When the wind turned, I could hear another festival, Sfinks Mixed, a world music festival that is free and family friendly. In more than one aspect, Sfinks is different from Tomorrowland. While the one has a corner with bouncing castles and slides, the other one is a playground for adults. Apparently, as I read in the newspaper, there had been an incident on Sfinks festival. Boef, a Dutch performer stopped the show after only a few songs. According to the story, the tent was packed to capacity, mostly with children who wanted to see their idol. The situation got out of hand when people started shuffling towards the stage. Adults pushed themselves between the groups of children. Several youngsters fainted and others got separated from their parents. The rapper had already told the adults to remain in the back but apparently, there is a difference between listening to music and listening to the artist. So, Boef had no other option than to quit. It was just not safe anymore.
Start them young - keep them safe
1. There has to be enough room. Kids are energetic little flesh bags and they like to run around for some bizarre reason. In the middle of a mosh pit, that running around can ruin the atmosphere so make sure that there's plenty or room for your little Duracell-bunny to rage.
2. The kids must be guarded at all times. On a festival that's no different than in any other situation. It's called "responsibility" and it means that, when you bring your little rocker, you can no longer pass out drunk.
In fact, when I wrote this part of this article, I was thinking of one of my facebook friends who occasionally brings his daughter to concerts and festivals. It's great to see how she brings some pure joy to an otherwise loud and intense event. People are getting to know her. They play with her, talk to her, party with her. She's probably a pretty smart kid too and she definitely enjoys the attention. By the time she will be old enough to develop her own musical style, she will be widely influenced and that is a good thing. Even scientifically, that's a good thing, just read Dick Swaab's books.
We're weird and we're proud of that
For me personally, the fascination with the more experimental ànd local sides of the music scenes started with a band from Hasselt. The bass player worked at the bar where I used to write my first lyrics. The band, led by the charismatic Mauro Pawlowski, won Humo's Rock Rally in 1994.
After the band disbanded in 1998 Mauro went on to do amazing and bizarre things. He joined one of Belgium's biggest bands ever, dEUS and recorded heaps of albums under heaps of monikers. Another Evil Superstars member, Tim Vanhamel, formed Millionaire, another massively popular band in this area. Tim also played in Eagles Of Death Metal. But I know him from his time with Sister Poopoo. Yes, I am that old.
At that same festival, DAAU (short for Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung) also played a few sets. The current line-up consists of Roel Van Camp (accordion), Han Stubbe (clarinet), Hannes D'Hoine (upright bass) and Jeroen Stevens (drums, marimba). DAAU does something exciting with jazz, klezmer and classical music. Long ago, they decided not to stick to one genre, something many Belgian artists have in common.
We have always been weird and we have never given a fuck about it. In 1958, Roeselare born Louis De Meester created this sonic nightmare, which is basically a slow, soundscaping assault on your mental state.
We're badly managed but we'll manage
Bad management has always been an issue in this little country. It leads to band splitting before breaking through, artists ending up on the streets and other unpleasantries. If it wasn't for greedy agents and incompetent personnel, many of our bands would have been a lot bigger, especially in the underground scene. Some bands would have been huge instead of the one hit wonder they're known for today.
Oh, about that. There had been a little fuzz around a certain journalist who claims that support acts are useless. He wrote an article about it, asking organisers to stop booking local support acts. (Dutch readers can read the article here). He claims that if you want to see Slowdive (for example), you always have to watch some boring, unimaginative local band. I wanted to punch that guy in the face and I'm not an aggressive person.
So instead of whining about the lousy quality of an otherwise hard working support act, why don't you journalist person do the fashionable thing and just come late. If you don't want to be annoyed by amateurs, ignore them. Life would be so much better if more people would just ignore stuff. Besides, the rest of us, who support the support act can easily live without your bored sighs and childish yammering.
We're actually a small village with a lot of sound
AmenRa is currently one of Belgium's biggest things, especially in the world of slow and heavy. They too have a whole scene around them, which is called "The Church Of Ra". Their beautiful cover of 'Het Dorp', originally recorded by Zjef Vanuytsel in 1970 is a genuine show of respect for the musical history of this country. The song has been playing numerous times a day in the past few weeks, with good reason too.