Rock Werchter 2007

By Danielle Millea | Published: Thu 5th Jul 2007

Thursday 28th June to Sunday 1st July 2007
Werchter, Rotselaar, Belgium, Belgium
130 euros
Last updated: Wed 11th Apr 2007

Trying to escape the rain that is languishing at all the UK festivals we have decided to travel to Europe to see what the mainland has to offer. Oh who am I kidding, the line up for Rock Werchter in Belgium is the best I have seen in a long time; all in the space of four days. It is even cheaper to buy a ticket and travel to Belgium than just buy a ticket for a festival over here (to see all these bands in the UK would cost you a fortune; paying for different events). Train travel once in Belgium is free if you show your festival ticket, and at just over ninety minutes travel from Brussels, the site is easy to get to.

around the site

A total of thirteen campsites are available at various points along the road to the arena entrance, which has been closed to vehicles. Most of the first ones we meet are full by Thursday afternoon, and as your camping ticket allows you entry into one campsite only for the whole weekend, we find ourselves slap bang outside the arena entrance. Not bad I think, not as far to the music. As the music starts though, I can see we may be a little bit too close!

With the music starting at 5pm, we have missed a few bands, but catch the end of Air and My Chemical Romance. Marilyn Manson does not have the stilts and extravagant set-up he normally has, just the painted face and a knife-shaped microphone. Werchter has only two stages; the main outdoor stage and the Pyramid Marquee, a tented stage with a wooden dance floor outside. Plus one screen. As the two best acts of the night are clashing; Bjork has the main stage and the Beastie Boys have been crammed into the tent, a lot of disappointed people are trying to watch the hip hop rockers from the tiny screen. Also to my right I can hear Bjork, as in certain places you can see both stages as they face the same way. Not a very good lay out at all. Still it means I can catch both sets, in a way. Bjork is dressed as a golden lion with a brass band backing her, while the Beasties have top hats and suits and change from classics like ‘Intergalactic’ to their live band instrumentals. Muse are headlining the main stage with a finish time of 2pm. The locals must be very understanding, or all rock music fans!

around the site

Friday and the early and very loud sound check makes me realise that it’s clear why people camp so far from the arena. The kids here never sleep; limboing and skipping until the early hours. With all the Stella flowing from the famous local brewery it is hard to see where they get their energy. Talking of beer the festival, like neighbouring Pukkelpop, uses food tokens and beer tokens (bon), and as an incentive for recycling; collecting twenty used beer cups will get you a beer token. The beers are less than half a pint, but believe me they are as strong as a full pint!

I must mention the toilets as well. They are the cleanest ones I have ever seen at an event, and staff hand out free bog roll for you to use. All in all the event is organised very well, and can put the more commercial UK festivals to shame.

Friday is a predominantly rock day, with the best of the line up to look forward to. Many people have been mentioning the Kaiser Chiefs, who put on a lively show, if a little early in the day. Queens Of The Stone Age are the first truly great rock band on stage, with Josh Hommes, the perfect sleazy front man, and hits like ‘No One Knows' (“One we don’t play very often”) and ‘Go With The Flow’ are well received. Over in the Pyramid Marquee Satellite Party, the new band from Perry Farrell, are having a whale of a time. Mr Farrell is high on red wine while Mrs Farrell shows that she is not just there to dance by yapping down the mic. ‘Been Caught Stealing’ and ‘Stop’ are surprise treats, and fit in well with new tracks.

around the site

The main draw of the festival, for me, is Pearl Jam’s last show on this year’s European tour. Having just seen the Wembley show, and the set list that was a little obscure, tonight’s show was packed with hit after hit. ‘Evenflow’, ‘Alive’, ‘Worldwide Suicide’; I didn’t stop dancing. Josh Hommes gives a helping hand on The Who’s ‘Baba O’Reilly’ as Eddie Vedder’s voice is knackered from the tour.

Although I felt I could leave after that set, as nothing could top that, I thought I had better give the other bands a chance! The Hold Steady blow away a small crowd in the Pyramid Marquee on Saturday morning; there is really no excuse if you haven’t seen these yet. They are touring everywhere all the time! I don’t understand why Amy Winehouse is on the bill, but Snow Patrol make up for it with tales of lost luggage (“Does anyone have a toothbrush?”). Ironically one stall allows you to brush your teeth for free, and get a hat for the privilege! There are many freebies; belts, mats etc, which you just collect or have to text to win.

The Killers, normal headline material in the UK, have to make do with a 6.15pm slot, just before Peter Gabriel brings us his ‘Sledgehammer’ and other hits like ‘In Your Eyes’, with help from daughter Melanie. The Good, The Bad and The Queen, over in the Pyramid, (which for reference is nowhere near the size of the famous Glastonbury stage) are a little quiet, and I can hear Keane to my right again.

around the site

Many people are getting ready for The Chemical Brothers, who psychedelic videos and huge laser systems mean that even a non-fan can get sucked into watching them.

We’ve had a rock day, a dance day, and now it’s time for the metal fans. The festival has camping but the bulk of the tickets are day tickets, meaning that up to 350,000 people could visit the event over the four days. Today is the busiest day, helped along by the fact that the sun is out (not good for all the fans wearing black) and that people can at last sit down (chairs are not allowed in the arena). The Kooks add a soundtrack to the sunshine with ‘Naïve’ and ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, and then Incubus bring a little bit of charm for the girls in the form of Brandon Boyd and songs like ‘Wish You Were Here’.

Damien Rice has the best slot of the weekend as he is the only act on in the hour gap before Metallica hit the main stage. Make that over an hour, as they appear late, but get to play for two hours. James Hatfield has a sore voice, so the crowd have to help with ‘One’, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and ‘Enter Sandman’. Classic Metallica but a little sloppy at times.

around the site

After Tori Amos gets people dancing to ‘Cornflake Girl’ and dons a few wigs and dresses, Faithless finish the festival at a wholesome 2.30am, followed by a lot (and I mean a lot) of fireworks. It would never happen over here, what with the good old licensing committees.

To recap, the festival is well organised, the line up is well worth the trek and the campsites are clean if a little noisy (a good festival really then). My only grip is that there is nothing much to do when the bands are not on, and after four days the choice between Stella, Coke and water is a little tiring. If only the UK had commercial festivals this good.
review by: Danielle Millea

photos by: Danielle Millea

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