Q&A with Lowlands Director Eric van Eerdenburg

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With more than 50 acts confirmed and tickets on sale since on April 22. Lowlands Festival is moving ahead and scheduled to take place on August 20.- 22.2021 at Walibi Holland in Biddinghuizen.

What looks like an attempt at a comeback may also seem to follow the strategy of self-fulfilling prophecies, especially while the overall situation for festivals in Europe remains more than fragile. Most events again will remain silent this summer as Covid-19 continues to dominates daily life in most European countries. Back to ‘business as usual’ is widely suspended as lock down measures prevail, while at the same time still far too many intensive care units in hospitals are forced to fight for the lives of those whom have been infected with the virus.

28-04-2021

Nevertheless, Lowland Festival (LL) aims to send a signal, and is moving ahead to stage an event that in the best case scenario is synchronised with the speed rate of the vaccine campaign against Covid-19.

We took the chance and asked Eric van Eerdenburg a few questions by e-mail, which he kindly answered as displayed below. Even if LL will be one of the few very festivals to take place this summer in Europe, some of the answers from van Eerdenburg are infused with a kind of optimism that is currently much needed across the entire live music community in Europe.

How do you expect Covid-19 to change the live music sector?
Eric van Eerdenburg: I think it’s a bit early to say. I think that a key factor will be what will the insurers do after everybody is vaccinated. will they stop the exclusions in their insurance policies that they added by the end of the year?

We may have to comply with different standards for ventilation in clubs & venues. I do not think – once vaccination schemes are in place – audiences will be afraid. I think the demand for shows will be as big as it is always been.

Are big festivals and stadium shows the dinosaurs of live music events for the (pandemic-time) being?
No. Big shows and festivals are sold out in hours. Look at Lowlands, Leeds/Reading and others… if the talent is relevant the people will come.

European festivals are facing the second year in a row of extreme turmoil, being far away from any kind of normality. The situation for live events in Australia, New Zealand and even in China apparently seems to be better.
Are you jealous and what should be the lessons learned over here in Europe?
In Europe everyone will be vaccinated by September. The hospitals will be empty of Covid-19 patients. The death rate will be back to normal. I’m optimistic that we can return to ‘normal-normal’ within months from now.

Would say that the live music community including artists now realised how important political engagement is?
Promotors, cultural entrepreneurs, representatives of artist unions and agents have worked more closely with politicians than ever before. Also, usually competing promotors have formed alliances to speak with one voice to politicians.  I think that is good. Politicians – in our country at least – have a far better understanding of how professional we are as a sector. They have also seen how much we are missed by the audience when the whole of the cultural sector stops. I would not call it political engagement though…it’s economic self-interest to be in contact with the people that have authority over the very rules and regulations that allow you to operate the way you think is best. They must have an understanding of what you do and why you do things the way you do.

Will Lowlands 2021 also will be accessible digitally and what do you think about digital live music events in general?
Lowlands 2021 will be live. I’m very confident that that will be the case. We have a great line up and LL is sold out. All risk groups for COVID will be vaccinated, and the government should have set the world free by then. No limits on capacity will be in place and no social distancing.

There may also be a digital component to it. We learned a lot about that last year when we had a digital version only. It’s a matter of budget really. But there are some good ideas that we would like to present.

The artist agenda for Lowlands foresees the appearances of Altin Gün, Amelie Lens, Arlo Parks, AURORA, Balthazar, Bazart, Bendik Giske, Biig Piig, Caribou, Cavetown, The Chemical Brothers, Cleopatrick, Declan McKenna, Denzel Curry, Droeloe, Dry Cleaning, Eefje de Visser, Ezra Collective, Fatima Yamaha, Franc Moody, Froukje, Georgia, Goldlink, Gotu Jim, Heilung, Igorrr, Imanu, Jack Garratt, Joe & the Shitboys, Kaytranada, Kelly Lee Owens, Kevin & The Animals, KOFFEE, Liam Gallagher, Mirella Kroes, Moses Boyd, Murdock, Noisia DJ Set, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Nova Twins, Octo Octa b2b Eris Drew,  Oliver Tree, The Opposites, Orla Gartland, Palaye Royale, Pendulum Trinity, S10, shame, Sleaford Mods, slowthai, Stormzy, Typhoon, Working Men’s Club, YUNGBLUD, Yves Tumor and as a sidekick, nothing less than the world largest solar carport!

Interview: Manfred Tari