Yes! I finally had my weekend away from home and I went to Gent in Belgium to check out a live show by Earth and buy records at Consouling Store and Music Mania. Let me tell you a thing or two about it.
Gent is a beautiful city, brimming with life and vitality thanks to its student population. There’s always people about and things to do. I was especially happy to climb the Belfort tower and see the dragon (that was on top of the tower), which used to literally spit fire. How cool is that? So most of the weekend was spend with music, so I’m going to write a bit aout that.
Earth Plays Belladonna Of Sadness
The film ‘Belladonna Of Sadneess’ is a fascinating Japanese animated film, based on french Writing and heaviyl influenced by a specific style of art like that of Gustav Klimt and Tarot cards. The film is an obscure production with many violent and sexual images of rape and erotic suggestion, but also bloody battle. Now, this film is in need of a soundtrack, so the showing of the film as part of the Film Fest Gent needs something special. Getting doom/drone pioneers Earth to take the honors is a pleasure indeed in the magnificent concert hall/cinema of Vooruit.
Trailer: without Earth soundtrack obviously
Frontman Dylan Carson introduces the bands effort today and stands with his back to the audience in front of the screen. When the film starts playing, the band kicks of with a droning music that melts in with the film. As a listener you sink away into the endless drones that keep pumping onwards, while the footage on the screen unfolds in its own special way. The combination is so fitting and completely allows the listener to submerge into the film. For a good one and a half hour I’m mesmerized by the film and the skill of the band to keep working those notes without ever really shocking you out of the grasp of the screen on your eyes. A great experience.
On the Baudelostraat, connecting to the Vrijdagmarkt where you can find the excellent café Dulle Griet (you can drink their house beer from a special glass, if you hand in your shoe), you will find Conosuling Store, the store connected to the well known label Consouling Sounds. Consouling Store is not a huge store, with an enormous collection, but has a clear own identity and also, something most record lovers will agree is a big plus, great coffee.
Illustrative of its particular style was that a metalhead entered the shop with a bag of cd’s and owner Mike looked at them, seperating them in two piles: “These are the ones that I have an audience for, for these I don’t”. He explains, putting a Parkway Drive record on the ‘not’ pile. The strength of the shop and the label, but also of connected artists, is the strong identity. It’s somewhat dark, underground and ritualistic, but also strongly connected to art and creating something unique. This is also what you’ll find in the store, a load of gems that will speak to those who like the material that Consouling is releasing. So if you’re around, drop by this little record store and just submerge in the sounds that are playing and sort through the vinyl, cd’s and casssette’s, you’ll find treasures there.
My purchases were mostly within the Consouling stable, so I purchased vinyl from Jozef Van Wissem, Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat, The Black Heart Rebellion and some more… Yes, I’ve been enjoying them while writing this.
Around the corner of the Vooruit venue, you’ll find a small, but remarkably well stocked record store. On the day I was there, they had a vinyl market outside with 50% off. That was obviously a welcome surprise, so I purchased that Burzum best off record (‘From The Depths Of Darkness’) and another release in the series ‘The Abyss Stares Back’ with Hessian and Primitive Man (probably more of a breakfast record I suppose).
The store itself is very well stocked, but also on the pricey end with many more popular releases. Unfortunately, I think this is not entirely the shops fault. Some artists just go for those prices, also through their own web shops or the labels. But there’s plenty of great stuff for good prices there. For the crate diggers and vinyl flippers, this is a great store to hang out, but due to its relative stuffiness, prepare to have to move aside for others a lot instead of easily browsing. The huge selection makes up for that for me (or the fact that I’m really a crate hogger, once I’ve found my section).
Gent has an exceptional amount of great bars, where you can enjoy the Belgian master beers, but be wary, their is a price difference if you visit the ones like the ‘Dulle Griet’, which are very popular among tourists, and the more ‘local’ bars. In the Vleeschhal, you can eat traditional meals, but I can’t say that the Gentish Uufflakke was really my thing (sour head chease). There’s waffel stands and places to buy ‘Gentsche Neuzen’ everywhere.
What is most special about Gent is its vegan/vegetarian tradition. Apparently the public institutions even have a day a week when its really just vegetarian food they serve at work. Pretty cool huh? I’ve had my view of vegan food reshaped this weekend, after eating at a place where they made vegetarian burgers (walnut burger, oh boy) and a place where we had mashed sweet potato with toppings. For vegetarians the city of Gent is a must visit. I guess the same goes for those who love beer, make sure to try the local goodness of Gruut and Crabbelaar (and gosh knows what other great breweries).
Great place, go there!
Photo’s: Justina Lukosiute