Let me start out with saying this: I cherish warm and fuzzy feelings for the programmer of Absolutely Free Festival. It feel like this guy somehow creeped into my brain, knew which bands I’d like to see and then went off and put this great line-up together. Booker dude - if you read this - get in touch. I feel like we would hit it off.
AFF: trees and trampolines
It’s funny to see how a festival that hosted the noisiest of bands that the Belgian scene has to offer today, was so darn cute in every other way. If you didn’t had 3 empty batteries to offer as an entrance fee, you we’re kindly asked to donate 3 euros to plant trees. There was a magazine stand next to the toilets so you’d have something to read and a “Bucket List” at the back of every Dixie door invited you to go on the trampoline, search for Waldo and buy a stranger a drink. And even though the festival was free there was no sponsor brainwashing to be found anywhere. No Win For Life. No Proximus. Nu Stubru. Thank god.
I suspect Genk is a city filled with adorable, music-loving people. The kind that invites you into their home, bake cream-filled scones and then sings you Slayer until you fall asleep.
XPRMNT: dolls and drums
Speaking off those very noisy bands, oh my, weren’t they a treat for sore ears. The XPRMT stage is clearly invented by someone who saw Valley of the Dolls one too many times. If it wasn’t for the loud music alone, the random mannequin parts all over the place made sure this tent was the least likely place you would ever take a nap. The first band I saw that sunny Saturday afternoon was Mantis, a young trio from Maaseik who sure know how to produce a riff or two. Something tells me that these are very funny guys - I mean, they did name their first EP Punch You In The Dick With Your Selfie Stick - but since they’re a purely instrumental band, we’ll maybe never really find out. Mantis was followed by Crowd of Chairs, a band which in the last couple of months I saw perform more often than I did my laundry. The reason of that could be my questionnable sense of hygiene, but let’s focus more on the fact that Crowd of Chairs is a fucking great band. Frontman Mitch sings like he’s reaching in the depths of his soul to throw up every messed-up thought that ever crossed his mind while a mixture of rough guitarwaves and hyperkinetic drums hands you out one punch after the other.
In the middle of all this Belgian noise talent came the American NAH to show that things could even go louder. Ever wondered how the Tasmanian Devil would sound like if you would give him drums? In the middle of his flipped out beats and desorienting melodies, NAH tried to deliver some lyrics in the mic which most of the time ended up as a passionate and rough yelling. At which the whole tent just screamed along him and joined him on stage. The last two bands I saw at XPRMNT were Cocaine Piss and It It Anita, and because I’ve expressed my love for those two on WOLF before and people always say that you should keep things short on the internet I’ll keep it to this: Cocaine Piss somehow managed to do an even shorter set than I’ve ever seen them do before and I danced to It It Anita until I felt dizzy in the head.
MAIN STAGE: manics and moshing
On that very happy Saturday I hopped between the XPRMNT and the Main Stage. The first band I saw there was The Guru Guru which brought us a nice mix of noise and psychotic rock with singer Tom jumping on stage like someone who just got released from Arkham Asylum. But hé, it might be a crazy world where The Guru Guru takes us, but at least it's a nice play to hang. Also performing at the main stage was Raketkanon. Although performing might not be the right word for this phenonemon of a band, it’s more that they waltz over it like Hannibal’s elephants did through the mountains, forever making clear that they are the rulers of the Belgian noise. Sometimes I wonder what an audience looks like up on that stage in the eyes of the musicians, and I’m betting that the sight of the moshpit at Genk made them feel like the mightiest men on earth. And mommy, all I want for Christmas, is to relive that moment when Aurélie from Cocaine Piss joined Pieter-Paul Devos for a screaming ballad and they surfed over the heads of the audience together. Sigh.
The festival was closed off by British duo Blood Red Shoes. They gave a great concert but still I don’t understand why a band of which the latest material clearly isn’t as qualitative as their earlier songs was headliner of this hypercurrent festival. Although my view on their gig might be influenced by that one dickhead feeling up my friend when we were standing front row. Next time, play nice or drag your sexual harrassing ass back home.
Oh yeah, I do realize that there were a couple of other stages at AFF Festival. But since I’m a blogger and not a music journalist, it’s my right not to really care and so I just reported on the stuff I saw. If anyone ever wants to pay me to come and review your festival I’ll try and see as many acts as I can. Pinky promise. Anyhow, I’m curious what line-up my potential future husband will set up next year. In the meantime, kiss my AFF.