Students
Wout (right) and Jonne are organising the festival Reconnect in De Loods Photo by Reyer Boxem

Post-Covid festival Reconnect

A party with a scientific edge

Wout (right) and Jonne are organising the festival Reconnect in De Loods Photo by Reyer Boxem
Fifteen third-year students of Arts, Culture and Media decided to organise the festival Reconnect this Thursday. Their goal is to reinstate the relationship between music lovers and artists, a relationship that the Covid pandemic came close to tearing asunder.
1 June om 10:25 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 1 June 2022
om 10:25 uur.
June 1 at 10:25 AM.
Last modified on June 1, 2022
at 10:25 AM.

Door Denise Overkleeft

1 June om 10:25 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 1 June 2022
om 10:25 uur.

By Denise Overkleeft

June 1 at 10:25 AM.
Last modified on June 1, 2022
at 10:25 AM.

Denise Overkleeft

Student-redacteur Volledig bio Student editor Full bio

One of the bands playing at the Reconnect festival is The Soy Boys, which features Wout Mulder (27), singer of the band and co-founder of the festival. The Soy Boys were making a name for themselves in the Groningen music, performing at Blokes, among others, as well parties organised by Dizkartes and SIB/AEGEE, when the pandemic hit. Their concerts were cancelled, they no longer had access to their studio, and the members couldn’t meet up anymore.

The four of us are sensitive guys, so we want that approval from the audience

Wout turned his student room into a small recording studio and spent hours at his computer. But instead of studying, he was working with music production panel and a record player. Surrounded by posters of pop legends such as David Bowie and The Rolling Stones, on his bed an acoustic guitar, which he’d bought to make it through the pandemic. This way, he could make music.

Backstage

‘But making music isn’t enough; you want people to hear what you did’, says Wout. As lead singer, he’s also the one in touch with the audience, making jokes and gauging whether people are enjoying the songs. Are they listening, dancing, singing along? ‘The four of us are sensitive guys, so we want that approval from the audience’, he says. But that’s exactly what was lacking during the lockdown.

They didn’t have much contact with other artists, either. ‘The entire music industry was silent’, says Wout. Backstage used to be a great place to be: people exchanged numbers, recommended bands, and jammed together.

Wout says this was especially important to bands just starting, as it helped them get their name out. ‘No matter how talented you are, if you don’t have any connections, you’ll never make it.’ Once people know you, it’s much easier to get booked.

Bubble

Fellow student and organiser Jonne Poels’ world had also been made much smaller by the pandemic. He’d just got the hang of going to festivals when Covid messed everything up. ‘I have so many deferred tickets for cancelled festivals and concerts. I can’t even remember them all.’ Now that things are finally back on, he’s cautiously excited.

It’s set up like a house party, like a stepping stone to larger events

His life during the pandemic was very isolated, says Jonne. ‘My social bubble was incredibly small.’ He barely saw his friends, and as a result, many of his friendships petered out. The longer he went without seeing someone, the harder it became to contact them again. ‘Then there’s the whole matter of how you’re supposed to talk to people.’

That was just the trouble he had reconnecting with people he actually knew; talking to strangers was an entirely different ballgame. ‘Going out takes some getting used to again.’ It’s especially the crowds that he’s grown unaccustomed to. ‘Getting a beer at the bar means wading through this whole crowd of peopel I just get overstimulated.’

Dancing and relaxing

That’s exactly what they kept in mind organising their own festival. According to Jonne, it’s the perfect place to get used to being in a crowd again: ‘It’s set up like a house party. That way, it’s like a stepping stone to larger events, like concerts.’ The festival will have different rooms. In some, people are invited to dance, while in others, they can relax and have a conversation on a couch.

Even the festival’s music genres are focused on people getting back in touch with each other. At the start of the afternoon, visitors will be treated to indie music. ‘That’s not really meant as dance music, more as background noise’, says Jonne. It’s also great music to play games to.

People will have the opportunity to dance later in the evening, to house and techno beats by local DJs and music by bands.

Everyone can join in, as long as you produce some kind of sound

Wout is the one who’d curated the line-up. Judging from his list, his connections in the music world are actually pretty good. ‘Yeah, it’s not too shabby’, he says. Finding musicians wasn’t that much of a problem. ‘All my classmates are in music. With our connections, the line-up was quickly put together.’

Same level

Before organising the festival, the students studied up on the subject matter. This was a requirement if they wanted to get any ECTS for their project: they had to base all their decisions on research they’d done. This led to some useful insights.

They found a British study from 2019 that suggested that a stage on the same level as the audience could help the connection between the artists and their audience. ‘It changes the power relations between the artists and the audience’, Jonne explains. To increase the feeling of interaction with the musicians, there will be a jam session before the performances start, allowing visitors to make music with the bands or with each other. ‘Everyone can join in, as long as you produce some kind of sound.’

The jam sessions, lowering the podium, the music genre; all their choice were made on a scientific basis. The people responsible for this knowledge, the academics who in their own way contributed to the party, have been given a special place of honour at the festival.

In the bathroom. The bathroom wall has a calendar listing the birthdays of the various academics.

Reconnect will be held at De Loods at de Neutronstraat this Thursday, June 2. It will start at 4 p.m. and last until 1 a.m. Tickets cost 8 euros and can be bought at their website: reconnect050.nl.

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