In charge of the music and sound art programme at kunstencentrum STUK
Another year coming to an end, another day to contemplate the acts and artists we discovered and will guard in our minds for ever. A lot has happened this 2017: we saw our 2016 discoveries selling out concert halls and encountered new ones entering the emerging cultural scene. We organised more shows of our own again, providing a stage for those we believe in as curators and heavy supporters of difficult music. And then there was you, Subbacultcha members, without whom we wouldn’t be who we are and will become. In what follows we revisit the past year, highlighting those who made it extra special.
‘Flamboyant, absurd, extravagant’, is what our magazine editor Julien called Kirin J Callinan’s act this year. The man went balls-deep into his eclectic styles, transforming songs into an addictive and joyful performance to watch: ‘One minute Kirin explores the gut-grabbing effects of heavy metal, another minute you’re suddenly dancing to one of his satirical pop chef d’oeuvres. All of this wrapped up by an intelligent man with an unfailingly beautiful voice and guitar dexterity.’
For our member Gerlin, the TOPS’ show this November was her favourite Subba show of 2017. ‘By far,’ she shouted. She first discovered TOPS about three years ago and (we share this experience.) ‘It has been amazing to see them grow as artists and musicians. Jane has become more fierce than ever on stage and David still brings an overload of magic when playing the guitar.’ They are one of our favourite bands ever, and the best one to host too.
Best surprise of 2017. As member Hannes puts it, ‘we went to the festival on a last-minute spur, not really knowing what to expect,” (he lives in Ghent). ‘But when we arrived, we found a stunning location, a daring line-up, as well as the most kind and generous people. All ingredients were there. I’ll definitely go back next year, highly recommended.’
The Norwegian female duo Smerz played The Netherlands this year and we’ve been hooked on their sound ever since. Henriette and Catharina’s unique vocals combined with drums and woozy synths speak directly to our hearts, leading to pulses imitating and accelerating. Smerz are a world of their own, a telepathic duo that not only manage to put their intimate moments into music but also those of a larger generation. Take the single ‘Oh My My’ – fluctuating and stammering soundscapes reveal and embody the duo’s magic union. Dear Santa, we want these in Belgium this year.
FAKA is such a blast of fresh air in the music and fashion field, we’re seriously considering booking a flight to Johannesburg very soon. In-between doing a documentary video alongside Subbacultcha familiar Mykki Blanco and other fellow South African creatives, Fela Gucci and Desire Marea are redefining identity and gender on a whole new paradigm, resulting in one of the most interesting rising artists we’ve seen in quite some time.
‘Gents show was dream-pop realness,’ as member Ruud explains. ‘They were the most fresh and current Subbacultcha show this year. Their eighties drama attitude and unique vocals made my legs feel like jelly. The perfect music for a shameless romantic evening.’
This year we had Hand Habits as an exclusive show for our members. Her hazy folk-rock reminds of artists like Kurt Vile and Sharon Van Etten; guitar music to drift off to, while her lyrics penetrate your consciousness, and that’s exactly why we wanted to remember her show just once more before diving into the new year.
Find out here what’s happening this 2018.