“I believe the alternative music scene in the Netherlands is just great!” said Niek, one of the organizers of Incubate festival I visited this weekend in Tilburg. It indeed seems pretty great when you’re at a festival exhibiting a diverse view on indie culture as a whole, including music, contemporary theatre, film, visual arts and games.

“When Incubate started 12 years ago, the original founders of the festival just wanted to put on bands that weren’t playing in Tilburg at the time. A lot of things start with the lack of something that we want, so they though: ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do it!’. It has all begun by bringing bands of all different styles of music to our city and it grew into this festival. It’s not only music, but also theatre and games that people here can’t really visit or experience normally.”

If you go around asking people what they like the most about Incubate, almost everyone single one of them will answer “the music diversity and people”. Joris, one of the local visitors, pointed out: “Even if the band sucks, the audience will still cheer and clap for them, because they support music and appreciate the effort,”. It’s true, you can feel this good energy taking over all sixteen locations of the festival.

People who come here like to discover new music, clearly. After all, that’s one of the reasons I came as well. Niek, who’s responsible for marketing, explained to me in an interview that every year diverse, you could almost say weird, mix of people visit the event. “There are gray-haired, long-bearded man walking around the festival, head-banging heavily in their selected venues. There are people popping in and out of venues trying to see a lot of new, different things. We have a mix of 60% men and 40% women, and that’s been shifting more and more towards women – thank god, hah. We always thrive for diversity. Our regular Incubate visitor is a real music enthusiast and has a motivation to go out and see new music. There are also a lot of people that come to see only one or two bands. Like tonight, there’s a lot of people coming to see Yob, but they are here the entire day and they check out other acts as well.”

You soon realize Incubate is not just like any other festival. It stands for growth and stimulation of cutting edge cultural developments and the concept changes a bit every edition. This year brought the biggest change so far, as the festival has been split up from the whole week event into three separate weekends. The artistic director Vincent Koreman explained in The Quietus interview that spreading the festival over multiple weekends throughout the year gives them a chance to anticipate interesting developments and to book more relevant artists and acts.

Incubate kinda stole my heart away and I’m definitely not the only one. I was fascinated by the venues, bands I’ve never heard of before playing next to some legendary names, I got to meet many inspiring people, make new friends, share and gather new experiences, broaden my music knowledge and enjoy an incredible atmosphere this festival gives to Tilburg. For me, Incubate undoubtedly became the symbol of this southern Dutch city.

This festival is all about creating a community. An amazing, enthusiastic, active, forward- thinking community! It’s a great example of how music, or arts in general, connects people. I am very excited to see what the December’s edition has to offer!


(September 2016)


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