From the moment you stepped foot inside the sixth annual WOO HAH! Festival, it was impossible to ignore the frenetic energy and excitement pulsating around the grounds. Kicking off on Friday, July 12, the whole place was lit up from top to bottom. Different buildings and areas enticed you in at a glance with nothing but hip-hop—in its various forms—blaring out from the speakers across each section.
Usually a wildlife zoo, Beekse Bergen was transformed to play host to not only 40,000 people over each of the following two days, but also some of the biggest hip-hop acts from around the world. What was instantly apparent was that it didn’t matter where you were—Desperados City, The Block, or the Desert Stage at the other side of the site—you never felt like you were missing out. With the main Snipes Stage closed on the opening night, the Forest Stage was set for the wordsmiths Pusha-T and ScHoolboy Q to shine. The latter even took the time to give a rallying cry on behalf of the currently incarcerated A$AP Rocky, giving an unadulterated middle finger salute to Sweden and any American rapper that performed over there from now on. King Push, meanwhile, showed why he’s a veteran in the game, working the crowd while never really getting out of first gear, but doing just enough to make his appearance a worthwhile one nonetheless.
Other artists that appeared on the first night included Brit rap/rockstars D-Block Europe, THEY, Gunna and Ocean Wisdom. Standout performances, after midnight, included Amsterdam-based producer Jarreu Vandal, American rapper Rico Nasty, as well as Dutch hip-hop artists Josylvio and DJ Bizzey, who received rousing reactions from the home crowd for their respective sets.
Saturday saw Amsterdam-born rapper and producer Dopebwoy kick things off, but an hour and a half later and the main Snipes Stage was officially declared open—with a gripping performance from the second TDE member of the weekend: Jay Rock. It’s easy to forget how many hits he has to his name as he performed tracks like “Tap Out” as well as cuts from his critically-acclaimed album Redemption; the Grammy-nominated singles “King’s Dead” and “Win” both set off the biggest and rowdiest mosh-pits the crowd had seen up until that point.
UK artist M Huncho started his set on the other side of the park, when Jay Rock’s ended, but he still had a sizeable crowd, relating back to the aforementioned feeling that no matter where you were on the site, you didn’t feel as though you were missing out or needed to rush anywhere. He performed tracks from his 48 Hours EP, as well as bangers from his latest project Utopia (“Ocho Cinco”, “Tranquility”), getting the crowd hyped in the process. With Jamz Supernova, Octavian, and Little Simz all performing across the early evening (Simz’s set, live band and all, being a highlight), the UK was well and truly representing in the Netherlands.
Goldlink then brought a whole different vibe to the festival as he took to the main stage, sounding note-perfect while playing fan favourite tracks and showcasing his new album, Diaspora, before Sheck Wes (Forest Stage), Rae Sremmurd (Main Stage) and Amine (Forest Stage) performed their extensive list of hits gearing up for the headline act, Stormzy, to come through and shut it down, coming off the back of his Glastonbury heroics just a few weeks prior. If Stormzy was the Saturday night party, then GRM Daily hosted the after-party at The Block stage, with DJs Amnota, Jay Dolce, P Montana and Jeremiah Asiamah doing their thing on the decks into the early hours of the morning, playing everything from old school hip-hop to UK rap and drill for an increasingly packed crowd that were lapping it up until the very end.
The final day of WOO HAH! saw European artists take the spotlight for much of the afternoon. Names such as Rare Akuma, Winnie and Cry all performed—hailing from Belgium and the Netherlands itself—and there was also a set from Places & Faces, one of many across the weekend, and a Skate demo over at The Block stage. As afternoon turned to evening, Trippie Redd took to the Forest Stage, serving as the perfect warm-up for Skepta who followed afterwards on the Snipes main stage.
Performing hit after hit, the North London emcee brought London to the Netherlands, keeping it grimey and playing songs from his last two LPs Konnichiwa and Ignorance Is Bliss. “Bullet From A Gun”, “It Ain’t Safe”, “Greaze Mode”, “Lyrics”... the list could go on and on; Skepta had the crowd in the palm of his hand, rapping every bar, instinctively making giant mosh-pits as he constantly interacted with them throughout his time onstage. The “energy crew” inevitably dipped their levels a little bit when he left the stage and Shorty came out for a few tracks, but it was good to see the BBK member using his platform to give other crew members their time in the spotlight.
Rich The Kid, JID and Saweetie all performed on various stages over the next hour, after Skepta’s set, bringing their own brand of hip-hop to the space. It was then time for the main stage to open once more, this time for Texas rap outfit Brockhampton who, similarly to Goldlink the previous night, brought a different energy and vibe to proceedings, working with each other to provide one of the most memorable sets of the weekend. Their stage presence was infallible, and that’s before even mentioning their silver boiler suits as they performed cuts such as “Boogie” and “Gummy”. It’s almost certain that they made a shedload of fans after that performance, however at the very least, they managed to leave the crowd buzzing and more than ready for the headline act of the night: Travis Scott.
If there was one take away from his performance, it was that Travis Scott undoubtedly knows how to put on a show. The visual effects that kicked things off on the screen instantly transported the audience to his futuristic fairground aesthetic of Astroworld, and what followed was definitely a ride. Dipping into his seemingly infinite pool of smash hits, he had the crowd mesmerised as his auto-tuned vocals encapsulated the site, with mosh-pits at their rowdiest and some festival-goers were even seen waving their crutches in the air—such was the excitement of the moment. He commanded the stage, feeding into the feel-good atmosphere, and more than showed why he couldn’t have been anything other than the closing headline act of the weekend. At times he maybe took his auto-tuned ramblings a little too far, but the combination of his stage presence, good music and visual effects (which included bursts of fire) provided a fitting end to what was a fun-filled, two-day extravaganza.