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Monday, June 1st, was yet another holiday in the Netherlands. So what better to do that get sunburned with thousands of other people listening to great music? That has been the simple, awesome idea behind PinkPop for the past 40 years.

PinkPop is one of the largest pop music festivals in the Netherlands and Europe’s longest running outdoor pop festival. It runs three days (May 30 – June 1) at Landgraaf’s Megaland festival grounds with three stages and lots of food and drink. The festival also supports a variety of charities including Oxfam and Amnesty International. This year it was sold out for the 20th year. The festival is quite accessible for non-Dutch people too. Many of the bands are internationally famous and the website has bilingual information. At the festival itself, signs are all in Dutch, but the staff, like most Dutch people, speak English.

Dan & I attended for Monday only (we missed out on Bruce Springsteen’s Saturday act), but we had a blast even though I know little about music and even less about the bands themselves.

This is the most I usually get to see of the stage.

This is usually the most I get to see of the stage.

Monday, noonish, we arrived in Landgraaf and walked to the festival grounds in time to catch Novastar on the main stage. It was a good act, but when the main singer tried to get the crowd to sing along, no one knew the words. That must have been frustrating.

Billy Talent through a sunny haze.

Billy Talent through a sunny haze.

Next we grabbed a snack using the food tickets you had to purchase at the festival (fries. mmm…) and wandered back to the 3FM-Stage where Billy Talent played their set. The set was great considering I had not heard of the band before. We’ll be looking them up in the future. The camera men who created the video on the big stage screen at the 3FM-Stage were very talented. The shots of the band and crowd were consistently dynamic. This is probably the best thing about music festivals: discovering musicians you really enjoy.

Dan took this photo. I was too short.

Dan took this photo. I was too short.

We had a busy evening planned, so we had some dinner and went to see Katy Perry in the Tent Stage. We waited for 45 minutes, but once the show started we couldn’t see anything and left early. There were no screens and the acrostics left a lot to be desired.

Fuzzy photo brought to you by digital zoom.

Fuzzy photo brought to you by digital zoom.

Leaving early was a blessing in disguise. We attended PinkPop with one of Dan’s colleagues and she raved about Anouk; a Dutch pop star. We got into the restricted VIP section for her act at the main stage and it was well worth it. Anouk has apparently been putting out hits for several years and her music was so varied that she could have been a music festival all on her own. Her songs ran the gambit of influences including hard and soft songs; pop, country, blues, rock, and country. I’m told her albums tend to have this variety too. Pretty refreshing after listening to American musicians who tend to get pigeonholed quickly.

After Anouk was the real main event: Snow Patrol. Their performance, quite frankly, rocked. The crowd was so engaged that we practically sang the songs for the band.
Jump to 4:24 on this video of the Shut your Eyes performance for a taste (video not by me). Of course you can always search PinkPop 2009 on YouTube for all kinds of videos. Snow Patrol wrapped up with three new songs and a (too?) long trippy animation sequence. Just fabulous. If all their concerts are like this, I’ll be there.

PinkPop end with a rousing rendition of the Dutch version of “Happy Birthday” and some fireworks. A great deal of money was raise for Amnesty International & Oxfam and the organizer signed a contract for PinkPop to take place in Landgraaf for another 10 years, meaning they’ll be able to celebrate their 50th anniversary in the same place.

Despite sunburns and mild dehydration (apparently this was one of the few sunny years for the festival), we’ll be back next year. And probably for all three days. With tickets to see a single, popular band so expensive these days, 75 euro per day or 140 for the entire weekend is a steal.

As always, click here for more photos from the event on my Flickr feed. We’ll be talking about PinkPop this weekend on the podcast as well.

2 Responses to “PinkPop!”

  1. Kelli says:

    That looks like it was amazing!! I’m a big fan of Snow Patrol and music in general. I still really want to get to SXSW here in the states. Love the hat!

  2. Karen says:

    Sounds like good times!! I love Snow Patrol..
    Miss you! So excited you are coming home for Christmas!! I’ll be in Pembroke for Christmas Eve too… so far away…
    Love yoU!!!