The hardest thing about going to a music festival in Belgium is trying to work out how to pronounce the damn name. This festival was cheaper than any in the UK, easier and quicker to get to than Isle Of Wight and we can safely say that it’s more fun! We actually had tickets to the Isle Of Wight up until a few weeks ago but when the final lineup was released we realised that we didn’t really want to see Bruce Springsteen that badly and so we looked about for an alternative. Why we hadn’t noticed Rock Werchter earlier is anyone’s guess but perhaps had something to do with it being in Belgium and our natural aversion to spending time with French people when it can be avoided (yes I know they’re two different countries but the only real difference I can see is that one bunch drink shit wine and the other drink amazing beer!).
Given that we’re old and soft we’d booked into a hotel for the weekend and thought this would be a rather novel way to ‘stay’ at the festival. Truth be told I had originally planned to be back at work on Monday morning and didn’t see too many opportunities to shower, iron my clothes and get back to Brussels for the early Eurostar if we were to stay in a tent. Best I probably could have hoped for in that situation was to arrive at the office smelling of three day old beer and sweat and still wearing my wellingtons. Plans changed and I ended up taking the day off work but by then we’d already booked the hotel and were quite excited by the idea of living in luxury for the weekend.
The main difference between European and English festivals (after we’ve now experienced one of each and can be considered as experts on the subject) is that they only serve half pints of beer in Europe. While this might be considered as extraordinarily soft it does make is slightly more difficult for the dedicated piss-head to be paralytic by lunchtime and when combined with the generally older age of the crowd (compared to the Justin Bieber lookalikes in Scotland..) it translates to a lot less bottles being thrown at the back of your head.
All in all there is a pleasantly more relaxed attitude here in Belgium and people are mostly here to chill and actually listen to the music without getting ridiculously trashed, although we did our best to rectify this problem!
Short summary of the set list..
- Jack White – surprisingly creepy and his versions of the White Stripes big hits really didn’t hit it.
- Lana Del Ray – have to say I was reasonably impressed with her, had a strange regal charisma and some inspiring tunes.
- Pearl Jam – hate to say it but I think Eddie is getting a little old to be running about on stage. Still felt good but missing some vital energy.
- Noah and the Whale – amazing as always!!
- Wolfmother, Kasabian & Snow Patrol – three different sets but kinda felt very similar and not as ‘big sound’ as I was hoping for.
- Mumford & Sons – great!
- The xx – never heard them before but have to say I’m now a fan.
- The Vaccines – always good for a show, gets the crowd pumped!
- Dropkick Murphys – some good old Irish drinking music but stay away from the moshpit unless you’ve trained as a cage fighter.
- Ed Sheeran – truly the highlight of the festival! Complete one man show!!
- Florence + the Machine – came across as a condescending middle class English snob – sorry to say but I was not at all impressed. Sounded pretty much like they do on the album.
- Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Was a little drunk by this point, had Jess on my shoulders for few songs but great end to the weekend!!