Festival review : Pandafest – Edegem, BE – 20.12.2014

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December 20th, the end of the year is near and we’ve been once again invited to the south of Antwerp, in Edegem, for Pandafest‘s second edition. This was something we were quite looking forward to, only a few days before the holiday season kicked in and in all honesty it didn’t disappoint at all!

Just like us, some of the bands were back for a new appearance on the grounds of Hangar 27. Among them, Antwerp’s mighty Set Things Right, that we don’t need to introduce here anymore.  The quintet had made major steps forward since the previous year, which has been pretty eventful for them, to say the least. Between the introduction of a new frontman and the release of their sophomore album ‘This Is Home’, Set Things Right have also played dozens of shows around the country. It’s on the biggest stage that they have performed at this year’s Pandafest, the same one that hosted their successful album release show. There’s no doubt that Set Things Right have made a lot of progress over the time and it’s a very relaxed band that we could see this time, enjoying themselves and providing the audience with a quality selection of songs.
Once again, we had this little foretaste of the festival season and Graspop Metal Meeting with the return of both King Hiss and Diablo Blvd. Watching these two bands makes you want to buy a motorcycle and blast their music out loud while roaming through the country (maybe not in cold belgian December, though). With a new album out, Diablo Blvd. established themselves one more time as one of the strongest European rock bands at the moment, with a powerful performance and an impressive stage lightening. King Hiss caught our attention again, this time mainly because of singer Jan’s enjoyable, yet curious, sudden impulse, appearing nearly possessed.  The band’s general involvement and joyful attitude was a delight to watch, not to mention that they are really talented. Go check out their new album ‘Sadlands’ if you still haven’t!

Obviously, several other local bands joined the party, bringing different colors to the picture. Paradoxically enough, there was a common ground in the eclectism of Pandafest, which is absolutely refreshing. Somehow, this is where the festival’s strength lies.
For instance, we enjoyed Homer‘s kind of psychedelic hybrid punk/metal. With its various upbeat songs and the solemn backing vocals, it gave an ‘anthemic’ vibe to the whole set. Mixing different edgy genres, the band and its half-dreadlocked frontman properly heated up the smaller room.
In a completely different range, Evil Invaders also fired up their stage with an electric performance. Showing up in tight jeans and long hair -80’s style- the glam rockers displayed all of their guitar skills, conquering the room at the same time. High pitched vocals weren’t only singing, but also calling everyone to “destroy the place”, opening the pit as a result.
Hardcore fans weren’t left out either, because The Setup did an excellent job in playing short and catchy songs, true hardcore style. This is a band that always had a long-term, faithful fanbase and we could see it on that evening, with that whole bunch of people pressing themselves to the stage yelling the band’s lyrics with passion.

One innovation was that Pandafest 2014 welcomed a few bands coming from outside the belgian borders to its 2014 line up.
French band Asidefromaday presented their post-metal to a shy audience at first, that seemed however to connect well with the band towards the second half of the set. Seemingly happy to be part of such an event, the quintet delivered its best, resulting into a strong and honest performance. We didn’t know much about this band before Pandafest announced them and quite frankly, they made us realize one more time how local scenes here in Europe are underestimated. Asidefromaday are one of these bands that work hard and deserve way more attention than they currently do.
On the mainstage, it’s a wild and a crazy set from John Coffey that we witnessed. As always, the dutch knew how to make the crowd go wild, without any restrain, as mic stands and guitars flew in the airs. Overly energetic, the band members spent their whole time running around the stage, while frontman David even jumped in the crowd to feel the energy.  John Coffey are getting ready to release a new record, so they obviously played a couple of new songs, including Broke Neck and it sounded promising! This performance made our anticipation not only for the next record but also their album release shows grow even more and we’re pretty sure the same went for many fans in the room on that day.

On a slightly different note, the germans in The Ocean set the most bewitching atmosphere of the day on the mainstage, with all these blue lights and animated backdrop, appearing completely in line with their ambient, captivating music, that was perfectly orchestrated and millimetric. There is something impressive about this band but at the same time, they managed to create an intimacy between them and their crowd, which made everything go from disturbing to…relaxing. The Ocean isn’t just like any other band. Aside from the music, which is heavily brilliant, there’s a whole attention paid to the imagery. These guys are complete artists with a real story and a soul. And it isn’t really common nowadays.  Watching them on stage was definitely an experience and it just left us craving for more.
Of course let’s not forget about this year’s headliners Steak Number Eight, who filled the room completely despite the late hour and the many beers in everyone’s blood. This is one of the country’s finest heavy band and it always strikes us to realize how young these guys are, because, despite only a few years of activity, Steak Number Eight have already an advanced career, with their signature, post-rock and tons of stage experience around the continent. It’s an edgy performance that the band delivered, confirming their incredible maturity and a well-deserved success.

What would be the last festival day of the year without one last party? It’s close to 1am and in the second room, one curious band is about to take over the stage. We thought people would be leaving already, tired or too drunk. Fear you not, it’s a Saturday night and people are still there! It’s time for Bizkit Park to close the day in apotheosis and despite being exhausted; we will have to admit that we forgot about it a little. Instead, we frenetically got caught by these pleasant covers of our favorite nu-metal hits. From System Of A Down to Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach to Drowning Pool, Bizkit Park made us sweat an extra hour, before things shut down for real. A beautiful way to finish an excellent day of rock music and round off an eventful year (at least for us.) And guess what? We are already looking forward to Pandafest 2015!

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You can find all of the photos using the following link :
Photos Pandafest – Full album

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I’m Yousra, in love with most of the things that earth has to offer, and isn’t music one of its most amazing wonders ? In that purpose, I try to always be on the look-out for every new band that will make my ears happy and my soul filled again.

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