What a weekend! My heart is so full I’m afraid of explosions. The love surrounding this event is flowing strong and infectious. I can’t express strongly enough the joy felt being here in Belgium.
This is the start of my Wildfest 2023 wrap-up blog. Last year’s blog was a lengthy read for sure and I’ll link that at the bottom here too for those interested. I will not go into minute details about each and every band that rocked the stage. That would take forever!
Anyway, this is my story for the first days leading up to Wildfest including the Unofficial Pre-Party with Beyond The Labyrinth and Mr. Myst.
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
After a good night of drinking in London, my friend and I arrived in Brussels, Belgium via Eurostar train. Getting settled into the hotel, we headed out on the town. Let’s face it, anyone knowing me or Mike knows exactly where we go first in Brussels. No, “closest pub” is not the correct answer🤣. It’s Berlin Fabrik a restaurant specializing in gourmet burgers. Ever since we happened upon this place during our first time in Brussels, which was actually one year ago at Wildfest, we continuously return. The food is fantastic and the owners are so friendly and welcoming. We have brought many people along and also told many others about this “must-stop”. Soon friends started joining us starting with Melanie from Germany and not long after followed by Lon Hammen from Wisconsin USA and Ken Bartlett out of Chicago.
The evening took us through The Grand Place of Brussels and of course past Mannekin Pis. We continued drinks at Delirium Village where we were joined by Swissman Thomas. Before too long we made our way to Rock Classic and finished out the night with more drinks! What an awesome night out on the cusp of Ken and Lon‘s first Wildfest! The feeling of excitement could be felt flowing around us all.
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Thursday morning rolled around rather slowly and it was a late start. Meeting the gang for breakfast at brunch time soon had us separating as the Americans were slated for a late evening arrival in Geraardsbergen. Thomas, Melanie, Mike and I hit town at about 3pm and directly to the Sapphire Bar. The Sapphire was a daily (and even multi-times a day) staple of last year’s event. We piled up our luggages at a table in the sunny square, excited to be back. The server even remembered us from last year, but not sure if that was a good or bad thing🤣. Before too long we had a string of three tables pulled together with 12 representatives from Canada, the UK, Germany, and Switzerland.
Within minutes of the UK boys Andy and Justin joining the group of me, Mike and Thomas it was like getting the band back together. Memories, inside jokes, smiles and laughs came in staggeringly massive waves. Absolutely amazing feeling! We broke away from Sapphire and the group to deposit the bags at our accommodation, a house set up by Justin. These five reprobates in the same house spelt side-splitting laughter right from the outset. From there it was only a short stroll to Boogie Woogie, the small club hosting the two bands this evening.
The place was quite packed already as folks took advantage of the happy hour beer prices. Well, to be fair I think the top capacity of the club was also only 70. It was the sort of situation that saw you at the bar ordering six beers and just turning around and passing them out to whoever you knew in the vicinity. Fun fact: by the end of the evening we had drank the bar right out of beer! Photos and hugs came with those beers as we re-connected with still more friends. One of those photos was with Beyond the Labyrinth vocalist Filip Lemmens…. apparently my doppelganger twin🤣
Beyond The Labyrinth
Beyond the Labyrinth was first up and I was looking forward to witnessing my long-time friend Geert Fieuw on stage with his band. They rolled through a solid set and a thoroughly entertaining show. Vocalist Filip Lemmens sounding good and strong, singing with plenty of emotion. He reminded me a little of Little Caesar‘s Ron Young.
The headliner for the night was sleazy Mr. Myst, another first-time-seeing band for me. They oddly opened with a cover song, “Maniac” originally by Michael Sembello. The originals soon followed but after a while and more six beer rounds of course, I had to step out for some air. Still hearing the band while outside allowed me to keep half an ear on the proceedings. My ears perked up at the set closer, a cover of Michael Sembello‘s “Maniac“. Wait, didn’t we already hear this?🤷🏻♂️ *more on this to follow in the next blogs!
Closing The Night
Late-night pizza was on the menu as a few of us invaded Domino‘s. Parting ways with our other pizza eaters, Mike, Thomas and I headed for home. Upon arrival, we found Justin and Andy at the kitchen table in front of the remnants of a Domino‘s competitor. We laughed together about the silliest of things, a “Maniac” double shot and more ending the night on the highest of notes!
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