As a writer of our Pick Your Poison column I sometimes feel hard-pressed these days to choose between music festivals and craft beer tastings. I feel nothing less than immense gratitude to the people behind the Razernij festival for combining my two vices in one day of indulgence. The recipe is simple but genius. You collect a line-up of up-and-coming or underrated bands and combine them with craft beer brewers who all have a love for the genre of music playing the festival. After last year’s edition that leaned more towards the stoner genre with bands as King Hiss and Tangled Horns, 2018’s line-up immersed itself completely in the (pop)punk genre with For I Am, F.O.D., Belgian Asociality and Lagwagon. The brewers line-up consisted of Hof ten Dormaal (B), Oproer (NL), Freigeist Bierkultur (D), Côte West Brewing (CH), OpperBacco (I) and for the very first time outside their new venue in Ghent, Dok Brewing Company (B).
Razernij is a part of the Rumstse Volksfeesten, a weekend of entertainment for all the people in and around Rumst. So before we found the craft beer and festival tent on the local school site we wandered passed kids having fun on a bouncy castle, a public barbecue and grannies sharing stories in the sun. We were tempted to sit between the children who were getting their faces painted as a lion or a butterfly and wondered if we should ask for some good old-fashioned corpse paint, but realized that could be frowned upon even among punk lovers.
As concerts started later in the afternoon we had plenty of time to explore some of the brewers’ beers. We discovered some punk themed brews as well such as Oproer‘s Black Flag or Côte West‘s Goin’ South, a clear tribute to the night’s headliner Lagwagon. We won’t delve too deep in those in this review as they will get all the attention they need on our Pick Your Poison column. While the alcohol content of some brews was quite high, there were no drunken incidents at all. The only moment tension got a little higher was when a visitor of the Volksfeesten was agitated about the empty keg of Maes at the barbecue site. Luckily, the good man was helped quickly in the festival tent to satisfy his desire for mass produced pilsner. Throughout the day there was an interesting contrast between punk lovers getting wasted on the available Maes (or being pleasantly surprised by the brewers that beer can actually have taste) and craft beer lovers who caught a punk show while checking in their ticks on Untappd. And then there was the small group that did not know to which they actually belonged. In fact, specifically the brewers could be caught sneaking out from behind their bars to view parts of the shows.
The musical activities at Razernij were kicked off by For I Am (***1/2). Around since 2014 and with one EP under their belt this band was seriously looking for some fun on stage. With their up tempo poppy punk they succeeded in getting the first early visitors shifting their feet. Musically, a lot of the things For I Am bring have been done before – the Blink-182 influences are high on this one – but the band and especially front woman Hanne deliver it with a large dose of enthusiasm that makes us think back of our youth. They are the proof that this genre of punk still has merit and is worth revisiting from time to time.
After we saw a glimpse of Hans Roofthooft already when he joined For I Am on stage for a duet with Hanne, he returned in full force with his bandmates of F.O.D. (***1/2). A steady name in the Belgian punk scene and with good reason. Their melodic take on punk combined with the vocal harmonies of Hans Roofthooft and Stijn De Waele set them apart from many other bands. At the same time they form the perfect warm-up for Lagwagon later that night, as the latter clearly influenced F.O.D.. A diverse an entertaining show, where Hanne of For I Am returned the favor and also joined the band to lend her vocals. It would not be the last we saw of either of the two bands as they popped up among the crowd to enjoy the night. The low threshold and ease of approaching brewers and artists is a great surplus of the Razernij festival.
One person who had a busy job talking to people and posing for photos was singer Mark Vosté of Belgian Asociality (****). With their humorous and tongue-in-cheek lyrics they have been a most welcome party band for years. By now, the crowd was more than warmed up. Mosh pits and savvy interactions formed the core of the show. Shouting along with the Jupiler Reggae and singing “Only one beer goes in my head you know, I am a Jupiler man, drink it as much as I can“, while drinking a fine 11% barley wine by the Italian OpperBacco, proved to be the most ironic moment of the day.
With the voices trained (or strained?) and the throats hydrated with plenty of session IPAs, saisons and sour ales, most attendees were ready to relive their youth with Lagwagon (***1/2). The band played their 1998 album Let’s Talk About Feelings in its integrity. But with material spanning a career of 25 years there were enough songs for young and old to rejoice. The band did not bother talking too much and just played an intense 23 song set.
There was, however, some time for laughs and jokes about the differences in the band members’ height and there was a moment to remember the band’s former drummer Derrick Plourde who passed away too young. Current drummer Dave Raun seemed to have a great time as he was playing large parts of the set with a pink wig that was thrown on stage from the audience. While the temperature outside was dropping rapidly, inside the tent people kept warm with pogo and stage diving. As a smaller festival Razernij doesn’t bother too much with strict rules large festivals impose on the crowd these days. As Belgian Asociality already said earlier tonight “Doe verdorie uw goesting” (“Do whatever the fuck you want“).
Filled with good vibes and plenty of tasty beers we crawled in our bed to call it a night. We look forward to return to Rumst next year and are certain great collaborations could be in store for Razernij, GRIMM and Pick Your Poison… Stay tuned!
All pictures by our house photographer Gillian Pieteraerens!