Rockvonk 2013 presented the Grand Finale at Het Depot on 7 December, hosted by Erika Van Tielen and with the participation of The Devilles, winners of the 2011 edition.
The seven finalists, chosen out of 95 demos and 12 semi-finalists, were: Esther & Fatou, Sea Peoples, ShyLips, Five Days, Barefoot and The Shoes, Fools and Dirty Lovers and PolarJacket. Quite different styles, leveled out only by the strict time interval of acting: rock, pop, electro, folk, acoustics, hard rock and disco, everything in 5 hours of quality program.
Sea Peoples originate in Dilbeek, but the members are currently studying in Ghent. A band with a strange name, strange song titles and a maritime sound. Their music evolved from pure unplugged guitar and vocals toward what the band calls: “more interesting occupations”. Their newly-recorded demo was made in the chamber of their neighbor, who was definitely of great help to a promising band.
Maybe there was something in their look or a certain easiness and warm friendship feeling among them, which left me with the sensation of a happy family or a hippie group playing together. Nice voice harmonies and good musical constructions, too bad the songs seem too short.
I was just thinking the other day why don’t we hear more Led Zeppelin-like sound at today’s bands? I know it’s difficult to tackle such strong texture but it wouldn’t hurt to have here and there a drop of the ocean of sounds they’ve created. Something to enfold the audience’s soul with that particular scent of the 70s rock blues scene.
I know ShyLips may not be Led Zeppelin-like, but they strongly made me think of them. Because they sound incredibly loud without volume excess. Because the ratio between progressive, rock and blues is just about right. Because they can sing a hard rock tune and not being afraid to come up with an acoustic one right after.
I believe they were the most truthful rock band of the evening, bringing back to life the foundations of rock music. The sound of “What Happens” immerses into King Crimson’s influence, using distorted vocals and electric guitar riffs and solo. “Run” gets closer to Pink Floyd’s sound. And all these happen while the vocalist Jente Pironet shows amazing physical resemblance with (a much more enthusiastic) Bob Dylan.
It’s just that all the above-mentioned big names had something which cannot be neglected in any great band: the bass contribution. If the bass player would be allowed to do more, nobody could stay in ShyLips’ way.
Fools and Dirty Lovers
Fools and Dirty Lovers are five young musicians who came together as a group in the summer of 2013. They are very good together, a select band with a classy sound.
The band is constructed around the delicate presence and amazing voice of Gianini Thiébaut. She can set the tone from jazz to blues, from pop to rock with substance and authenticity.
fools and dirty lovers
fools and dirty lovers
The first thing I would say about PolarJacket is that they have a super-bass-player. It’s commonly acknowledged that the bass players are always the coolest heads in a band, always slightly different than the rest in code dressing, stage attitude and performing style. With Steven de Prins, you have them all. No wonder they started the show on bass rhythms, surprising the audience and setting it into motion.
Already experienced on stage and with several wins in their portfolio, they knew how to entertain the public, offering perhaps the most enthusiastic performance of the evening. The guitar solos, steady drums and strong, clear and melodic voice fulfilled a recital of indie rock with funky accents.
Esther & Fatou
Fatou Jans and Esther Artois opened the event with an acoustic performance of delightful pop folk. Just two voices, guitar and percussion but they managed to cast a sweet charisma on the entire venue, from the first row to the back. The melancholy of sad love songs and experiences (song titles: You needed Time, Choose to be Mine, Never Let Go or lyrical expressivity “I give you 5 more days to save me”) are transformed in lullabies by soothe and suave voices on soft rhythms. Valuable, sweet and of firmly quality.
Esther & Fatou were acknowledged both by the public, winning the public prize and by the jury, winning the third place and the bronze medal.
After their performance, there was a disturbing ricochet in my acoustic thoughts, which wasn’t giving me peace. As if they were recalling something I had probably heard in a commercial spot. And when I finally realized what it was, I smiled. Some fading away Lily Allen’s jingle triggered only by the suavity of their voices. I wish Esther & Fatou will continue performing and erase all the spam from our heads, radios and concert halls.
Esther & Fatou
Barefoot and The Shoes
To do a sound check with “John the Revelator” and Mississippi blues can only prove high deep consistency for the amazingly young artists Barefoot and The Shoes. Already known for certain extravagance (funny hats or singing barefoot), they have decided yet not to put up a show but serve a clean lesson of folk rock music. Serious folk, not as dark as Woven Hand or as traditional as sometimes Bob Dylan, but nevertheless rooted in American roots music with a contemporary sound and serious lyrical themes.
A lot of care for the quality of sound, starting with the inspection of the instruments, cables and plugs. They were the first band in the evening where I heard the bass playing a solo. Relieved to see they don’t use a computer on stage, which would be a total sacrilege for this type of music. Instead they used beautiful old school Korg synthesizer.
Maybe they have not done their best performance which probably cost them the first place in the competition, coming out as second group and winning a silver medal, but they won my soul and my vote for the public prize, as I recognized the genius angel flying within their music, which I think is something of very special indeed.
The great winner, to my surprise I have to admit, was Five Days, a project between bassist Moreno Claes and Peter Schrevens. They had decided to explore together the world of electronic music and now with Bert Van Damme on drums they have occupied the rock scene.
Peter Schrevens has a great voice and he’s playing also the guitar and, alternatively of course, the keyboards. He fulfilled successfully all three jobs, well-focused and seeming even effortless.
Five Days recital was almost spotless, with consistent and well built sound, a very good performance for electro pop fans.
I can only imagine the difficult job the jury had in choosing between seven amazing groups. We can all cast a vote by our preferences but objectively it seemed mission impossible when good music kept coming.
While the jury was deliberating and the public votes were counted, The Devilles offered a very good recital to the still many people left to hear the results on the spot.
Once more, congrats to the winners:
Third Place and the Public Prize: Esther & Fatou
Second Place: Barefoot and The Shoes
First Place: Five Days
One best thought for the organization. A very pleasant evening in Het Depot.