Posts, and how to rock them
For me personally, my trip through the world of Belgian post-rock actually started with a band from Brussels, namedCecilia::Eyes. Before their album 'Disappearance' entered my mailbox, my knowledge about the genre was restricted to Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Mogwai. However, Cecilia::Eyes quickly started fascinating me. Here was a band with four nice, modest guys who delivered a jaw-dropping album and were able to deliver a stunning gig. I read that they are working on a new album and I can't wait to hear that.
So you think you can festival?
Do you know what makes us this good? Well, we've been doing this festival thing for a long, long time.
But festivals come and go.
In the eighties, another Humo-sponsored event started taking over the Belgian festival scene. Torhout-Werchter was a several day festival with the same bill on two different locations, 146 kilometers apart from each other (which for many Belgians is a long distance). Other festivals came and went, some were successful, others vanished. Pukkelpop witnessed a disaster when several people died in a storm which raged over the terrain but the festival is still going strong today. Elsewhere in Limburg, the Eurorock festival became a shameful event of fraud, theft and lies.
No, it's not always great here.
Copyright issues in Belgium are mainly limited to movements on bank accounts, usually from an innocent festival, party or concert organiser towards Sabam. The latter then transfer that money to either Helmut Lotti or Johan Verminnen. Yes, that sounds sarcastic but part of it is true. Sabam's initial goal to protect copyrights was a decent idea but somehow they have turned it into something that reeks of the Spanish inquisition. Even whistling Clouseau's 'Domino' on the street can get you sued by Sabam. It's true, whistling is 'public display of a copyrighted song' and thus should be paid for.
Crazy, isn't it?
Somewhere in a little club in Koersel (Limburg, again) a few friends organised a little festival named 'Copyleft Fest'. The idea was simple: no Sabam-registered bands, no covers, only demos from other non-registered bands. Believe it or not, but during the first band, two Sabam officials came in and demanded a payment. The man behind the counter refused, explaining the idea behind this whole festival (mess with Sabam). He said that they could come in. If they could find one cover, one registered song, the organisation would pay Sabam. The challenge was on, after the official paid their entrance fees - obviously. Two hours later, they left, completely deaf and pissed-off.
Speaking about being pissed-off
The Belgian punk and hardcore scene also has its annual happening in the form of a huge event. Groezrock has been a constant for European punks since 1992, starting out as a regular pop and rock festival and eventually picking punk and hardcore as their specialist niche, similar to what Graspop did in the metal scene. Groezrock is just another example of the Belgian know-how and of how eager foreign bands (especially American ones) are to play here. Because we treat them like kings. We know how to party.
A band on every corner
Fact remains, each and everyone of those artists has a chance to make it, no matter how humble the beginnings. That completely normal looking guy you just passed on the street can one day become a massive star in our country. Admit it, apart from Praga Khan, each and every one of our famous musicians are normal, every day looking people. Look at Luc De Vos, dEUS, Front 242, Axelle Red, Toots Thielemans, Salvatore Adamo, Jacques Brel, Dani Klein (Vaya Con Dios), hell, even K3. They could all be the guys and girls next door.
Divided we rock, united we thrive
The fact is, Flemish people know more Dutch bands than Walloon ones and Walloon people know more French bands than Flemish ones. Somehow, bands and artists rarely seem to cross that language barrier. When they eventually do, apparently we find out that we can perfectly communicate, in English. So, organisers from Antwerp, Ghent, Kortrijk, Hasselt, Leuven... try to invite Cecilia::Eyes, Wyatt E, Angakok and ask them to bring a few friends. Charleroi, Liège, La Louvière, do the same with Evil Invaders, The Hickey Underworld or Psycho 44. It will definitely be worth it...