Photos by Hortense Maignien.
Meakusma is a name that has long been active in and around Eupen. A glance at their history of promotion shows 12 years of varied and thoughtful curation. They have also pushed a boundary-defying label which, since 2008, has been a force of carefully considered eclecticism releasing the likes of Ryo Murakami, Bryce Hackford and Madteo. This year saw their debut festival, a three-day event in the local cultural centre. In line with the history of the brand, the lineup itself consisted of a diverse range of artists, many of whom existed at the periphery of classification.
Much of the festival existed as an alluring mystery which gradually unfolded over the weekend. The right approach to a festival like this is to take the plunge into the unknown. Simply allow oneself to be consumed by the incidental performances and artists you know nothing about. Tomaga for example dazzled with Can-esque grooves and warbling electronics. Lord Tang too delivered a theatrical performance, describing to his audience the building’s morbid history as a slaughterhouse. Later, Izabel Caligiore and Nosedrip were treating their audience to weirdo dance records and crate-dug treasures.
Outside, you could find Wax Treatment’s own open-air showcase. Here, the system came into its own without the bare walls of Halle and in the capable hands of Mark Ernestus, Fiedel, Roger Robinson and friends. The Saturday afternoon saw an additional building, Heuboden, open up for a Dublab showcase. Here we caught ML playing a range of obscurities, and Kassem Mosse & Mix Mup doing a second live show as ‘Chilling The Do’. Later on, Babyfather, headed by James Massiah in Dean Blunt’s absence, delivered an intense rumination of police violence and racism in London. An acutely sharp production on a local experience of a global epidemic.
With the Dublab showcase going straight through the night, Saturday slowly blurred into Sunday, where Heuboden continued to platform a comprehensive range of DJs and musicians until early Monday morning. Elsewhere, the varied programming was maintained, with highlights coming from Yves De Mey and a performance of Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ by the Christian Klinkenberg Orchestra. We ended the festival with ‘Call of the Deer’: a short minibus trip to the local forest, where we were led in the pitch dark to hear the mating sounds of deer.
Meakusma’s programming was, for me, infallible, but it’s not the only thing that was on point. Eupen was an unexpectedly beautiful setting and the recently renovated cultural centre was a perfect space for the multi-stage festival. The fact that this was the first edition of the festival is all the more impressive and is a testament to the experience of the team behind it. Any music fan with a taste they struggle to define will have a hard time finding a more suitable festival than this one.