March 13, 2015
The evening starts with a drive across Brussels, and a cab’s eye view of the historic and not-so historic architecture of this great city. Tonight I’m traveling with the Midnight Crawlers, who know the secret histories and alternate terrains of the Belgian capital, so I’m treated to a crash course in the beautiful and the brutal. I’m told that, although Brussels escaped destruction during the wars of the last century, the bruxellois have somehow managed to destroy their own architectural heritage. A tragic comedy, indeed.
We arrive at the VK, which has that illicit warehouse party vibe, and grab the all important first round of cold foamers. The main hall—a big black box—is perfect, and I’ve never been more ready for the heavy than right now.
Brussels own Moaning Cities is tearing it up on stage, bringing a rough-hewn edge to that old psychedelic magic. They’re a frenetic presence, and the all-women rhythm section is absolutely killing it. Their set ends with a proper garage-psych rave-up and its the perfect way to get this thing started.
There’s a break in the action, so its time for another round and a quick smoke for the Crawlers. Out front, we notice the exterior facade and some glorious Art Nouveau windows, and our faith in the hidden beauties of Brussels architecture is restored.
Back in the big box I notice a lonely, unlit disco ball hanging high at ceiling’s center, and wonder how long its been dormant.
Dead Meadow take to a sparse stage and there’s little fanfare. A few moments of recognition between band and crowd, and off we go.
The first riff, and the first groove.
The guitar is wet, and the drums dry. The bass is a hole punched in the Belgian night. A twisted electric blues, deep and wide. Riffs are conjured from older stories, ancient and primitive in nature. I think Band of Gypsies, and this is a good thing.
Dead Meadow is stretching its jams out, and a cross-fire rhythmic flow drives us deeper into an elemental vibe.
We pass through the crowd and score more beers. The VK is a no-hassle, its-all-good joint and members of Moaning Cities are chatting up the punters and somebody says isn’t this the way its supposed to be?
Back inside Dead Meadow is discovering a groove during the encore that’s so right and true the whole evening seems to collapse into one seamless, glorious riff-story. It’s sublime and you can tell that everyone feels it.
Still buzzing and wanting more, we spill into the night and find our way to an underground bar—a cave, a catacomb?—and it’s the next logical step in a night of strange and wonderous stories. We talk music. There’s whiskey, and beer. We’re inspired, and somebody says “let’s jam!” The sentiment is perfect, but we succomb to the night and continue the reverie in this timeworn space.
How the night ends nobody seems to know, but that matter lies elsewhere…
Photographs by the Rock File