Let’s talk about Rock Werchter 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to Rock Werchter for 4 days. Even though I’m still semi-exhausted, I thought I’d sum up my experience in this post. I’m not going to review it or talk in depth about the artists and performances, those have been covered elsewhere in great detail. Instead I’m just putting up a short list of random things I found interesting, annoying or just remarkable.

Just in case you don’t know what’s Rock Werchter, here’s a brief description from Wikipedia.

Rock Werchter is a Belgian annual music festival held in the village of Werchter, near Leuven, since 1974. It is one of the five biggest annual rock music festivals in Europe (the other four being Oxegen, Sziget Festival, the Glastonbury Festival and Roskilde Festival). The 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 festivals received the Arthur award for best festival in the world at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC). It can host 80,000 guests, of which 69,000 combine all four days, to add up to a total maximum of 113,000 different attendees.

  • First up we have De Morgen. Now, you may not know this but each year Rock Werchter has an official newspaper sponsor. You can pick up the newspaper at their booth (alongside any number of goodies) to read up on all the news you’ve missed alongside reports about Rock Werchter itself. After having Het Nieuwsblad as it’s sponsor for a few years, I was surprised Rock Werchter picked De Morgen this year. While I have made this switch at home myself and I’m quite happy about it, for Rock Werchter I believe it was a bad decision. The amount of reporting was mininal and less in-depth than Het Nieuwsblad, who despite not being the official newspaper did deliver better reporting. De Morgen also lacked the funny side articles about Rock Werchter, like which celebs attended, what weird initiatives fans undertook, quirky stories, etc.
  • What De Morgen did do well was hand out official signs for fans to put up messages to be captured by the various cameras and read by the various groups performing. While fans do this anyway, having an official and readily available supply was a nice initiative.
  • Douchebag moments. There were two moments, both on the fourth day and both right after each other that just made me shake my head and sigh. The first was when some idiot started pointing a laser at Bruce Dickinson’s face during the Iron Maiden performance. It became so annoying that he actually made a comment about it during the performance. The second douchebag moment was when some moron threw a beer at A-Trak during the start of his set, crashing his computer and forcing him to start over again. Seriously, why do this? You’re not only annoying the artists but also approximately 80000 fans who are attending the show.
  • Sunburns are a bitch. It seems like tradition for me but every time I go to Werchter I suffer from them in some capacity. This year I got blindsided. After assuming the rainy weather of day 1 was to continue, I neglected to put on sunblock at the start of day 2 and I paid for it. I have the reddest nose this side of the nearest circus.
  • Nice surprises. Every year I go to Werchter there are groups I’ve never heard of that blow me away or at least pleasantly surprise me. This time that honor goes to The Subs, Aloe Blacc and James Blake.
  • Lack of the traditional Humo booklet. Yes the traditional booklet chock-full of interviews and funny facts and containing the full four day schedule was missing this year. Instead you had to go to The Morgen booth (them again) every day and pick up a daily schedule.
  • Compensating for that was the official Werchter iPhone app. Taking aside the battery issues of an iPhone at a four day festival, usage of this app was superb. It has great descriptions of artists, social networking features, a great map with GPS functionality and a great scheduler that allows you to order the Werchter schedule by artist, stage and line-up. All in all, it was a joy to use.
  • And finally just one last thing. if you’re reading this and have the desire to go yourself, don’t worry about seeing everything. Look at it this way: if you’d try going to a concert of a few of the Werchter headliners seperately, you’d easily spend more than the odd 200 euro’s you’d spend on Werchter tickets. Take your time, there’s plenty to see. Don’t forget to check out some of the smaller or lesser known acts. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Anyone that went to Werchter and has anything to add? Feel free to comment.

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