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Best Kept Secret festival targets next generation

Best Kept Secret festival director Maurits Westerik tells IQ the event is targeting new audiences for its landmark tenth edition this summer.

Disclosure, Justice, Paolo Nutini, PJ Harvey and St Vincent are among the acts on the bill from 7-9 June in Beekse Bergen, Hilvarenbeek, the Netherlands.

This year, promoter Friendly Fire is introducing New Generation tickets, priced €199, for people up to 21 years old. The 30% discount is being offered to combat the rising cost of living. Ticket buyers must be born on or after 8 June 2002.

“In the last couple of years, I had three interns aged between 18 and 22 and they had never been to a festival because it was so expensive for them, and I felt a little bit heartbroken about that,” explains Westerik. “When my team and I were that age, we saw all these bands performing live for the first time and it was mind-blowing, so we thought, ‘Maybe we should just do a discount on the weekend tickets for people until the age of 22 and see what happens?’

“I’m very pleased it’s been received well and people are coming down for the first time.”

“We’re not that headliner-driven anymore. It’s not all about those one-and-a-half to two-hour slots”

General weekend camping tickets cost €285 for Best Kept Secret, which was named Best Medium-Sized Festival at the 2023 European Festival Awards.

Since launching in 2013, the Dutch gathering has hosted artists including Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, The Strokes, A$AP Rocky, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Bon Iver, Kraftwerk, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Run the Jewels, Beck and The National.

However, Westerik says the BKS programme places less emphasis on headliners than in the past.

“We’re not that headliner-driven anymore. It’s not all about those one-and-a-half to two-hour slots,” he notes. “I’m trying really hard not to keep putting ticket prices up, and if all the money is going to go out to the main acts then a lot of the art, decoration and new areas will disappear, and that’s not enough for us. There’s lots to see and I feel that maybe 20% to 40% of the acts on the smallest stages will become way more popular in the future and return.

“People are coming to discover new acts and to see bands like Big Thief or Porridge Radio or Sampa the Great for the first or second time in the Netherlands, so that really drives us. We had Aphex Twin as a headliner last time and it was packed. Ticket sales are going better than last year so we feel good to go for 25,000 per day with this edition. Although, of course, Radiohead are welcome again!”

“It gets trickier on a yearly basis, because socials are taking over”

Other acts on the 2024 lineup include Vince Staples, The Mary Wallopers, Slowdive, St Paul & the Broken Bones, Jockstrap, The Mysterines, Floating Points, Viagra Boys, Omar Apollo, Amyl & the Sniffers, Libianca, Baxter Dury, CMAT and Australian duo Royel Otis, whose cover of Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Murder on the Dancefloor went viral on TikTok.

“We booked them for an area that is quite small and intimate but because of their viral hit there will be a lot more people wanting to see them,” reflects Westerik. “It gets trickier on a yearly basis, because socials are taking over. It’s not about radio or record shops anymore, or Paul Weller recommending a new band.

“Of course, an underplay feel is always good for your festival. Lizzo was [originally] booked for one of the smaller venues [in 2019] and then it went through the roof.”

While Westerik is coming up to five years in the role, the 2020 and 2021 festivals were cancelled due to the pandemic.

“It was quite a ride,” he says. “I started the job in our last pre-Covid edition in 2019, and then the whole shebang started. It was pretty rough but we managed to survive and are really back on track. It was great to build it up again and it’s going better than ever.

“There are always issues, whether it’s Brexit, war, rising steel prices – and it’s harder for artists to afford travel costs – but we’re in a good position.”

To celebrate its tenth edition, the festival is also presenting three exclusive BKS TEN events in April and May, based on its pillars of music, food and culture, visiting Muziekgieterij in Maastricht (13 April), The Goat, Rotterdam (20 April) and Pier15, Breda (3 May).


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