- by Christophe Vanheygen
10 reasons why the 2017 edition should have been sold out already, but oddly enough isn’t just yet.
“De Kempen” is a small, picturesque region in Belgium. It’s mostly farms, small villages, a funny accent, two highways and three of our favorite festivals ever: Graspop Metal Meeting, Groezrock and … Sjock Festival.
For those who don’t know Sjock Festival … Let us Google that for you. In short: it’s a super cozy festival catering to the fans of rockabilly, psychobilly, rock ‘n roll, garage rock and punk. Yep, you can spot dudes sporting flat tops swingin’ with pretty girls in retro dresses, then see mohawks bouncing around in the mosh pit. All that whilst sipping on a cold brew or a cool cocktail.
This year marks the 42nd annual gathering in Gierle. Yes, 42nd. It first took place the same year Apple was founded and Ramones released their first record.
And it promises to be something really, really, really special. As a regular visitor for the past 10 years or so, it was fairly obvious that Sjock somewhat maintained its size. If there was any growth, it wasn’t really noticeable on the grassy site.
The 2017 edition, however, should have been sold out already. And here’s 10 reasons why.
1. Every festival needs a Rocket from the Crypt … but there is only one
A few years ago, Rocket from the Crypt got back together and played Groezrock. It was fine, but especially the very sweaty, intense set at the preshow was one for the history books. That energy, those hit songs, that vibe … When the RFTC-fans show up in Gierle, I’m pretty sure that pit will be one of the rowdiest Sjock has seen.
2. Two Mick Collins gigs are better than one.
The Detroit garage rock legend will be on stage with no less than two (2, twee, zwei, deux, …) bands on Friday: The Gories and The Dirtbombs. Let’s all pray for a couple of soulful tunes from ‘Ultraglide in Black’ so I can do my best Barry White impression on the dancefloor and woo my girlfriend.
3. ZEKE! ZEKE! ZEKE! ZEKE!
Holy f*cking sh*t! At last Zeke is touring Europe again. The Seattle speedsters are one of the bands that simply have “Sjock” written all over them, even though it’s been 13 years since their only appearance at the festival. They’re fast, loud, brash, rock ‘n roll and “fuck you”-punk. If you don’t want to throw away your guitars in desperation after seeing Blind Marky Felchtone shred one of his solos, you didn’t pay attention.
4. Do you feel lucky, punk?
Well, every punk rocker at Sjock should be ecstatic knowing that legendary Bad Religion will come to play some tunes. Yeah, yeah, we know it ain’t all that exclusive. They do tour about every other year. But bear in mind that Sjock is small-ish. You won’t be surrounded by a megajillion festival-morons who only want to hear ‘Punk Rock Song’ because they once heard it at a Green Day show.
5. For all kids, old & young
Yeah, going to festivals like these keeps you young. Sure, you feel old as f*ck after three days of drinking, and you may look as if you aged about 20 years over one weekend, but whatever … The age of the visitors at this festival probably ranges from really, really young to ready-to-retire old. And no one gives a hoot about your age.
Speaking of these very young ones: if you’re a proud parent and you think it’s time you immerse your spawn in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, and you don’t mind if they catch you puking out your umpteenth cocktail … Entrance is free for all under 14, if accompanied by a parent.
6. Turks and Pussy
Yes, Turks are most certainly welcome at Sjock. Some of them even come to the fest on a regular basis. Like New Bomb Turks … They are making their 4th trip to Gierle this summer. And no one at the festival cares if you’re a Pussy. Quite a few people at the fest would actually love to catch some Pussy. Even though they will probably just end up watching rock ‘n’ roll act Nashville Pussy’s 5th appearance at Sjock instead.
7. Belgium’s got Talent, too
Sjock always has its fair share of local bands on the bill. This year, you can lick your chops. We’re always keen to see punk legend Sunpower, who are celebrating their 15th birthday this year. And snotty punks Priceduifkes, who still don’t get the credit they deserve here. Or anywhere. And then you get thrashers Toxic Shock and the hippest, most talked about band of 2017 in Belgium (and Punkrocktheory-darlings): Brutus.
But we’re also quite anxious to catch a glimpse of The Sha-La-Lees, a side-project of former El Guapo Stuntteam guitar hero and current Sore Losers shredder Cedric Maes.
8. The many, many, many rockabilly acts
Yeah, we know two things about rockabilly: jack and shit. And jack left town. That doesn’t mean the bands suck. On the contrary, the rambunctious rattlin’ of the upright bass and steady cadence makes your hips shake uncontrollably. If you don’t know how, just keep an eye on the aforementioned girls in retro dresses. They’ll’ be happy to show you.
Seriously though, how awesome are these names: King Salami and the Cumberland Three, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, MFC Chicken … Yeah, those rock ‘n rollers sure don’t lack in ingenuity when it comes to band names.
It’s cheap. Dirt cheap. A weekend ticket – that’s three days of hard partying – will only cost you about € 67. Even the beers haven’t yet reached that current benchmark of € 3 per beverage yet. Yeah, it is quite common in Belgium these days to charge you 3 bucks a pop, and usually you get that small plastic thingy that is also used to hand out pills in old people’s homes. Yeah, none of that at Sjock: proper beer, proper price.
10. Yes, we actually saved the best for last: The Hellacopters
The Swedish rock ‘n’ roll legends are returning for a handful of hyper-exclusive shows. Really. THE HELLACOPTERS ARE PLAYING. Although the return does taste somewhat bittersweet after the untimely death of guitarist Strängen, we can’t help but get excited to hearing the best Swedish rock ‘n’ roll band since ever again.