At age 30, it is safe to say I have spent more than half my life listening to punk rock. First in French, my native language, then in Dutch and English. Belgium is famous for the huge music festivals and numerous venues. Yet, nearly 3 years ago, I took the plunge (well, actually it was the Eurostar) and moved to London.
London gave me career opportunities that never knocked back home. The rent prices are unbelievable, and don’t get me started on the chocolate. But being part of this hugely multicultural and creative hub has been extremely beneficial on all fronts. I have lost count of all the talented bands I have met and worked with, a lot of them thanks to Rockshot Mag. I live within walking distance of at least 5 music venues who produce shows every week-end. Most of my friends are skilled musicians or artists, and I was recently nominated in the finals of the British Photography Awards.
However, the current political climate is starting to become a little bit scary for touring bands and artists. And while I try my best to keep my political opinions quiet, I cannot help but worry about the future of the music scene in the UK. Venues closing down were one thing, but now, touring bands might need a visa to come visit us? And UK bands might need a visa to play in Europe?
For nearly 10 years, I was promoting and booking UK bands across Belgium and in the Netherlands, Germany and France with a little help from other promoter friends. Those were the best times of my life, and a lot of those bands became close friends. One of them even became my partner and he’s another reason why I moved to London. We met in March 2013… At the time, Graveyard Johnnys were scheduled to play 3 shows in Belgium and the Netherlands, but unfortunately had to cancel. That’s when they gave me a contact number for The Zipheads, a little rock’n’roll trio from St Albans. A brief phone call later, The Zipheads were on their way to their first gigs abroad. The rest is history. You guessed it… This would not have happened if they needed a visa to cross the Channel.
You’ll understand how I felt recently, and especially last Saturday 22nd of February, when I set off to Shepherd’s Bush to go see my friends Corbillard at the Escape Bar. It is always exciting to welcome Belgian bands to London, especially if we are from the same town and have known each other for years. They aren’t alone, as punk rock legends Chump came along for a week of madness. Their “Brexit won’t stop us” tour is taking them to London, Brighton, Norwich, Worcester, Bristol, Hastings and Chatham. A grand old tour of Britain and plenty of time for mushy peas, real ale and undercooked chips.
I’m really happy to see my friends from back home on a stage in London. The Escape Bar is a newly open venue near Goldhawk Road station. They put on gigs every week and the entry is free! Isn’t this just what we need? Chump kicks off the night with an explosive set. Energetic and melodic, with a bit of skate punk thrown in the mix for good measure. They have been around since the early 00’s in Belgium, and have toured extensively in Europe. Last night was their first time in London, and they, of course, blew the roof off and proudly showed the crowd how punk rock is done in Belgium. This shows a promising start of their tour, and I personally cannot wait for everyone else in the UK to hear about Chump.
About Corbillard… I was about 16 when I saw them for the first time and they have played a big part of keeping our punk rock scene alive since then. Like Chump, they have been playing all over the place in Europe and even Canada. They’re accustomed to bigger festivals such as Dour or Punk Rock Holiday, so a little tour of the UK wasn’t going to scare them. Their edge-cutting, fast sound is coming straight from the grave to your face. It was just a shame we could not hear the lyrics, because angry punk rock in French is just what I needed to cure the homesickness. If you’re after meaningful, brutally honest, assertive but poetic lyrics, Corbillard might be what you are after. They have a way with words very few bands have, and it seems every song dodges a bullet as they tell us the uncomfortable truth about love, friendship, death and life on the road in their own unique way. A real treat.
The rest of the evening was brought to us by Katie MF – a folk-punk solo artist, skatepunk masters Discover A Fire coming all the way from Norfolk, Our Lives in Cinema – hardcore punk with surprising influences from Whitney Houston and Captain Trips, a more technical approach to punk but no less angry than the others. A fantastic line-up and evening, a lesson to learn if we want to keep having a music scene. I sincerely hope the Escape Bar keep putting on gigs and bringing new bands in London.
In conclusion, if you live near Brighton, Norwich, Worcester, Bristol, Hastings and Chatham and you are looking to let off some steam and discover some top-notch punk rock, there is no better time than now to support your local music scene, and international touring bands. It might be your last chance to do so… But punk has never been about following the rules, has it? And we will need it more than ever.
Live Review & Photography by Pauline DiSilvestro at Escape Bar for Chump & Corbillard on Saturday 22nd February 2020