Our first venture to a non-UK festival and pleased to report a first-class experience. 
The event was located on a Leisure/Safari Park just over the Dutch border from Belgium, a 3 hour drive from Calais. Entry to the campsite was not allowed until Friday so we travelled Thursday and stayed in a hotel at nearby Tilbourg; otherwise a middle-of-the night departure would have been required. Not a large festival, about 15,000 people which included weekend campers, weekenders staying in chalets on the park, and day visitors. First impressions were extremely favourable as the camping was just a 10-minute wheel-barrow push from the car park. The festival site was a 20 minute walk from the camp-site so nipping back to the tent during the day wasn't really an option, but this sounded better than some of the chalets which we heard were up to 45 minutes' walk away.
The main stage was on a man-made beach by a lake named, in typical direct Dutch style, 'Stage One' with the others being 'Stage Two', a sizeable big-top, 'Three' and 'Five' (smaller tents) and 'Four' an area a couple of minutes away that hosted DJ sets most of the time. Such was the quality of bands on the bill we didn't venture there at all.
This festival is well organised and the most noteworthy aspect is the chip that is part of the festival wristband. This needs to be loaded up with cash and is the only means of payment for drink, food, merch or records. This leads to minimal waiting. Even if there was a queue at the bar it moved exceedingly quickly as no cash or tokens were changing hands. One tip for any future visitors however, the chip cannot be loaded with Visa/Mastercard, just a local NL 'maestro/PIN' card. This gave us our one stressful moment of the weekend as we had to load all our cash onto our chip on day one and spend an hour Saturday morning driving 5 miles to Tilbourg to locate an ATM.
As regards catering, the standard beer on offer was 'Juliper', available in small (250 cl) or large (440cl) servings. It was interesting to observe the differing drinking habits. While I walked around most of the weekend clutching a large beer in true 'brit abroad' style, most of the locals (including groups of lads) were drinking beer in the smaller 250cl portions. After a day on Juliper I was craving some real ale or 'The Cider Bus' but the closest available here was a small selection of craft beers available on the jetty bar stretching over the lake.
We had been drawn to this festival by the excellent line up, but one experience to recount: Sunday afternoon we had fantastic band after fantastic band including (on the bounce with no time in between) new band Gengahr, 2014 favourites Alvvays and the fantastic Mew. So having been taken to such a high I truly thought the Royal Blood set later on would be a perfunctory viewing of this much hyped band - but it took us to a yet further high, a reminder why we do this stuff.
And so to the bands:
Metz (Stage Two) - Raucous guitar tunes from Canada
Drenge (One) - This band have matured over the last 18 months, and whilst still technically a two-piece brothers Eoin and Rory were today accompanied a third band member adding a further guitar. Shades of Parquet Courts guitars and clever lyrics grounded in Arctic Monkeys style. My favourite was ' When I put the kettle on, you put heavy metal on'


Fidlar (Two) - As we entered the tent we both wondered how come so many people in Netherlands had heard of her. As the lights went down it became amusingly evident to us this was not Stockport-based songstress Finlay !  No, this was a quite different proposition. Fidlar are a guitar band from California but were greeted like local heroes with moshing and crowd-surfing from the off. Dressed for the beach. Emo tunes spattered with heavy guitar riffs.
Klangstaf (Three) - Wandering to Stage 3 for the first time we came across this local Netherlands band. 4-piece with drummer side-on plus guitar, bass and keys. Verve-sounding tunes with prominent keys. The fact they were a local band didn't stop people talking so their delicately crafted tunes got a little lost.
Yak (Five) - 3-piece indie guitar band with occasional keys thrown in. Jim Morrison meets The Strokes. Announced their last song after just 30 minutes and went into a superb 8-minute chaotic number replete with drum solos, PA kicking and guitars strewn on the floor. Marvellous 
Eagulls (Five) - Good to see them do some new songs 'Stab In The Dark', 'Opaque' and 'Life In Reverse' which appear to signal a slight mellowing in their style. The prominent nature of George Mitchell's vocal requires the sound balance to be spot on which sadly it wasn't today (at least from where we were standing at the front).
Chet Faker (Two) - Drew a large and enthusiastic crowd for his rehashed classics
The Tallest Man On Earth (One) - this is the moniker for Swedish singer songwriter Kristian Matsson. Sounding like the love-child of Bob Dylan and Hamilton Leithauser..... with some Sam Duckworth guitar action thrown in. Despite hailing from Sweden I'm sure he announced this his first time in Europe (??).  He was accompanied by a band but the 2-3 songs he did on his own were somehow more engaging.
The Libertines (One) - Of the three headliners this weekend (the others were Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Alt-J). The Libs delivered the most vibrant top-of-the bill show by far. Libs shows are a stroll down nostalgia lane but the chemistry between Carl and Pete is truly wonderful to behold. With many music media column inches being devoted to their forthcoming new album they gave a sneak peak by playing single Gunga Din.  A defining band of the indie-age; great to see them on such good form.

Rhodes (Three) - A wonderful sound. Hearing David Rhodes' vocal I suspect the jury would be out as to whether it was male or female. He was complemented with a four-strong band on drums, guitar, bass and keys (with occasional Cello). Spine-tingling songs. Album is coming out late August - let's hope the production gives these songs an indie feel rather than a 'James Blunt' veneer. I believe this will be a defining point as to whether this excellent artiste falls into Radio 2 mainstream or 6Music quality.
Sue The Night (One) - Suus de Groots gave a wonderful performance with a 5-strong band in support. Did a quirky version of Heart Of Glass
Fickle Friends (Three) - Female lead (also played keys).   Poppy songs given a thumping edge through the prominent bass and drums. Got the crowd jumping at the end with a Caribou-sounding number (coincidentally called 'Swim')
Temples (One) - A wonderful band, should be sub-titled 'The Young Persons Guide To The 1970s'. Apart from the young indie dude on drums the three front-line band members have the look of rock icons: John Lennon, Ian Hunter, Dave Hill (of Slade, but with black hair). Their set swings between jangly guitars, 70's style guitar solos (on new song 'Volcano') accompanied by lyrics early Genesis fans would warm to.  If their look doesn't lay down their RnR credentials their songs certainly do
Of Mice And Men (One) -  British Sea Power playing Lanterns On The Lake covers
Death Cab For Cutie - I can't make out whether DCFC sound like everyone else or whether everyone else sounds like DCFC ?   A great set from this highly accomplished US indie band. Closing song 'I Need You So Much Closer' filled the tent with stunning sounds



Follakzoid (Five) - we were drawn in out of curiosity after hearing a few bars. This band from Chile was Kraftwerk doing Bellowhead. Certain factions of the Dutch audience were going mental. Each song lasted 8-10 minutes with chord changes 5 minutes apart. The repetition was mesmerising.... to a point. I was waiting for the moment it all fell into place - but it didn't.  As I left during the closing number I turned to a guy wildly bopping around and said ' You Dutch like some f***ing weird shit'. He smiled broadly, nodding in agreement and high-fiveing.  [Aren't festivals just wonderful !]
Balthazar (One) - Wonderful to see this Belgian 5-piece playing such a big stage. Veering between indie tunes and prog-rock time-signatures, the guitar playing was excellent throughout
Boxed In (Three) - horrifyingly appeared to be in the Keane mould in their first song, but quickly threw off any comparison as they moved into a quality dancey number for their second tune. The sound got darker during the following tracks including ' Say It All'. New number 'Searchers' reverted to a mainstream feel but plenty on show here to suggest this band could go far.
The Vaccines (
One) - A notable aspect was the large mosh-pit behind the tented sound desk. You couldn't see the stage from there (and the band wouldn't have been able to see them!). Great to see a bunch of people enjoying music for music's sake. New songs are clearly moving into the anthemic/stadium-filling direction but sounded good for all that.
Hookworms (Five) - A moody sound. Vocals/keys with two guitars, bass and drums. Highlights of the set were when the guitars got into a frenzy against the back-drop of the thumping beat.
Kindness (Five) – Best set of the weekend and unquestionably the niftiest footwork. This show was a real performance with Adam Bainbridge directing the show (as well as the off-stage huddle/pump-up in the wings beforehand). Fantastic female vocals (two of em), smiley guitarist and drummer - all leading to a show with pinpoint precision and unrehearsed feel in equal measure, with each song culminating in chaotic drumming. At one point Adam handed a cowbell and drumstick into the crowd - the couple in front of me who grabbed it soon got bored so passed it back - so I was delighted to accompany a couple of tunes from the floor.  (Well it sounded in time to me  ..... ! )

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - we caught the last three songs, a really good number off the album followed by the single (which I'm not keen on) and then Don't Look Back In Anger. The crowd seemed fairly muted but burst into life for the final number.


Pretty Vicious (Two) - Everything about this band is brilliant: their Youthfulness, their band-name, their swagger, their maturity of performance, their songs. Excellent rockin tunes throughout the set. Not in the 'Metz, North American-rock' style but 100% in the UK-indie sound reminiscent of Sex Pistols/ Ramones / Strokes / Libertines (and yes I acknowledge two of those are American) but this is a British, vibrant indie sound with a genuine punk edge.
(One) – Kerrang favourites from West Yorkshire, comfortably gracing the main stage. Didn’t draw a particularly big crowd but most of them were going wild.  I guess you either love em or you hate em.
Wolf Alice (Two) - London-based indie guitar band, being watched by Pretty Vicious from the side of the stage. Lead vocalist Ellie Rowsell's piercing voice fills the tent. Their set builds and builds to a wonderful climax. We met the band later that day in the pop-up record shop - were able to tell them that amongst our forthcoming tickets we have two gigs at Southampton Guildhall: Wolf Alice and Bob Dylan, so they're in good company ! 
Gengahr (Five) - another band I was excited to see having caught them supporting The Maccabees on recent tour. They sound even better live than on their excellent album, A Dream Outside, recently released
Mew (Two) - I was surprised to see this fantastic Danish band on so early, renowned for giving good value for money, I was curious to see how they would structure a set lasting just 45 minutes.  Suffice to say it was brilliant - liberally peppered with songs from their excellent recent release '+/-'. (Satellites, Witness, Water Slides) dovetailed with favourites from their three earlier albums. For the first time in my many excursions to see this band they didn't play Comforting Sounds, the usual set-closer; just as well as that would have taken 10 valuable minutes from this stunning set.
Alvvays (Five) - fantastic Canadian band led by beguiling vocalist Mollie Rankin. Their eponymous 2014 album was my favourite of the year so great to see them airing their tuneful songs live. Taking to the stage in the now familiar Arrival (by Abba) they proceeded to deliver a wonderful set containing three new songs too


Swim Deep (Three) - a rather odd experience. This band was not announced on the programme and we wandered in as they went into their first number not knowing who they were. I vaguely recognised the band but couldn't pinpoint them. So here we were judging the tunes on merit with no pre-conceived ideas and no influence from hype. The male vocalist had a deep speaking voice but sang mostly falsetto. Indie tunes, some verging on an emo sound but mostly guitar/keyboard based melodies. By mid set we had worked out this was a British band and this was reaffirmed near the end of the set as Wolf Alice walked in. They eventually announced their band name as they went into the last song. A refreshing experience and highly enjoyable set.
Royal Blood (One) - this much-hyped Brighton duo are a band that, through force of circumstances, we hadn't see before so they were definitely on our list. But after such an intense afternoon of exciting bands on the smaller stages, we simply felt maxed out as we strolled toward the main stage to watch them. But such is the power of rock n roll to lift us to yet higher levels.  Royal Blood delivered on every front: energy, performance, swagger and most notably their superb songs. Their 2014 album is one of those that is crammed so full of great tunes that watching them live you are convinced they've done all their strong material but they continue to deliver great song after great song. As a two piece it would be easy for them to just rock through their album but you get the real feeling they think through their performance which is duly punctuated with goading the crowd, standing on the drum kit and culminating in drummer Ben Thatcher crowd-surfing.
Sohn (Two) - gentle electro tunes that grew and grew. Accompanied with guitar and drums though barely visible through the dry ice. A quality performance.
(One) - an excellent set from this accomplished band, playing a varied selection of songs from their two albums. This band always conjure up colourful images in my head so it was interesting to see the screens either side of the stage were in monochrome for the whole set, apart from song Blood Flow when a hint of red was appropriately added. The band lined up as a four across the stage giving a Kraftwerk feel to the performance. Clinically delivered songs in classy style. 

To sum up,  a well organised event. The ticket price offers excellent value for money though this of course must be offset by the additional travel costs. But overall a festival we would commend to anybody.
Si & Sally