With a line-up spanning from metal and punk to techno, D&B and house, this 10-day festival has something for everyone
Starting out in 1975, it's no wonder that Lokerse Feesten has built an army of loyal followers over different generations. What started as a small-scale party organised by the local youth centres grew into a 10-day megafest where, nowadays, various genres of music each get their own themed day. The festival takes place at the 15,000-capacity outdoor venue Grote Kaai, located in a town called Lokeren, an hour's drive from Brussels.
Over the years, the festival has welcomed many major international names: Snoop Dogg, The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, The Sex Pistols and Sinéad O'Connor, to name but a few. This year the Grote Kaai welcomed 130,000 visitors with The Scorpions, Christine & The Queens, Murdock, The Chemical Brothers and Oscar & The Wolf among the highlights on the bill. Each evening (or afternoon, on the Sunday) an enthusiastic crowd of all ages gathered to hear their favourite acts.
Meanwhile, the Red Bull Elektropedia Room (the second, indoor stage, set up seven years ago to serve younger festival-goers) attracted a lot of people in the late hours with performances from the likes of Cocaine Piss, Joyhauser, DJ Licious and PUSH. For the 45th edition, the festival also launched a third PiTCH stage, where emerging talents could step behind the turntables.
The festival was described as a success by the organisation even though they had to deal with two last-minute cancellations – Jess Glynne’s slot was filled in by Arsenal (who made people jump with the energy bombs Amplify and Lotuk) while Glints took the place of Dutch rapper Bizzey.
The most impressive stage production ever constructed at the Lokerse Feesten was prepared especially for The Chemical Brothers. “The duo are bringing a stage set that weighs 15 tonnes! We have equipped our podium with extra support pillars to make their set possible," said Lokerse Feesten stage manager Jonas Weyn. The legendary British duo's set was replete with iconic hits such as Hey Boy Hey Girl and Galvanize – indisputable showstoppers every one.
Celebrating the release of their new album No Geography, The Chems were booked for Lokerse just at the right time and set the stage on fire with their signature synthesis of alpha-beta psychedelic funkin'. Rip-roaring new tracks like MAH, Eve Of Destruction and Got To Keep On won prolonged applause while mind-bending visuals by Adam Smith & Marcus Lyall added an extra other-wordly feel to the proceedings.
And that's not to mention the two gigantic robots which suddenly appeared onstage at the end, and left everyone with their jaws dropped – proving to everyone that these two pioneers, who brought the big beat genre to the forefront of pop culture, have still got what it takes and deserve their reputation as absolute dancefloor devastators.
Other memorable acts that Friday included Charlotte de Witte, who had chemistry with The Chemical Brothers already during a show in New York. Expanding her own style of hypnotic, addictive techno by skillfully mixing in an old trance tune Fire & Ice [Lost Emotions 2001 Mix] opened up a crescendo of emotions. The visuals that accompanied her set included haunting images, some of which displayed the DJ star herself.
As a multi-genre festival Lokerse Feesten may not be on many iDJ readers' radar. But there's plenty there for electronic music lovers to enjoy – and hey, 45 years' worth of Belgian hedonists can't be wrong!
Words: Agnes Klos and Gino Van Herp Pics: Lokerse Feesten (except middle pic: Agnes Klos and Gino Van Herp)