When nine songs have been played through after eight minutes, singer Abel van Gijlswijk says, looking at the set list: „We have five A4 pages. This was the first.” In 45 minutes the Amsterdam punk band Hang Youth Pinkpop treats you to thirty-nine ferocious punk tirades in which the king (“looks like a vagabond”), Dick Benschop (of the ‘KKKLM’) and their own booking agency/Pinkpop organizer Mojo (because of the K-word : capitalism) get horribly beaten.
But there is a beautiful tribute hidden in all that raging punk violence. When Van Gijlswijk announces that “because of all those short songs everyone now has to clap above average”, guitarist Kaj Bos immediately adds: “So you have to drink a lot of water!”
That quote is a secret salute to retired festival boss Jan Smeets, who sobbed goodbye to his brainchild on Saturday evening. The man who always fatherly addressed the visitors as if they were his (grand)children (“Apply well! Drink enough. And please don’t put your driver’s license or passport under your pillow in your tent!”) was confronted by an overcrowded meadow. heartwarmingly sung to: “Thank you Jantje!”
Staying cool is impossible at this Hottest Pinkpop Ever
Yet it was not Smeets, but the blazing sun that was the main player of the 51st edition. Staying cool with code yellow was impossible at the Hottest Pinkpop Ever. The asphalt of the Limburg racecourse (recovery: griddle) was scalding hot and shade scarce. As the mercury touched 32 degrees, free water was handed out at the entrance. But the patient people who dared to brave the never-ending line had long since sweated out that required amount of fluids while waiting. Overheated spectators were regularly taken away in ambulances or on trolleys with stretchers.
Those who managed to reach the front rows could sometimes use an old-fashioned mouth cap. When the extremely melodic yet very hard hardcore band Turnstile started a circle pit on Sunday afternoon, and singer Brendan Yates also dived in, suffocating dust tornadoes rose up.
Bee British post-punk pride Idles Although the grass was still green two days earlier, people fainted there too. Like Hang Youth, the blunt, monotonously roaring pit bull Joe Talbot declared war on all fascists and homophobes in the world. With each syllable, he puked on his chest with a full fist, as if he wanted to knock his soul and bliss out of his lungs. During ‘Danny Nedelko’ – Idles’ growling tribute to “all the immigrants who make us and your country much more beautiful”, guitarist Mark Bowen, dressed in a pink flower dress, walked over the heads of the audience.
Smart people fled to the cooler, because covered Tent Stage, the only place where the scorching heat wave was still somewhat tolerable. The Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett gave a mighty performance that started out nice and slow, but in which she let her nothing-the-hand songs crackle more and more.
Nu-metal pioneers Deftones took a lead on the announced thunderstorm. During an intense show, the amps sparked and bright bolts flashed from the rear screens. Singer Chino Moreno was in top form: intensely sighing, panting, screeching, he weaved his sensitive new wave melodies through the pounding guitar violence, and finally his vocal chords screamed to the lightning the old-fashioned way.
Something broke with Eddie Vedder too: he broke his tongue during a hilarious speech that lasted no less than three sides. The Pearl Jam singer looked back on the magical Pinkpop show of “thirty years and ten days of joy” that changed everything. “I don’t even speak Dutch, but it’s a day that you never forget.”
Pearl Jam seemed intent on repeating that glorious performance in a grunge celebration in which the band virtually ignored new work. In opener ‘Even Flow’ Vedder hopped across the stage like a young deer. Pumping on his wahwah pedal, great Mike McCready blew back to life in a splitting solo fellow townsman Jimi Hendrix.
Damn, you thought after a lively performance of ‘Why Go’: it seems like 1992! That magic lasted for an hour. After that, Vedder lost himself more and more often, sipping on his wine bottle, in too long digressions, about surfing (“Are there still people from Domburg?”), a dead luthier, his famous Pinkpop jump from a camera tower, what time the sun sets in Seattle, etc.
In those many wasted minutes, the band could have easily played two or three crowd favorites (‘Black’?). And it’s cute that they wanted to ease the pain of the Rolling Stones concert that was canceled earlier this week with a cover of ‘Street Fighting Man’, but why also play Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’?
An extra shame: the show ended up being twenty minutes shorter than planned. Perhaps those “thirty years and ten days” started counting after all.
Metallica knew captivating from start to finish and Friday night flambé everyone who hadn’t scorched it with giant flamethrowers. Their masterly masterclass started at the very front on the triangular spur of the stage, where the band members were close together and surrounded by headbangers and fist swingers kicking off with the thrash metal classics ‘Whiplash’ and ‘Creeping Death’. Fire, venom, passion (and strangely enough, also: intimacy) made it seem as if a sky storming band was giving its first performance here on which everything depended. Like no other, Metallica can collectively lift a crowd and still make all fans feel like they are being treated to a private show. Besides the usual roaring moments (“Searchììììng… Seek & Destroy!!!”) even Kirk Hammett’s virtuoso guitar solos were collectively sung as if they were battle songs.
Typical Metallica: how frontman James Hetfield, after the lightning fast and biting intro of ‘Metal Militia’, dared to stop everything abruptly to casually ask the crowd: “Are you sure?” Also typically Metallica: even after 41 years, Lars Ulrich still proved to be the most inspired but also the least gifted metal drummer, who in two hours is just as wrong as he sticks his tongue out excessively – but that doesn’t matter . Because despite all the hiccups, Metallica managed to flatten Landgraaf effortlessly.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of June 20, 2022