After receiving our coupons we orientated ourselves to the bar in the main stage tent to get some proper hydration: BEER! Then sauntered over to the Thunderdome for Days of Rage.
Now, halfway through the first song I deducted that this was a splendid punk based band and totally not up my alley. So I decided to let my brother enjoy it in peace and signaled that I was going to the Trench for Crossface.
So, small surmise: 3 tents: Main stage: speaks for itself, biggest one with watering hole at the back and fully planked under foot. Picknick tables and seats just outside. Thunderdome: half the space of the main stage, planked underground. Picknick tables and seats strategically placed between the food trucks and the Thunderdome tent so you could eat and enjoy the music as background. Trench: smallest of the all but ...
As I entered the Trench, immediate throw back to my beginner years when I was still in my first pair of shiny black metal boots. This felt like coming home. The smallest tent of all, no planking underground just dirt except for the, barely big enough for a band, stage that was raised 30 centimeters off the ground. The nostalgic feeling of a garage bands first gig in some dive swept over me. Instant emergence into the scene and a perfect kick-off for an amazing hardcore-weekend. The first harsh yet melodic tones carried away all other thoughts and as the vocals joined in the rhythm accelerated and blew my mind. Pure, hard, brutal, savage hardcore if ever you heard it filled the joint and all you wanted was more of it, a beer in hand and a good old moshpit to either look at or participate in. Hats off for Crossface. I was so totally enraptured that, when my brother tapped me on the shoulder to let me know he was there, I nearly flatlined. But this was a bit too much my style of music for him so he went back to Days of Rage rather quickly.
After this beginning we went to figure out how the lockers worked. A pretty nifty system, very handy and extremely user friendly! You could even hire one with power to charge your phone!! Yeah, I know I'm a technology-barbarian but, looking on the bright side, I learn something new every day ;-D
Spirit Crusher was an all-round good band. Not a surprising new wind but hey, if it ain't broke don't fix it. They are an upcoming band and it will be worth following up on them to see where they take it from here. With some more time and growing they will, in the near future, definitely claim their spot on the hardcore charts. Good band, easy on the ears , great rhythm and basically good for hardcore lovers everywhere.
Next on our list the Merchtent.
Oh my Lord, was it ever so big!!! And packed to the brim with goodies!! Kid in a candy store, I kid you not! I had to sit on my hands to not point out every single little detail, t-shirt, sticker, badge, funny reference, ... I was glad I had set myself a limit so that I went around the whole place before I decided to settle for a grey Ieperfest t-shirt. The next day promised to be a hot one and painful experience has taught me that wearing a black t-shirt on such a day teaches you the literal meaning of blistering hot. (shoulders) Naturally I found my companion hovering like a hawk around the Sea Shepherd stand.
The area that was displayed like a living room sort of puzzled me, it seemed too big a space to just kick-back and enjoy a read in the magazines with a fair-trade beverage or -chocolate. As we walked out the mystery was solved by the More Than Music-board, it informed us when the next demonstration, interview or documentary was programmed. My eye got caught by a krav maga demo and my brother's by an interview with Tempest about Sea Shepherd. The documentaries were shown in a small container room which I peaked into but, I am mainly here for the music. That being said I was just bursting to try the vegan ice-cream but first we took a breather to go to the hotel for check-in. Yes, I know, posh, ladida, but I've come to an age wherein a comfortable bed and warm shower appeal more then a tent on a fest-camping: HOEREN!! Rofl
As we made our come back we decided to park our butts in the Thunderdome and listen to the Leng Tch'e sound check. My brother remarked that, up to then, there hadn't really been any groups that seemed up my alley. My reply was that Crossface was good and I expected a good fest but not any high-flyers for me.
Well ... was I ever so glad to be proved wrong! Not knowing Leng Tch'e I was surprised when the singer emerged but benefit of the doubt is in a Belgians character when it comes to music and new beer. The music started up and my ears eagerly greeted the hard, melodic, brutal sound. Well, I thought, that is beautiful but it is going to be hell for the vocals to not get drowned out. Then he opened his lungs and WHAT A VOICE!!! Effortlessly he sliced through and harmonized with the music. An amazing, fantastic range and control of grunt. The rolling beats and fast passages interspersed with well placed firm intervals. Yes, this band stands like a rock. It completely blew me of my socks! Described in the festival guide as "razor edge metal, combining grindcore with death metal, stoner rock and metalcore with incredible vocal power." It was all that and shaken not stirred! Just pour me another one of those and keep 'em coming! Truly hardcore as it is meant to be . These men deserve the main stage! After the last notes he called his young son up on stage and we formed a tight-knit crowd of metalers which would look great as background for the picture he took.
Then we hurried over to the main stage for Jasta. Now that was a good band and would served perfectly to guide a more mainstream crowd to crossover and hardcore. It is not overly aggressive and the lyrics are clearly audible. This is a clear sung and clean played band. I loved songs like The Same Flame but war with myself because he balances on that thin line between commercial or not. For example The Same Flame would fit perfectly in a metal framed radio program. Still, a great band and praise to his vocals skills. The tent was packed, the mosh decent but in my humble opinion HATEBREED for the win.
We decided on a food break. MY GOSH! The chips were delicious and the tar-tar sauce to die for. How you can make such fabulous bitterballen without meat boggles my mind and the kaaskroketten MY OH MY!! The Vexican would put any hot lover straight in heaven! And the ice-cream from Icy V ... DAMN!!!! Everything but the pizza looked and tasted awesome. Dezerter was the perfect background music but I must admit my attention was on the food.
After diner we decided to digest in the Merch Tent whilst listening to the interview with Tempest about Sea Shepherd. Radical but interesting. After the interview I really needed the Cockney Rejects Oi!Oi!Oi! The attitude and the bouncing sounds were refreshing. The accent was a dead give away as to where they hailed from. And even as a first timer I could generally sing with the refrains which felt great. This was a fun group and I loved every second of the whole! And, no, you can't not smile and laugh and sing-a-long and jump about on the sounds of this group!!!
The next and final act of the day, Death Threat: And the crowd went WILD!!! The band came on hard and strong. The hardcore beats grabbed the crowd, the singer riled up the frond row of would-be singers to scream in the held down mic and did they ever! The interaction between the band and the crowd was great. After 20 years they knew their way around the stage and how to work the crowd. The music was amazing and the MOSHPIT brutal. Only minus was the fact that they ended abruptly after playing only 3/4 of their hour slot.
We stayed on for the after show: Two young dj's, kids really they could not have been more than 18 between them, were let loose on the stage and thoroughly enjoyed themselves playing "wrong" music. We in turn thoroughly enjoyed ourselves singing and "dancing" along to that other hardcore scene namely THUNDERDOME. Bonzai! Bonzai!
Fade to black on Saturday and I couldn't wait for the fade in on Sunday (review coming soon)!