With a bit of delay, a quick run through my Werchter days.
I got a four day ticket. Every year it seems to be harder to find people I know going, but usually things turn out OK and I meet up with a bunch of friends on each day, every day different.
Day 1 was hectic – massive traffic jams to the festival. I had left 3.5 hours in advance to be able to see the National and hoping to be on time to see Counting Crows before that. I ended up missing CC completely, and arriving in the Pyramid Marquee as the National were wrapping up their opener, Start a War. So I couldn’t get really close to the stage, but the sound in that tent is still pretty decent from afar. A great set, if by now predictable – as a festival set should be. No surprises, and no About Today, but a stunning Ada and Fake Empire again enhanced with horn and trumpet.
Other than that, Lenny Kravitz was tight, so OK, REM was pretty good compared to the other 4 times I’ve happened to see them there (though I guess I’ll never get to hear Leave live), and I keep not getting what’s so good about Soulwax Nite Versions because to me it just plain sucked again. I want some rock in my wax again.
Day 2. Pete Doherty did a three out of three in not showing up at Belgian festivals. Jay-Z was fun, though playing hits like Crazy in Love and Umbrella loses most of the fun if he only does his bits. The Verve was ok, but not as good as I expected.
Patrick Watson was an amazing discovery. I had made a Werchter playlist of a good 1000 songs the two weeks before, but didn’t really pay much attention to him. The morning of day 2 I started listening only to him, and was blown away enough to make sure to leave on time and catch his show. It was pretty damn good, I wonder why he slipped under my radar before. At the end of his set the power blew out – just as he was starting one of his best soungs, Luscious Life (trying hard not to bring up a certaind dead singer as a reference point). He took it in his stride, took his megaphone, his drummer took one of the drums, his guitarist an acoustic guitar, and they jumped into the audience playing the next song ‘unplugged’. Awesome way to win over the audience.
Ben Folds was entertaining and pretty good all in all. My Morning Jacket blew me away as well – first time I got to see them live, hope to see them in a non-festival setting. We ended up leaving halfway through Neil Young – somehow he’s never really clicked with me. But there’s no denying the excellence of Heart of Gold.
On Day 3, we arrived too late for Gossip. We pulled into the parking lot as MGMT was playing ‘To Pretend’, this summer’s anthem for youth lost. Hope to catch them at Pukkelpop. Jeroen tipped me off to Band of Horses, and they were pretty damn good. They had fun on stage, introducing pretty much every song with ‘this song is called WOO!’. Kate Nash was fun, Editors were solid as usual – they’ll never be favorites but damn they make some excellent tunes, and I have a soft spot for guitars that sound like that.
Kristien and I agreed to make relationship exceptions for Editor‘s singer (she) and KT Tunstall (me). KT Tunstall has the single most amazing Jools performance to her name (seriously, if you don’t know what this links to and you like music, go watch it now. Her albums admittedly are a little on the soft side, but I was looking forward to see her live. I was not disappointed – a chunk rawer than on record, she was cute, sexy and funny, and she tied song 1 to song 2 using a joke about dropping phones in toilets on festivals. She did Black Horse and the Cherry Tree solo, and it was excellent. And apparently she’s getting married to her drummer. Anyway, infatuation reinforced.
Day 3 wrapped up with a nice triplet. I’ve seen Ben Harper multiple times but lost track of his recent albums, and he played mostly stuff from that. If an artist has 8 albums and an hour for a live set there’s very little chance he’s going to play your favourites.
Sigur Rós on the other hand was just spot on awesome. I was worried that it wouldn’t really work out well on the main stage – I had seen a not-so-great set at Summercase in Barcelona two years ago. But they were simply amazing. Them coming on stage in strange costumes was a bit of a cliffhanger – it could have gone really downhill from there. I mean, the guy had feathers stuck to the back of his head.
Instead, we got treated to an amazing walk through their discography, taking the most uptempo songs from the new album (good choice) – and bringing in an Icelandic marching band brass section -, favourites from Takk and Agaetis Byrjun, and the always stellar (number 8) from their unnamed white album. Sigur Ros really are at the top of their game right now – don’t miss out on any chance you have to see them.
Then came Radiohead. Contrary to the abysmal situation last month in Barcelona, the sound was crystal perfect. The set was less accessible than in Barcelona, but I have stopped minding – by now they’re able to cull a fantastic live set from their last 4 albums. The Kid A live transition was rougher in the past. This time around they only played “Just” from the first two albums, and that’s it. Though they did a completely stellar Climbing Up The Walls. Sigur Ros were standing right behind us in the PA tent following the whole concert.
I skipped on day 4 in the end. I really only wanted to see dEUS, and they were supposed to start at midnight, so I would never have gotten home before 4 in the morning. With a plane leaving at 8.45, it would just not have been smart.
Anyway, festivals are still heaps of fun for me. On to Summercase and Pukkelpop!