One word comes to mind when I think of my recent experience at the Grauzone festival in the Hague: “Encore!” (Pardon my French!)
From the peaceful walk from the station —under an unexpected ray of sun and a fair share of wind that I should have expected, being so close to the sea— to Paard, the main venue that contains the two biggest stage, while maintaining a very intimate feeling. I already knew I was going to remember this Saturday 18th of June.
If you’ve never experienced the happy mayhem that is the Grauzone festival, I encourage you to put on your heaviest black boots, your fiercest makeup, and to go shine some of the neon lights of the many stages of the festival on all those piercings that your parents told you that would go out of trend.
Stop by Paard’s main stage—to get your bracelet, first and foremost—but also to discover the galvanising intensity of the main singer of the Crows (whom I may now have a mini crush on). Then go have a break at the Grey Space, just a few minutes walk away, and fill up with some much needed energy with a delicious vegan burger. But don’t get too full, you’ll want to feed your mind with some of the unique artwork and the little record market displayed around the room!
While you’re there, don’t miss the incredible and most disturbing performance of your life: Little did I know when I entered the exhibit that I would go home with unforgettable images of an artist named Mette Sterre, walking creepily amongst the crowd in the body(suit) of a pervert with a baby hanging out of his guts, distributing love in the form of candy, attempting to raise both our awareness and the hems of our skirts.
Time to check out the rest of the festival!
Walk back to Paard with a bunch of fun people that you’ll soon realise to be one of the bands! While the festival hosts a lot of well-know artists, Brorlab might be one of the smallest bands, but they certainly have some of the strongest energy. The raw, pure punk spirit of these three friends from Antwerp immediately brought me back to my teenage years. I still can’t come over the hilarious contrast between the crazy presence of their main singer, and the playful way the two other gave her the stage by hiding behind every corner or amp they could find. I still regret that they only got 15 minutes on stage. It truly was « the nicest music you’ll miss » that night, as Gasper (one of the artists), jokingly pointed out on our way back to the main stage.
Don’t even hope to get a beer during Viagra Boy’s concert. The band was so popular and the crowd so dense that late comers be probably gave up on the idea to walk in at all (We did not even get any footage of it, sorry not sorry hey!) And the enthusiasm was well deserved. The band gave the audience everything they had—including their shirts it seems, as most of them ended up topless. Sebastian Murphy even throwing his entire body in the crowd at some point. And when the venue faced some major technical issues, preventing the audience from enjoying the music for several minutes, he then proceeded to grab a mic and keep entertaining the crowd, asking them their favourite thing about the city. If you’ve even been to The Hague —or anywhere in the Netherlands for that matter— you won’t be surprised to read that the main answer turned out to be « mullets »!
Festivals such as Grauzone are great in that they bring together very different artists. I can finish my article without mentioning one of the most ethereal duos of the day: Fatamorgana. The experience of those two artists from Barcelona on stage is how I imagine being abducted by aliens must be like. The reflection of the light in the sequins on the singer’s glittery jumpsuit, her dreamy yet somewhat robotic dance moves and the occasional echoing Woos in her microphone would have had me completely under hypnosis, if it wasn’t for the electro beats and the synthesiser, occasionally bringing me back to earth.
Finally, don’t forget to check out one of my personal favourite bands: Boy Harsher. The American duo delivered a flawless performance in front of what I remember as the most dancing audience of the day. I will let you enjoy yourself there, under the green neon lights and the smokey atmosphere, dancing restlessly until your legs can’t carry you anymore.
See you next year!
By Berangere Liloku
Check out the highlights on our handycam here: