It's springtime in Holland, and the tulips are in bloom! I went with Lauren, her host mom Cecille and sister Marleen to the Keukenhof, a famous Dutch garden park filled with tulips, daffodils, and myriad other flora. We had a lovely day wandering through flower beds filled with tulips of every color and shape. It was almost like the garden in Alice in Wonderland...
Concerts are awesome. The only thing better than a concert is a bunch of concerts together, when you have so many choices that you have to run from one to another to try and soak up as much live music by your favorite artists as you possibly can - which is why music festivals are so amazing!
My friend and fellow exchanger Caitlin Stacy hails from Ashland, Oregon. The Pacific Northwest is not all we have in common - she has great taste in music, and we had been keeping on the lookout for good concerts all year. When we found out that some our favorite bands - Noah and the Whale, Band of Horses, Mumford and Sons, and Johnny Flynn were all playing at the same festival in Rotterdam... well, it was a match made in rock n' roll heaven and there was no way we were going to miss it.
Conveniently, Caitlin lives in Alphen aan de Rijn, which is just a half-hour train ride from Rotterdam, so I spent the weekend with her and her lovely host parents. It was the first nice weekend of spring and we sat in the garden for over three hours, in awe of the sunshine and the music-filled weekend ahead of us. Friday night bill: Johnny Flynn and Mumford and Sons. Johnny Flynn is a singer, poet and Shakespearean actor from England, and one of my favorite musicians... so the chance to see him only four days after I saw his former tour mate and other favorite musician Laura Marling was just cosmic.
That evening was definitely an adventure for the ages! Rotterdam isn't the easiest city to navigate, and armed with a poor map and the advice of a few (un)helpful citizens we managed to get very very lost and late for Johnny's set, eventually ending up across the street from a strip club before deciding we were probably not in the right neighborhood. Finally, after sprinting over four city blocks, we managed to get to the right venue... where we were told we had to go over to the office and exchange our tickets for wristbands before being let in. so we sprinted more, over to the office, waited in line for the most excruciating ten minutes of my existence (not an exaggeration) and ran back. sweating and breathing hard, we stepped into RoTown, a small bar with a wooden floor and raised stage. there were quite a few people there, but it wasn't so packed that we couldn't elbow our way to the front. which we did. we had deserved it, after all! and all that just to catch the last twenty minutes of his set was totally worth it.
The next evening went a lot smoother, what with us knowing where to go and what to do. we were right in front for Noah and the Whale, meeting up with another AFSer, Ivy, and her friend. Noah and the Whale are also British, and Laura Marling used to play with them. Everything is connected...
We also saw Band of Horses, a fantastic Seattle band whose live show was really energetic and fun. Ben Bridwell, the lead singer, was grinning and jumping around, and everyone on stage looked like they were having at least a good a time as the audience. One of the best, unexpected benefits of this year has been the access to great concerts - I have another music festival to look forward to at the end of the month! Pinkpop is the biggest music festival in the Netherlands, and as an early birthday present Henri and Paula gave me a ticket for Sunday the 30th - the lineup includes Kate Nash, Florence & the Machine (!!), Pixies (!!!) among many others... pure heaven. I can't wait!