First festival in years!

It had been 6 years since I last went to a music festival. Or should I say ‘live open-air performance of a band that is bigger than the ones that only play in local venues’… 🤔I did go to for example White Lies and Olly Murs in the meantime, but those were in concert halls, which give a completely different atmosphere.

So the last music festival was actually in my own city, where a certain TV show was being recorded for two weeks or so. It was a talk show called Villa Vanthilt (Vanthilt being the last name of the host), with lots of guests and a performance at the end of the show. The market place of Dendermonde was the place to be that June. One evening, my friends and I went to check out a few famous guests (I think it was, among others, the guy who plays Malfoy’s father in the Harry Potter movies) and the performance of White Lies. The short concert was awesome, especially since it was incredibly small-scale and they’d be playing at Rock Werchter, one of Belgium’s biggest festivals, the day after. 👏

After the show, we somehow hoped to see the guys from White Lies and we found their tour bus just a few minutes away from the market place. We knew the band had their backstage in the city hall, so we thought “they’ll have to pass us if they want to get to their tour bus…” and waited near the city hall’s side exit. Another girl wasn’t as patient, and asked the security people if she could quickly go inside and snap a picture of them. That’s what she did, and in a minute she was back outside and went home. The four of us, and another small group of people tested our luck and waited a bit longer. We saw the tour bus arrive right next to us and in another few minutes, the band member came out one by one. They were right there in front of us, no fences to keep us back separating us from them. So, since we came this far already, we asked for pictures and autographs, and they were glad to provide us with both. 💪 As in: all of us could take a separate pictures with all members separately. Isn’t that awesome?! We told them they did a great show and wished them luck with the performance at Werchter. THAT WAS AMAZING. 🙌

WhiteLies at VillaVanthilt

My friends and I afterwards changed our profile pic on facebook to our pictures with this one (not even permanent) member of the band, and all three of us were asked whether he was our boyfriend. Haha, if only! 🤣

The day after, Kaiser Chiefs performed but we had to go home early that day. Turned out that band actually went for drinks in the pubs surrounding the market square! Such a bummer…

Anyway! Last Saturday, my friend and I went to Mechelen for Maanrock, a free festival in the centre of the city. The funny thing is: this friend is the one I met during the show I just mentioned. I’m not kidding, we were both invited by a mutual friend and became friends. Hah! 6 years later, and we’re at a festival together again! 😁 Both she and I went to the same university here in Mechelen, so before the festival started, we wanted to get all nostalgic and visited our old campus. It had changed so much that it got us completely confused and disappointed. First of all, my major had moved to another campus and this whole campus seemed to have become the ‘teaching campus’. My friend’s major was still there but they probably tucked it away somewhere where we couldn’t find it. So sad! 😭Everything had changed to much, we felt like a part of us died. We were like “I have no memory of this place.” 😱

After our very disappointing visit to this strange place, we returned to the main street by way of Kruidtuin, a nice little park adjacent to the campus. This had changed as well, but it had only changed for the better, so no harm done there. 😉 It had a pretty little bridge we’d never noticed before, though it was impossible it wasn’t there before…
Photogenic bridge in Mechelen

We wandered about in the city for a bit, looking around in a few shops and trying to find a decent place to eat. The city had changed too, it was made almost entirely car-free, which felt refreshing, and they’d also added nice decorations and a fountain and all that. Way to go Mechelen!

It wasn’t easy to find a place to eat; most shops were closed because of the festival. After a while, I spotted a narrow place called Phood which sold salads and grilled sandwiches. We opted for the ‘Maanrock special’, which cost less than the usual salads and thus got a salad with quinoa, rucola (arugula), broccoli, honey vinaigrette and chickpeas/chicken. Honestly? We didn’t like it much. ‘Boring’ would be the best way to describe our opinion. It was good for the first few bites, but then it was just meh. And the portion was too big too. I think just one salad would’ve been enough for the both of us. Sorry Phood, but it wasn’t for us! 🙏

But then! Then we heard The Lighthouse was doing their soundcheck. The Lighthouse? Yep, the band for whom I wanted to go the the festival in the first place. My friend had never heard of them though. At first, when I asked her to go with me, she said “But I don’t know any of the artists!” but eventually she agreed to come along and she didn’t regret it. 👊

The band was one of the three winners of a contest called ‘De Nieuwe Lichting’ (I’ll freely translate that as The New Load) by radio station Studio Brussel earlier this year. The contest looks for new talent in the more alternative genres. I mean, it’s not like American Idol or The X-Factor, where it’s mostly pop music. Every time, three artists are chosen, introduced on the radio station, given the chance to perform at Pukkelpop (another big music festival in Belgium), given professional guidance to improve and so on.

I hadn’t really followed the whole contest, and didn’t know who won. So when I was working at one of the book events I used to work for, they tuned into Studio Brussel, and that week was the ‘Week van Eigen Kweek’ (a week that promotes the Belgian music scene and in which ONLY Belgian music is played). This week is THE week for the promotion of the De Nieuwe Lichting finalists. I’m not kidding, I heard them tens of times a day. But this one song really caught my attention. All I heard was

“Girl, I believe this belongs in the movies.” 🎶

A sentence that kept ringing in my head. I did hear it several times a day, so it wasn’t hard to put in in my head. By Wednesday, I could probably sing along to the whole song. It was incredibly catchy and I just had to know who sang it, but somehow they never mentioned the artist clearly/they said the artist before the song started/I forgot the name by the time I got home. So once my week at the event was finished, I called Google for help. It wasn’t difficult to find, and I immediately added the song to my Youtube playlist.

Curious? Here it is!

Isn’t that an absolutely catchy song? I still can’t get enough of it and I hope you love’ll it too!

They describe their genre as “songs that feel like Friday” and I think that couldn’t be more accurate. If you like The 1975/Walk the Moon/The Wombats/Two Door Cinema Club, you should give them a try! And if you don’t, give them a try either way! 😀

Here’s a selection of three of my favourite The Lighthouse songs (apart from Hollywood):

Down They Go: this video is just too cute.

Some people in the comments are really rude, saying it’s the most boring cover of TLC’s No Scrubs, but I really like it!

I don’t think this is the official video, as it has only 200 views, and was just done for a TV show. But it’s so fantastically low-cost, hehe. Enjoy!

So yeah, there you have a nice little introduction to my new favourite Belgian band. 😉

But wait, we were at the festival…

So their show was super. We were in the front row, right in front of the (way too strong) amplifiers. We were wearing ear protection, as any good festival goer should, but the amplifiers didn’t do the music justice. As usual, the vocal part was not loud enough. Is it just me, or do they for some reason make the instruments louder than the singing? I’m not sure, but I think it’s annoying. Isn’t the singing the main part of a song then? If anyone knows why this happens, do let me know because it confuses me. ANYWAY, all that aside, they did a great show and then my friend said “Look, there’s their merch stand!”

In between theirs and the next performance, we checked out their merchandising stand. I usually don’t buy merch, because I often think it’s overpriced. But for this starting band that probably still needs all the funds they can get, I didn’t mind.

First of all, we were surprised it was they themselves who sold the merchandising. It’s the first time I saw a band doing so. I was taken aback. I wanted to turn around and flee. Talking to strangers is one thing, but talking to absolutely talented strangers that just performed right in front of you is something else entirely! I’m already no good at talking to strangers and it makes my heart race so this was nerve-wrecking to say the least. And out of all people, it had to be the member who is -to speak in K-pop terms- my ‘bias’ (i.e. my favourite member). That was terrifying, haha! Oh my, I sound like a teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber or One Direction… 🙄

Okay, so they had a tote bag, their album and two tees: a white one and a black one. While we were waiting in line (read: being ignored as people cut in line), my friend and I were debating what I should get. I never use tote bags and I have one of Nightmare Before Christmas, so the tote bag was a certain no. Their album? I should have bought it so that I could legally put the songs on my music player, but my reasoning against it was that I never listen to CD’s. Way to go Yooya. 😳 So all that was left were the tees. I don’t like black clothing, neither do I like white clothing, so I was in a dilemma. Black is too hot, white is see-through/gets dirty easily/turns greyish when you wash it often. The black one had their logo in white, the white one had their logo in black with a cocktail glass in a orange-turquoise gradient. So: black one is boring, white one has some colour but is still white.

It was our turn. It was our turn but for some reason they ignored us. Did we turn invisible and was that the reason why people cut in line and the band members ignored us? I’m not sure, but eventually the guy in black (I had no idea what their names were) who was right in front of us (but didn’t speak) finally asked us what we’d liked. So, I narrated my dilemma. I told him they needed more colour, and I even gave a possible new design. He said they might have more colour in their next batch, but I’m sure he’ll forget about my suggestion anyway. 🙄 and he provided a solution: he’d put both T-shirts behind his back, switch them up and then let me choose a side. Choosing left or right is actually as difficult as choosing the tee but hey, it was at least something. So he did, and I chose left. He said “My left of your left?” to which I responded with pointing my finger to his left side. He looked behind his back, and with his RIGHT hand, gave me the black version. 😅 My friend and I thought it quite obvious he just wanted me to have the black one all along. 😏 Or maybe they just didn’t have white ones with them… So this guy disappeared, told the other guy to get me my size, and without a word the other guy gave me my tee. What a weird situation this all was. And all this time my heart was pounding. That was definitely a ‘do something out of your comfort zone’ and ‘get over a fear’ achievement for my Level Up Life app!

It may all sound like a very normal situation to you, but for me it was certainly a very weird and stressful experience. I have to say, this keyboards guy was really kind and a bit funny, which did help ease the situation. Glad they didn’t get an attitude after winning the contest. 😌

After this, we stayed for the next artist as well. One of the three finalists of last year’s The Nieuwe Lichting, apparently; Equal Idiots. Though I wasn’t very excited about them, my friend was. And thus my friend found two new bands to enjoy!

This post is getting too long, so I’ll make it short now. All we did afterwards was get to the station, get on a train and then another and arrive back in Dendermonde an hour later. And then cycle home, which was scary because it was dark, I was alone and my front bicycle light stopped working. I was glad to arrive home! I put a video on Instagram, and if you’re reading this post the very day I post it, you can probably still click it in the sidebar. (somehow it doesn’t show up when I try adding it to my post)

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