With high anticipation, we neared the weekend that had been marked, blocked and circled in our agendas since the first month of 2015. Ieperfest was coming up, the highlight of the year for most kids involved with punk, hardcore and the ethics both scenes were built upon. Even though this years line-up wasn’t as exciting as previous years, there were still plenty of bands on our list, new and old, that we wanted to check out including Sweet Jesus, Dangers, Anchor, xRepentancex, Trial, Biohazard and many others.
We took off on Friday morning but our departure was rather hectic. Probably with work subconsciously still being on my mind, I forgot to bring my mat and sleeping bag, took a wrong turn that costed me an additional 30 km, and on top of that a massive jam appeared just when we took the Ieper exit on the A19. Even though we only had 20 minutes to go, Ieperfest felt a thousand kilometers away as there was no movement whatsoever. We quickly found out a truck had tilted and blocked the entire road. With only 50 minutes to go before Sweet Jesus would play their first note, anxiety arose. Rightfully so, as it took us another 1,5 hours before we got to Ieperfest and completely missed out on their set. We rushed onto the the festival sit and walked straight into the Trench watching Give absolutely smash it. After our long trip is was refreshing to see a band giving it their all on stage and watching guitarist Ian Marshall busting out some of his best moves.
After meeting up with Patrick Flynn to shoot a photo for his upcoming article in The L.A. Journal, we rushed to the main stage to check out Ceremony. Anne had already seen them the night before smashing it at Winston Kingdom in Amsterdam and they didn’t disappoint tonight either. I have to admit here that it was my first time seeing them live and it was an absolute pleasure. After Ceremony’s show, Anchor did a live interview at the More Than Music tent talking about their unofficial hiatus, the recent right-wing influence on Swedish politics and their struggles to find a solid record label that meets their needs. They put up a great show in the Trench shortly after blending the new songs off of Distance & Devotion well with the rest of their discography. Sick!
The Dutch Weed Burger made its introduction at Ieperfest this year and was presented to me by two fine Canadian ladies behind their booth. The burger is made from grilled soy shreds and seaweed and comes on a green (yes, green) sesame seed bun topped with pickles, tomatoes, lettuce and a delicious homemade sauce. Try it when you have the chance!
We ended our night with a so-so performance by Judge and busting out some moves of our own at the afterparty. We called it a night early to save some strength for day two!
Saturday started early. Blinds Beliefs is a young upcoming band from Belgium and put up a solid show on the main stage. If you’re into bands like Backtrack and Expire, you should definitely check them out. They just released a S/T 7” on Reality Records as well. xRepentancex followed straight after at the Marquee. I had a really hard time getting into their new LP The Sickness of Eden, but their live show? HOLY MOTHER FUCKING SHITE! I don’t think there’s a band that has made a bigger impression on me in the recent year(s) than they did in the 25 minutes they destroyed the stage on this fine morning.
Before having a tasty kebab from Just Like Your Mom for lunch, we went to see Cheap Drugs at the Trench. These guys from Antwerp and Gent present a fierce and uncompromising blend of punk/hardcore, a treat to watch! Dangers from Los Angeles went up next. When I was scrolling through this year’s line-up I realised that letlive.’s former drummer Anthony Rivera is playing for Dangers, a clear incentive to check out the “extremely pissed of hardcore band” from California. The quartet absolutely smashed it, putting on one of the best shows of the weekend.
Loma Prieta played a good show in the Trench, but their rather “difficult” and technical blend of hardcore is probably more suitable for club shows than festivals. Trial, however, KILLED it on the main stage later that afternoon. The legendary hardcore band from Seattle, Washington showcased in 30 minutes that they still have what it takes to act, react and inspire. If you haven’t yet, check out this TED talk by Greg Bennick on passion, creativity and the human condition.
Guns Up! took over the main stage after Trial’s set, one of the most anticipated performances of this weekend. It was the band’s first reunion show after their break-up in 2007. Especially the guy in the Terror shirt up front was having the time of his life. Every time singer Dan Hazleton announced a new song you heard a spirited “YES!”. It was clear the band came straight from the airport because their performance lacked a certain energy you expect to see at a hardcore show. Hopefully the rest of their tour turned out better.
We took a nice break to roam around the festival site, checking out merch, vinyl and apparel, eating good food, having drinks, meeting new people and hanging out with friends. We watched Walls of Jericho from a distance while having dinner before we headed to the Marquee to watch Touche Amore. What can I say? They NEVER disappoint. Even though I haven’t listed to the new record as much as I like, they incorporated the new songs in the setlist really well. Ace show! Biohazard put on a great show at the main stage, a worthy headliner. It was sick to finally see this band play live. Their no-nonsense attitude and high energy level make for a great one-hour show. With that being said, Saturday’s afterparty was the highlight of the weekend, haha!
It took some effort to get out of bed on time Sunday morning. Venom Prison opened up the Marquee and with the help of some coffee and fruit we managed to get their on time. With (ex-)members of Wolf Down, Brutality Will Prevail and Desolated, the band from South Wales plays a solid mix of fast, groovy, death-metal-infused hardcore. Solid show!
With the sun finally showing its face, the hangs were on! We managed to see a bit of All For Nothing and Steel Nation amid of shooting portraits, changing into shorts and enjoying another Dutch Weed Burger. No Turning Back was up at 1pm on the main stage and, as expected, absolutely smashed it. The turn out and crowd response was one of the best this weekend. Hardcore lives!
We checked out Hierophant and Nasty before checking the last band on our list: Oathbreaker. For some odd reason, I’ve kept missing out this band every time the played nearby. So it was another first. Even though the sound wasn’t great, I was blown away by their powerful performance. Can’t wait to see them again!
We ended our great weekend with some delicious falafel from the two Syrian brothers. I can only hope the food at Ieperfest next year will be as good! Thanks to all the bands and the people involved for putting another great edition! On to 2016!
Pictures by Anne Carolien Köhler – Facebook