July 7, 2018 – July 8, 2018
If I had to describe my husband in a few words, a top phrase I would throw out would be ‘music lover’. One of the first dates we went on was to a Jimmy Buffet concert, and at the time I did not know the extent of his obsession with concert going. Since that Jimmy Buffet concert 5 years ago, we have been to over one hundred concerts together as well as several music festivals.
My first music festival was Bonnaroo 2014. This also happened to be my second time camping, and my first time not showering for three days. It was an incredible experience being immersed in the music and discovering so many artists I had never heard of before. In spite of the mid-June Tennessee heat, I also fell in love with music festivals.
The European festival season is mostly just June – July which unfortunately coincides with our busy times at work (Tyler – June, Kaitlyn – July), so last year I did not make it to a festival. Tyler was determined to go to one this year, however, and planned for the first weekend in July. Being pretty sure I would have to work the whole weekend, I opted out of purchasing a ticket. On Friday when my boss said that we wouldn’t need to come in to work on Sunday, Tyler was adamant that I would be going to the festival with him.
So I stayed at work late on Friday and got up early on Saturday to work. Tyler went to buy a tent and camping supplies and picked me up from work to head to Werchter, Belgium for the Rock Werchter Festival. Werchter is a tiny town located about 2 hours from Amsterdam, that immediately gave me Bonnaroo vibes.
The festival draws a bigger crowd than Bonnaroo at about 88,000 / day and is cramped into a lot smaller of a farm, and has a fraction of the campers, but once we arrived, I felt so much excitement. We pulled into the parking area, searched around for a while, had to make our own spot, and then carried alllll of our camping supplies about a mile away to set up camp.
Tyler purchased a tent that claimed to take 2 seconds to setup. That was not a lie, you just take it out of the bag and it pops right up. Super convenient. Once we had the campsite all settled we headed in to see some shows.
Although the festival felt a lot more crowded than others I have been to (lots of people, small space), we never had to wait in line for anything – food, drink, toilet. I think it has something to do with the fact that you have to buy tokens for everything, which makes paying a lot quicker.
First up on the docket was MGMT because Electric Feel gives me all the feels. Unfortunately it was in a tent, and once the tent was full there were red x’s above the entrance and you couldn’t get in. You had to watch the show on a screen from the outside. It just didn’t feel the same, so we decided to get a drink and head over to Jack Johnson for a good spot.
Because we got to Uncle Jack so early, we were able to go into a fenced off area at the front of the stage, where similarly to the tent they stopped letting people in when it was full. This was a great thing because we weren’t squished the whole time and could dance as much as we wanted. The only con would be that if you left, you couldn’t get back in, but that was fine because we loaded up on snacks and drinks before going in.
I have loved Jack Johnson since middle school, and his show did not disappoint. I knew almost every song he played and enjoyed it immensely. We were Sitting Waiting Wishing while making Banana Pancakes UpSide Down surrounded by Good People because we’re Better Together. An incredible show.
Post Jack, we strolled over to the craft beer tent and enjoyed a Belgian Triple while listening to some house music. The festival goers went crazy when this one song came on that I had never heard before. I guess I need to start listening to the Dutch radio more.
After Jack Johnson, we went to the next Jack, Jack White. Although I did not know very many of the songs, I was really feeling the vibes of the crowd and got into the show. He ended with Steady as She Goes, probably my favorite song. This show was more enjoyable for Tyler.
Standing up listening to music can make you very hungry. The selection of food at the concert rivaled Bonnaroo, although there was no Spicy Pie. I also appreciated that there were healthy options, like cold pressed juice and the Vegan burrito that I enjoyed. It was super lekker. Over the course of the day, we also enjoyed a thai peanut rice chicken dish and a Shawarma pita *I only ate the rice part and pita part of these two meat dishes*.
The last act of the night blew me away, Pearl Jam. Although Tyler and I had seen PJ twice before, once at Bonnaroo and once at Austin City Limits, this show spoke to me. I enjoyed every single song and sang my heart out. It made me feel so Alive.
Although I mentioned how well the festival was organized because we didn’t have to wait in line for anything, the one bad thing I will say is that it took forever to get out of the festival. I more so enjoy a festival that goes all night and you can choose when to leave, but for this festival it was over after Pearl Jam and everyone tried to leave at once. To make matters worse, I led us out the opposite entrance of where we needed to go to the campsite and we had to swim like a salmon going upstream through a river of thousands of people. And it was a long way back to our tent.
But luckily, the campgrounds weren’t too crazy and we were actually able to get more sleep than I get in a typical Bonnaroo night.
We still did wake up pretty early though, and were cleaning up the campsite by 8:30. The tent that takes 2 seconds to set up does not take 2 seconds to put away, probably more like 20 minutes of us trying to figure out how the heck to get it back in the tiny bag. We were victorious eventually, but also hungry and grumpy afterwards.
Since we were on the road so early, we decided to make a pit stop at the beach in the Netherlands that we have been meaning to check out, Scheveningen. It’s about an hour south of Amsterdam, right near Den Haag which is where the royal family lives. A funny story about Scheveningen is that it’s a really hard word to say. The Dutchies at work make fun of me whenever I try. But during World War II, it became kind of a code word since it was so hard to say. To prove to someone that you were Dutch and not German you would have to say Scheveningen because the Germans couldn’t say it right.
Despite being incredibly hard to pronounce, the beach was really nice. It was super crowded because the day was absolutely the perfect beach day, but I didn’t care. We had a spot in the sand and that is all I wanted.
From our view we could watch people bungy jump off of the crane looking thin in the picture below. Not for me.
I love how accessible everything in Europe is. Deciding last minute to drive down to Belgium for a music festival and stop at the beach on the way home is actually doable.