Best Kept Secret 2016: Day One

17th June 2016

Oddball funk and twisted pop dominates during day one of the safari park fest,

Kicking off the first day of Best Kept Secret it’s Beach Slang, and frontman James Alex (not to be confused with Alex James) has worn a tuxedo for the occasion. Bringing a saw-edged dose of scrappy, frayed rock to the Netherlands, this lot don’t so much break moulds, as they do rudely awaken ear-drums.

Across the site, meanwhile, Minor Victories layer on the endless reverb like they’re assembling filo pastry under the watchful eye of Mary Berry. There’s an intricacy, and dizzying ambition to their music; one you’d perhaps expect given each member’s respective ‘day-job bands (Slowdive, Mogwai and Editors). That said, the deceivingly sweet melodies of ‘A Hundred Ropes’ meeting headlong with plunking Kraftwerky synths, and melodrama steeped strings find serious bite.

“I love you, I love you, I love you,” simpers DIIV's Cole from Best Kept Secret's main stage, before letting rip with the band's spaghetti-weaving mesh of tight melodies. The band are Duracell bunnies today, bounding back and forth sparring with one another, and performing mid guitar solo foot high-fives (a very high scoring parkour move, don't cha know) all over the place. By now they're getting more and more at home on huge stages like these; today their confidence shows more than ever.

It's a very daunting start for Liss over in the festival's cavernous bunker stage; the whole thing is echoing and totally, eerily empty. Sauntering on stage, and cracking on regardless, the Danes start off playing to a front barrier of four. By the time 'Sorry' is out, you can't move for flailing limbs. The crowds are evidentially drawn in by the band's magnetism. Villads Tyrrestrup peppers funky proceedings with welly-filled bass plunks, grinning across at guitarist Vilhelm Strange and his fleet-footed chimings. Tobias Hansen is a machine behind the kit, and frontman Søren Holm – with all his awkward stage patter, and that unmistakable soul-drenched lisp – oozes star quality. So many exciting bands emerge filled with untapped potential. This lot have hacked the tap off the entire keg. Liss are honestly phenomenal.

Christine and The Queens is possibly the only dry person (aside from her dance troupe) on site right now, so fittingly, she's singing a hastily improvised cover of 'Singin' In The Rain'. Today Christine's brought flowers, oodles of good advice (“we can all be awkward Beyonces!”) and endlessly slick, foot-twitching, breakdance-covered onstage dance routines; she plays this show like it's the biggest stadium in the world, and she plays it without a single misstep. Flicking seamlessly between French and English, and battering all things anti-fabulous into glitter-strewn submission, there's no-one else right now with a voice as immediately distinctive as hers. Angular, sharp-shouldered, and insisting time and time again that it's ok to feel like a freak, Christine and The Queens' music is a joyous, freedom-filled celebration of one single pursuit. Being yourself. Today, the Christine in everyone assembled comes out to play.

“What do you need....” drawls a behatted Beck, stalking craftily around Best Kept's main stage, holding – bizarrely – a banana.. “I can do anything for you. A scented bath, perhaps?” he suggests. Very thoughtful of him, really.

It's fitting patter in a headline set that's firmly about entertaining a sea of pogo-bobbing ponchos, sparing no expense or greatest hit. The giant, echo-chamber blues riffs and crispy snare rolls of 'Devils Haircut' kicks off the show; a mere two songs later – wasting no time - it's the turn of 'Loser'. Unleashing self-depreciating scribbles of speak-talking nonsense, while the lights swirl around and around, there's not a single person ankle-deep in mud who isn't falling about in a dancing haze, howling along at the top of their lungs. 'Dreams' – which, lets face it, probably appears on Beck's new album – feels right at home in a gigantic mix of punch-packers, from 'Sexx Laws' to the wonky half-arsed hip-hop of 'Hell Yes'. Beck's right when he says he can do anything. Tonight brings the lot.

Photos: Emma Swann

Tags: Beck, Best Kept Secret, Festivals, Reviews, Live Reviews

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