Friday, August 15, 2008

Festival Report: Antilliaanse Feesten Day 2

Saturday, August 9th
Antilliaanse Feesten Hoogstraten Belgium Caribbean Music Festival Latin Salsa Soukous Merengue Reggaeton Saturday Concert Festival Report review
Click above for more pictures. Some are courtesy of, you'll recognize them by their sharpness and beautiful composition ;). Dutch version of this article here.

All ready for a second night of caribbean fiesta, I could handle the few raindrops and the dark sky. The queue at the entrance was something else however - the crowd was overwhelming, even on the festival grounds. So I had to skip Amarfis y la Banda de Attake (merengue from the Dominican Republic and frequently featured on this blog), a bummer. Yet another cancellation - Puchy y su Coco Band mysteriously disappeared after they took a bus in Madrid - was the final blow for the festival line-up: on the main stage every band was either a replacement, cancelled or not my taste.

So the night started off in disappointment, but as soon as Gente D'Zona came on stage, it was replaced by awe and joy. The Cuban reggaeton duo only has a small repertoire of mostly similar songs to rely on, but the more exotic and less agressive cubaton had a strong appeal on the salsa-loving audience. A fanatic horde of Cuban girls was lining the front rows and singing along to every word - if you haven't guessed, Gente D'Zona is immensely popular in Cuba. The rest of the tent enjoyed the view of all the youngsters climbing the stage to show off their moves and their bodies - musically there wasn't much to experience anyway.

Afterwards my company and me were listening with a half ear to the sugarsweet bachata pop of Monchy y Alexandra (website) while sipping a cocktail and enjoying the atmosphere. It was raining a little, but nobody seemed to bother: the crowd of 30,000 people from all over the world was here for dancing, singing along, drinking, having fun. The Antilliaanse Feesten are definitely a very laid back festival with an almost tangible positive vibe (if you go next year, be sure to stay camping to be fully immersed!).

Then came the second chance for Son de Cali (myspace). Word of mouth about yesterdays performance filled the Joker tent to capacity - no room for salsa dancing this time, but the Colombian band was in much better shape now they got to know the audience. A phenomenal drummer and percussionist gave the salsa a thriving rhythm not found on their albums - while speedy piano work and great singing improvs fired up the audience.

Headliners Wisin y Yandel had to cancel at the last minute (see previous post), but I was pleased to see Angel y Khriz (website) replace them - I like their softer, more exotic Dominican reggaeton better than Wisin y Yandel's fairly unoriginal bling-bling. But alas the show was a complete disappointment: no live instruments, both rappers just shouting over a bassline (mostly off key as well), and uninspired versions of their hit songs "Ven Bailalo" and "De Lao A Lao". The audience seemed to have fun at least - though many came for Wisin y Yandel and expected a bigger show.

Off to the Joker stage for an unexpected discovery. Djunny Claude is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and as such no material for this latino blog ;) But in the wee hours of the Hoogstraten night, he managed to get our tired legs to jump and dance for more than an hour to his contageous soukous music. The show was crazy, disorganized but wonderfully charming - at one moment the whole band dropped on the floor, after which for some reason Djunny started a dancing contest between the Congolese dancers on stage. Probably to show us white people ways of moving our body that we will never grasp. One to watch if you're into world music!

The honors for closing off two days of passionate, border-crossing music were for Carimi (myspace) from Haiti. It was their third time in Hoogstraten, and in this period they seemed to have picked up a lot from US culture. Which might be good for the show, but I came for the lovely, fast-paced compas music from their homeland, not for r&b and hiphop. After a while they did seem to find the right balance, but while they were building an explosive party on the main stage, I was already heading back through the mud to my tent.

This edition of the Antiliaanse Feesten suffered quite a lot from the many cancellations, though many replacements did a very good job. Altogether we had a wonderful weekend of exotic music, and we'll certainly be back in 2009!


Carlos Reyes said...

Glad you had fun! and is great to know lots of people went.


daX said...

How do you like this song? Witch version do you like better?

Anonymous said...

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