Friday 12 July 2013

Rock Werchter 2013 Day 1: Wild Start

After our traditional pre-Werchter BBQ at friends in Belgium we make our way to the festival in no time. There's quite a big line outside the camping ground and we're afraid we may miss out on the first bands. But the line outside the festival site turns out to be quite short when we get there. We stack up on food and drink tickets, assure ourselves that Joe Piler's beers are fine again and find our way to the new KluBC tent that replaces the Pyramid Marquee.

Rock Werchter 2013 Day 1, July 4 2013

There we find a bunch of young lads working up a sweat playing punk songs. Fidlar, an acronym for "Fuck It Dog, Life's A Risk" (what's in a name), take the stage by storm. Their excitement is quite contagious and it doesn't take long before we see the first crowd surfers of the festival. It's nice to see this young band play a convincing set. It's only the first band of the festival and already we're smiling and feel right at home again. Keep them coming!

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Palma Violets
Another young band are making their way over here from the UK on a small hype. Their hit song 'Best of Friends' was made the national anthem for this year and as I experienced myself earlier this year they know how to throw a party. They sure give it a good try but it's much harder to please a festival crowd this early at the day when they are still admiring the festival site and sipping their first beer. Although their big hit does make for a wild pit in front of the stage, many people decide to take a look elsewhere.

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Vintage Trouble
I didn't exactly get swept off my feet after listening to a few of Vintage Trouble's songs. It's a mix of soul and good old rhythm 'n' blues that seems a bit too neatly on record. But after seeing their performance on the David Letterman show, I knew it's a totally different ball game when they play live. They sure showed that today. Singer Ty Taylor is a charismatic entertainer who is really working hard to please the crowd. He's backed up by a lively and solid band. Their songs that sound more rough live on stage are definitely going down well with the crowd. It makes for the first pleasant surprise of this weekend.

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
We catch half of the show of Black Rebel Motorcycle club who have an early spot on the main stage. They're always good for some solid rock 'n' roll. The songs of the last album are a bit more slow though and this makes it hard for them to win many people over. Of course they have a few smash hits like 'Spread Your Love' up their sleeves to end on a high. But I'd rather see them in a dark sweaty club rocking me off my socks.

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Belgian band Balthazar sure have come a long way since I saw them live for the first time over here a few years back. Their second album is a huge success and their fanbase is growing fast. The tight set is showing why. The band is focused and the songs of both albums mix well. The skilful tracks leave a big impression in the tent. People all the way to the back are joining in to the 'Blood Like Wine' lyrics "Raise your glass to the nighttime and the ways". And so we raise our Joe Piler to the sky as well.

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Biffy Clyro
I'm not really fond of this Scottish band's music. Especially their last few albums don't do it for me, after they made their sound more accessible and their music became more predictable. It turned into music for teenage girls now. But their big live reputation is preceding them so I want to see that for myself. They do a good job and play their songs well. It's a convincing performance that is enjoyed by a full tent. But still their music doesn't really appeal to me. Fans of the band had a great time though I'm sure.

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The National
It's a different story for The National. I love their sad music. I don't care when people call it "music your dad likes". Live on stage it makes an even bigger impression. Singer Matt Berninger's intense performance and thundering voice give the songs even more power. He seems to be more relaxed and comfortable nowadays though. A huge screen that fills the entire back of the monstrous stage, supports the songs that are a nice overview of their catalogue. Berninger is looking for contact with the fans a lot and finds himself among them later on while continuing singing. The euphoria and bright environment are a strange contrast to the gloomy songs of this strong show. Looking forward to seeing their full show in November in the dark Heineken Music Hall!

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Bloc Party
A drawing that was left in the dressing room at a festival last week, made clear this is going to be the last Bloc Party gig I'll ever see. The band is slowly imploding and will probably call it quits after they finish their tour later this month. In the meanwhile drummer Matt Thong already left the band. It is clear the band is in trouble. The chemistry is gone on stage and singer Kele Okereke isn't the charming, happy and chatty person he normally is. Instead the band is playing on routine and are probably dragging themselves to the end of the tour. It is still turning into a big party because the crowd is willing to throw one. Every song is greeted with big cheers. The big hits make the tent explode. This eventually has a positive effect on the band, who are playing better than to be expected. They couldn't have wished for a better Belgian farewell party.

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Green Day
After Billie Joe Armstrong had a breakdown last year, things didn't look good for Green Day. However rehab made him overcome his problems and Green Day are headlining festivals across Europe again. It's nothing you haven't seen them do before. It's the usual circus complete with dress-up parties and craziness. I don't think their music is that interesting and it is way too cheesy. But Armstrong looks like he's in shape, is performing well and the band are playing a worthy headline set.

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We dance a bit with Netsky before it's time to check out some of the bars outside and go search for a cervela, that nice Belgian sausage, to celebrate this amazing day. But they're not selling them or are all gone. Better luck tomorrow.

Click here for more pictures

Rock Werchter 2013 Day 2
Rock Werchter 2013 Day 3
Rock Werchter 2013 Day 4

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