back home

The annual ritual seemed to come around earlier and earlier each year – not that we minded much. The festival shortlists were out, and the big planning game could begin. Country, city, style of music, cost, headliners: it all went into one big Google Sheet that we worked on in our lunch breaks. None came out a clear winner: not the right music, poor headliners, no acts announced yet. None, that was, until we looked in our back garden.

Who’d have thought we’d be heading back to Pinkpop? Seven years after we broke our festival duck with ‘the one you just had to go to’, all signs indicated we would be heading back. Having grown up there, I see The Netherlands as a relatively small country, its biggest festival the younger brother to the Belgian, Portuguese and Italian festivals we’d been to in previous years. But this year, it has surpassed all of them, booking the acts we want to see before anyone else could. The Red Hot Chili Peppers – reunited with John Frusciante – Guns N’ Roses, Frank Carter. No Lewis Capaldi, no Taylor Swift, no Ed Sheeran in sight. Just good, old-fashioned rock, the way it was meant to be.

Back to ‘tassen volgen’, the sheep-like following of huge backpacks that guided the way to the festival. Back to the very south of the country, where we could hardly understand the dialect. We were going back to our spiritual home. We were going back to Pinkpop.

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