Monday, 30 March 2009

Come together right now over me

This weekend I went to the first edition of Icons, a new Make Up Club concept created by my friends Michaël en Vincent. The brothers were dj'ing themselves, as well as Bent Van Looy (Das Pop) and Armand.

When I arrived at the club (quite early as usual, I have to because of the limited amount of trains from Brussels to Ghent in the late evening) poor Michaël was suffering from a lot of stress because of the small amount of people that had turned up so far. I promised him the club would be packed only an hour later and, being the wise Make Up resident that I am, I was right.

A lot of people were somewhat caught up between mixed emotions because of what happened to our friend Pieter who passed away a week earlier and whose funeral had taken place that morning. But, just like he would have liked it, we enjoyed our night filled with music and the people we love.

The music was a superb mix of old and new indie/rock 'n roll classics. I'm so glad I was there with Tessa. She's a non-stop party girl just like me and we danced all night long - on the dancefloor, on stage, behind the dj booth with Michaël and Vincent. When we went back home in the morning, my feet were literally bleeding.

We stayed until the absolute ending of the party. We ended up with about ten people and it took ages before the security managed to get us out of the club and the street.

This might even have been my best night at Make Up so far. Loved it!

Michaël and Vincent.
Tessa and I.
Some guy I don't know.

Me and Michaël.
Bart, Gabriel and Tom, all fellow Indiestyle people.

The new jacket Michaël was wearing was the key element of the night. We'd been talking about it all night long. He only unzipped it and took it off during one of the last songs, only to find out he couldn't zip it again by himself. :p

Me and Michaël.

The survivors (about 7am in the morning).

Some pictures taken by Vincent on his phone:

Vincent and Bent.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Your Blog is Fabulous Award!

A couple of days ago I received this lovely award from Jessica. Thank you so much!! If I'd be allowed to do so, I'd give you one as well, but the rules state it's my task to pass it along to 5 other blogs. But first, I have to do this other little thing:

1. Confess 5 things you are addicted to.

* music
* crisps, ice cream, coockies, all the yummie snacks you shouldn't eat
* jackets
* dancing at parties
* taking pictures

2. Pass the award on to 5 deserving bloggers.

Tough choice, but...

* Neon Enlightenment
lovely girls and blog with a great taste in music, fashion and an admirable way of living their lives

* Continuous Culture
one of the first blogs I started following and still a blog I keep on reading with a lot of pleasure

* TGIFash
another blog I've been following for quite a while; simple yet always charming blog posts

* My Moments
beautiful pictures and great stories by the lovely Jen

* Sensing Owls
a very young yet very talented photographer

Now it's up to you to pass it along!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Oldie of the week (2) - Robert Palmer, 'Johnny and Mary'

For this week's oldie I took a dive into the beginning of the eighties. At that point, British singer Robert Palmer had already scored some hits like 'Every Kinda People', 'Best of Both Worlds' and 'Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor Doctor)'. Some pretty good songs, but my personal favourite by Palmer was only released in 1980. I'm talking about 'Johnny and Mary'.

Although this song hasn't got a real chorus, it manages to grab and hold the attention of the listener all the way until the ending. I guess it's something special about the slightly sad melody and lyrics. And the voice, of course. 'Johnny and Mary' has been covered so many times, most well known by the likes of Status Quo, Placebo and The Notwist. Most of the cover versions are pretty good (I especially like the one by Placebo), but I'd still pick the original as my favourite anytime. Robert Palmer sings the song exactly as it should be sung. I hope you enjoy it as well. (I've also added the lyrics, I've always thought them to be really good)

Johnny's always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he aint lonely
Mary counts the walls
Knows he tires easily

Johnny thinks the world would be right
If it could buy truth from him
Mary says he changes his mind
more than a woman
But she made her bed
Even when the chance was slim

Johnny says hes willing to learn
When he decides hes a fool
Johnny says hell live anywhere
When he earns time to
Mary combs her hair
Says she should be used to it

Mary always hedges her bets
She never knows what to think
She says that he still acts
Like he is being discovered
Scared that he'll be caught
Without a second thought
Running around

Johnny feels hes wasting his breath
Trying to talk sense to her
Mary says hes lacking a real
Sense of proportion
So she combs her hair
Knows he tires easily

Johnny's always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain't lonely
Mary counts the walls
Says she should be used to it
Johnny's always running around
Running around

Monday, 23 March 2009

Live forever

Belgian readers might have read about a 29-year-old boy in Ghent who didn't survive a motor accident this weekend. This boy is Pieter, a lovely person who happens to be my mate Peter's best friend and someone I luckily also had the chance to have known. Missing one turn with his motorbike killed him, which came as a shock to all of us.

I only got to know Pieter one year ago, yet he immediately made a strong impression on me as a person. He was there when I joined Peter and his gang to the Oasis concert in Lille, and when we strolled around Ghent afterwards to find us some big fat tasty pita. He was almost always there when I came over to the Make Up Club to party all night long, often behind the dj booth, together with Peter. And he was always sweet and cheerful, the kind of person everybody likes to have around. The reactions to his sudden death are very emotional, it's clear he was and is a very much loved person.

You will never be forgotten.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

So come on dance with me Michael!

I've been to three gigs during the last few weeks.

1. Franz Ferdinand at the Ancienne Belgique

I'd seen Franz play once before, at the Rock Werchter festival a couple of years ago. Back then, they were good, but if I am completely honest, by far not as great as I had expected them to be. That fact makes it extra weird that I was prepared to pay 50 euros for this gig at the AB. I guess it must've been some unconscious faith in their ability to do better than what I saw at that festival. If that's the case, I was right, because this gig was exactly what I had already wanted the previous one to be. It was energetic, exiting, sexy and wild. I think I might've seen every corner of the venue and it is quite likely that I have lost some hair in the middle of the enthuastic crowd, but it was all worth it.

Highlights: all the hits, and they've played loads of them, but I guess This Fire and Michael were my favourite moments. Also, the ending of the gig when Alex jumped into the audience and everybody wanted to touch him.
Support Act: Kissogram, German electro-pop act with a singer that resembled Alex Kapranos a fucking lot. Pretty good, though!

2. White Lies at the Botanique

I'm pretty much into the White Lies debut album so I was really looking forward to see them live. They left me behind with mixed feelings. One part of me thinks it was an amazing gig. I mean, Harry McVeigh's voice is genious and sounds at least as good on stage as it does on an album. Plus, songs like 'A Place To Hide' (very Joy Division, that is) and 'Death' were performed brilliantly. On the other hand, I was kind of disappointed. Except for a couple of songs (including the two named above), White Lies didn't manage to give their music the intensity it needs. To use a comparison they're probably already tired of hearing: they can't make me feel the way a band like Editors can (each time over again, and I've already seen them five times). So, good gig, but not brilliant.

Highlights: Death, A Place To Hide, the pale lighting.
Support act: Haunts. They knicked half of their bass lines from Michael Jackson, but apart from that they kind of blew everyone away.

3. Electric Six at the VK
I went to this gig with my sister, mainly because we both love the über kitsch hit 'Danger! High Voltage'. The gig was exactly what we'd expected it to be: one big (and kitschy) party! :)

Highlights: Danger! High Voltage, Gay Bar, Future is in the future, Dick Valentine's capes, moves and expressions.
Support act: Romano Nervoso. Pretty funny band.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Oldie of the week (1) - The Hollies, 'Bus Stop'

Spring has arrived in Belgium and it feels sooo good. I'm not feeling ill anymore and it's like there's a smile permanently burned onto my lips.

Fresh start, fresh initiatives. And that's why I've decided to discover the magic of Twitter after all. You can read my - mostly not so very interesting, but ah well - regularly posted updates on the right side of this blog (right under the blog archive). If you're Twittering (is that even a verb?) yourself, don't hesitate to visit my
page and become one of my followers.

Another new thing on this blog is the 'oldie of the week'. Because I'm always posting new or at least fairly recent songs on here, I figured I should also pay some attention to my older favourites. Being raised in a family with a music-loving dad, I've always been fascinated by the sounds of the sixties, seventies and eighties (especially the sixties, to be honest).

This week I've picked my favourite song by The Hollies, one of the succesful 'British Invasion' bands. They're one of my most prefered sixties bands and I've always particularly loved 'Bus Stop', a catchy tune about a young romance starting at a bus stop. It's written by Graham Gouldman, who also wrote hit singles for other bands (like 'No Milk Today' for Herman's Hermits and 'For Your Love' for The Yardbirds) and who would later on become a member of 10cc. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Most played (9)

1. Peter Doherty - Last of the English Roses

2. Grace Jones - Williams' Blood

3. Bombay Bicycle Club - Always Like This

4. Metric - Help I'm Alive

5. Haunts - Underground

Saturday, 14 March 2009

You're the chocolate at the end of my Cornetto

I've been feeling more dead than alive the last few days. Oh where are the days when I never used to be ill? :( Anyway, it didn't stop me from seeing Franz Ferdinand two nights ago (pictures will follow) and it won't stop me from seeing White Lies tonight.

Apart from that, I have a guitar! When my dad was a teenager, he bought it on a holiday to Spain, hoping he could teach himself to play it. Unfortunately, he failed. It got left behind in a closet somewhere in my grandparents house until now, when they decided to give it to me. I can't play a single chord and the guitar obviously needs some serious tuning, but hey, I'm very happy with my new darling!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

"Can two men reproduce?" "No, but God knows we keep trying."

Lately I've had the chance to watch quite some films that had much of an impact on me. The intensely sad 'Two Lovers', the touching 'The Wrestler'... And yesterday I went to see the Gus Van Sant picture 'Milk' about Harvey Milk, a gay activist in the seventies who became California's first openly gay elected official, played by Sean Penn who got rewarded with an Oscar for this part.

If you haven't seen it, definitely give this movie a go, I'm pretty sure you won't be complaining afterwards. Not only is the acting sublime (James Franco as Harvey's boyfriend - such a chemistry! - Scott, Emile Hirsch - who you might remember from 'Into The Wild'- as Harvey's protégé Cleve, Josh Brolin as Harvey's political opponent Dan White, and most of all Sean Penn as Harvey himself),

Milk is the perfect example of a great biopic - not too lusting for sensation but still a lot more absorbing as a story than a pure documentary would be like.

But there's more I want to share with you than just telling you what a great movie 'Milk' is. This morning I was scrolling through the viewer commentary's about this film on a Dutch website called MovieMeter. One remark was really surprising to me. Someone said that his biggest problem with 'Milk' was its lack of relevance. To quote the guy: "A biopic that should've been made 15 years ago. It lacks all relevance, the opponents of gay rights in this movie seem to be depicted half-retarded only to make Harvey Milk's actions look somewhat controversial." Ehm, all right. If anything or anyone lacks relevance, I guess it would be this person.

Yes indeed, the way of thinking of many of the gay rights opponents we get to hear and see in the film is absolutely retarded. They see gay people as pedophiles whose main goal in life is 'converting' people's children, as sick people who need to be cured. I would also call that a retarded bunch of ideas, but - unlike that person on MovieMeter - I, and fortunately also most other people on the website, seem to understand that this is not something that was set up for the movie in order to make Harvey Milk look like some rebel or hero. No, wether you like to believe it or not, a lot of people really believed those awful things back then, and a part of them unfortunately still does.

What Harvey Milk did was a very honorable thing to do, and not only because of its 'controversiality', which the MovieMeter guy seems to think is the main message that this film aims to send out. I guess a lot of people saw/see this the wrong way. Milk's opponent Dan White, for example, got it the wrong way when he said 'at least you've got an issue, Harvey'. White was obviously drunk, but Harvey felt the need to reply to him anyway. His struggle for gay rights was so much more than just an issue. It was not about him, it was not about having political power, it was not about being controversial by any means, it was about helping people of who he, more than anyone, knew that they needed help and hope, often even so much that it became a matter of life and death.

To come back to the relevance thing - I personally feel like 'Milk' is still more relevant than ever. Not only is it a good thing that people know the integration of gayness in our society is not just something that suddenly 'happened', but it's also still relevant because discrimination against gay people is not gone today, no matter how much we like to believe it is.

Okay, so far for me overreacting a little bit. ;) The MovieMeter guy probably didn't mean it all that bad, but sometimes I just wish people would think twice before making stupid remarks. I'm a hetero myself, but been active in the struggle against gay discrimination for a while now and I've already experienced how things aren't always as easy as they seem to be.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

I hope I love you enough to let you go

On Wednesday I did another interview, this time with Luka Bloom. I was so very nervous because I adore his music, but turned out I really did not have to be.

Luka and his band (normally he does solo gigs, but this was a pretty exclusive gig with three musicians who have played on his most recent album) arrived an hour and a half later than predicted because their gear didn't come through at the airport. Me and the woman from the record label went for breakfast at a café in the neighbourhood as a pleasant way to kill the time.

Around noon, Luka and his friends arrived. After dropping off his lugage in his hotel room, Luka took me to a bar (he knows Brussels amazingly well) where we could do the interview. It was a very interesting talk about playing with a band, his recent album, the messages he wants to send out as a singer, and so on. Seldomly met someone so intelligent and friendly.

After the interview, Luka invited me for lunch in a restaurant he had wanted to visit for a while but that always seemed to be closed whenever he was around. It was a really good restaurant (I had chicken breast with mango and Chinese pasta, yummie!) and we had a nice chat.

In the evening, I went back to Brussels for the gig in the Ancienne Belgique. It was another amazing gig. Because the support act had cancelled earlier that day, Luka first did a solo set before getting back on stage with his band. Two lovely gigs instead of one, how lucky can one be?
People who have been reading my blog for a while now might remember
how I only just missed out on Luka's flowers last time I went to see him play. Well, this time they were all mine! :) At first he pretended to be throwing the flowers into the audience, but then he made a turn and handed them over to me (I was standing right in front of the stage). So sweet!

Some Luka-songs you should definitely hear:

Saturday, 7 March 2009

With a love like that, you know you should be glad

Everybody knows how much I love Make Up Club parties and how well I've got to know them during the last few months. Even then, I had never been to Heebiejeebies. Heebiejeebies is somewhat comparable to the other Make Up success concept Hindu Nights, although it's definitely more focused on sixties music and contemporary music with a sixties sound. I'd missed the previous edition so I was very eager to go to its follow-up last week.

My company for the evening consisted of Bart (the boss at Indiestyle) and Tessa (my party/concert buddy).
Bart with Vincent, who took care of the lights and got insanely drunk.

Mental and Adriaan (Peter's brother).


Sis, Christophe and their other dj'ing friend.

Our new mate Wout.
Tessa and I.

The day after meant one of the worst headaches ever for Peter, Carmen and I, but fortunately Peter took care of us very well by serving us some chocolate milk. And no matter what, such great parties are worth the headaches.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

They're like headlights in the rear view mirror, they're closer than they seem

I can't believe how great things are going me for me lately. The last week has been another succession of unforgettable moments.

Last Friday I had the chance to interview one of my favourite bands, Bell X1, for Indiestyle. I got to know their music about two years ago, when they did an acoustic set as the support act to The Frames. I didn't know about them before (except for one song I had heard on the O.C. sometime), but they immediately grabbed my attention once they got on stage. Their singer Paul Noonan has got such a beautiful, clear voice which makes it impossible not to get touched by the music. When they did the acoustic version of the single Rocky Took A Lover and Paul sang the lines "they're like headlights in the rear view mirror, they're closer than they seem" he did something indefinable with his voice that just broke my heart. I've been a fan ever since, especially since I got to see them again only one month later when they supported Damien Rice (who used to be their ex-bandmate in the nineties band Juniper - hard to believe Paul was the drummer in those days!), this time with the entire band. Unfortunately I haven't got to see any of their shows since then, but I was very pleased when I received a copy of their new album "Blue Lights on the Runway". It's by far the best album they've made so far and I can advise all of you to check it out.

The interview was a lovely experience. I got to interview Paul (the singer) and Dave (the lead guitarist) and it was a pleasure to have them in front of me. They were extremely friendly and charming, and really witty as well. I always immediately transcribe my interviews into Dutch so it won't be very useful to post it here, but once it gets published I'll put the link to it on here for the interested Dutch-speakers among you. ;)

Here's some video material for those who don't know about Bell X1 yet:

How Your Heart Is Wired, great song from the new album:

Bad Skin Day:

For some reason I can't seem to find the original version of Rocky Took A Lover on YouTube (unless some live versions, feel free to check them out, they're a really good live band), so here's the acoustic version:

Also have a look at the post belowed, where I already shared the new single The Great Defector!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Most played (8)

1. Bell X1 - The Great Defector

2. Starsailor - Tell me it's not over

3. Pet Shop Boys - Love etc (by the way, such a cool performance at the Brits!)

4. U2 - Breathe

5. Empire of the Sun - Standing on the shore