Skip to content

Everyone is welcome at Pitfest. 'Bands playing at our place should be especially hard, or dirty and grimy.'

The Drenthe village of Erica was rocked on the last weekend of April by the cosy noise festival Pitfest. And that attracted a motley mix of people. I walked around for a day. 

A golf cart zooms across the roundabout of the 4-star resort in the outskirts of the Drenthe town of Erica. To the right of the tarmac are tightly mowed golf courses; to the left is a plot of land cordoned off. Behind the fences are two tents made of red and white tarpaulin. Beyond, a country road and vast meadows. In the distance, the wild rhythms of a percussion band celebrate the monarchy.

The setting for a day of asparagus slurping or similar fattening, you might say. But on 27 and 28 April, the place will be taken over by Pitfest; a mini festival for fans of extreme guitar bands. Groups with names like Bloodbath and Rotten Sound spend the night at the hotel. In the meadow, visitors camp out. An elderly punk in a denim jacket rammed with band emblems sells parking spaces. Out of the golf cart steps a bearded guy.

Open-minded audience

Photo: Rolf Venema

'The supply of extreme guitar music is nil in the northern Netherlands,' says Pitfest organiser Maik Reuvers (43). 'And in Drenthe there is absolutely no shit to do. For bands we have to go to Utrecht or Amsterdam.' He wants to change that. Out of determination,' he says. I want to prove that it is possible, a festival with extreme music styles in this region. With a small club, he started Pitfest in 2015. Initially as a day festival in a village pub.

This year is the first outdoor edition. The venue is super intimate, within a minute you can make a lap. The first visitors trickle in mid-day. I see girls with shaved head flanks and hair blow-dried back, tight jeans over iron-buttoned chests, bright cockerels and black band shirts with bleeding typography. I see girlfriend groups, hipster couples, older couples, bald heads with ink drawings and braided beards. People fall into each other's arms, shag puffs go around merrily.

'We attract a lot of 30-somethings,' says Maik. 'I think it is unique that we lump different extreme guitar genres together. Bands that play with us have to be especially hard, or dirty and grimy.' He thinks Pitfest therefore attracts a more open-minded audience than purist guitar festivals that focus on one subgenre. Besides, residents of Erica are allowed in for free. 'I hope people see how relaxed it is. That we also remove any prejudices. I am tattooed up to my teeth and run a temp agency. It sometimes happens to me during my work that people see me and immediately think: 'What an aso.'

'In ten years, I'll be going to concerts with a group of girls'

Around four o'clock, Pitfest is underway. Fenne (7) sits on the neck of her father Ferry (42). She is quite striking, making devil's ears with index finger and little finger, waving her hair wildly. I speak to the two as they pick chips from a cone. 'We are staying in a bungalow park in Aalde,' Ferry says. 'My girlfriend, our son and the grandparents have gone to do something else today. They definitely don't want to come along.' To his daughter, Fenne: 'We're the metalheads huh?' she nods.

Ferry is a mechanical engineer in daily life. Fenne is in group 3. They live in Son en Breugel in Brabant. Ferry: 'Every month I visit a concert in the region. Often alone, because I don't have a group of friends I can do this with. Fortunately, I easily make small talk. Hard music is an outlet, it gives me energy. I've been going to concerts since I was fifteen. Now shows appeal to a pleasant feeling from my childhood, get it? Last summer I went with Fenne to Dynamo Metal Fest, at the skating rink in Eindhoven. It was her first festival. Once it started at Dynamo for me too.'

Two tens

'I quite often take CDs with me from gigs,' he continues. 'When I drive the kids to school the next day, Fenne immediately wants to listen. Then she throws the volume on full blast.'
Fenne: 'That's part of rock music too!'
Ferry: 'These kinds of small-scale festivals are convivial. I don't mind going to a Graspop, but just look what such a festival costs.... If Fenne doesn't like it, then I only broke two tens. My niece is also discovering loud music now. In ten years' time, I will be the chauffeur of a group of girls with whom I go to concerts. At least, that's what I'm hoping for. You have to have something to dream about right?'

Richard (40) and Hellen (48) from Emmer-Compascuum attend Pitfest every year. I bump into them all the time. Each time, they chat with a different group of people. 'We come from the neighbourhood and know some of the volunteers behind the bar,' says Richard. 'Great that this music can be found in the region again. I'm discovering new bands here. I'm a bit more about the music than Hellen is.' Hellen likes the atmosphere: 'There is respect for each other. I enjoy the diversity of people.'
Richard: 'Only members of the cabinet would have problems here. They will have some explaining to do.'

Meeting place for like-minded people

The atmosphere at Pitfest is indeed particularly relaxed. Visitors hang around the festival centre, complimenting each other on their outfits. At the edge of the festival is a tiny container with a pop-up tattoo shop. A woman gets her shoulder tattooed. The tattoo artist can go ahead, she will see the result later.


Jordi (21) has an amazing cock's comb with red tips. A welder, he wears a cap on weekdays: 'During the week I live in a routine, on weekends I go wild.' He is here with his girlfriend Emily (23), who won free tickets. Emily studies social work and is a spoken word artist. She plays in squats, but also at more commercial events. The two come from the squatter scene in Leeuwarden and met at the Into The Grave festival. They watch bands in Groningen squats, but also travel to the Czech Republic for a festival holiday. 'It's a bit freer there,' says Jordi. "People walk around naked there."

Fine conversations

At festivals, they find like-minded people: 'Here, everyone has fun with each other,' says Emily. 'That's what I love about places like this, I have fine conversations. This festival is nice and compact.'I ask about their taste in music. 'The music from the illegal party circuit actually,' Emily laughs.

Photo: Rolf Venema

Around midnight, I stroll through the merchandise tent. As I browse the album Suck Cocks in Hell of US band Shitfucker view - on the cover a foaming hellhound full of gusto - a man negotiates the price of a bundle of records. The festival grounds are littered with flattened beer cups and cigarette butts. Polish metal band Vader pours out death screams over a packed tent. Whether you're that guy who swallows over and over again in a pit, one of the two belly guys in hooded jumpers who spend the day silently smoking, or a girl who has only just outgrown kindergarten: at Pitfest, you're welcome anyway.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that a maximum of 1,000 visitors could fit on the Pitfest site. This is not correct, according to the organisers, there were 1,200 visitors on 28 April. 

Good to know Good to know
Pitfest was held this year on 27 and 28 April in Erica, Drenthe. Find out more.

2 thoughts on “Iedereen is welkom op Pitfest. ‘Bands die bij ons spelen moeten vooral hard, of vies en vuig zijn.’”

  1. I don't like that loud music , but after reading this article, which describes the atmosphere so vividly, it just makes me want to go.

Comments are closed.

Joost van Beek

Joost van Beek studied History and Journalism. His pieces have appeared in the Volkskrant, the Stimuleringsfonds voor de Journalistiek,, NUK, Stampmedia, Reporters Online and 3voor12, among others.View Author posts

Private Membership (month)
5€ / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)