A Sauna And A Mud bath

Festival director Eric van Eerdenburg was delighted to report Lowlands selling out for the first time in three years, even if rain on the last day was so bad that some cars had to be towed out of mud by tractors.

The festival has steadily rebuilt since switching dates to avoid the U.K.’s Reading-Leeds Carling Weekend, with crowd figures increasing from 48,000 in 2003, 52,000 in 2004, 54,000 last year and on to this year’s 55,000-capacity sellout.

Although the shift means Lowlands now clashes with the U.K.’s twinned V Festivals, van Eerdenburg said the musical styles don’t overlap as much so there’s less competition to book the same acts.

Apart from a bill that included Placebo, Muse, Urban Dance Squad, and Arctic Monkeys, one of this year’s most popular attractions was The Höyry Sauna Party, a Finnish concoction of steam, music and probably vodka.

Kimmo Helisto, who owns the production company that created the sauna, and Jan Reijnders of Tallinn-based Eastern Talent Group are keen to see it become a regular on the European festival circuit. Its appearance at Lowlands, where it was pitched at the edge of the lake that the Biddinghuizen amusement park site uses for water sports, attracted a queue throughout the August 18-20 weekend.

“It can hold up to about 30 people and we were letting one person in as another came out,” van Eerdenburg said after he, a group of Mojo staffers and some newspaper and television journalists steamed up together.

No doubt enjoying a fact-finding investigation into how the Finns relax, deputy Dutch culture minister Monique Korzelius showed she can also take the heat.

On the last day, it was a question of whether the site could take the rain as some of the parking areas turned into mud baths and a few vehicles had to be hauled out.

Among the other acts enjoying the 14th Campingflight To Lowlands Paradise, to give the event its full name, were HIM, Bloc Party, Danko Jones, Orson, DJ Shadow, The Magic Numbers, and Belle & Sebastian.

– John Gammon