Ieper Hardcore Fest, an underground festival that grew out to be one of the biggest festivals in the scene and could even be called the Mecca where every self-respecting hardcorefan should have stagedived at least one time in his or her life.
Ladies and gentleman, kids and pets, welcome to utopia.
Main course: Hardcore. Real hardcore.
Ladies and gentleman, kids and pets, welcome to utopia.
Main course: Hardcore. Real hardcore.
The music and the message
The message: More Than Music (MTM)Ieperfest is unique, because of the cliché sounding fact that it is about much more than just music. All food is vegan, bands and fans stand right next to each other while watching the shows, there is a zine library (Brutality's first zine with some highlight articles is in there too!), you can discuss social matters with your favourite band, watch live interviews and throw your own question in. It is education, self-development, celebrating freedom of speech and partying from eleven in the morning until the sun comes up.
The first Brutality DIY zine chillin' in the DIY library.
The More Than Music tent was fully scheduled with live interviews such as with bassplayer Craig from Sick Of It All. Craig talked about pre-internet activitities going on to keep the scene alive during his young years. Bands used to trade tapes by post to expand their sound and get to know other bands. To give you an example: One of those tapes Craig received had been on the road for weeks after somebody from the Filippines had sent a demo from his band. Those packages always contained a letter introducing themselves and asking for a tape to be sent back. As Craig told his story, all we could do was gaze because none of us sitting there had ever imagined what it was like in those days to promote your band without internet.
The Hardcore Help Foundation (HHF) is an unique organisation that collects money for people that are in need. How do they do this? The presentation they set up at Ieperfest gave all answers to your questions.
The HHF collects donated (most of the time second hand) band merch and the person who buys anything decides what the price will be. This way the organisation has collected a bunch of money in very little time. The German saviors were able to set up projects in Japan where they rebuilded a school after the earthquake, set up several medical camps in Kenya and helped out American people without health insurance. Those people really save lifes!
HHF on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheHHF
If you think that Ieperfest is just another festival, think again. It is educational, makes you think about society and about yourself. And it is one big party. This tent is important, because the name itself says where the entire scene stands for. More than just music.
On the menu: The music
The festival starts off with fresh fruits, croissants and cold beer. Later on falafel and stew are served, both with salad. What else you could get? Let’s start off with some starters.
Starters (read: Friday):
Death By Stereo, Kylesia, Skarhead, Aborted, Congress, Mucky Pup,
Kylesa brings music which might remain you of Mastodon and Baroness and actually seems nothing special at first sight. However, if you take a closer look at the band it becomes more interesting from the moment you notice a second drummer bringing adding some extra fire to the songs.
When Skarhead enters the stage, they are welcomed by an enthusiast crowd. At least as long as the band does what they are expected to do, which is making music. Compared to other bands, the frontman does not speak of wisdom in between songs. He does an attempt to make jokes, but that does not mean the crowd thinks it is funny. However, songs like United Forces were able to pull the atmosphere in the right direction again.
Knuckledust promotes simplicity all the way and no show of them passes by without them supporting you to pick up a piece of wood containing strings and start to play music yourself. 'It's easy, learn three chords on guitar and make your own songs'. Beside promoting simplicity, vocalist Pierre dedicated his love for the Belgian trappist beers.
Knuckledust's new album 'Lies, Bluff, Alibis' was not officially released yet, but for Ieperfest an exception was made and the first albums were sold and also the set they played contained a whole bunch of new material. The new songs do sound different and that is something the crowd noticed, as many people were already familiar with the new single that was played.
On Friday, one of the most creative sets is brought by Mucky Pup. From covering ACDC's Hell's Bells to vocalist Chris suddenly dissapearing to change his white HHF shirt for a black tank top and gloves. As you can suspect, the shirt did not live a long life, as the vocalist tears the top apart with great effort. More creativity is spot in the show itself. An audio fragment where you could hear Chris' inner voice speaking in combination with his acting skills surprised the entire marquee. Suddenly the set changed into theatre.
This band is more punk oriented and makes a party of their time on stage.
Nice fact: A blow up orca doll died of eargasmic pleasure during Mucky Pup's show. I still feel sorry for him.
Up next in the marquee is local legend Congress. While Funeral For A Friend is not even finishing their set on the main stage, the marquee is getting full. This is Congress' first show in six years time. The fans get to hear what they came for. A show full of energy, good atmosphere and last but not least: The vocalist performed some fire breathing!
Friday's headliner? Agnostic Front. These grandfathers try to raise the festival to an even higher level. When it comes to the atmosphere, they succeed in what they do. The stage was overfilled with photographers and admirers. The crowd was amused as they were stagediving today like there had not been stagedived before on Friday. Finally the REAL party started. The only sad thing is that Roger Miret's voice does not seem to be as strong as it used to be. The impression that came to me was that the vocalist must have been ill. However, there were so many people singing along with songs such as 'From The East Coast To The West Coast' and 'Friend Or Foe' that the atmosphere became more important than the sound of the vocals itself. Death By Stereo and Skarhead's vocalists were invited to sing a few songs together with Roger.
Main course (read: Saturday)It is still early when the guys from Cornered set foot on stage. The Dutch guys spoil their energy all over the marquee and tell everyone to support the HHF.
In the early afternoon the bigmouthed cocky guys from London who call themselves TRC take over the mic at the main stage. Songs like 'Go Hard Or Go Home', 'Define Cocky' and 'London's Greatest Love Story' do the trick. During the set, singer Anthony had a bunch of singalong people in front of him who could simply not get enough of it. Second vocalist Chris made fun of the fact that all the lyrics sort of mutated since most parts were sung wrong by the crowd. BUSTEEEEED! But come on, don't we all sometimes just yell and scream some syllables into that microphone because actually you don't really know what the lyrics are? Of course we do. Even you do. And admit it, it is funny as well.
Nice fact: The very first show TRC played outside the UK was in Belgium.
Reign Supreme seems to have a very very very angry vocalist, who had a special vision on life. The philosopher spread his ideas not only with the lyrics, but did spend a good amount of time on talking during the set. After the last song 'Persevere And Overcome' was played, the last message was given before the band went off stage: 'Take this energy and use it to change the world, losers'. No hard feelings though.
Compared to Reign Supreme, Your Demise brings a calm set. The atmosphere is more like take it easy and just party with some sonic boom here and there. The show came to an end with the bassplayer crowdsurfing on the stage, yes everyone could join, since everyone again was invited on stage with 'The Kids We Used To Be'.
Lots of people gathered in the marquee for Grand Magus. Most people seem to be here in an attempt to get away from the heat in the first place. However a band like Grand Magus would attract more fans at a metalfestival, the hardcorefans did not let the band down, they got a well deserved applause after playing.
Trapped Under Ice was the first band of the day where so many people showed an interest for. Today is the last day of tour and their first time at the Ieperfest summer edition. Dust filled the air as movements in the pit took place and the band focussed more on the new songs.
Nice fact: one girl got spanked by the no-shirt-sixpack-but-still-wearing-cap-in-this-heat vocalist before she stagedived.
The Black Dahlia Murder breaks a funnyness record by dedicating songs to 'This guy's beard' while pointing at some random guy standing in the first row. A fan dressed up like a Geisha got the task to lead the circlepit. Two years ago, the band was headliner at the main stage, but this year Ignite and Sick Of It All have pushed the band down in the line-up.
Due to illness, Ignite had to look for a back-up vocalist. Consequence: The vocals sound rather weak, the power was simply missing and made the set unfortunately rather dissapointing. The crowd in general did not care all too much about it, because they had more fun singing along then listening to the back-up vocals.
Saturday's headliner is Sick Of It All. The Newyorkers play Ieperfest for the very first time in their life. Before the first note was played 0,1% of the people started to stagedive and after the first two songs photographers forget why they are dragging the camera with them. 'So, this is Ieperfest' said frontman Koller admiring. 'Let's Take The Night Off', 'Us Vs. Them', 'Scratch The Surface' and every song was sung word by word by thousands of people at a time.Dessert (read: Sunday)
Belgian band Nemea opens the festival on Sunday morning. It is clear that most people are still chilling at the camping or simply have not arrived yet, since the marquee is only half as full as it should be.
After Nemea it is A Strength Within's turn to warm up the crowd for Ieperfest's last day. A higher level of enthusiasm is seen among the people that came to see the Belgian band.
More Belgian music at Ieperfest with Deformity. Never heard of this band before? Deformity was formed by ex-members of Congress and contains death metal influences.
Due to problems with the tourbus, Naysayer and Brutality Will Prevail are late and the main stage remains empty. But not for long, as the organisation decided to bring the presentations that normally take place in the MTM tent were moved to the main stage.
After a few hours the first act on the main stage is Deez Nuts. After a few song were played the crowd remained rather calm. At this point it became clear that most people just wanted to see Deez Nuts live, nothing more, nothing less. Sad thing is that you could barely hear the vocals if you were at the front rows. Nevertheless, during the second part of the set, people are more into moving around.
Cruel Hand seems to do the opposite of what Deez Nuts did to the crowd. Cruel Hand brings a very energetic show with a great response of the fans.
Late coming bands Naysayer and Brutality Will Prevail got the chance to bring a split-set in between Cruel Hand's and Terror's sets. Thumbs up for the organisation to make the schedule so incredibly tight and still not creating too much delay in the end.
The keepers of the faith, named Terror are never dissapointing if you put them on the right stage. Compared to Groezrock earlier this year, you can say that if Terror plays a stage that is not open to stagedive or sing along, it just it not the same. Ieperfest's open stages are very important for the atmosphere that makes hardcore so unique and that is something also Terror noticed. The set was opened with 'Stick Tight' and of course their goodbye song was -guess what- 'Keepers Of The Faith'.
Nice fact: Converge's soundcheck was a rather -what should I call it...-. Well, let's just say that it kind or reminded of a man giving birth to a child, in a rather painful way.
Darkest Hour succesfully amused the crowd with lots of new material and threw in some good old stuff like 'The Sadist Nation'. Some good old metal cannot do harm. But the music can harm your sunglasses in an indirect way by making you move, lose the glasses and then they simply break under your own feet. No worries, the Brutality crew has been building those broken pieces together again during the entire weekend and some of them even ended up starting a new life, among rockstars.
Darkest hour: no broken glasses, no party.
Bolt Thrower, an exentric headliner. This British death metal band plays only a few festivals every summer, which means this show is unique. Bolt Thrower used to be a punkband, but changed sound over the years. Around half of the amount of people started to leave the festival before and during the very last set of the festival, since most of them came to see hardcorebands. Only some reviewers, a bunch of metalfreaks and shitworkers and few a hardcorefans remained at the main stage to see those British guys (and one woman playing the bass) decently break down the stage.
Nice fact: Bolt Thrower formed 26 years ago while having a conversation in the restroom.
This 20th edition of Ieperfest was a blast. Next to the hardcoreband in the line-up, some room is left for other related genres as well. Now that the summer edition has come to an end, the organisation is already taking care of the Winter edition, which takes place every early Februar. See you there!
By Glenn Heyse