Europe has plenty of Music Festivals to boast about. From iconic ones like Netherland’s Pinkpop Festival to mainstream household names like Belgium’s Tomorrowland, music festivals are a mainstay in Europe’s tourism and cultural landscape. In among these is another Belgium music festival—one that may not have the widespread acclaim of something like a Tomorrowland, but is still a well-attended and highly renowned one among fans of Rock music. We’re talking about the Rock Werchter Festival held just outside Werchter, about 40 minutes west of Brussels.
This year’s acts included the usual big names such as Foo Fighters, System Of A Down, Radiohead, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Imagine Dragons, Blink 182, Alt-J, as well as Australia’s own Tash Sultana and Xavier Rudd. The four-day festival was held from the 29th of June to 2nd of July and was packed with music fans eagerly awaiting their favourite acts. From an extensive list of highlights, here are some memorable moments from this year’s Rock Werchter Festival.
Arcade Fire paying tribute to the late, great David Bowie
Canadian music act Arcade Fire lit the night up with an epic 16-song set, filled with favourites such as “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)”. While each song oozed the fervour and passion Arcade Fire are known for, the highlight of their performance was arguably the goosebumps-inducing rendition of “The Suburbs”, which lead singer Win Butler bookmarked with a touching tribute to their late friend and one-time collaborator, David Bowie. “David, we miss you so much”, he told the crowd. “Let’s pray that somewhere, a child is born with David Bowie’s soul.” The intensity and energy of their performance made sure all the David Bowie fans in the crowd would remember this performance for a good while.
Radiohead prove again why they’re one of the best music acts in the circuit
If fans were worried about Radiohead’s act lacking the same energy of 1998 Radiohead, the English electronic/experimental group put those worries to rest by turning all dials up to 11 for one of their most memorable performance in the 21st century. Their set covered tracks from almost all their albums, including a few from their latest one, “A Moon Shaped Pool”. The high point of their performance was when they played some of their older, more popular tracks for the encore, such as “My Iron Lung” and “Karma Police”. The band played for a whole two hours, and the energy with which they finished the show made it seem like they could have gone on for a good couple of hours more.
System Of A Down put younger bands to shame.
Twenty-eight songs over two and a half hours—that’s the level of commitment SOAD put into their performances even after taking a massive hiatus from the music scene. The crowd erupted into a frenzy as the American-Armenian band belted out classics like “Chop Suey” and “Toxicity”, and the same level of energy was carried out into the rest of the set. Hits such as “Bounce”, “Sugar” and “B.Y.O.B.” were played with the same twisted fervour as Serj Tankian declared the Werchter audience as “the best audience of the whole tour”. System Of A Down are back, and it looks like they are here to stay.
Foo Fighters closing the closing the festival the way it should be done
David Grohl is a man on a mission. The Foo Fighters’ lead singer brought down the proverbial ceiling with hit like “Monkey Wrench” and “Everlong”. Each track was packed with the angst and passion the Seattle-based band belts out in all their live performances. The two-hour long set saw fireworks rain down on the stage during the climax of “Everlong”, making it a fitting end to the festival.
While Rock music may have originated in the United States, the testament to its popularity is the speed with which it has spread across the world, with bands in Europe and later even Asia, the Middle East, and Australia adopting the genre and slapping on a local twist to make it their own. The bands we’ve talked about above are all from different countries but have adoring fans that are ready to travel halfway around the world just to watch them play live. Music Festivals like Werchter exemplify the manner in which music transcends the imaginary boundaries we draw, in order to bring people together for an experience that is universally enjoyed and appreciated.