Live Reports

A long Sunday at the Sjock Festival

There’s no better way to enjoy a rainy Sunday than at the Sjock Festival. Blending punk, HxC and rockabilly, the genres blend to our greatest delight.

What a start !

Straight from Seattle, The Drowns were all what we needed to realize that we’ve entered the church of rock is one chord on the flying V of singer-guitarist Rev. The man’s gravelly vocal stylings, accompanied by a meticulously crafted backing band, deliver a set at the height of efficiency. With nods to No Fun At All and Cock Sparrer which will close this Sunday’s Sjock, it’s clear that the band is a brutal but pleasant early alarm clock for festival-goers.

The show was nevertheless disrupted by a violent act on the part of the security guards, who locked a poor innocent fan in a garbage can. All smiles … Monsters ! On a more serious note, the real highlight of the show was the Sweets‘ cover of “Ballroom Blitz“, a crazy song from the delightful “Wayne’s World” movie that delighted a crowd of nostalgic thirty-somethings. A great discovery and a great start for the main stage, with a powerful, well-balanced sound !

The Drowns @ Sjock Festival 2023 – 9th of July 2023 // Mademsku for Ctrl Alt Music.

Now it’s time for us to take a step back in time. While last year we spent all our time on the main stage, this year we’re looking elsewhere. And what could be better for discovery than opening our eardrums to some good old rockabilly ? The Titty Twister stage opens its doors to time with the band Lobo Jones and the Rhythm Hounds. The sound may be American, but the British invoke the all-time greats for a spectacular show.

Acoustic guitar in hand, gleaming double bass, it smells of bourbon and Texas, and God knows how it swings. Sometimes it’s Johnny Cash’s grandson, sometimes it’s Elvis’s nephew, but there’s still a breath of fresh air in this tried-and-tested genre. With a drummer’s non-stop rhythms, the stinging solos of the telecaster will get the crowd moving, rather than the moshpits expected at the end of the day. A first for us in this encounter with music history, and what a discovery !

Lobo Jones and the Rhythm Hounds @ Sjock Festival 2023 – 9th of July 2023 // Mademsku for Ctrl Alt Music.

Rock’n’Roll baby !

We’ll pass with respect the fiasco of Hola Ghost, who only made it rain with a weak show and atrocious sound, a small exception that will let us enjoy a sublime show by His Lordship, a garage-bluesy project by a crazy trio who took advantage of the rain to get an audience ready to sing “Singin in the Rain“. Somewhere between The Hives and the late Jeff Beck, as crazy as it sounds… A nice surprise that will make us go up the slope !

His Lordship @ Sjock Festival 2023 – 9th of July 2023 // Mademsku for Ctrl Alt Music.

One more to go ! The Bang Bang stage is there to give us an earful. Designed for more underground projects, it’s with a bit of France in mind that we meet up Lullies. As the latest discovery in the broad French punk scene, we were eager to see what they could do live on stage, which was a shame for our eardrums.

Les Lullies @ Sjock Festival 2023 – 9th of July 2023 // Mademsku for Ctrl Alt Music.

This band is no slouch, with a steamroller-style set featuring their undiscovered but wide-ranging discography, from the hit “Zéro Ambition” to “Mauvaise Foi“. The sound was loud, too loud, the sound was bloody, but the audience was delighted, and the energy never stopped making this one of the best gig of the day. Bringing in a French-speaking punk band was a big plus for the openness of the Flemish side, and the combination was a fine one to meditate on…

Simply the best ?

The smackdown of the day was expected, and it was obviously the Canadians from Wine Lips who dominated this rock-heavy day with a purely punk show. Psychedelic garage, sometimes psychedelic (“Tension“) sometimes garage (the astonishing opening with the hit “Eyes“). It’s a ball. It makes you dance, it creates fabulous moshpits, they gave us a tee-shirt (this article is purely objective) and above all they continue the show with one string less on the bass AND the guitar. A classy, classy band, with a drummer who ties this corrosive mix together with a masterful hand. Must see again.

“Just trying to make it through the weekend so I can close my eyes”

The day comes to a close with the Americans of The Bronx and the contagious good vibes from Matt, surely one of the best-preserved singers of the punk-hardcore era. “Do you have any energy left ? Circle Pits! And bam, “Heart Attack American“, and then again “Knifeman “or the solid “Around The Horn“, which the band will keep going right up to the last second. Great class, great show, more about efficiency than surprise, The Bronx tick the boxes of a band we wanted to see and really enjoyed.

The Bronx @ Sjock Festival 2023 – 9th of July 2023 // Mademsku for Ctrl Alt Music.

Unfortunately, we had to leave the festival before the legends of Cock Sparrer, but the results are obvious. Year after year, the Sjock Festival has established itself as the grail of underground festivals in Belgium, between legends and newcomers. Behind a big family spirit, crowds and artists meet and share a moment that only Hans Kersemans and his team (motivated and fast) make easy, pleasant and with a great energy. There’s an air of vacation in Gierle tonight, and we leave this edition without our eardrums but with lots of memories. Between Wine Lips, Les Lullies and the surprise His Lordship, our hearts beat as fast as our feet, and it would take more than one live report to share these crazy discoveries in this rock setting. A date not to be missed, thanks again for this.

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