and better. They have a huge following in this part of the world. They are from Belgium and there were a lot of Belgians at this festival. They always play “Blood Like Wine” as their last song. It’s a thing. The last lines of the song go …”raise your glass to the nighttime….” and all the people in the audience knew it was coming so we had our glasses ready. Here’s a photo I took of everyone raising their glasses and singing along. They took a photo too from the stage and posted it on their facebook page.

So, in summary, we’ll be back next year, if we can get tickets. Crisis, what crisis? Festivals and events sell out here in minutes. We tried to get tickets to ITGWO for this year and didn’t get any. Sold out in 10 minutes. I imagine this festival will go the same way. I hope the organizers can find a way to sell tickets fairly and nicely so fans get tickets and not scalpers and bulk buyers. We will do our best to do it all again. We’re all getting older though and I think next year a group of us will try to rent vacation houses on the site rather than camp out. We need more sleep to keep up with all the bands we want to see!

(All my photos on flickr)

Oscar Weekend Recap

This last weekend was our 5th annual Parool Oscar Weekend.  You know, where you go to the Pathe de Munt movie theater at Muntplein in Amsterdam and sit for 2 full days watching back to back Oscar nominated movies.  I love it.

If you haven’t noticed, on the right side of this blog page I am now posting my Twitter feed.  During this weekend event I sent out tweets summarizing my movie review and giving each movie a score out of 10.  I’ll just expand on that a little bit here.  Warning, it’s full of spoiler alerts.  But then, you should already know how Lincoln and Argo end.

Saturday we started at 10:30am with Lincoln.  This is the movie that starred Daniel Day-Lewis, who won his 3rd Oscar as Best Actor.  I really enjoyed this movie.  It helps if you are raised in the U.S. and know a bit of the history and can relate to the story and the times.  It also helps if you are a native English speaker.  The language in the movie is not simple or easy but it is beautiful and thoughtful and lovely to listen to.  As a language lover, I really appreciated the care they used in recreating the sound of the times.  It is also so interesting to contrast politics of that era with politics of today.  In both cases it’s a dirty business.  But in both cases there is one party that is ignorant and wishes the country to remain ignorant.  What’s interesting is that those parties have switched titles over these 160-odd years.  I highly recommend the film and gave it a 9/10.

Next, with a 30 minute break in between we saw Beasts of the Southern Wild.  I really didn’t know what to expect of this movie.  The main character is a 6 or 7 year old girl who lives with her father and a few scrappy characters in a swampy island that has been abandoned by the government and society.  They are all a bit wacko.  When a big storm comes most of them leave but not the most crazy ones and this girl must stay with her father.  They end up at the end in a shelter, but then escape, and go back to the swamp where he father dies of some disease.  Some parts of the movie were touching.  Some parts were just more of the same.  It wasn’t my kind of movie really.  It went no where and didn’t seem to have a place it should go.  I gave it a 6/10.

Finally Saturday we saw Argo, yet another historical fact/fiction movie about getting Iran hostages out of Iran.  This movie was so suspenseful, even though you know how it’s going to end, that it had my stomach in knots.  The acting was good and I have to say that Ben Affleck really outdid himself as actor and director both.  And he doesn’t look half bad in a beard.  It did remind me of All the President’s Men in look and feel, which is not a bad thing.  I can see how it won best picture as everything was so real you lost sight of which parts were historical film reels and which was recent movie making.  I gave it 8/10.  It’s as well made as Lincoln, but there was something beautiful about Lincoln that got it the extra point for me.

And that’s all we saw Saturday.  We had a concert to go to in Paradiso that night so cut it short at 6pm and only 3 movies seen.  But we were back at it Sunday morning at 10:30 again!

We started Sunday morning with The Master.  After reading the synopsis I was looking forward to seeing this movie.  The first 30 minutes had me sucked in and I was really intrigued.  And then it just droned on and on and on making the same points over and over and over again.  Finally we end up in England for no apparent reason.  The movie should have been 20 minutes shorter, or found something else unique to say.  Having said all that, Joaquin Phoenix was exceptional in the lead role.  Now this is acting folks, every bit as good as Daniel Day-Lewis.  Too bad the movie was such a let down.  I gave it a 6/10.

Next up: Prometheus.  Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  And seriously bad.  This is the pre-quel to Alien and poor Ridley Scott just can’t let it go.  This movie was nominated for visual effects and that, folks, is ALL it had going for it.  Laughable science, deadly predictable script.  The very best part was the very last scene, which ties this movie to Alien.  That’s it.  About 20 seconds.  5/10.

Movie 3 on Sunday was Django Unchained.  Some people don’t appreciate Quentin Tarantino’s movies or his point of view or his humor, but I’m a fan.  Maybe you have to be a fan to be excited about seeing this movie.  I think it’s his best in years.  It was clever, funny, punchy, bloody, and never ever dull.  Jamie Foxx is perfect in the lead and Christofer Waltz won best supporting actor as the German bounty hunter.  If you like dark humor you have to go see this movie.  8/10.  Oh, one thing, here’s a tip Quentin: don’t act in your own movies.  It ain’t your forte son.

Finally, the last film for Sunday was Silver Linings Playbook.  It’s your typical dysfunctional feel good movie.  Screwed up boy meets screwed up girl, lots of screwed up stuff happens and finally they get together.  That’s the plot.  That’s it.  What makes it so entertaining are the actors and the stuff that is just crazy enough to be real and just real enough to be crazy.  You can see these people living next door to you.  You feel for them.  You root for them.  You want them to be happy.  When such a simple plot can do that to you then it’s a highly successful movie.  8/10.  Go see it.  Everyone should laugh and smile at the movies now and then.

And that’s it!  Last year we saw NINE movies, this year only 7.  Next year I’m aiming for 9 again.  I can’t wait.

Into The Great Wide Open

We spent the last weekend, actually a 4 day weekend, on Vlieland, the second of the chain of islands at the top end of the Netherlands.  This last weekend was the Into The Great Wide Open festival.

We drove to Harlingen, over the Afsluitdijk.

We took a boat across the Waddenzee to Vlieland.

We set up our tent at Lange Paal campground.

Luckily there are small trucks that carry all your stuff from Harlingen to the campground.  You are not allowed to take a car onto the island and everyone rents bikes to get around the island.  Here’s what camping looks like on Vlieland.

After we got our tent set up we hopped on our bikes and headed to the festival grounds.  Just like everyone else!

The festival officially started Friday afternoon, which is when we got there, but we heard that there were some unofficial, impromptu, gatherings and performances on Thursday night when people started to arrive.

There are 3 main areas where bands/musicians are playing, plus other areas where you can find art and activities (especially for kids).  The sports field is where the main stage was located, along with loads of food stands and a tiny ferris wheel and merchandise sales (very minimal).  A short walk from there was the Buiten (outside) stage which was set in the woods and was cozy and small.  Then, a bike ride away, up the hill near the lighthouse, was another small stage, the Vuurbuitsduin.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the weekend:

Whole pigs being roasted on a spit:

Kids running around collecting glasses.  They got 1 munt (2.50 euros) for every 20 glasses they returned.  The glasses were washed and reused all weekend.  These kids were tenacious!

It’s definitely a kid-friendly festival.  There were lots of things for them to do (besides collect glasses), such as “make your own poffertjes” (little pancakes).  There was also a place for them to make their own pizza.

Friday night we walked down to the beach.

And watched the sun set.

There was an art event on the beach earlier, but we missed it.  I did get a really nice photo of the piano though.

I love that photo!  It reminds me of Neil Young’s “On The Beach”.

We also went to the Vuurboetsduin stage late Friday night.  We didn’t like the music, but the stage and the setting was super.

Saturday afternoon was also spent on the hill, now in brilliant sunshine.

By the time Adrian Young took the stage, the place was packed.  Adrian and his band were great, and the band stay around after their set and mingled with the crowd, signing records and chatting.  It’s that kind of festival.

Back at the sport field and the main stage, things were heating up (or “hotting up” as the English say), with Alt-J:

And Balthazar (we are big fans of Balthazar):

And sake tasting (3 glasses per tasting with a nice explanation from the seller about each type of sake):

This photo was taken Sunday morning, at the Buiten stage, around 11:00 in the morning.  It was beautiful, sunny, in the trees, sitting on the forest floor drinking coffee and listening to interviews and music.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning!

Anne Soldaat being interviewed.  He sang for us afterwards.

Back to the main stage late in the afternoon and Dio was whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

Now there were turkeys on the spit:

And the sun was still shining.  How lucky were we!

Oh! I forgot to mention that we also spent some time hanging out in the sun on the dike that runs along the south side of the island.

You could see tall ships off in the distance.

And walking down from the lighthouse you could see the boats stuck in the mud of low tide.

The festival ended Sunday early evening and we made it an early evening ourselves.  I think we were laying in our sleeping bags before 10:00pm!  We were beat.  Monday morning we broke camp and loaded our stuff into the truck at the campground (after a last minute panicked search for bike lock keys stuffed into a backpack already loaded onto the truck! ok- my fault) and biked back to the harbor.  We returned the bikes and waited in the drizzling weather for our boat.  Somehow the weather had been beautiful all weekend and then started to rain the minute we left.  Talk about timing.

I haven’t talked much about music in this blog post, and music is the whole point of this festival.  Clearly from  my photos I think it’s about a whole lot more than the music!

My highlights of the weekend:  the weather, Vlieland itself – GORGEOUS, Sunday morning music and forest setting, and the great company (DB, K & P) and the festival organization in general – oh and real flush toilets!  Food highlights: Vietnamese, apple tarts, roasted pig and sake tasting. Music highlights: Janne Schra, Balthazar, Alt-J, Dirty Beaches (a little story about THAT coming up).  The negatives? Hmmm, hard to find negatives.  The food we had Sunday (old chicken and corn that wasn’t edible). That’s about it.

The festival is limited to 5,000 tickets and they plan to keep it that way.  We were lucky to get tickets.  You can only buy them online, starting at a certain date and time and they sold out within minutes.  Having a festival on Vlieland forces them to keep it small.  The island can only accommodate 8,000 people in total, including people who live there year round (about 1,100).  I really hope we can score tickets again next year.  I wouldn’t miss it!

OK, the story about Dirty Beaches.  They (a 3 person band) were playing at the small (tiny) stage across the field from the main stage.  They are from Toronto.  They play loud grating music that isn’t to everyone’s taste.  The singer looked like an Eskimo and seemed just a little crazy.  At the end of the short set he jumped off the stage and ran around hugging people in a manic fashion.  He wrapped one arm around DB and another arm around someone else and dragged them back and forth through the crowd.  Someone shouted “til hem op!” (lift him up) and they crowd surfed him around.  Finally he came to the ground and ended the set on stage.  It was during that meelee that DB’s sunglasses went flying, never to be seen again.  His good sunglasses that he bought in Chico.  Oh well.  It was funny and fun and we are now fans.

Here is a flickr set of my photos from the weekend.  I could really write up a story about each photo, but it would be too long and become boring.  You had to be there.

Walk on Water

Last night we went to see Orfeo ed Euridice (official poster above) at the Palace at Soestdijk.  This was (still is?) a royal palace, but it was/is a museum and special event place now.  The opera takes place on and in the water outside of the palace.

We were not supposed to take photos but I took a few before the performance began and sneaked a couple during the performance.  I wish I could have taken more. It was just stunning!  There was fire and water and music and singing.  The did amazing things with light and water.  Even the royal family got in on the act (you’ll have to go see it yourself if you want to know what I mean).

We got “cast and crew” discount tickets because a friend of mine plays the trombone in the orchestra.  Not only were they at a terrific discount, but they were great seats!  We were in the second row, left of center.  We thought that the performance started at 9:30 but that’s when the gates open, normally.  They vary the start time depending on the time of year and when it will be dark.  Last night the performance started just after 10pm as that’s when it was dusk.

Some photos:

I didn’t know the story in detail and was surprised that there was a happy ending.  After all the wailing and gnashing of teeth (figuratively of course) the story was saved by Queen Juliana.

I highly recommend going to see this wonderful opera production.  Even if you aren’t an opera fan, and I’m not, you will enjoy the spectacle and the surprises here and there.  You can get tickets here.  Be quick! August 8th is the last performance!

Worth the Effort

Several weeks ago we were getting up early in the morning on the weekends, setting up the computer, firing up the VPN software that faked our IP address, so that we could watch the Rugby World Cup live from New Zealand.  We watched several of the pool matches, the quarter-, semi- and final matches.  It was great and I miss it now.  Yea!  New Zealand won!

But then DB discovered American tv.  With this VPN connection we could suddenly fake web sites into thinking we live in the U.S. and the world of tv opened up to him.  Suddenly we started watching many new shows.  This is not really like us.  Normally we find a series we like, download via torrents all the episodes and watch them on the computer when we feel like it, usually one after the other in one night.  We rarely watch more than one series at a time this way.  Not any more.

We’re now watching American Horror Story, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones (see a trend here?) and Boardwalk Empire season 2.  All at the same time!  I feels like having this many knitting projects on the go at once!  Overload!

Well, not really.  I’m actually liking this but feeling a little guilty for being such a tv couch potato.  Wait.  I was one already, but now we’re making more of an effort about it.  I am liking that DB is doing the downloading and organizing it all.  It was always me doing the downloading and playing and all.

Oh, and we just finished watching the latest season of Project Runway.  And I’m still downloading and watching Grey’s Anatomy, which DB wants no part of.  That one is really my guilty pleasure.

What also has changed is that we are no longer watching all this on laptops.  We finally figured out how to plug the laptop into the tv so that the tv acts like a big second screen.  It’s fantastic!  The only down side is that we haven’t figured out how to do the sound through the tv.  The sound still comes out of the computer.  From DB’s 15″ MacBook Pro however it sounds just fine.  It’s only junk tv after all. 🙂

What we have STOPPED watching is True Blood, Justified and Breaking Bad.  True Blood just got so silly (ok, beyond my limits silly) that we couldn’t be bothered to watch the last 2 episodes of the last season.  I just didn’t care anymore what happened to Sookie.  Too bad.  And Justified – while I liked it, I just couldn’t relate to enough and couldn’t see where it was so much better than all the other cop shows.  Breaking Bad is just bad timing probably.  I do really like that show and would be happy to watch it again.  Just have to make the effort.

Watching tv from a foreign country is more effort.  We watch only what is worth the effort.

What are you watching that is worth the effort?