Riot Events is an Antwerp agency which started with Pieter Vromant and Sasha Boller. I meet both guys in the Antwerp venue Kavka. It’s a beautiful sunny afternoon and they are busy preparing a gig for that evening with Desert Storm, Interstellar Deathroll, Gammaburst and Gnome. I snatch them away from their work for an interview and we go backstage.
What is Riot Events?
Pieter: “We started out as a sort of small town agency joint to give some local, small starting bands a stage at Kids café in Antwerp, but now we also organise gigs in Kavka and we have our own festival: Riot Fest. I guess that Riot Events right now is a booking agency. But with eyes on the future we want to grow and do more than that.”
Sasha: “We’re planning a tour of one of our bands called Spitfire. That’s a first step for Riot Events to do a little bit of management. They asked us to book a show, preferably to Italy. We’re going to start in Germany though.”
Pieter: “We don’t only do festivals and organise shows, but we also find upcoming bands, like the first band of tonight: Gnome. There is so much you can do: you can produce, record, get shows done, organise gigs, do promotion … There is so much to do in the music scene and I think that Riot Events right now is still an event organiser. It’s in the name. In my mind I see Riot Events changing name to Riot maybe, like a big brand name which has Riot Events as one of its sub parts. Hopefully there will one day be a Riot Recording Studio and a Riot Tour Operator and stuff like that, but that’s for in the future.”
How did you guys start?
Sasha: “It started with one of our first shows with our own band, Casual Riot, at Kid’s Rhythm and Blues café. That show was such a big success with a lot of people, so the owner of the pub came to us and asked if we wanted to do more shows because it went really well. From then on we could organise shows every first Thursday of the month with different bands.”
How long does Riot Events exist?
Sasha: “Pieter, this will be your second birthday in May with live performances, and my second birthday as well…”
Pieter: “We don’t count in years, we measure in birthdays organised by Riot Events.” (both laugh)
Pieter: “Let’s keep it at almost two years now.”
Sasha: “We use our birthdays to do live shows.”
Pieter: “We spin it to our advantage every year.”
Sasha: “We can get bigger bands than we can afford because we say that it’s our birthdays and we ask them to come play for a little less money. That works out pretty fine.” (both laugh)
What’s going to happen tonight?
Pieter: “Tonight we have a band called Desert Storm. Desert Storm and Riot Events go back to the very beginning of Riot Events.”
Sasha: ”Desert Storm is the first big band we ever booked in Antwerp. It was the first international band for us too, they are from the UK.”
Pieter: “They are on their tour to promote their album Omniscient. We actually got them very cheap for their first gig in the Kids and we instantly became friends with all their band members: we get along super great. This is the third time we’ve booked them so far and every time it was a great experience.”
How did you get here in Kavka?
Sasha: “Kavka is an organisation that supports local bands, organisers and events. They really want to support the local scene in Antwerp and do a lot of stuff like workshops, cultural activities, art exhibitions … So for us it was really the best option.”
Pieter: “Kavka is a very interesting venue. You get a very cheap room you don’t spend a lot of money on and a good stage, so that doesn’t take a lot of your budget. We’ve used this venue first for our own festival, Riot Fest, in November 2016. It was the biggest gig we’ve ever organised: with a lot of bands and the cooperation with the people of the venue was so good that we decided to do more stuff here.”
Both of you are also in a band…
Pieter: “We’re in the same band actually, Casual Riot. The Riot-part of the name is like a brand name for us: we’ve got Casual Riot, Riot Events, Riot Fest.”
What do you guys do in Casual Riot?
Sasha: “I’m the bass player and he…”
Pieter: “I fuck up the songs live! (laughs) No, I’m the singer.”
Sasha: “We both do the song writing as well. Not by ourselves, the other band members are doing a lot too. But we want to do a lot more of song writing, and not only for Casual Riot. We’re thinking about starting a second project. The rest is secret though!”
Pieter: “No more can be said!” (laughs)
Anything else you guys want to tell me?
Pieter: “What would be cool to mention is, we have the festival Riot Fest, which will be an annual event. We don’t know the date yet of the next Riot Fest…”
Sasha: “We’re planning it In September.”
Pieter: “We want to keep it a Stoner Festival in the center of Antwerp. Not as big as Desert Fest, a little smaller. We’re also fantasizing right now to organise a small time Garage Festival with Garage Punk Bands in an undisclosed location!”
Sasha: “As Riot Events we’re In the Stoner scene, it’s a very big scene right now: there are so many different kinds of Stoner music, just like in the Metal scene or in any other scene. But we don’t want to only stay there, there is a lot more good music out there.”
Pieter: “I personally love Garage Rock but I don’t need to book shows for specific music genres. I just like to book shows and organise venues.”
Sasha: “We can do Punk, Metal, Stoner, Garage, … Every band can send us a message on Facebook.”
Pieter: “We do everything but Experimental Jazz. We absolutely don’t do Experimental Jazz. Nothing of that stuff will be on events from Riot!” (both laugh)