On March 13, the Liège-based independent label Honest House celebrated its tenth anniversary in Brussels with an exclusive mini-festival featuring four of their signing artists. The Rotonde venue of Botanique welcomed us with smoke on stage, good music and a feeling of being among friends. The party started a little bit later than announced, with Umungus, followed by Taïfun, Benoît Lizen and ended in force four hours later with Frank Shinobi.
Umungus, a name worthy of figuring in a Malleus Art gallery, a psychedelic sound with many interesting influences and a young age range, enough elements to raise interest on this group formed back in 2011. But despite the long list of influences, a quite normal fact for any new wave psychedelic bands, Umungus strikes by originality and technicality. Each instrument plays a distinctive part in the whole sound. The transit from blues or jazz to psychedelia and backwards is fascinating. This seems to be one of their strong points, passing from one style to another with effortless undertaking, through long undulating guitar sounds and remarkable smooth changes in the drum sequences. Blues rhythms melt in oriental cadences backed up by harmonious bass riffs, with a special mention of the drumming. Between songs, they were tuning up their instruments in complete silence. One of the songs was composed especially for the Honest House Label 10th anniversary.
Taïfun started their show in plain force. A mix of indie with heavier elements, where the bass work is central in their sound. Although they label themselves as an indie rock band, there incorporate many other elements, knocking at the doors of experimental. Some parts strongly remind of Roger Water’s style for the screaming vocals and playing bass in a guitar manner. Others are solidly emerged in post-rock elements. The vocalist especially is dealing in emotions. A warm resonance, experimenting reverberation, whispering or using stronger accents, which can match any of the wide range of styles they are covering. Talkative and funny, they dedicated songs, made jokes, thanked to their fans coming from Liege to see them. And they came many and totally loved them judging by their reactions.
Benoît Lizen is definitely something very special. Clumsy, sweet and funny when manipulating stage gear, sharp, focused and dreamy when performing. An out-the-ordinary singer-songwriter of an intelligence that matches his sensitivity. Keywords: authenticity and surrealism. Not only that all his songs are original but he also made up a language for them. Each song was performed on a different instrument, guitars, mandolin, lap steels. He overcame stage nervousness with humor and an open approach. Very much appreciated by the public, he was the sensation of the evening. People were so anxious to express their enthusiasm that they were hardly waiting for the songs to end in order to start applauding. When this happened over the ending of a song, an arrangement of lap steel playing with music box sounds, Benoît Lizen explained with innocent humor: “En fait, il y avait une petite conclusion là, mais c’est pas grave.” In fact, he is so authentic and genuine that he can incorporate anything that can happen at a show in his own performance. He also likes explaining his work. The mandolin was an old instrument restored and adapted by himself. A hand made musical box that brought along faraway sounds was the perfect ending to a performance filled with oriental, waltz and old folk sounds. Being a serious musician, his need for tuning the instruments was important and he let the public choose the background music while he was doing so.
“Bonsoir. On est Frank Shinobi et on a très mal à la gorge. Enfin, la moitié de nous.” This hasn’t stopped this indie math-rock band to perform at high standards, becoming better and better while the setlist revealed itself. The most talkative band of the evening, even talking over each other sometimes, they offered a dynamic show with plenty of interaction and audience approval. With hard rock drumming which made the public clapping along, deep driving bass emphasizing the heavy sound, enthusiastic guitars for a ‘90s sounds and many different rhythms, Frank Shinobi rocked out the Rotonde.
If you have the opportunity, do not miss the next HONEST HOUSE anniversary event, which will take place this week-end in Liège:https://www.facebook.com/events/1577800265783537/
Created in the beginning of the year 2005, Honest House are a collective from Liège in Belgium that aim at promoting indie rock music. HH are, therefore a handful of friends that feel like sharing their tastes and discoveries via concerts (and via the already-known Honest Rock Festival) but also some buddies that think that rock is not dead yet and that it is still worth doing ; last but not least, HH is a pretext, too, to party together. Now that you know who we are and what were building, dont hesitate and enter our humble house, but, above all, STAY HONEST!!!
Photos: JP Daniels – Concert Monkey