As festival season ebbs and flows all over the world, we get to experience the diverse approaches to this increasingly popular presentation of our modern musical landscape. Each region seems to have a spirit and ambience of its own, a particular mood, even when lineups and tours stay almost the same.
Belgium, in general, hosts many well-known festivals from rock to EDM, but one under-rated city has a festival we had never heard of before: Les Ardentes. We already love LIEGE, as you might remember from a previous photo series. The French-speaking Belgians have a slightly different vibe than the Dutch-speaking Belgians that host another, more popular, festival we’ve attended: Rock Werchter.
The two groups have proven equivalent in their capacity to party, Les Ardentes seemed to go on well past 5 am. But, Walloons seemed more low key and enthused on their home turf, swaying and jumping to everything from Flying Lotus, to Tyler the Creator, to Ibeyi. The crowd was diverse, which made us colorful Americanas feel at home. The food was better in Liège than it was at Rock Werchter, including crepes, falafel, and churros (no offense to all y’all up north).
Les Ardentes stays very local, even as it attracts international acts. It’s more about drinking beer and running into old friends than festival fashion and the right Instagram caption. You may not find the style inspiration of a Coachella or a Glastonbury, but there is something refreshing about skipping the overly thought-out outfits and flower crowns.
At Les Ardentes, you eat something good, hear something good, and kick it without the pretext of social media pressuring you into capturing the experience more than actually experiencing the experience. From the sweaty crowds on the ground to the VIP lounge, the people were very down to earth.
Les Ardentes was the perfect combination of what a festival should be but rarely is: a mixed, harmonious crowd, with multi-cultural food, and an accepting Belgian/Euro attitude. Liège hosted a welcoming festival filled with diverse music and void of hype, and we plan on coming back.
See you in 2017, Les Ardentes!