From band 'borrel' to innovative music festival

10 years of Plugged

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From band 'borrel' to innovative music festival

What started in 2013 as a CHEOPS drinks party with live music, has since evolved into a serious festival whose tenth edition is coming up: the Plugged Festival. The formula for success: new bands to discover and beer at a student price. Built Environment students Stan van Rijn and Daan Hegeman, both members of the festival committee, look back on the past decade, and look ahead to the lustrum edition that will take place in June.

photo Piotr Kemna / Plugged 2022


Plugged is an annual music festival that takes place on the KOE field or, if it rains, in the Markthal. It is organized by a special committee of CHEOPS, the Built Environment study association. Bachelor students Stan van Rijn and Daan Hegeman (both 21) are in charge of publicity for the tenth Plugged Festival, which will take place on June 8.

“With this lustrum edition coming up, we asked the founders and other former organizers via WhatsApp and email to look back on the event. That yielded the plan to organize a reunion, plus a lot of anecdotes.” This article presents an overview of ten years of Plugged - courtesy of all the memories collected, as well as the Plugged photo archives.


The early days

The very first edition of what would later become the Plugged Festival did not get off the ground, unfortunately. In 2011-2012, CHEOPS' Skybar committee came up with the idea of organizing an outdoor drinks party - or 'borrel' - with live music. But when it turned out there was more to it than expected - renting expensive sound equipment, for example - the party was called off.

However, the bar committee did not let this deter them. In 2013 - although they were no longer members of the bar committee - they decided to make a serious attempt to organize the band party after all. By putting up “bands wanted” posters, they managed to arrange a complete lineup at no cost.

Despite ominous weather reports, the committee still went ahead with the build-up on the KOE field on the day of the festival, “until the CHEOPS board arrived on the scene and said: ‘guys, this is NOT happening, let’s switch to option B, under the Markthal.’”

Weather gods

While they were disillusioned and aggrieved about the forced move at the time, the organizers were just as relieved when they saw the storm had already started before the first band took the stage. As it happened, that first act started 45 minutes later than announced because of possible noise nuisance for TU/e board members who were meeting in the main building, now Atlas - or so the story goes.

This wasn’t the only edition of Plugged where they had to contend with bad weather, and it wasn’t always possible to move to the Markthal in time. The go-to solution: party tents! Thus, in 2013, the CHEOPS cargo bike was used to collect party tents from all fellow study associations in order to cover the stage and keep the audience dry.

Plugged was a success worth repeating. The next edition took place in 2014, with the large Soerendonk folk punk ensemble The Droeftoeters as headliner. The third Plugged edition in 2015 was an all-time high, partly thanks to the favorable weather gods: “The weather was perfect and we really put the festival on the map that year. From that point on, CHEOPS also started taking Plugged more seriously.”

Serious festival

The fact that Plugged had grown up was confirmed in 2016 when it was voted the second most innovative festival in the country. Stan van Rijn explains what makes Plugged so innovative: “There's a completely new lineup every year, no repetition. And we book as few cover bands as possible.”

The selection of acts evolved from student bands to trendy, new bands that were on the verge of breaking through. Without forgetting about the good student acts, of course: the big crowd favorite at Plugged 2017 was the Aeris Brass Band - THE TU/e student band at the time.

The production and organization also became more and more professional: “After the festival in 2017, the band Thaïti said they had ‘expected a student party, but were very impressed with the professionalism and fun atmosphere.’”

The Vertigo building managers often turned a blind eye when, in the run-up to Plugged, entire set pieces were being built in the Built Environment workshop rather than scale models. And that paid off nicely, because sometimes the audience would try to make off with the set.

2018 was an edition with “a crazy amount of rain,” so many visitors found their way to the Market Hall later than planned. Fortunately, they were still in time to see PEER, Waltzburg and Mozes & the Firstborn. All three bands gained international success shortly after and also performed at festivals such as Best Kept Secret and Zwarte Cross. The psychedelic garage rock formation Mozes & the Firstborn - who, as an Eindhoven band, were playing a home game - had been on the Plugged programmers’ wishlist for years.


Through all this innovation, new music genres were introduced - in addition to the indispensable pop rock - like jazz and techno. In 2019, Plugged featured a hip-hop act for the first time: Bas de Meijer. The headliner was Canshaker Pi, also known from Eurosonic and Zwarte Cross, among others.

But equally noteworthy was garage rock band Yip Roc, who only arrived about ten minutes before kickoff due to traffic jams. “No time to do a sound check, they just plugged in and banged out the best show of the festival!”

So 2019 was a memorable edition, partly because of the glorious weather and the record number of visitors: “around 2,500, including students, parents and local residents.”

The pandemic years

2019 was also the only year with two editions of Plugged: an extra winter festival was held during the Christmas market, “with a mosh pit next to the glühwein stand”. A few months later, the world suddenly went on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 was the first time in eight years that there was no Plugged.

In 2021, the Plugged Festival was held online. This was not easy to organize, but well worth the effort: five hundred students tuned in to watch the livestream, with or without the boxes of drinks and snacks that they could order. .

After all the lockdowns, everyone was itching to have a live party again in 2022. Plugged returned with acts such as Fokke Simons, Tape Toy, POM and the student hip-hop collective Schuttevaerders. The wildly popular DJ De Hofnar - with over two million monthly listeners on Spotify - was the closing act.

Plugged 2023

The lineup for the upcoming Plugged Festival on June 8 was announced last week during a CHEOPS drinks party. The program includes: BluLines, Twee Wijzen, Forre Sterra, Doubland, Indian Askin, Flaire The Vices and DJ Koba Silva.

“The final two bands to complete the programming will be chosen during the Band Showdown on April 6 (tonight, Ed.) at POPEI,” adds Daan Hegeman.

Similar band competitions were held at Altstadt before, and there have been more partnerships like this throughout the years. Internally too, adds Stan van Rijn: “For example, Studium Generale is an indispensable partner: they have connections in the music world, help us with the light and sound engineering and have their own stage at the festival, for which they book the lineup.”

The sponsors are also important; thanks to them, admission to the festival has been free for ten editions now. The next edition takes place on Thursday, June 8, from 4 p.m. to midnight. Drinks will be available at student prices and food trucks will provide affordable food.

“The festival always takes place on a Thursday, which is the designated drinks day of all the study associations.” And traditionally, Plugged is preceded by CHEOPS’ announcement of the Teachers of the Year at Built Environment, so afterwards, the winners and losers can either celebrate the results or try to forget about them on the festival grounds.


Still, Plugged is not a Built Environment party, Hegeman and Van Rijn stress: “Everyone is welcome, people from both inside and outside TU/e.”

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