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W-Fest 2019: Thursday

by François Zappa

If I had to relieve the same 24 hours forever, like in the movie Groundhog Day, I wouldn’t mind doing it in a day like the first day of the W-Fest. OK, some things were not ideal, like sleeping in the camp: when I woke up, I urgently needed to pee (maybe I am getting old, maybe I just drank too much the night before) and there was no portable restroom on sight. In a moment of inspiration, I thought that toilets and showers had to be in the close building. There, attached to a basketball court where some boys were playing, I found the showers, just the ones of what it seemed like the dressing room of the previously seen court. Stark naked, I had a shower, with no curtains and, luckily, nobody seeing my old willy. Honestly, I could skip this part from my eternal routine.

The five minutes walk to the festival was OK. The venue (and the city) was different from last year, and now it was placed on the grounds of the Waregem Expo. This year, both stages were side by side on the same hall, there was also an outdoor stage behind the main one(s), a DJ booth on the top of the entrance, another covered stage with a DJ, also outside, and several bars and places to sit, everything exterior. And now, if you want to feel like the main character in Groundhog Day, just read this chronicle over and over.


I have been listening to Empathy Test for a few months now and I really like the band. So, it was great to commence the proper festival with them. The drummer marked the beginning of the concert and “Holy Rivers” was the first song they played. Great, it’s one of their best tracks. After this, it was the turn of one of their singles: “Bare My Soul,” which was followed by “Vampire Town”, “Empty-Handed”, “Seeing Stars”, “Demons”… I go to a lot of festivals and hardly ever see such a good band opening the day. But here it happened, and not only on the first day! “Losing Touch,” their best song, was the first great moment of the festival and “Here is the place”, was, sadly, the last one they played.


Der Klinke was the perfect band to start and set the mood for the Wave Cave stage. They summon all you can expect of that stage: darkness, intensity, synths, edgy guitars and a lot of passion.  The concert seemed to me a bit short, as they have enough material for a longer set. We could hear some of their best tunes: “Someone Who Smiles,” “The River White”, “The Facts of Life”, “Curtains” (single of their last album Decade and with an incredible work of the bass player), “Bridges” and the final “The Doll”. They have been playing for ten years now, and I think they really deserve some recognition.


It was quite early but we were already going to see, what was for us, one of the most expected concerts of the festival: Signal Aout 42, creators of some of EBM classic tracks. Jacky Meurisse, together with Élise, one of his daughters and Olivier Thibaut (also in Vuduvox), started with “Submarine Dance”, and honestly, there’s no better way of kicking off a concert. Together with the classics, we could listen to some songs from SA42’s new album such as “Welcome to Reality” and “Can you hear my rage?” always with some nice visuals. From SA42’s previous record, we could hear the peculiar homage to Der Gregolini and EBMnator called “Freundschaft”. And another of the best moments of the festival came with the eternal “Dead is calling”: just after hearing the opening chorus, the crowd went crazy. Sadly, all good things come to an end, and the band said goodbye with another classic: “Pleasure and Crime” from 1986, which was played along with a video of famous murderers like Gary Gilmore. Definitely, in the top ten of the edition. And the best thing is: we are going to see them again very soon!!!!


“Despair,” with a deafening volume, opened the set of the German band In Strict Confidence. The EBM rhythms of “Kiss your Shadow” followed, working as the perfect continuation of the previous concert. The band showed an incredible amount of energy that was transferred to the public. The sensual “Forbidden Fruit” was the necessary pause before the powerful “Seven Lives” sounded: it was the best moment of the concert. And the band continued with “Morpheus”, more EBM with “Engelsstaub” and “Zauberschloss” where the guitar player played around with her luminous cape, adding color to the music. By the end of the concert, I was really surprised: we had four great concerts in a row!


Tristesse contemporaine are, without a doubt, a band difficult to classify, a strange mixture between post punk and Tricky. Like an after-punk band that has grown up listening only to “Angels with Dirty Face”. They started with “I Do what I want” and for the second song, the singer introduced the drummer as the second-best drummer of the band, before playing “Know my name”. “Let’s Go,” reminded me of the Jesus and Mary Chains because of the vocals, but the following track “Dem Roc” was way more danceable. It seemed like the band wanted to play a different genre in every song. “Ceremony,” instead, was darker and “No hope” reminded me of Psychic TV when they are doing pop. They continued with “I Didn’t know”, to end up rapping with “Daytime Nighttime”. Maybe in another moment or another place I could have enjoyed the concert, but I was in a darker mood to appreciate them.


I shouldn’t like Solar Fake, but I do. I found their style too commercial for my taste, but I have to recognize that they have really good songs. “Sick of you,” the first one they played, it’s proof of what I say: a very fine tune, with a killer chorus but the vocals in the rest of the song sounds really commercial. People danced, of course. “Under control” was the second song, where the keyboard (and us) had a lot of fun. The set continued with “All the things you say”, “I don’t want you here” (that sounded really epic) and my favorite “Not What I Wanted” (where the singer could not stop laughing with the strange moves the keyboard player had). And they fucking know how to finish a concert: “The Pain That Kills You Too” is one of their best songs. Really good, I must admit.


The first 80s pop band of the day appeared on stage: The Blow Monkeys. They started with “Choice?” and introduced “Celebrate” as Cojones to Brexit. The band played “Crying for the Moon”, and gave us some elegant pop like in “Wait” or “The Coming of Grace”. When the singer was talking, it was possible to hear the sound check of the following concert. They also played their cover of “You Don’t Own Me”, “The Wild River” and finished with their hit, “It Doesn’t Have to Be this way”. It was OK.

Outside Dageist were playing at the entrance. They played a set every day there, but I only saw them on the first day on my way to the toilet. I will try to see them again them in the future.


Another of my main reasons for going to the festival: The Cassandra Complex. Axel Ermes started with the “Theme from The Invisibles” and soon came all the band to play “Nightfall (Over EC)”. They created a great atmosphere and continued with “Too Stupid to sin”, “Valis” (introduced by Rodney Orpheus as a song based on Philip K. Dick), the classic “Second Shot” (that was recorded in Belgium) and was another of the moments of the festival. “What can I do for you” (a song about a girlfriend leaving you), “War Against Sleep” (oh yeah, we felt it coming!), the powerful “Datakill”, “Moscow Idaho” (with a fake start) and “One Millionth Happy Customer”. One million happy fans enjoyed the concert. Another top ten of the festival.


And now for something completely different, like the Monty Python used to say: Pop with some funk. They started with “Live it up” where the bass player proved how good he was. They sent us lots of funk energy altought most of the people from the previous concert left. The band continued with “Wildfire” where they played some salsa, “Hollywood Seven” where the singer proved how good he was, the beautiful “Listen to the man with the golden voice”, “Dangerous”, and a good version of “Purple Rain”. We missed the ending because we wanted to say hello to the man behind SA42.


With fewer people than we expected, Merciful Nuns appeared to give one of their last shows. They started with “Neo Alpha Genesis”. It was a really intense concert where we could hear “Body of Light”, “Karma Inn”, “Exosphere”, “Blackbody/Utraviolet”, the slow “The Passing Bell”, or heavy “Thelema”. A good concert that sadly we won’t be able to repeat.


Due to the change in the running order, I could only see the first songs of the band of Ian McCulloch: “Rescue”, “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo” and “Seven Seas” (one of my favorite in concert). I have seen them a few times and chose to see the Primitives, a band that I don’t know if I will have the chance to see again. Echo and the Bunnymen congregated the biggest crowd of the day, and a few songs that I heard sounded really good.


They were not with the best humor of the day, because they had some problems at the airport with the passports and had to change the slot with The Blow Monkeys and play at the same time as one of the headliners. They started with “Thru the Flowers”, the drummer and guitar player of Twisted Nerve were in the public, although they are metalheads. Continued with Spin-o-Rama, they sounded still fresh in songs like the really good “Stop Killing Me”, “Sick of it”, “Really Stupid” or “Rattle My Cage”. The playing was getting better and better and “You are the way” and “Way behind me” sounded really good. Finally, ti was time for the famous “Crash” and a final version of “Panic”(the Reparata and the Delrons’ song).


A bit late started Stranglers with their signature “Waltzinblack”. The starter was “Toilor on the sea” and the band and the sound were just perfect. All the classics were played: “I’ve been Wild,” “(Get a) Grip (on yourself)”, a really good “Peaches”, “Nice N Sleazy”…. I saw the men in black (I am not talking about the movie) some ten years ago and I did not remember a concert like this. They continued with their eighties classics “Golden Brown”, the also famous “Always the Sun”, their cover of “Walk on by” and “Something better change” that was sung by Jean Jacques Burnell. Although their set was the longest of the festival, it was coming to an end, that was “5 minutes”, and the classic “No more heroes”. Another great concert.


A few days after the concert, I am still humming the songs of She Wants Revenge. To be honest, I did not dig their music before, there was something missing for me but, after their concert, it’s one of the bands I have been listening to the most. The beginning of the concert was a bit cold with the long “[Killing Time]”, but soon we got into the music with the brilliant “These Things”. It’s hypnotic to see Justin Warfield telling you love stories, always with a lot of passion and such detail like in “Reasons” and “Little Stars”. The band also played “This is the End”, “Written in Blood”, “Up in Flames”. They said that it was seven years since the last time that they had toured in Europe and that this was the first concert of the tour. They finished with “Out of Control” and “Tear you apart”. A perfect ending to a long day of good concerts.

And I went back to the camp, thinking, “Tomorrow won’t be another day.”

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