Smurfpunx

04/18/2010

Q104 concerts Leuven

People keep asking about other fests from this era that were not organised by our Smurfpunx collective… So let’s try to incorporate some of them here then. Counting on anyone for help/contributions again!

‘Q 104’

85-11-29: Heibel (Bel), Koyaanisqatsi (Bel), X-Creta, (Bel), Dirty Scums (Bel)

86-03-01: Disrupters (UK), Capital Scum (Bel), No Debt (Bel), Vortex (Bel), C.P.D. (Bel)

86-03-21: Varukers (UK), Sloth (USA), Dirty Scums (Bel)

86-04-12: Dirty Scums (Bel), No Numbers (Bel) [Capital Scum (Bel) on flyer]

86-04-18: Disorder (UK), Indirekt (Nl), Ear Damage (Bel), Pigs In Blue Glue (Bel) [‘Ear Damage’s first gig]

86-05-17: Repulsives (Bel), C.P.D. (Bel), Anguish (Bel), O.I.L.L. (Bel)

87-03-07: Disorder (UK), Dehumanization (Nl), C.P.D. (Bel)

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Between 1980 and 1992 I’ve worked myself through a pretty impressive list off concerts in Belgium and sometimes abroad (especially London). The concerts by Smurfpunx in ‘Netwerk’ were among the best I can remember (along with those in Scherpenheuvel), really! Splendid venue, good sound-system, great bands, excellent organisation… A genuine relief after other concerts that got cancelled or hadn’t started yet at midnight because the speakers didn’t make a sound. That was supposed to be the charm of punk but one should not be surprised that, after a while, people no longer show up – a bit of quality is in order.

Somewhere in 1985 the famous ‘Stel’ and I found it a bit odd that no punk-concerts were taking place in a ‘metropolis’ like Leuven, while we believed there certainly was an audience for. That made us decide to try it ourselves in a cheap (but a bit too small) place, named ‘Q104’. First we did a concert with a few Belgian bands, sometime late 1985 or early 1986, I can’t remember exactly who, because at the following concerts there were always a few Belgian bands ‘supporting’. But I believe that certainly ‘The Dirty Scums’, ‘No Debt’, ‘Capital Scum’, ‘Ear Damage’, ‘Anguish’ and a bunch of other bands played at ‘Q104’; it’s up to those ‘celebrities’ to confirm that. [Brob: Well, without claiming to be a celebrity: my band ‘Repulsives’ played the ‘big’ and ‘far away’ city of Leuven a few times; there was a memorable gig where we had to be escorted out of ‘Q104’ by Felix and his friends because skins were threatening to ‘lynch’ us. We were nicely accommodated at Felix’s place who even gladly drove us home the next Sunday-morning…]

I know for sure that the first gig was a major godsend in terms of turn-out, about 200 men, we hadn’t really expected that. We even made a little bit of profit that we invested neatly in the next one. It’s not that hard actually: make sure to come up with cheap flyers and word-of-mouth advertising at other concerts that the venue and sound-system are OK, don’t pay the bands a fortune but something respectable, make sure that there is enough booze, put a few valiant guys at the entrance (genre ‘Kockie’, ‘De Lange’ or ‘Den Bosse’) to ensure that not everyone gets in for free, and everything will be OK. The only problem was that from the first concert on, we had problems with the cops because of the noise at night; although the concerts were always over before midnight and nothing was ever demolished, but the neighbours were shocked of course by the many ‘dangerous’ punks on their square.

In any case, after the success of the first gig I gladly wanted to try a second one with a British group. I think ‘Stel’ then pulled out somewhat (he didn’t like that kind of bands much) but a lot of people from Leuven (Dirk [Ceustermans], Ludo [Vannoppen], sorry that I do not remember all the names) were helping out. I had written and invited some 15 English bands: ‘Conflict’, ‘Flux of Pink Indians’, ‘Chaos UK’, ‘Violators’, ‘Addicts’,… that genre. I recall that I offered them all together 15.000 BeF (and free accommodation) to come from England; nowadays that seems incredibly little: € 375. Yet there were three bands mad enough to come over: first ‘Disrupters’, then ‘Varukers’, after that ‘Disorder’. Each time that was at ‘Q104’, with some Belgian bands supporting and each time about 200 people turned up. I had the impression that they just came down because there was a punk-fest in Leuven, not because they loved that specific band. I know that all bands were very pleased afterwards because the atmosphere was great (and Belgian beer strong). I think ‘Varukers’ and ‘Disorder’ also played in Antwerp one day after Leuven.

At this concert with ‘Disorder’ I had established contact but didn’t have much to do with the organising of the concert itself anymore. Afterwards I also completely stopped because a whole generation of young people from Leuven was full of enthusiasm to organise gigs themselves. With that my intention had actually become successful: I certainly didn’t wanna become a big organiser but just trigger something that then could stand on its own feet. In addition, ‘Q104’ no longer wanted us because of the problems with the cops. Frankly: at one point there were just too many concerts in Leuven, sometimes poorly organised or announced too late, so the turn-out dropped dramatically and quickly bled to death a bit. A familiar story, unfortunately.

I kept attending a lot of gigs and occasionally wrote something for fanzines, until I moved to Mexico City mid 1992. [Brob: Felix was a free-lance journalist for Belgian newspapers.] I went to a lot to punk-concerts there too; they were running some 15 years behind and it was all really still in its early stages: rather a bunch of zombies with all those glue-sniffers – but good bands and lots of atmosphere. In 1996 I moved to Lima (Peru), where I also attended quite a bunch of punk-gigs the first years: a little more professional and better than in Mexico, with great bands from Argentina coming over. Names that no-one here would have heard about.

Since 2004 I live back in Brussels but I do not go to concerts that often anymore because, to be honest, I can’t keep up with all these new names. I think one or two concerts per year, big bands like ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ or ‘Bad Brains’ (not really punk). But I keep listening  to punk at home, on my old East-German record-player – my old LP’s have survived, I will transfer them onto CD now. I really start to feel like grandpa punk (and an -unwanted- skinhead) nowadays.

To be honest, I’ve always loved listening to punk-music (and still am) but I was always interested in heaps of other things, like football, movies, foreign politics, journalism, NGO-work, travelling,… Because I never was in the punk-movement a 100%, I also never fully got out of it because I was tired of it. I still see myself listening to punk at the age of 85. [Brob: If I make it that long, I’ll join you!]

Felix De Witte

Felix! A legend! I still get sick thinking of the bottle of ‘Mandarine Napoleon’ we had at his place!!!…

The “LOT of people from Leuven” refers to the D.R.O.L. collective who helped out on the gigs and helped funding through the legendary D.R.O.L. parties ran down at the Q104. Here’s a few names: Chris, Gert ‘Gette’ Hambrouck, Murielle [Celis], Ludo, Bart [Willemsen]; gee my memory does not serve me well here…

A few more Belgian bands that made it to the ‘Q104’ were ‘Heibel’, ‘X-Creta’, ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ (I refuse to spell it like it was mis-spelled on the ‘Alle 24’ LP), ‘Pigs in Blue Glue’, etc. etc. The first 3 were on a same bill (in 1985) and it can be considered a legendary gig as these bands at that time played some sort of crossover punk/metal that was probably the first time it happened in Belgium.

Dirk C. (D.R.O.L. zine, ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, ‘Ear Damage’)

DROL hard at work'D.R.O.L. crew in action (pic courtesy of Dirk C.)

Q104 (DROL #10)Dirk in D.R.O.L. zine #10

Here are some pictures of ‘Anguish’ playing in Leuven, around June 1986. You will probably recognise some of the faces in the audience. The guy in the white shirt is, if I remember well, Chris, who had just started D.R.O.L. zine (in his cellar, together with his brother). That had a lot of potential. There was even talk of building a wind-mill… (one of the less risky ideas) but, as with many things, these were good initiatives but the know-how wasn’t present, and the kick-in-the ares was lacking. ‘Anguish’ and Dirk (at that time Heidi’s partner…who was still in ‘Koyaanisquatsi’ if I remember correctly) got together there on a regular basis. It was a lot more difficult to find info in these days…

Murielle (‘Anguish’ vocalist)

Crowd-shot (Leuven ’86) with a prominent Felix ‘in ecstasy’… surrounded by his ‘disciples’ Chris & Dirk D.R.O.L., Ludo (kindly donated by Murielle Celis)

86-06-xx Anguish crowd (met Felix)

pics taken 86-06, ‘t Stuk – Leuven (by ‘Gette’?)

86-06-xx Anguish trio met Ludo (Stuc Leuven) (by Gette q)‘Anguish’: Bart – Juul (on the shoulders of a giant – Ludo) – Kris

86-06-xx Anguish Steve' (Stuc Leuven)Steve (‘Anguish’)

86-06-xx Anguish trio (Stuc Leuven)Bart (‘Anguish’)

86-06-xx Anguish Mumu & Kris (Stuc Leuven)Murielle & Kris (‘Anguish’)

Ludo Vannoppen (by Dirk C)Ludo Vannoppen (pic courtesy of Dirk Ceustermans)

04/03/2010

88-04-02 (Netwerk) Joyce McKinney Experience – Visions Of Change – Squandered Message – Scoundrels – Hate Crew – [The Idiots] – [Fang]

This ‘Day Against Militarism’ was very chaotic/confusing; even 20+ years later, people are still not sure what happened… Did ‘Fang’! and ‘The Idiots’ play? No! Their tour got cancelled… Apparently ‘Fang’s singer was in jail. What was the ‘replacement’? ‘Bell’laut’  from Braunchweig had split up; so our Berlin’er buddies ‘Squandered Message’ (bass-player Florian Helmchen was a pen-pal) came over… Did ‘Dorpsoudste de Jong’ show up? Read people’s various memories… I was a bit numb  ’cause of not enough sleep (getting back from seein’ ‘Lärm’ in Winterswijk only at 7 a.m.). Do remember ‘Hate Crew’ sounded great under their new tour-banner and everybody was slamming/stagediving…

Somewhere in Smurfpunx’ history, ‘The Joyce McKinney Experience’ did a fabulous concert. I know I was very excited about the vocal harmonies of Sharon Hunt and Yvonne McAvoy. In letters from that era I read this was the day a tail-wind blew them to Aalst along with their friends of ‘Visions Of Change’! Both ‘J McK E’ and ‘V.O.C.’ (with people from ‘Depraved’: singer Ian Murphy & his brother Lee on guitar, drummer Paul ‘Gigs’ McGivern but now with Kevin Webb -I think- on bass – see also Netwerk, Aalst, 17 apr 87 (Cólera).) were from Leamington Spa (U.K.), shared drummer Gigs and started their tour here. They had been driving all night and had another concert that evening (@ ‘De Garde’ in Brasschaat). Must’ve been an ordeal but they sounded excellent! A pity they had to go on early and leave to do that other gig… [review of the ‘J McK E’ album in Tilt! #5: “Tuneful, melodic HC with a bunch of surprising hooks and dual female vocals. Lyrics showing a smart understanding of what’s happening with nature and it’s humans. A marvellous record!”] To complete ‘J McK E’ were bassplayer Robbie Robb and guitarist Charles ‘Charlie’ Busby.

‘Joyce McKinney Experience’ (photo by Nathalie Guyot)

It was a benefit for the ‘V.I.A. Dachau Fonds’, an organisation set up to raise money and support for total-refusers (Jaak, C.P.D. drummer, and another guy P. Hublou). No-one seems to recall why it was named after a nazi concentration-camp (or maybe that speaks for itself?).

‘Florennade’ was an organisation that held peace-picknicks and protested against cruise-missiles (that NATO placed at the Belgian military base in Florennes and are actually still there and protested against). Also a movie about the war-industries was shown. And ‘KNAL’? An anti-military/anti-service group…

Brob

‘KNAL’ is an anti-militarist organisation that wants to denounce abuses. They need money (for actions, fines, etc.). Our band ‘Anguish’ will do benefits for and donate the ‘profits’ to them. You can write us for info. ‘KNAL’ will also put out a ‘zine (no music-reviews) with just political subjects. The first actions will be about Florennes. Pogo for ‘KNAL’!

Bart ‘Anguish’ (personal communication ’87)

The ‘Scoundrels’ were very good (though their new 2nd guitarist, previously in ‘Wulpse Varkens’, annoyed me a bit) but I can’t recall ‘The Idiots’ anymore. ‘Hate Crew’ were about to embark on a 10-day German tour that Brob organised that summer but it would turn out to be one of my last shows as I didn’t join them. (I might be wrong but I don’t think this was my very last concert with them…) I had it by then with some members of ‘Hate Crew’ and I was weary of the metal turn they and the band had taken. So I had to draw the line somewhere. I wanted to “move on”. ‘Dorpsoudste de Jong’ was kind of a mixture between a stand-up comedian and an ‘alternative poet’ à la Paul van Ostayen (for the connaisseurs). John Massis [Brob: A ‘stunt-man’ that did all kinds of gimmicks, like pulling trains, with his teeth] was planned to show up. I think Mokka arranged that. The intention was that he would bend some kind of sham cruise-missile made out of a metal stove-pipe with his teeth or something like that… (SMILE) But for some reason he didn’t appear: he was ill, I think, or at least that was what we were told.

The concert was a benefit for what is called ‘totaalweigeraars’ in Dutch (literally: ‘those refusing everything’): Jaak (the drummer of ‘C.P.D.’) and a certain Patrick Hulbou, whose background was never clear to me. These were people who refused to do any kind of compulsory military service. For the young or/and the Anglo-Americans, who (mostly) never knew compulsory military service and as such never had to think about what to do when time came, this might need some explanation. At that time, most continental European countries still had compulsory military service. Those were they days that clean-cut and khaki-clad conscripts were a familiar sight in railway-stations on Friday- and Sunday-evening. Some militant left-wingers consciously chose to do the military service, assuming that they could learn useful techniques there for eventual armed struggle. Conscientious objectors could, after a lengthy procedure, opt for unarmed military service (e.g. in the kitchen) or an alternative civil service, taking one and a half to twice as long, either in a civil protection and disaster intervention unit, in a hospital or in the socio-cultural sector. At that time, Belgium had a staunchly pro-NATO government and objection was also socially frowned upon. Some, out of ideological grounds, refused to do both kinds of services. This actually needed guts, for as ‘draft-dodgers’, they became liable for criminal prosecution and prison-sentences. The concert was to raise funds to help pay their lawyers’ bill. It’s not clear how the case ended. So we leave it up to Jaak and Patrick to tell it themselves if they read this and feel like it.

We organised it in collaboration with a number of anarchist committees and rather esoteric action-groups but I recall that things never really ‘stuck’ with those people, save a few exceptions like Eric from ‘De Nar’. I found them pretentious, criticising everything. Yet advance viable alternatives was, of course, something else… (for that is called ‘responsibility’). It was never OK and never good enough for them but they weren’t ever clear about what they actually wanted. Probably they didn’t know themselves.

That day, Felix De Witte, a free-lance journalist specialized in Third World issues and – during his years at uni – an organiser of punk-gigs in Leuven, promoted a book about his brother Michaël. The latter was a physician who was involved in the FMLN-guerrilla in El Salvador and died during an ambush of the government-army [Brob: I wrote about it in my zine ‘Tilt!’ #5]. It was the only time I saw Felix, normally a very warm-hearted and easy-going person, furious. It happened when a few anarchists took him under fire; threw some of the books around and said that his brother was ‘a violent Stalinist’. The man had been a Communist and one who was sincerely driven and willing to go all the way for what he believed in. And the FMLN indeed were no softies (their opponents even less, so they didn’t have to be). It was incredibly out of place to say something like that from the safety of commune-squats and on welfare-allowances paid by the very system and society that you claim to hate.

Duco

Jeez! You guys at Smurfpunx really do everything possible to put up great shows. It was a real surprise to see ‘Visions Of Change’ and ‘The Joyce McKinney Experience’  as a replacement for ‘Fang!’. ‘Scoundrels were very good aswell.

Alain ‘Nabate’ (personal communication ’88)

I can’t remember who P. Hublou was, Jaak could tell us more… ‘V.I.A. Dachau Fonds’ and ‘KNAL!’ were contacted by someone of ‘Netwerk’. ‘Florennade’ was invited by me because an ex-girlfriend of mine was an active member; they were ‘bomb-spotters’, one of those anti cruise-missile groups that were around in Belgium and the rest of Europe (they were really independent and not connected to one or other party). When those cruise-missiles were actually placed in Florrenes, they succeeded in buying a house right nearby the airforce-base from where they kept an eye on things, even tried to mobilise the local population and ‘educate’ the military, etc. They kept the peace-movement in the know; these were especially afraid that the cruise-missiles would be secretly moved to another army-base. I know the national intelligence/security-services constantly kept an eye on them and that they also had to deal with infiltration-attempts.

Massis was indeed ill. ‘Dorpsoudste de Jong’ didn’t want to come – I rang him myself: he didn’t see the use of it; he did come on another occasion. [Jos is pretty sure he came (see his recollection below); perhaps Mokka confuses dates.] Don’t know about any discussions anymore. The tour by ‘Fang!’ and ‘The Idiots’ was cancelled but don’t ask me who replaced them.

What I do remember, is that before the whole thing started, I was addressed by someone of the B.O.B. [Brob: The ‘Bijzondere Opsporing Brigade’, ‘Special Espial Brigade’; at that time a notorious section of the ‘Rijkswacht’, the gendarmerie…]: he wanted to know what the intention of the concert was. I told him that we wanted to spend the money we raised to pay for attorney-fees of Jaak and P. Hublou. He seemed satisfied with that answer: we never heard anything about it…

You might also recall that Jaak returned the money we gave him [Brob: 20.000 BeF, i.e. € 500; a lot of money then! 400 people had showed up] when he decided to do civil service anyway… [Brob: Jaak spent some time in jail; hardly anyone reproaches him anything. He was/is an honest idealist but there’s no need to attribute him a hero-status. There was perhaps a tiny minority of his old compagnons that were heavily disillusioned but I think I can say Smurfpunx respected his choice.]

Mokka

The organisation was VERY GOOD! Thumbs up. Although it appeared to me as a punk-festival with some stalls. But well, maybe you received little cooperation. Perhaps some extra speakers or a slide-show, theatre? Who knows…

Labie, ‘Scoundrels’ (personal communication ’88)

You were wearing an ‘It’s OK not to drink’ T-shirt when we played you’re venue in Aalst. I can remember it well because it was the first date we played of the tour ands it seemed well organised and clean. A lot better than in the UK. The bands really appreciated the food that you cooked for us.

Sharon Hunt;  ‘Joyce McKinney Experience’ vocalist (personal communication ’89)

Wow, my memories of this are indeed very blurry…! I remember it was a great vibe, more skaters than at any other gig…. It was nice to see them! Despite what’s written above, it seemed to us to be very well organised. It was an all-ages gig, wasn’t it? [Brob: All Smurfpunx gigs were all-ages…] If so we really liked that (if not, I’’m sorry for getting confused, haha). We were sorry not to be able to stay. I kind of remember before and after, rather than actually playing…but yeah – great energy there. Many thanks!! :-)

Robbie Robb; ‘Joyce McKinney Experience’ bassist

Some pictures (by Phil Anthonis):

‘Squandered Message’: ‘Rotze’ Uwe Haseman – Achim von Kredelbach – ‘Flo’ Florian Helmchen (Was Lars Gunzler still on drums here?)

‘Scoundrels’: Labie – Frank – Luc (under the ‘Hate Crew’ Banner)

‘Hate Crew’: Guido – Kris – Duco

‘Hate Crew’: Duco firing up the divers

‘Hate Crew’: Kockie in sacred admiration of Kris & Guido

Actually, I did perform in Netwerk in Aalst. I remember very well that it díd happen, but how and what exactly…? There was some correspondence beforehand and in one of those notes I was told the best thing for me was to travel to ‘Brussel Zuid’ [railway-station] and opposite of the station there as a small café where someone would be waiting for me. Get this right: it was a time long before internet, google-maps, email, mobile phones – you name it. I had never been in Brussels before but you just leave and indeed: opposite the station there was a café with the same name mentioned in the letter, and there I met, after some looking around, the person who was waiting for me. I imagine we had something to drink first, the host might have had a bear and myself a coffee or a soda. And after that we took the train to Aalst. At that time Aalst already had a special significance to me because of the columns by Louis Paul Boon [Flemish writer]; he had lived not so far away from there and Aalst occurred in his ‘Boontjes’ from time to time. But I’m wandering off… It was beautiful weather according to me; that’s very well possible because in April it’s always nice in Belgium, in any case when I’m visiting (something I did quite often after that) it’s always beautiful weather in Belgium in April. In Netwerk I was quickly piloted to the dressing-room [no real backstage in netwerk, there was a room upstairs where bands/performers could relax and have a meal] and there I met acquaintances from Amsterdam. But who were they? The ‘Scoundrels’? [not from A’dam but the south of the Netherlands; almost Belgians – smile] Did these come from Amsterdam? Did ‘Nog Watt’ happen to be there? I didn’t see them on the poster. Or ‘Amsterdamned’? [Probably Hettie of Konkurrent and perhaps some of her friends, touring with ‘Joyce McKinney Experience’] Or Jeroen doing the sound for this or that band? I can’t recall but for sure I didn’t feel alone anymore in far-way Belgium. Yep, Hettie, of course! And Jeroen could be correct then too, I think they were together for a while. Jeroen Visser (http://www.mhlabs.com/metric_halo/news/jeroen.shtml), once played in ‘Frenz Fried’, the ‘Frimos’ and ‘Frites Modern’; he was the sound-guy for ‘The Ex’ and other bands… How did my performance go? No idea. No curtain of shame falls over me when I try to remember so let’s keep it to reasonable, perhaps even good. How did I get home? No idea. Can’t recall a journey in the opposite direction even though it could have taken place. It’s also possible that I drove back with one of the bands. Who will tell? It’s only a mere 22 years ago. I’ve got a box with old diaries somewhere around here. Who knows I can still find the one from ‘88 between them. It would find it funny if I would bump into the name of that café and the name of the one who waited for me there. But did I write that down? More probable is that I just got out of the train with the note in my hands, quickly checked the name of the place, looked who I would find there and that this information would have never been entered in my journal. But if…well yeah, I even don’t have a clue where that box with old diaries is. Moved not so long ago and sometimes I am hopelessly looking for stuff. Oh yeah: when I do come Brussels nowadays, I sometimes still look from the train-window in search of a row of facades where I could detect that café. But well, that area there has changed so much: perhaps the place doesn’t exist since 20 years anymore?

‘Dorpsoudste de Jong’

<<After a lot of juggling about, this is how the bill looked like… Things didn’t look that good when ‘J.M.E.’ started because the place was not even half-filled. But this English band brought us some very nice music, with every now and then some decent pounding. The 2 female singers were definitely swinging. I guess I don’t have to tell much about ‘V.O.C.’; they used to be called ‘Depraved’ and they’re still playing their songs. The new ones sound pretty much the same. Great band. After ‘Dorpsoudste de Jong’ had shouted (and I mean really screamed) his poems into the audience, I was able to get a decent view of ‘Scoundrels’ at work. And they didn’t disappoint me. The place had gotten packed by then and there was a lot of moving about going on. This got mad when ‘Hate Crew’ played. It was long ago since I saw such a huge ‘slam-pit’. ‘Hate Crew’ gave their ultimate best with lots of metal in it. When it was the German ‘Squandered Message’s turn, everyone was tired and was hanging about a bit. That was a shame because they offered us a chunk of solid hardcore. The vocals drowned a bit but this is a decent band. Conclusion: successful but tiring day.>>

‘Thaw’ #3 (’88; Dutch fanzine)

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