21, 22, 23, 24 June 2012
The venue is provided by the TAG, just off Place Rogier. The music direction comes from Soirées Cerises, the Brussels organisation that has programmed in venues across the town over 600 gig in the past few years. The sound installations provided by the Communautée Française for the Fêtes de la Musique.
Soirées Cerises events are always a good thing just to turn up at, as you get everything and anything, but usually good, sometimes awful, and sometimes utterly sublime.
With 70 acts on this weekend, I didn’t get to see everything by any means, and not everything merits a mention, but there was plenty of choice, and I was able to fill my time with some stuff that ranged from the pretty good to the utterly sublime.
Bubbly, sparky Théa sings French folk-pop songs about the people and the world she lives in. With a competent backing including Thierry from the Déménageurs, and Vince from Camping Sauvach, it’s not necessarily brimming with originality, but I’ve rarely seen this sort of stuff done better. Should go down a storm at something like the Francofolies.
Recommended – Citadelle, featuring a bandura – a wonderful harp-ish type instrument from Ukraine.
Let’s be kind and describe the vocal delivery as “limited”, but what does make the appeal of this local singer-songwriter is the quality of the songs, and blues guitar playing straight from the Mississippi delta. With a bit of voice coaching, he’d be absolutely riveting.
Not sure as a performer, but as a songwriter, he's brilliant.
My first impression was a bit Vismets. Young lads, loads of attitude, poppy rock with synths. But the buzz about the Pistoos is quite different – it’s clear that they’re not focussing on disappearing up their own arses with overinflated egos and unrealistic expectations, and they are just going to keep to what we like, namely rock hard and party.
Some of the later songs make me think of Duran Duran or a hint of Psycadelic Furs, and despite a vocal performance that has all the finesse of an Andean peasant hill chant, the frontman does have one hell of a stage presence. Top marks also for the back 3, who are tight as a gnat’s chuff and brimming with energy, and the guy playing the lead parts on synth is truly excellent, and just gives them the edge over other power-pop rivals.
Sandra has a natural talent for spreading joy and happiness through music. There’s a mix of original work in immaculate French and English, and a very diverse range of covers, all accompanied by Daniel’s versatile and original acoustic guitar playing.
Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games shows off her amazing range and vocal technique, and her take on Relax takes the song to a completely different level, leaving Mika’s original far behind.
If you like simple atmospheric indie that creates its own unique soundscape for you to lose yourself in, you’ll love Chloé and the Lonesome Cowboy. Chloé’s charming voice and delightful guitar are beautifully enhanced by the Lonesome Cowboy’s delicate drumming and subtle electric piano.
As charming off the stage as on, whitnessing this labour of love was one of the highlights of my weekend.
Who??? Yes, that’s what I thought. Last minute stand-ins for Rhinestone Lives, whom I was quite looking forward to. But as soon as the duo launch into their brand of pure Americana, we know we’ll be staying for the whole set.
It turns out that they’re Canadian exiles here in Brussels. The drums through the laptop are a bit tinny, but they are normally a trio with a regular drummer. The other thing going through the laptop is a Hammond emulator, which was every bit as good as the real thing.
Blues rock isn’t usually my thing, but their songwriting is quite different, and when it’s run with that kind of sound on the guitar and organ, it’s highly captivating, and topped off with the musicianship behind it, totally compelling.
Good crowd to see Leticia’s solo project, but the simple guitar playing, accented English, and breathy voice leave me with the impression that she’s trying too hard to conform to an idea of what she wants to be rather than just letting herself go and being a bit more herself.
The scraggly American looking uncomfortable in a cardigan and trailing a cheap guitar bag has most of the audience popping out to the bar. But you should never judge on appearances alone. The bag opens to reveal a beautiful Gretch, and the youth steps up to the microphone to deliver a handful of songs that totally captured me with the wonderful imagery of the lyrics.
Despite a set of only 4 songs, and a somewhat uncertain demeanour, this was one of those magical moments I’ve only come across a handful of times in my life. The vivid imagery in the lyrics and the departure from tried and tested songwriting formulae of Brendan’s lo-fi folk have made me an instant convert.
I believe I have witnessed one of our era’s greatest poets. 15 minutes of sheer bliss.
Back on the jungle stage, they’re running rather late, owing to a lost drumkit and a plethora of technical problems and some rather strange variations on the concept of plugging and getting on with it. So it’s a relief to see these three lads have brought some proper kit and a proper attitude with them.
They plug in, turn on, and rock.
I can’t see them becoming household names, cause there’s a lot of bands doing this sort of brash indie-punk-glam rock, and you need to be truly exceptional to stand out, but they’re good, and they’re entertaining, and great value for money. The only real disappointment was that they had to cut their set short to help catch up with the timing issues.
But that did mean I got to see…
The idea is novel – take a song, kill it, and stuff it with something that brings it back to like again. The dead songs are things we’re all familiar with, stripped down to a recorded backing, and stuffed with some rather unsubtle guitar and bags of true Brusseleer humour and attitude.
David’s stories behind the songs are a vital part of the act – as much rock as stand-up cabaret, so it does help if you understand French. And most of the audience evidently do, as they are laughing their nuts off. Original, entertaining, and brilliantly put together.
A fine way to end what is only a snippet of the 70 acts that were on over the weekend.