With Summer carefully glancing around the corner of Belgium’s door to gray and rainy weather, I already start dreaming: tons of people, tons of grass (can be interpreted in many ways ha), vast blue skies, probably some good rain showers and jumping up and down in muddy pools, heavy guitar sounds rolling over a huge crowd, beer in plastic cups, wait … where did I set up my tent again??
Yes, festival season has almost arrived. Time to take a look at the Antwerp music scene! Every two weeks we will warm up your festival spirit by focussing on a new Antwerp based band, which we think you should keep an eye on! But before we start, let’s take a look at some Antwerp-based bands/groups/DJ people/singing gypsies we already know or at least should know. Ok.. I was kidding about the gypsies, got a little carried away looking for my tent.
dEUS was founded in Antwerp in 1991 and they became the first Belgian rock act ever to sign a major international label (Island Records). Their first album Worst Case Scenario was released in 1994, featuring the worldly known underground hit Suds & Soda. Their music is never straightforward, there’s always a twist and it’s exactly that which makes it stand out of the ordinary. Their live concerts have ranged from clumsy to ingenious and brilliant. A list of songs that still firmly holds a favorite’s position on my iPod: Hotellounge (1995), Roses (1996), Instant Street (1999), Nothing Really Ends (2006), The Architect (2008), Smokers Reflect (2008) and more recent The Soft Fall (2012).
However great the success, Tom Barman, lead singer of the band, can still be spotted on his bike, cycling around Antwerp. Or having a beer on a terrace in the city, watching people walk by, probably thinking of his next song. An interviewer once asked him what the best thing about living in Antwerp was. He replied “You have everything that a big town has, only it feels like a village. There are great museums, there’s a fine tradition of art in the town. And it’s a port town, so I guess there’s an openness to it that I like. I’m not sure I would be the person to stay in the same place too long, but because I’m away a lot on tour, it’s always nice to come back to Antwerp.” Exactly how we feel about it, Tom! Minus the touring.
2. The Hickey Underworld:
Named after a song by post-punk rock band Nation of Ulysses, the Hickey Underworld is probably one of the more recent revelations in the Belgian rock scene. In 2009, they released their self-titled debut album The Hickey Underworld. Their second album I’m Under The House, I’m Dying was released in 2012. These group of Antwerp noise(rock)boys prove that screaming can be very very sexy. I had the honor of watching them play live on a friend’s wedding in France. The party took place in a little castle somewhere in a big open space, surrounded by a huge forest. I remember the owner of the place asking us to be quiet for the sake of the animals who lived in the forest. Well… Sorry animals. The Hickey Underworld brought out our inner wild child, shook it up and down and left us wanting for more. And we danced and screamed till the sun came up.
DAAN is a solo-project by singer Daan Stuyven. I have this friend who spontaneously starts singing: “Victory… For you and me…”, every time I mention his name. That’s a good way to describe him, I guess: his songs get stuck in your head. His music is not just rock, it’s more a mixture of rock, creative pop/dance, electronic sounds and a warm, soothing voice. In 2010 and 2011 he won the award for best male performer during the Belgian Music Industry Awards. His most famous songs are probably Swedish Designer Drugs and Housewife.
Triggerfinger has been active since 2004, but they really hit the Belgian charts when they covered Lykki Li’s hit “I follow rivers”. The band’s sound is being compared to bands such as Queens of the Stone Age and Led Zeppelin. A journalist for the Dutch version of Rolling Stone Magazine recently described their music as “guitar sounds that can tear even the tightest muscle and a manhood this huge, even Justin Bieber grows a small d…” Yeah well, you get the picture! They are one of the best live-acts in Belgium, now ready to prove themselves in the UK. They have been asked to play the British Summer Time-festival in Hyde Park, London this summer, supporting no one less than the Rolling Stones themselves!
5. Black Box Revelation:
This Antwerp garage rock-band started out, exactly, jamming in their garage. Now their songs are used for episodes of the American hit series Sons of Anarchy and they performed on the David Letterman show. The New York Times wrote: “Every so often they strip the music down to something slow and bluesy. But the Black Box Revelation isn’t purely retro. They are just as happy with a drum-machine beat and a heap of overdubbed percussion, as long as the music makes its happy, trashy crash.” They recorded their latest album My Perception in L.A., together with producer Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures). They toured together with the Eagles of Death Metal and headlined their own shows across Europe and the States. “The black box revelation got the crowd on their feet and dancing with their growling, bluesy riffs and intense drums” (HardrockHaven).
Curious for more music from Antwerp? Don’t worry, there is much more to come! Stay with us while we take you through the (new) Antwerp music/festival scene all summer long!