Last year’s Ieperfest still is one of the best festivals I’ve attended to this date. A small setting, with an amazing lineup and the best food I’ve ever had at any festival, for relatively cheap prices. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? It definitely set the bar high for this year’s edition. This year the lay out of the festival got a huge change, the decision was made to move the main stage to last year’s Marquee. The replacement for the mainstage was a smaller tent dubbed “The Thunderdome”. Everything was “indoors”, something that really goes well the genre of hardcore and in fact many live performances in general. It definitely made me curious for the festival and the effect it would have on the performances. Friday the 11th of august came sooner than expected and before I knew it I was headed for the far west of Belgium, to the 25th edition of Ieperfest.
Friday had a lot of promising bands opening the festival, I sadly couldn’t make it sooner to the festival so I’ll have to leave it at a mention. Mont Dorré got to kick things off in the Trench, I had seen them before on Dour but definitely wanted to see them again on a smaller stage in a different setting. Post-hardcore hailing from Brussels and they sound good. Mark My Way had the honour of opening the mainstage, a band from Ypres itself. They’ve been around for quite a while now and the hard work and dedication paid off, big up for The Big Game, I’ll be there next time! Up next was Seventh Circle, I had seen them before a couple of years ago, in a tiny venue near Ghent and I was completely sold. They bring dark and gritty hardcore like no one else, missing their performance really bummed me out.
As soon as I was settled on the camping I set out on the muddy fields. The terrain was definitely smaller and it felt a bit off. I guess I just needed to get used to it? But I definitely wasn’t the only who wasn’t too fond of the change. The terrain felt very confining, the fences were covered with a black canvas which definitely added to that feeling. It took away from the festival feeling in my opinion. I gave it the benefit of doubt, maybe I’d get used to it by the end of the weekend.
First up was Toxic Shock, Belgian crossover at its finest. People were still arriving at the festival so it was everything but crowded. Still a fair amount of people came to check them out. Ieperfest was still waking up from its year long slumber as was the crowd. Despite that they delivered an excellent show, I can only imagine what they would be like in a smaller venue. If anything it was a perfect warm-up for their show in Portugal at SonicBlast Moledo later that weekend. Which, from the looks of it, was absolutely bonkers.
A couple of years ago we probably would’ve seen Larissa Stupar with Wolf Down at Ieperfest, now we catch her as vocalist for Venom Prison. The five piece Death Metal band from the UK hasn’t been around for too long, with their first full length Animus released last year. They still managed to gather a large crowd at Ieperfest. I definitely was looking forward to this one. Death metal isn’t exactly something I listen to very often, but Venom Prison brings it with a touch of hardcore that makes things very interesting. A very convincing set played by the band yet I felt my attention fading towards the end. Perhaps this will change once they have more material to change things up a bit. All in all I definitely recommend checking them out if you get the chance, a band to keep an eye on the coming years.
Full house for No Turning Back, the crowd had finally arrived and just in time. Twenty years of No Turning Back, pretty self evident that this calls for an anniversary tour. Their third stop of this summer so they still had plenty of energy left, and so did the crowd. These guys kicked off the 25th edition of Ieperfest as it should have been. The stage was hungry for divers and the pit was ready to catch them. If there was any doubt at which festival you were up until now, then these guys definitely confirmed you were standing on the grounds of one of the biggest hardcore events in the world.
I’m not certain if it’s an ongoing challenge to try and take down The Trench during a set. Last year Reproach tried their hand at it, this year Belgian Asociality gave it a shot. What a show. Certainly in my top five of this year’s edition. These guys have been at it for a long time but no faded glory for them. Belgian punk is still alive and kicking hard. Blood, sweat and big smiles is what this show was, wow!
Napalm Death is seen as one of the founding fathers of the grindcore genre and they’ve been at the top of it ever since. One of those bands you simply need to see at least once in your life. For me it was only the second time. The first time being nearly 3-4 years ago, so much of a reference that’s not going to be. What can I say about them? They’ve perfected their craft over the years and this results in aggressive and hard shows as most people like them. Typical grindcore riffs and songs with more political messages than your average government. In short it was an excellent show and I loved every second of it. It’s Napalm Death, what more do you want?
Headliner of day one was Hatebreed, a band that’s synonymous with hardcore, a staple in the genre. I was curious as to how the headliner would fare on the new mainstage and in all honesty I missed the feeling of an open air mainstage. I’m not sure if many people share this idea. The concert itself was fantastic, a great performance yet it was lacking something and the crowd felt mild in a way. The show left me with a mixed feeling. I definitely missed the open air mainstage for this one. The entire set was recorded and can be watched through the link below.