Hello my friends!
I hope you are all well this somewhat grey autumn day. If you have had the chance to listen to my latest show from this week, then you will know that I went to Brussels for the first time last weekend and that this episode focuses on Release, the event that I attended and the main reason for my trip over to Belgium. However, I wanted to share my first experience of Brussels with you as well, mainly because I had the pleasure of meeting so many of you! So here it goes…
This Little Miss Sunshiine adventure started with that I overslept (due to too many Duvel’s the night before) and missed my train on Saturday morning, which I admit added a very “special” element of complete panic and stress to the beginning of my trip.
But after managing to sort out a new ticket for free (I lied to the lady behind the counter and told her I was attending a funeral…)
I checked in, boarded the train, and tried to keep all the bubbly & excited feelings inside of me in check. I was sitting on the train, looking out over the green landscape and grey sky, trying to imagine what my trip would be like. Would I get along with Alex, the person I was meant to be staying with? Would Release be successful or would I end up with a bunch of disappointed Belgians? Would people be friendly or would I feel like a complete outsider? Little did I know what great experiences and people I was about to encounter.
As the train was reaching the Brussels Midi station, Grazzhoppa’s “Vous Aller a BX” started playing on my iPod, and all I could do was smile, it was the perfect song for the perfect moment. I got off the train and my heart started racing. Julius was meant to come and pick me up at the station, but I had only met him once for an afternoon here in London in August, so I was a little a bit nervous… As I was walking down the stairs that takes you to the stations exists, I saw him standing at the bottom looking up and smiling. I felt a sudden rush of joy running through my entire body and an extreme urge to run down the stairs, jump him and give him the biggest hug in the world. However, I managed to restrain myself due to the thought of potentially crippling the poor man, so I settled for a hello and kiss on the cheek.
I was in a desperate need of a coffee, so we took the tram to Saint Gilles for some coffee and a catch up. We got to Maison du Peuple, sat down and the first thing I noticed was that people were smoking inside (which was a surprise since it’s not allowed in the UK). We stayed for about 40 minutes, talking about this and the other, and then walked around the corner over to Alex’s place.
Now, I just want to point out that I had never met Alex before, so I was very much looking forward to meeting this very talented young man who had been kind enough to offer me a place to stay despite the very fact that we didn’t really know each other. He was meant to be VJ-ing with Gunter at Release in the evening, and of course, they were not done with the visuals. Alex seemed a bit stressed out, which was understandable, and I told him not to worry as I’d happily spend the afternoon with Julius. So I left my bag and headed out on the streets of Brussels with my wonderful guide.
Im going to be honest with you, I can’t remember the names of any of places I saw… (Sorry Julius!) But it was a pleasant mix of nice areas and some parts that were a bit rough around the edges. I saw the peeing little boy, and I even managed to catch some kind of parade with traditional Belgian folk music and people dressed up like giants, spinning around on the street. (I’d like to pretend it was my welcoming party).
After a lot of walking and another coffee, it was time to head over to the Beursschouwburg to check out the preparations for the evening’s big event and also to pick up keys from Alex so I could go home and have a well deserved shower before the party. We got to the venue and I had the chance to quickly say hello to Bart from Onda Sonora, as well as having the pleasure of being introduced to LuiGi & Eric P from Infinitskills and wHo? (the very talented artist that has made some very cool editions of the Laid Back logo). Me and Julius ended up hanging out there for a little while before heading off home again to prepare ourselves for the exciting night ahead. After a shower and a huge dinner that pretty much put me in a food coma, we were finally ready to get our groove on and made our way back to the venue.
We arrived at the Beursschouwburg and there were already quite a few people inside. DJ Azer had started playing and we were cruising around the room trying to spot people we knew. First person I bumped into was Lefto, who I hadn’t seen since his visit in London this summer. He seemed a bit tired from the night before, but his spirits were still high and I was very happy to see him again. After meeting Lefto, everything seemed to be happening rather quickly, and I felt like I was attending a big family reunion. Lots of people were coming up saying hello and I was a bit overwhelmed with how friendly and open everybody was. Julius seemed to know most people there, and he was introducing me to all kinds of lovely people, who to my big surprise, had heard my show and apparently really liked it.
i-Sa kicked off the live performance part of the evening and never having heard of them before, I was very pleasantly surprised by the sounds I was hearing. When they finished, it was Infinitskills turn to take the stage and by that time, the venue was packed and filled with a great atmosphere. They started their show, and the only word that springs to mind in order to describe it is WOW. I had heard a couple of tracks from them before that I liked, but I also knew it was their first ever live performance, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But in my personal opinion, they absolutely SMASHED IT. Their music, the performance, and accompanying visuals were the perfect combination. I remember standing in front of the stage, dancing away in my own little world, thinking “Damn! These guys are fantastic, why have they never performed London!?”.
After a way too short set, Infinitskills handed over the stage to the one and only, JToTheC. He was the one I had been looking forward to the most all night, and words cannot describe the excitement I was feeling. bHe and his crew took the stage and literally blew us all away. JC has one of the most dynamic personalities I have ever come across in my entire life, and his stage presence and persona is incredible! You simply can’t take your eyes off him because you’re afraid you will miss something. They were very tight considering it was their first show and extremely entertaining, not to mention that the music was good as well. Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves, dancing, laughing and joining in with the madness that was happening up on stage. I loved the idea behind the visual concept they had, having people sending in their own videos, and editing it to go with the songs. It gave the entire performance that little extra, and it felt very fresh. I know how much Alex and Gunter had been working on the visuals, so big ups for pulling it off!
I won’t deny the fact that it became slightly messier after JToTheC’s show since the Belgian beer finally started to have its effect. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Dyno dropping the somewhat unexpected dubstep, it made me feel right at home (I am a sucker for a bit dirty dubstep).
All in all, Release was one of the best nights of my life, and I am still a bit overwhelmed by it all. It had pretty much everything: amazing music, great art and visuals, an enjoyable atmosphere and lovely people. I think the normal beer ran out at some point during the evening for a short while and there was even a queue to get in. Now if that isn’t a sign of a successful night then I don’t know what is… Much respect to all parties involved who made Release happen, you did an incredible job!
Sunday didn’t start until around 13:30 in the afternoon, but then again, we did go to sleep around 07.30, so the rest was well needed. After a quick shower, I found out that I was going to be kidnapped and taken to an exhibition by the two lovely girls, Shaerin and Vanessa, who I had met at the party the night before. But I couldn’t possibly be kidnapped on an empty stomach, so Alex decided to take me to a lovely traditional little Belgian bar around the corner from his flat. We had some nice lunch and managed to finish our second cup of coffee before the girls showed up to pick me up. Me and the girls rushed off and whilst sitting in the back seat of Shaerin’s car (who by the way was playing some wicked music!) I realised that I kind of miss having friends like them here in London, girls who are into the same type of things as myself. Nevertheless, the exhibition they took me to was really interesting, but unfortunately I had to be back at the flat by 18:00, so we quickly had to made our way back to Alex’s place, where we said our goodbye’s.
Back at the flat I started preparing my new Little Miss Sunshiine show whilst listening to the premier of Gav’s new show here on Laid Back. However, after some technical difficulties, I decided it was best to leave it for later, and we took a break so Alex could show me his amazing art. Before we even realised it, the time had come to have some dinner. We had decided to meet up with Julius for a last meal, and made our way to the restaurant. When we got there, the restaurant turned out to be closed, so we started walking towards Julius place, in hope that there would be a restaurant open near his place. A 30 – 40 minute walk and 6 closed restaurants later, we ended up at a little Italian pizzeria. We ordered food and wine, and I remember sitting by the table looking at the boys, and feeling slightly sad that I would be leaving them in the morning. After having filled our bellies with pizza, we started walking home again, and a couple of blocks down the road, Julius had to go his separate way so the time had come to say goodbye. I really felt like a little stone had been dropped inside my heart and all of a sudden it felt 100 times heavier. But I told myself that it wasn’t a real “Goodbye” and more like a “See you later” in order to stop crying. We parted, and me and Alex carried on walking.
When we got back to the flat, the food coma had once again kicked in. We decided to have another glass of wine together before heading off to bed, and when I had finished my glass, I could hardly keep my eyes open. So I said goodnight and went to sleep. I woke up 05.30 the next morning, got dressed and packed my remaining bits and bobs. Alex woke up to let me out, and as we were saying our goodbyes, I could feel how that little stone in my heart was becoming heavier and heavier by every beat. I got outside and it was still dark, people had already started making their ways in to work, and I was having a hard time realising that my journey had almost come to an end. I walked the couple of 100 meters to the metro, and had a quick cigarette in order to try to calm myself down. I took the tram to the Midi Station, arrived just in time to check in, and even managed to buy a coffee and an almond croissant. I got on the train, and as we were leaving Brussels, I was amazed by the fact that I had managed to fall in love with the city in such a short period of time.
As I look back on my trip now, I honestly feel like that weekend was one of the best love stories of my life so far. The way I was welcomed by you all, and the love you showed me, combined with your great company and incredible music, resulted in so many mixed, but heart warming feelings. I wish I could slice my heart up into tiny little pieces and give each and every one of you a small part. So thank you once again, I had such a memorable and fantastic time, and I can’t wait to see you all again. Much love! xxx