22 Bands & Artists We Loved At Rock Werchter 2016
From James Bay to Beck, Years & Years to Ellie Goulding. The line up was INSANELY good.
Just outside of Brussels in Belgium lies a village called Rotselaar, within this village is an area called Werchter which you’ve probably only heard of through the music festival Rock Werchter.
With a line-up to rival Glastonbury it’s no surprise that people travel from all over the world to spend four days in Belgium, enjoying some of the world’s best artists and bands. Where else could you catch the legendary Sir Paul McCartney on one night, and the equally legendary German metal band, Rammstein the next? Rock Werchter, that’s where.
To make you all just that little bit more jealous of the fact you weren't there, here are out favourite acts.
Kicking off proceedings in The Barn, one of Rock Werther’s three main stages, was Samm Henshaw. You’ve probably heard his name floating around on all sorts of up and coming lists over the last twelve months, and we can safely say that he is worthy of the hype. You will definitely know his hit tune ‘Autonomy (Slave)’ and you should get to know his various other tracks such as ‘Only Wanna Be With You’ and ‘Everything’.
Keeping up the great new music was Barns Courtney over on the KluB C stage. His soulful singing and Ed Sheeran-esque guitar slamming will make you love him straight away (not to mention the fact he’s pretty damn cute!).
Over on the Rock Werchter main stage MTV Crashes Coventry FAVES, Kaiser Chiefs treated fans to a high energy, hit-filled set. Naturally a highlight for us was when they played brand new single ‘Parachute’ and we’re not sure where Ricky gets his energy from but can we have what he’s having please?
Despite the heavens opening and the festival crowds experiencing the worst rain yet, Jake Bugg didn’t let this dampen his spirits. Well, you couldn’t tell because he looks quite miserable anyway but he wasn’t any more miserable because of the rain - just the standard amount of misery (just kidding, Jake, you were great.)
Taking the energy up a whole notch was the wonderful Ellie Goulding. After slaying her Glastonbury Pyramid Stage set last week, fans at Rock Werchter were treated to an amazing show from the pop songstress.
With possibly the biggest crowd at the KluB C stage so far and fresh off the back of his brand new album, Australian producer Flume did not disappoint. We were lucky to be able to even get in the tent, let alone dance along to hits such as ‘Never Be Like You’ and his smash remix of Lorde’s ‘Tennis Court’.
To prove the almost unbelievable breadth of Rock Werchter’s line up, Thursday’s headliner, the legendary Sir Paul McCartney took to the main stage. We had to pinch ourselves multiple times just to believe that yes, that was the ACTUAL REAL PAUL MCCARTNEY FROM THE BEATLES (and obviously from the multitude of other projects he’s done since then, we don’t want to annoy the die-hard fans now do we?).
He was everything a headliner should be and more as he played hits spanning from his earliest songs with The Beatles, right through the his newest, namely ‘Four Five Seconds’ that he co-wrote with Kanye West and Rihanna.
Next we caught Years & Years’ set in The Barn and it was INSANE. We thought they couldn’t get any better but then they went and proved us wrong with a stunning set. Highlights included their new single ‘Worship’ and a special mention goes out to their album track ‘Border’, mainly due to Olly Alexander’s impassioned speech about the EU referendum result and how we should have a world with less borders. YES OLLY!
Concluding our first night at Rock Werchter was the brilliantly talented James Blake. He closed the KluB C stage with an hour long set of tracks spanning from his first self-titled LP right through to showcasing many songs from his new album The Colour In Anything. We couldn’t have thought of a better way to end our first day at the festival.
We kicked off our second day at Rock Werchter with none other than Bring Me The Horizon. Known for their epic live sets the band didn’t disappoint despite frontman and lead vocalist Oli Sykes losing his voice. There’s no arguing with the fact that Bring Me The Horizon are still one of the best live bands around, and it’s moments when they perform the likes of hit single ‘Drown’ and their epic new single ‘Throne’ that this really shows. As he proclaimed that his vocals were going to be crap on the final track, he decided to compensate for that by coming down into the crowd and hi-five-ing as many people as he possible.
Another highlight from day two of Rock Werchter were The 1975. Showcasing loads of new tracks from their album I Like I When You Sleep… the band opted for more new songs than old. Obviously they played classics such as ‘Girls’ and ‘Chocolate’ but the set was predominantly songs of the new record.
The hype surrounding these four lads from Canada is unprecedented. Having already collaborated with the likes of Kaytranada and Earl Sweatshirt it’s no wonder that everyone is talking about BADBADNOTGOOD. Like many other acts at this festival, they definitely lived up to the hype with their instrumental jazz. The lack of vocalist(s) clearly alienated some of the audience as they left after one or two songs but those that stayed were treated to some epic jazz/electronica, as well as something rarely seen in a world of clean-cut live shows - improvisation.
Over on the main stage Two Door Cinema Club continued their stream of comeback gigs after a significant amount of time out the spotlight (they had some serious issues to attend to within the band). As the saying goes, absence has definitely made our hearts grow fonder as we danced along to every track from classics such as ‘Undercover Martyn’ and ‘I Can Talk’ right through to their new single ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’ and the title track from their forthcoming third album, ‘Gameshow’. It’s good to have you back boys.
The multi Mercury Prize winning singer songwriter PJ Harvey had one of the biggest crowds of the entire festival and after watching her set, we can see why. Not only does she have an MBE for her commitment to British music, she is absolutely phenomenal live.
Saturday’s headliners were the one and only Red Hot Chili Peppers. Starting their set with an epic rock intro they set the energy level for the rest of the show. It’s safe to say that the band provided the Rock Werchter crowd with one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the whole weekend. Top marks lads.
Alice On The Roof
We couldn’t come all the way to Belgium and not see some Belgian pop. Lucky for us, Alice On The Roof took to the stage on the final day of the festival and fulfilled all of our Belgian pop dreams. As someone who hailed from Belgium’s version of TV show The Voice, we were shocked at her sound. If you’re a fan of Bjork, Christine & The Queens or euro-pop more broadly, then you’ll love Alice. Tracks such as ‘Mystery Light’ and ‘Lucky You’ are definitely winners.
Yeah, sure, we all know Aurora now because of that bloody John Lewis Christmas advert but hear us out when we say that she is way more than just that. Her unique ‘dark-folk’, as she calls it on her Twitter page, is equal parts epic and emotional, and to top it all off, THAT VOICE! We were blown away.
The award for best performance of the entire festival goes to London gal, Lianne La Havas. If you haven’t seen her perform live before, put that on the top of your to-do list right now. Seriously, do it. She performed to a massive crowd in The Barn and blew everyone away with her soaring vocals and epic guitar skills. A highlight for us was when she performed hits such as ‘Forget’ and ‘Unstoppable’, as well as this she did a stunning cover of the Aretha Franklin classic ‘Say A Little Prayer’. We had goosebumps all over our entire body.
As expected, our boy James Bay stole the show with his main stage performance on the final day of Rock Werchter. He whizzed through hit tracks such as ‘Hold Back The River’, ‘Scars’ and ‘Best Fake Smile’ while the huge crowd sang along to every word. Oh, and we couldn’t go without mentioning his impeccable cheekbones - just a side note.
The Last Shadow Puppets
Strutting onto the stage in matching Fred Perry polo shirts you really cannot get much cooler than The Last Shadow Puppets. Some might find Alex Turner’s new found swag completely unbearable, we however, are totally eating it up, finding him even more interesting because of it. Alongside Miles Kane the pair has nailed their live set as they played hits such as ‘The Age Of The Understatement’ and new single ‘Bad Habits’.
Another huge crowd gathered at The Barn for Beck. Opening with ‘Devil’s Haircut’ and taking the crowd on a journey through three decades worth of hits, you can definitely see why thousands of people crammed in to see him.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis could perhaps be seen as an anomaly on a line-up filled with mainly rock acts but it certainly didn’t feel that way as they smashed it on the main stage. Naturally a highlight of ours was when they performed the legendary hit ‘Thrift Shop’, with Macklemore donning a faux fur leopard print coat for the occasion. It was EPIC.