Best Kept Secret Festival 19th -21st June 2015, Beekse Bergen, Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands.

Review of Best Kept Secret Festival 19th -21st June 2015, originally published by Gig Junkies
Welcome to Beekse Bergen, Netherlands. Home of the Beekse Bergen, Safari and Camping Park, but also for the last three years home to the Best Kept Secret Festival (BKS), a great small and exceptionally friendly festival with a chilled out vibe.

This third BKS took place over the weekend of 19th to the 21st June 2015, with over 90 artists performing over five stages across the weekend. Stage one is the main open air stage, with stages two, three and five under canvas and stage four house a series of DJ sets across the weekend.

The eclectic line up consisted of many UK acts plus many European and US acts and a big helping of home grown local talent spanning many genres; indie, folk, hip-hop, rap, rock, electronica, etc. 

We got a friendly hug from a Dutch guy shortly after arrival at the Festival area, going out of his way to make as many people welcome. In fact, this is probably one of the friendliest festivals I’ve had the pleasure of working at. People are chatty and happy to share one of the many benches and tables in the festival areas, with plenty of conversations had with people who would sit down with us in between gigs.

The crowd, which were mostly European with a smattering of Brits abroad, were well behaved and surprisingly tidy… none of this dropping your food wrapper on the floor as you walk along. Everyone was using the bins and keeping the site tidy. The cleaning staff didn’t have a lot to do...

Talking of food, this was probably the most diverse range of food I’ve seen anywhere: yes you could get fries, but there was so much more going on, and so many healthy choices, you were certainly spoilt for choice, and the smell of food coming from the food areas was something to savour.

The only niggle for me was the payment system. The festival was set up as a cashless system (as was Download over here a few weeks back), via a tag on your wristband, but if you wanted to top up your tag using cards, the only option available was Maestro, very popular in the Netherlands, but less so back home in the UK. There was no option to use Visa or MasterCard, so it was a run into the next town to raid a cash machine so we could eat.

Camping on site is well set up for a comfortable stay. There are none of the mud tracks like at Glasto that you have to tramp through to get to the festival stages. We have tarmac paths, as the site is a fully working campsite when not being adopted by BKS, the site is easy to get around, even for wheelchair=r users, of which we saw many enjoying the festival.

Day 1

After a twelve hour journey including a cross channel ferry, we arrived at Beekse Bergen. and checked in after breaking the internet in the press office. A few hours sleep and we were off the festival park for the coverage of the evenings gigs.

US band Fidlar were the first act we got to, having arrived just a moment too late to catch Drenge. The moment Fidlar got on stage; the crowd came alive with the obligatory bottle of beer coming into the pit from the crowd. We caught up with Yak then Earl Sweatshirt, Eagulls, Chet Faker, and The Jesus and Mary Chain in a very dark low lit set, with The Libertines closing Stage One on Friday evening.

Day 2

Day Two kicks off with God Damn (the guitarist and drummer duo ), Matthew E White, Sue The Night and the wild and wonderful John Coffey. On a bright and sunny Stage One, Temples, Of Monsters and Men and Washington band, Death Cab for Cutie on stage Two. A recently reformed Ride are ably supported by an avid videographer replete with iPhone recording the set from the pit. I’d love to see the footage he got from THAT!

The Vaccines, then ASAP Rocky, the hooded rapper from Harlem entering stage to flames projected on the rear LED screen, and then running around stage so quickly you went entirely sure who was who. Saturday closer on Stage One was Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds.

Day 3

Day 3 and the final day of the Festival, opens with Pretty Vicious on Stage Two and Marmozets on Stage One giving a a spirited performance and plenty of attitude from lead vocalist Becca McIntyre.

Current darlings Wolf Alice play a good set on Stage Two, with French outfit Sunset Sons on Stage One, Danish proggy pop sounding MEW, and First Aid Kit on Stage One. I caught up with Kate Tempest rapping on Stage Three, and then Baltimore’s own Future Islands up on stage One Lead with singer Samuel Herring’s signers theatrical performance and distinctive vocal.

Typhoon had me fooled... with a name like Typhoon I was expecting a metal band... I couldn’t have been more wrong... A rapper comes on stage and chats to the audience in Dutch and then some English. Then he finishes his intro with a laugh reminiscent of Lenny Henry’s “Katanga” character... so infectious. A brass section, a couple of rappers plus guitars, keyboards and drums. Clearly, a popular band as the crowd love the upbeat party time performance. Royal Blood then rock up Stage One, and Sohn, a minimal electro with elevated keyboards on the already high stage Two, with a robed keyboard player in a very dark lit minimal ice blue set. Festival closers are Alt-J closing the festival with some chilled out music, a rather apt end to a very chilled weekend.

Overall the festival was very enjoyable with a diverse range of UK, US and European acts. The chilled out vibe and the eclectic range of acts was reminiscent of a younger version of Festival No 6 and would certainly appeal to the mature crowd. Certainly one to go back to again.

Generally speaking, the crowd behaviour was impeccable with minimal work for security to do over the course of the weekend. And there lies the rub, clearly the festival would wish to attract more UK visitors, but one of the reasons the festival atmosphere was so good was that the typical lager swilling festival yobbo wasn’t around. This Best Kept Secret of a Festival wont be a secret anymore and will quickly turn if the wrong crowd are attracted through the gates.


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