Festival Review

Left of the Dial Festival

by | Dec 5, 2022

Representing Boogaloo Radio, we headed to Rotterdam’s new Left of The Dial festival to discover new tunes, mingle with bands, and ride boats.

A 19 minute walk turned into a 10 minute sprint when I realized I was running majorly late to catch the first “Bands on a Boat”. Having just arrived in Rotterdam a few hours before, I was still taking in the city and mentally preparing for a music-filled weekend ahead. Turning up a bit out of breath, I leapt onto the boat with a minute to spare and as it swiftly sailed out onto the beautiful Nieuwe Maas river, the sun immediately came out to match the spirit of the day! Full of sweat and spilled beer, the motion of the swaying boat added to the thrilling swoops of guitar and edgy punk rock vibes the band Eades brought to their set – taking in the excitement around me, I knew this was bound to be a weekend for the books and I instantly went to get a ticket for the next boat.

Photo Credit: Elinor Haskew

There was an immediate sense of community that Left of the Dial fueled – this was a repeating comment made by everyone we met over the next two days. You couldn’t avoid strolling past a band on the street pre- or post-gig, and it was easy to strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger just to rave about the artist they should go check out next. Post-boat wandering allowed us to bump into Beige Banquet canalside, who we had just seen take the boat by storm. They were happy to indulge in a few words and a joke. Their love of the venue Rotown the night before led us there next to discover the band, O.

I was immediately in awe of the duo made up of a baritone saxophone and drums; their sound was so unique and the beats they concocted were out of this world. 

We later admired Island of Love’s ferocious hair whipping and KEG’s eye-catching trombone skills. The evening really amped up when we caught The Byker Grove Fan Club playing “Cake Shop”. There was no choice but to join in the mosh pit at the front and fully immerse ourselves in the catchy song. Lead singer Huw pointed into the crowd as everyone chanted “woof woof” – a glorious moment that almost convinced me I could be a dog person. The Perron venue’s multi-stage set up allowed us to spin around and catch the band, Peaness. More pop-y with lots of guitar hooks, it was a joyous and lively set to watch. Just in the room next door, Hotel Lux provided a sweaty stampede of music hungry fans, giving them a taste of what is to come for their upcoming album due in January. 

Photo Credit: Elinor Haskew

On to Roodkapje, we decided to check out a band we knew nothing about. Low & behold, Swedish band Vero blew us away with their coolness and floating guitar rhythms. The female trio had us so enthralled, we almost missed the next band on at De Doelen. The scene turned to a dark auditorium where deathcrash took us on an emotionally mesmerizing journey through their heavy lyricism and tantalizing sound. Our spirits lifted as we circled back to Rotown, finishing the night with Glasgow post-punk band, Humour. As soon the guitar line galloped ahead to their song “yeah, mud” I couldn’t help myself and joined in on the mosh pit. One glorious day was done, and as I fell asleep the tune of KEG’s song ‘Kids’ danced through my head.

I woke up full of excitement for day two, but the energy quickly shifted as we were met with a scolding from our elderly B&B host because we promised to be ready for a 9am breakfast…it was 11am. We rushed to eat the non-vegan ham and cheese toasties and escaped in time to make the 1pm Bands on a Boat. To our great delight, the boat was much larger than the day before! The band, Divorce, had our full attention for the whole hour. The female/male vocal interchange reminded me of a folk band, yet the drums and guitars back it with an alternative grungy sound. Their song “Checking Out”, about a murder, confirmed my love for them. We killed some time at Vessel 11, a docked ship turned restaurant/live music venue.

Here, in the sunshine, we had our first Guinness’ of the weekend in the sunshine, with The Wife Guys of Reddit band playing live in the distance on another boat – this moment alone made me fall in love with the atmosphere of Rotterdam.

It was time to continue our goal of seeing as many bands as possible. We headed to Rotown to see Teeth Machine, where we fixated on the fact that the guitarist could switch back and forth to a saxophone so seamlessly…that, and the rowdy gentleman at the front of the stage that may have had one too many beers. Off we flew back to Vessel 11 to catch Cucamaras. Thanks to some friendly bartenders, we were able to sneak our way up the front and join in on the overflowing verve of the band; their energy was truly off the walls! The front man’s sailor hat further enhanced the feeling of being in the bottom of a ship – and post-show we were warmed by the sight of a young boy getting an autograph on said sailor hat. We speedily walked to De Doelen to catch Ethan P. Flynn, where we were reminded of how much love we have for the cello. Next, we switched vibes and sped over to Roodkapje to see Kyoto Kyoto. Time stopped as they began playing and we got lost in their captivating guitar riffs, German lyrics, and all around talent of the amazing instrumentalists (including a flute!) that allowed this band to shine like no other. Moving into the next room, we had to expend the high Kyoto Kyoto put us in and we ventured onto bikes (yes, bikes!) to power Treeboy & Arc’s set. Before catching the next band, we wandered into the Post Pub, a calming mystical room meant for writing letters & postcards to friends, bands, family, and…cats? It was a perfect respite before we got to Foo, an ice cream shop, where Mush’s art-rock tunes got us dancing all over again. We, as well as everyone else it seemed, slowly made our way over to Rotown to watch Folly Group, sadly knowing it was the last performance of the night. I was captivated by the drummer / singer and by the frantic yet dance-y music the band played. 

The night ended like a Minnesotan goodbye (very long and drawn out). We bid adieu to all our new friends, but not before seeing them again at the late night chip shop. The support and community Left of the Dial curated was a beautiful sight to behold – it is something that will bring us back next year. It’s rare that something exceeds your expectations, but I’m very happy to report that Left of the Dial did just that.