While traveling a few hundred kilometers to attend an event, there’s always a point where you wonder ‘does it worth it?’. Most of the time, the answer is yes and this is one of them. Having hardly heard about the majority of the bands on the bill, this was a perfect opportunity for us to get more familiar with the belgian/dutch alternative scene and make some great discoveries .
And what the most refreshing about this lineup is that is was so varied it has become a delight, creating a great atmosphere gathering people with different taste altogether.
From our perspective, things seemed quite well organized, with two stages (a small one and a bigger one in a bigger room) and a comfortable timetable allowing everyone to watch as much sets as they wanted.
We got to Edegem right when Get Off My Shoes were about to hit the stage and to be fairly honest, we had never heard about them before, but better late than never right? Because not only we enjoyed what we watched but we were also craving for more when it ended. Get Off My Shoes are one of those bands that make you feel fearless, weightless and unfazed. It’s some sort of Two Door Cinema Club-meets-Explosions in the Sky with lots of positive and joyful vibes. Their music has something very enjoyable with some lovely melodies and soothing soundscapes.
We moved to the next room right after that to listen to the brilliant old school punk rock performed by F.O.D in a friendly and somehow intimate atmosphere. What a pleasure to see artists having a good time on stage as well as providing good time to the crowd! The bandmembers were obviously having fun performing some of their most notorious songs that many people of all ages in the audience were chanting back.
Talking about the variety of the line up earlier, the radical transition to the next set was precisely what we meant : metallers In-Quest heavily welcomed us to the large stage moments laters, with vigor and power. Things got slightly different as we could witness the first real moshpits and stage-dives of the day, transforming the whole place into a real and complete metal event. In-Quest have that impressive stage presence, emphasized with MiQe Löfberg’s imposing vocals. Despite the totally different atmosphere, things were still absolutely enjoyable. In fact, this is precisely what made Pandafest a fantastic idea and awesome day festival : Because it’s a great occasion to gather different genres of music at the same time in the same place in order to create a unique and full musical experience, not to mention that it’s also an excellent way to give local artists and performers more exposure, which isn’t nothing. For instance, an excellent discovery for us was King Hiss (alright, one more time : better late than never right?) who totally caught our attention with their stoner-rock driven sound. The thing that was interesting about them was probably their accessible, catchy sounds despite the heavier background that could please a wider audience than the usual, specific listeners of the genre. Also, something in the vocals slightly echoed to Myles Kennedy’s voice, which had its charm.
We actually encountered huge metal performances of the likes of Diablo Blvrd. and their wild riffs or the mighty Spoil Engine who gathered the most audacious people in the crowd in the middle of the pit for a muscular hour of moshing and head banging. But we also had fun with more unbashed – and technically still really good – rock music such as Belgian Asociality who slowly took the place into a huge party as they played the main stage later in the evening, or even De Fanfaar (probably the very first flemish-singing band we’d ever heard), with their catchy, enthusiastic ‘Brusselrock’, that actually made people dance. Yes, we’re talking about real, choreographed dancing that has started with a couple of people to finish as a ‘dancing pit’, which was rather fun to watch!
Now we also had the chance to watch some bands that are maybe closer to our generation, personally speaking, such as hardcore / punk band Arizona. The Aarschot-based outfit delivered a nice, energetic performance that will definitely stick in many people’s heads particularly thanks lead vocalist’s Tom charisma. They even played a lovely song with Gayle Van Hollebek (Vienna) as a guest.
But one of the highlights of the evening probably occurred earlier, when it was time for metalcore band Set Things Right to perform, as it was founding member and frontman Tom Welslau’s, as well as guitarist’s James Falck farewell show. If things could have gone emotional and cheesy, it turned out the fans and everyone in the audience decided to make it a memorable and epic show for the band. And rightly so, aside from the band’s brilliant and committed performance, the crowd was on fire from the very beginning of the set, moshing around and crowd surfing like crazy. Set Things Right played a consistent set with hits from their album and also newer numbers such as single Don’t Close Your Eyes and the cover of Sunrise Avenue’s Fairytale Gone Bad. Things got really wild during the last song when the band members decided to stage-dive and give in every ounce of energy they got left and Tom and James clearly got offered the great goodbye they deserved!
The point where we really realized how great this experience was is when we found ourselves refering to a few bands as “Oh I see them perfectly at Graspop” only a few minutes after picturing that other band opening for that huge Indie international band or agreeing on that one band perfectly fitting into Groezrock’s spirit. Switching every 40-minutes -or so- from metal to punk to alternative rock is actually something refreshing even though it could seem awkward at first. But we eventually had a fun time switching form one performance to another in total different genres and the least we can say is that Pandafest was an interesting and successful initiative. The whole day turned out to be an unprecedented and original experience we cannot wait to renew.
Special thanks to Jens at Panda Productions
More info : http://www.pandafest.be