THE sole reason I am trekking to Hasselt, Belgium, this August for Pukkelpop is to see Chvrches play.
I quickly became a big fan of the Glasgow electro pop-ers earlier this year. I’d heard and really liked their music a year or two earlier but I really couldn’t be bothered with music at the time so didn’t consider seeing a gig or buying a record. Anyway, I fell in love with them when I listened to more of their music and saw in YouTube videos how down-to-earth they were.
It was time to get back in to live music and it’d been several years since my last music festival (probably Leeds Festival around 2009?) so I jumped at the chance to buy a ticket for Pukkelpop. The trip would also allow me to see a bit of Belgium and, excitingly, Brussels.
I was going to go even if Chvrches were the only good band playing but, happily, that wasn’t the case! It transpires that Pukkelpop is flying the flag for lots of up and coming, alternative acts, such as Odesza, Courtney Barnett, Four Tet and Django Django. There are some more familiar names too – some bizarre choices really – the likes of The Offspring and FFS (Franz Ferdinand & Sparks).
I’m going for the Friday and Saturday only while the festival stretches from Wednesday to Sunday. Limp Bizkit plays on the Thursday – I won’t be there *sad face*…
On my first day in Belgium, I’m planning to see:
- Courtney Barnett
- Twenty One Pilots
- Jamie xx
- Bastille (maybe)
- The Maccabees
- James Blake
- Four Tet
- Manchester Orchestra
- The Offspring
- Milk Teeth
Courtney Barnett, Aussie singer-songwriter, has received a lot of love online and in the press recently and was recommended on my favourite podcast (also a blog and movement) TYCI. My mate also gave her his seal of approval so that’s all I needed to give her music a try!
Her stuff is interesting. You have catchy guitar riffs but the unique thing about her is when she performs her songs in her Australian accent it’s like a mix between a cool rock singer and a story-telling rapper. I’m not sure if you’d call it singing. Her confidence in her unique sound is her strength though, as are her witty lyrics.
Odesza I discovered these via YouTuber, Ben Brown’s, daily vlogs. He uses Odesza’s music as a backdrop to scenic, sun-drenched clips of South Africa.
The soulful electronic music duo from Seattle’s looking up beats and heavenly vocal samples from the likes of Zyra hit me hard from the start. Zyra makes Say My Name her own although Harrison Mills’ and Clayton Knight’s fairytale tones are a key ingredient.
Here is Say My Name on SoundCloud as well as some excellent mixes. It’s Only is another stunning-sounding piece featuring Zyra.
The Maccabees are bigger than ever, I’d say most alternative rock music fans have heard of them. I was as obsessed with them eight or nine years ago as I am with Chvrches now.
I lapped up their first two albums and rated their live shows as the best I’d experienced albeit compared to only tens of other gigs.
When I could see the southern English quintet were destined for bigger things and bigger venues than Night & Day Cafe in Manchester, I couldn’t bare the thought of seeing them in a comparatively soulless place like the Manchester Evening News Arena (now the Manchester Arena). I’d miss the eye contact, seeing the sweat dripping from lead guitarist, Felix’s brow, when he got particularly high energy during an instrumental and hearing lead singer, Orlando’s soft speaking voice, when he made endearing one-liners in between songs.
I blocked them out for years but now I’m listening to new music again, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to be reunited with The Maccabees, and what better way than with a live performance?