Archive for November, 2011

‘Nations On Fire’ and the Dutch straight-edge band ‘Betray’ (with ex-‘Behind The Dikes’ [see: Roxy, Dendermonde, 3 may 86 (Laitz, B.T.D.,…)] Marc Hanou on bass & Casper Kraima singing, and Paul Van Der Vlist on guitar & Marco Somers drumming) intended this as a start to embark for a joint tour of the U.K. The poster states ‘A benefit show for the ‘Nations on Fire’ / ‘Betray’ U.K. tour 1991′. ‘N.O.F.’ were to play a show for Smurfpunx [Peanuts, Lede, 23 mar 91 (N.O.F.)] but this one was the first one (with David of ‘Scraps’ singing, Ed ‘Ward’ Verhaeghe / Françoise ‘Hazel’ Lepers on guitars, ex-‘C.P.D.’ Jaak drumming and Jeroen Lauwers on bass) and they immediately took of on a tour… Also playing were ‘Sloth’, a local grindcore band with Dieter ‘Lord Moloch’ Roelstraete doing vocals, David ‘Spans Hrac’ Stubbe (guitar; later drums for ‘Neuthrone’, etc.), Fabrice Baclet (bass) & Jeroen Vanhandsame (drums).

Brob

‘Sloth’ in (the hall of) the Vort’n Vis (courtesy of Dieter R)

According to me there was hardly anyone attending that night because everything was blocked due to heavy snow. ‘Betray’ were to play aswell but because the bad weather they drove directly from The Netherlands to the U.K. I know there’s a video-recording of the show but don’t know where to find it…

So the first show on this tour was in the VV and then we went over to the U.K. for some 5 (Manchester, Exeter, Middlesbrough, Huddersfield,…). I think we had 6 songs so we did very short concerts. Hazel (played guitar) was still in the band but shortly after she took off / was asked to leave (choose yourself). The tour was indeed together with ‘Betray’ (some members of ‘B.T.D.’, people might remember them from the ‘On Our Way To Fools Paradise’ compilation-lp). People that came a long were: Joris (Conspiracy recs), Stephane ‘Veggie’ Boens [R.I.P.] & Ghilain [Vermeersch], and Theun K. ‘Betray’ had just released a 7″ on Crucial Response recs, I think we just had a tape out. The tour was rather grey and snowed under, nobody gave a fuck, suffered from the cold, slept badly,… Actually, we shouldn’t have been there but it was a good learning-experience, got to know only to count on ourselves. The guy who set up the tour was a friendly bloke that lost so much money he never organised anything again.

Jeroen Lauwers, ‘N.O.F’ bassplayer

Here’s the explanation of why ‘Betray’ didn’t turn up (excerpt from Marc Hanou’s tour-report in the German fanzine Open Up #3):

91-02-08 NOF-Betray UK tour (Open up #3)

excerpt from the V.V. guestbook:

additions wellcome!…

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20 (+) years Vort’n Vis

Posted: November 16, 2011 in History
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(written on the occasion of the Vort’n Vis 20th birthday: Ieper, June 3rd, 2009)

Is it really already 20 years ago that the Vort’n Vis was established? We really start to grow old. The present ‘mother’-association ‘Autonomous Regional Meeting-centre’ (ART; Autonoom Regionaal Trefcentrum’) was founded on May 21st 1989 and was then still called ‘Autonomous Youth Centre’ (AJC; ‘Autonoom Jongerencentrum’). A month later, on June 23rd, 1989, it would initiate it’s pub, the Vort’n Vis [South-West-Flemish dialect for ‘rotten fish’]. Sometimes the time before an event seems long ago, while for other things it only seems like a while ago. It is hard to imagine but 20 years ago the world looked very different on many levels. To get an idea: here are a few comparisons.

Technologically, things were very different. Internet was not yet available for the big masses (it was still a technically very complicated thing, only for militaries and academics), a 40Mb hard-disk was a very big hard-disk (13 songs in MP3 format; nowadays a memory-stick holds 4 to 8 Gb and a hard-disk up to 320 Gb) and an AT-computer with 386-processor (8-16 Mhz) was a very modern thing (at present a processor of a standard computer clocks at 1333 Mhz). The spaceship Voyager 2 had made the first images of Uranus and Neptunus (and their moons) in January 1986 and August 1989, and after centuries of speculation we finally knew how these looked like from nearby. The Space Shuttles were already operating and on January 28th, 1986 one had already exploded. This space-technology of the era 1970-1980 is still flying (with outdated computer-processors!); seems like they will have to retire soon.

Politically the world also looked totally different. The Iron Curtain, the Eastern Bloc and the Sovjet-Union were about to disappear. The nowadays reunited Germany was still divided in West- and communist East-Germany. On May 2nd, 1989 Hungary opened the Iron Curtain and on November ‘89 East-Germany also opened its borders. On the other side of the world the Chinese student-protests in Beijing on June 4th, 1989 were bloodily suppressed. In 1988 Ronald Reagan served his last term as president of the United (6 years later he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s), Gorbatsjov was at the top of the Sovjet-Union, John-Paul II was pope, Martens our Prime Minister Boudewijn I still king of the still unitary and non-federal (but already trilingual) Belgium, and the Cold War was starting to thaw a bit (years later it would turn out we’d only just escaped an accidental nuclear war – in that case there probably wouldn’t have been a Vort’n Vis, Pit’s or 4AD). At that time the big enemies of the West weren’t the islamists, but the communists. Even more: the West still supported the islamitic resistance against the Sovjet occupation in Afghanistan. Small problem: years later the islamitic militants in Afghanistan would not only destroy their own country after dispelling the Sovjet-occupiers, but also attack their former Western allies. Only a few things haven’t changed yet: Kadhafi was already in power in Libia, Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and Fidel Castro in Cuba. And the ‘Vlaams Blok/Belang’ [The extreme right, nationalist party ‘Vlaams Blok’ was considerd racist after a court-case; they changed their name into ‘Vlaams Belang’ to be able to continue.] was already then against everything and everyone who was a bit ‘different’.

Also the music-world looked different then. The big record-companies still had the monopoly on the recording and distribution of music, although a lot more small and independent record-labels and fanzines popped up since the punk- and new-wave revolution of 1977 to break their monopolies (one of which was the alternative record-label 4AD after which the music-centre in Diksmuide was called). Music was then still recorded on cassettes and vinyl. The greedy music-industry felt already then threatened by home-taping (which allowed us to swap lp’s with friends and record them without buying). The industry was already campaigning against the copying of music; the slogan at that time was: ‘Hometaping is killing music’. The fact that 20 years later – despite the increased possibilities to copy and distribute – more music and more different musical styles exist than ever, seems to prove them wrong. ;-)

Recording and distributing music independently was technically and organisationally still a very cumbersome challenge that required a lot perseverance. Laptops and internet were not yet available for the masses (that only happened halfway the 90s with the arrival of the browser Netscape); it was still too sluggish for the distribution of music – MP3 and MySpace didn’t exist yet. For music that differed from the mainstream, one still had to explore obscure record-stores for half a day, or the boxes obscure distros at obscure concerts. A lot of these obscure concerts in that time-frame were organised by the legendary Smurfpunx of Brob, Mokka and co in Netwerk in Aalst. It was there that the idea was born to start with the Vort’n Vis in Ieper (“If others can do this, then we can realise this in our own area too.”).

One had to inform her/him-self on what alternative music was available via small concerts in old pig-sheds on the country-side and through fanzines with a ‘print-run’ of 50 pieces, and records had to be ordered at small distros (like the Nieuwe Koekrand) via ‘Aunty Post’. To get to know other music than that of the major record-labels, the music-lover then really had to make an effort, so she/he awarded a bigger value to the music. The irony of the fate is that the democratisation of the music reduced the value and the expiration-date of that very music. Democratisation of the creativity does lead to more creativity, but unfortunately also to more junk. But the freedom to take one’s chances and to make junk is indeed the price of that freedom (where others have fought for under more difficult circumstances). Luckily more real talents can also take a shot because of that bigger freedom, making the result positive in the end. Compare the music of today with that of 20 years ago, and it’s clear that an enormous evolution has taken place. Almost everything has changed. There are (unfortunately!) a few consistencies: at parties DJs still, after a quarter century, play that dreaded ‘Meat Loaf’ and ‘Deep Purple’; the music-industry is still as conservative and greedy, and SABAM [author’s rights organisation] is still the private tax-service of the music-business. :-(

Also socially the world looked different. The Westhoek [area around Ieper] and the rest of the South of West-Flanders still was a backward hell-hole where reactionary catholics waved the sceptre and decided what was best for the others. When you looked different or did your own thing without their permission, you were constantly kicked your ass: regular identity-checks, razzias at parties or concerts, fines based on dubious rules, administrative detentions, and other harassment and forms of abuse of power. For many young people and creative souls the Westhoek and the rest of the South of West-Flanders was a suffocating, backward peasant-hole, and many moved to the big cities.

This is more or less the background by the end of the 80s. Being young and creative wasn’t easy back then. But the most stubborn refused to flee and started to unite. During this period the 4AD (Diksmuide), the Pit’s (Kortrijk) and the Vort’n Vis (Ieper) arose. All worked, in their own manner according the principles of DIY (Do It Yourself) and ‘think globally, act locally’. Each had their own local operation but they did maintain close mutual contact. This triplet were the meeting-places of those who were ‘different’ in the South of West-Flanders back then. They each had their specialty. In the beginning the Vort’n Vis focussed mainly on hardcore and punk, the 4AD on experimental music and the Pit’s on alternative rock, even though also the other genres were addressed. The Vort’n Vis eventually became the incubator of the H8000-crew (in hardcore-circles internationally notorious West-Flemish hardcore-scene) that spawned many local but internationally famous hardcore-bands like ‘Congress’ and ‘Liar’. Nowadays the ‘Republyk’ Vort’n Vis organises, with its sister-organisation from Ghent Genet, the yearly hardcore-festival Ieperfest. The Vort’n Vis, that once started as a small pub on the Kiekenmarkt in Ieper begun to walk the path of a medium-sized association and concert-organiser. But this didn’t happen by accident.

By taking their fate in their own hands, establishing their own free meeting-place and not caring about the opinion of the local authorities and people-in-the-street, the Vort’n Vis, the Pits and the 4AD gave them the middle-finger. The founders of the Vort’n Vis were open about the fact that they too were born in Ieper and that they wouldn’t hide themselves any longer for the Anglo-Saxon war-tourists. The founders of the 4AD no longer wanted to hide each year for the nazis coming to the ‘IJzerbedevaart’ to terrorize the locals.

The local authorities and elite in the 80s reacted very furious against the fact that those ‘a-socials’ no longer wanted to hide because of appearances , in the place they were born. And they continuously sent down the cops. In response, the Republyk Vort’n Vis (RVV) declared itself independent of Belgium and Flanders on April 1st 1990, after the example of the former Sovjet-republics (who’d declared their independence in the same period). The RVV declared itself the 4th member-state of the BeNeLuxVort and the 13th member-state of the European Community (who only counted 12 back then). The collaborators of the RVV pronounced themselves Members of the Government and diplomats of the RVV, and demanded diplomatic immunity for themselves. For practical reasons we maintained a trade-relationship with the Kingdom of Belgium because the brewery was located there.  ;-)

In the beginning the Vort’n Vis was closed down once for 2 weeks for “noise-complaints”. There was also twice a razzia during concerts. The first time the arrested punks and Dutch squatters almost demolished the police-station in Ieper, and the second time people were just laughing in the cops’ faces (“See you next time!”, the cops waved goodbye when they left frustrated and with a ‘result’; and we just partied on.). The cops also wanted to try a third razzia but when they arrived at the Vort’n Vis with all their busses, we had closed down early because there were no people, so they stood for a closed door. To save their faces, they did a razzia in a newly opened trendy pub where the kids of the local elite were. It would seen that the floor there was covered with drugs. Ever since they never tried another razzia at the Vort’n Vis.  ;-)

In the mean time the Vort’n Vis became an established value in the underground milieu and accepted by the locals as a full member of their community. After all these years we have been able to prove that we were more than a bunch of “a-social marginals”. We have been able to prove that we were able to accomplish something and that the DIY meeting-centre wasthere to stay. Meanwhile we became owner of our own building in the Sint-Jacobsstraat.

But once things were different. Without idealistic go-getters who dared to swim against the current, this would never had happened, let alone stayed that way. One can indeed change the circumstances and the course of history, even if it’s only via small contributions in the nearby surroundings or by gratefully using new technologies, new conditions and other possibilities.

Meanwhile the mother-association ART has had some offspring. On April 1st, 1994 the record-company/distribution Genet / Fuse [Brob: the latter being a short-lived cooperation of Genet, Tilt! & United We Stand…] seperated from the mother-association and nowadays Genet is a sister-association based in Ghent. ART and Genet were since then the driving force behind the, in 1992 founded, Hardcore-festival that is now known as Ieperfest. On January 23rd, 2005 the mother-association ART was split in 3 associations (1 management-association and 2 operational associations) each with their own function. This in order to spread out the risks. The mother-association ART was slimmed down to a management-association that controls the building and properties of the association. Next to that, the operational association Republyk Vort’n Vis (RVV) was founded, accounting for the youth-house. And together with Genet, the sister-association in Ghent, the RVV has founded the association YperVist / Ieperfest, that organises the yearly Ieperfest. These 4 associations together form the Vort’n Vis Family, sort of a Vort’n Vis community modelled after the European Union.

Jan ‘Darklord Doomy’ Claus, co-founder of the Vort’n Vis

[also appeared here: 20 (+) years Vort’n Vis]

Hello World!

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Today Vort’n Vis co-founder Jan Claus came over with the first guest-books!

From now I will post excerpts from it to hopefully get you all to contribute…

Need all the help/info I can get!