Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Preludes to Ieperfest

Posted: September 16, 2016 in History
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The yearly hardcore festival (around half of August) organised by the Vort’n Vis, is nowadays usually referred to as Ieperfest. Since the scope of this website is the concerts related to the Vort’n Vis until leaving the premises at Kiekenmarkt 7 (May 2001), only the fests until 2001 will be listed…


Besides the names Hardcore Vistival and the nickname Ieperfest the several editions of this festival in the 90s were called differently…

(1992) Hardcore 1992

In 1993 there was no fest…

(1994) Hardcore Festival ’94; (1995) Hardcore Festival ’95]

(1996) Hardcore, The Next Generation

(1997) Hardcore – The Next Generation

(1998) Hardcore: The Next Generation

(1999) Ieper Hardcore festival

(2000) Hardcore: The Next Generation ???

(2001) 2001: A Hardcore Odyssey [flyer: Vort’n Vis HC Fest]


As far as I can remember the organisers were: Edward Verhaeghe (1992) [with the help of the V.V. ‘shitworkers’], Hans Verbeke [and friends] (1994-1995), vzw [not-for-profit assiocoation] ART [Autonoom Regionaal Trefcentrum (Autonomous Regional meeting-space)] Vort’n Vis & Genet recs [Bruno Vandevyvere’s record-label] (1996 -2004)…

From 2005 to early 2015 there was the “factual association” IeperFest/YperVist (consisting of 2 “members”: vzw ART Vort’n Vis & vzw Genet). The summer-edition of 2015 was still prepared by the “factual association” but vzw Ieperfest (that started halfway 2015) effectuated it. The reason why people decided to switch to vzw Ieperfest was because the risks surrounding the organisation of the festival were increasing (the heavy weather and the disaster it caused at Pukkelpop in 2011 – where a few Ieperfest-collaborators were present); and to preclude the personal liability of individual IeperFest-collaborators.

Between 1992  & ’98 the fests took place at the Vort’n Vis pub (and/or barn), located at Kiekenmarkt 7, Ieper/Ypres. In 1999 & 2000 at the Stedelijke Academie voor Muziek en Woord [Municipal Acadamy for Music and Drama], d’Hondstraat 59, Ieper/Ypres. And in 2001 things were happening at the Jeugdstadion [Youth Stadium] Ieper, Leopold III laan 16, Ieper/Ypres. (There were also some WinterFest editions – at Zaal Fenix, Leopold III laan 16 and at the JOC Ieper, Fochlaan 2.)

Jan Claus


We’ld like to encourage the ‘old’ and the ‘next’ generation to keep contributing their recollections/impressions/stories about all of this…!


Pit's logo

Around the same time of the conception of the Vort’n Vis, an ‘indie’ pub was set up in Kortrijk: The Pits (Actually it’s The Pit’s). People that frequented it and the bands that they invited were not necessarily hardcore/punk but there was an overlap…

From their history-writing: >> November 1st 1988 Het Rond Vierkant [a local pub/hang-out] was officially buried but some of the loyal customers united in a non-profit organisation called Bang Zoom Noise (B.Z.N.) and opened their own pub, The Pits. The first intention was to organise concerts.<<

After cooperations with the local Limelight and De Kreun (commercial concert-places), and the 4AD in Diksmuide, B.Z.N. found themselves forced to organise their own space. This continues, even today… Check ‘m out on the www!

Some people that were active in and around the non-profit organisation that was the foundation for The Pits were also doin’ other sub-cultural stuff. On the local Radio Solar there was e.g. a 3h program called Blitzkrieg Bop (hosted by Joost Dierick, I believe) that highlighted mainly “alternative music” (info, theme-programs, ‘specials’) and lasted until it got banned (early 90s). They also did a free monthly newsletter that would evolve (I think) into the Pitstop (that you got free with a membership).

Within the boundaries of B.B. a man named Peter Arthur Caesens (“the local buffoon and author of bestsellers”; as Edward Verhaeghe described him in the 1st issue of his zine Do It) was given the opportunity to do a 1h guest-appearance that he filled with “ranting and blustering”…

P.A.C. was a bit of a cult-figure in the Kortrijk area. He also performed at the Vort’n Vis a few times… On his website he calls himself an artist, poet, dancer, composer and performer.

Joost Dierick told me he had already been on stage with P.A.C.’s choir ‘Consortium Musicae Perversae’ at a gig with ‘Chronic Disease’ (90-02-24). ‘Bowy’ (Dirk Bauwens, one of the founding-fathers of The Pits) described these once as “the Dadaist realisation of the combined wet dreams of P.A.C. & Sid Veritas”…


I did 3 appearances, I think… Once I did a solo-act where I danced to the music of Bartok’s first concerto for piano, if I remember well… It was on a kind of international festival on a Sunday-afternoon; I believe it was a Straight-Edge concert [96-08-18; see guestbook-entry].

VV 96-08-18 - (book C) Peter Arthur Caesens“On behalf of the institute for ponamology and as commander of the underground Revolutionary Military Forces for the promotion of Artisitc Muzak” [PONAM = Permanent ONterecht Afgewezen Minnaar; Permanantly Unfairly Rejected Lover]

But most legendary were the 2 performances with the vocal ensemble ‘Consortium Musicae Perversae’ (that originated at The Pits); under my direction. The first time there were a lot of people and they were stage-diving. The second time there was hardly no audience and one of my singers (‘Herr Brunkel’) was pretty drunk. He tumbled of the stage with a full glass of Duvel. The Consortium could’ve become a hype, if only the singers would have persevered a bit. The composition changed many times – upto 4 times over the years. ‘Sid Veritas’ (Thierry Meerschman), ‘Herr Brunkel’ (Christoph Bruneel); also Dirk ‘Bowy Bauwens in the beginning… We sang (a capella) our own kooky adaptations of a diversity of things (the midieval Carmina Burana, Bach, Boyce, folk-tunes and pure improvisation)…

Here’s a quote of my friend Herr Brunkel (February 2014): “Gig of the Consortium @ Vort’n Vis: full moon, poor organisation because unannounced concert, resulting in = public nihil. The singing incredibly out of tune, like a cat (not bad with a rotten fish – Vort’n Vis – dish) with a full moon of Duvels for ‘Brunkel’ and ‘blue clouds’ for Sid Veritas’…”

‘Ugly Papas’? I toured 2 years with them… Perhaps I played with them in the Vort’n Vis?

Peter Caesens

96-08-18 Caesens (Do It 2)

It was my idea to invite P.A.C. He also read from his own work, I believe. Happened at a few fests that I was involved with…

Edward Verhaeghe

The ‘Ugly Papas’ (also from the Kortrijk area) were in the final of Humo’s Rock Rally in 1990. They played “non-conventional, decadent but tight blues-rock with humour”. The band consisted of Dick Descamps (bass), Dr. Dekerpel (guitar), Luc Dufourmont (vocals; ex ‘Two Russian Cowboys’ – these had already performed at a Smurfpunx-gig: 88-10-23) and Eric ‘Rik’ Debruyne (drums). Did they perform here or just visit?


VV 96-08-18 - (book C) Ugly Papas

An interview with the Vort’n Vis ‘policy-makers’ Jan Claus & Bruno Vandevyvere, by Joris De Buysser

(Bonds Of Friendship #6; June 1992)

Vort'n Vis (B.O.F. #6) 1992

92-09-05&06 2 day festival VV

92-09 extra

Hardcore ’92… This could be considered as the first Ieperfest… The years before around half of September there had already been a few fests named Leed (the Vort’n Vis’ alternative to the city of Ieper’s mainstream Leet festival). The latter had a more punky/crusty feel to it. The Ieperfest tended to offer more straight-egde bands… It gradually moved towards a weekend around half of August. And eventually turned into a huge event (not unlike a lot of the commercial summer-festivals) outside of the Vort’n Vis premises.

Unfortunately (and that already was from the beginning), it turned out to be a market-place for big/commercial labels and distributions (local and others). I’ve never been able to see what the value of that was and I kept reacting against it…


The first weekend of September there was the double-day fesitival. It was supposed to be a promo-weekend for vegetarianism (there was 1! stall by GAIA, Global Action in the Interest of Animals) but it was more a promo-weekend for Warehouse recs (Edward’s pre Good Life label) and ‘Nations On Fire’ There was a music (record/CD/zine) -fair on Sunday but also on Saturday there was already a market goin’ on! Awful! I refused to set up my stall between Bernd (Lost & Found) Granz‘s table with bootlegs and other crappy collectioners’ items, and other money-greedy ‘distributors’. Sunday they were there too so I decided to show an alternative with really DIY stuff and fanzines (no-one else was selling any!). Saturday I talked and talked (hardly saw any of the bands – I already saw most of the SxE-bands here 2-5 times; ‘Abolition’ were great, and nice people!) to old friends, new friends and people from everywhere: UK, Germany, Holland, Canada, Portugal, etc. [Peter Hoeren (Crucual Response recs & Michael Müller, Armin Hofmann (X-Mist recs), Moses Arndt (Zap), Big (‘Man Lifting Banner”), David Dutriaux (‘Scraps’ & ‘N.O.F.’) & Belle, Dennis Niesing (‘Crisis Of Society’), Wil Van Straalen (WRF recs)]

Jaak, the drummer for ‘Nations On Fire’ (Vegan Society and GAIA militant) announced that this was a last show with the band for him. Apparently the ‘Positive / Powerful / Political’ slogan had become to empty for him and selling/collecting records (of some of the others in the band) was not fulfilling enough…

Quite some people didn’t want to come because they thought it was too militantly SxE. I thought it was too consumerist. Pity they didn’t show up, we could’ve offered some ‘counterbalance’…

Brob, personal communications Sep/Oct ‘92

More on the complete bill:

5 sep ’92: Ironside (UK), Strong Event (Ger), Blindfold (Bel), Shortsight (Bel), No More (Lux), Feeding The Fire (Nl), Spirit Of Youth (Bel)

6 sep ’92: Abolition (Ger), Nations On Fire (Bel), Strength Of The Will (Bel), Inner Circle (Ger), Agent 86 (USA), Punishment Park (Nor)

excerpts from the V.V. guestbook:

VV 92-09-06 - (book A) Stef Smits“Long time ago I saw so much uniformity”; Stef Smits, sociologist

VV 92-09-06 - (book A) Armin X-MistArmin Hofmann

VV 92-09-06 - (book A) Bernd L&FBernd Granz

VV 92-09-06 - (book A) Steffen Rosetour-promoter (‘Nations On Fire’ e.g.)

VV 92-09-06 - (book A) Anneke“Long time ago I slept so much!” ; Anneke Schuurman, Puffy zine

VV 92-09-06 - (book A) Corey AbolitionCorey von Villiez

VV 92-09-06 - (book A) Patrick, SwitzPatrick Kolb ???

Bird of Passage

Posted: September 15, 2012 in History
Tags: , , ,

There I stood on the left hand side of the stage, as a member of a Hardcore band named ‘Rothead’, for what was to be our first gig. I held a bass-guitar that wasn’t mine (hell, even the plectrum wasn’t mine), and I was flanked to the right by David on drums, Peter on guitar and my friend Bruno, himself caught up in a life and death struggle with the microphone. I had never played a bass-guitar prior to ‘Rothead’ (or any other musical instrument) but a few ramshackle rehearsals in the dingy room at the back of the Vort’n Vis were supposed to have prepared us for our debut. To make matters worse, a few girls from the girls’ high-school neighboring Bruno’s and mine sauntered in, only to make the DIY (do-it-yourself) principle well up under my armpits, in beads of sweat soiling my carefully chosen ‘Spermbirds’ T-shirt. And boy was I happy to get off stage once we had played through our oeuvre consisting of maybe three, four or five songs, some of which I think we played twice – playing (in my case) meant the execution of a series of finger-movements I had learned by heart, three times here, four times there, three times here again.

I believe (it’s been a while, hasn’t it?) Bruno and I were friends before he eventually became the catalyst for my conversion into a member of Ieper’s Hardcore scene, and so it seems only fitting that long after Hardcore has disappeared from my life, I’m friends with Bruno still. We shared the same high-school, a passion for soccer and a taste for Poperinge’s nightlife (Poperinge being a small city a stone’s throw away from Ieper and its legendary Hardcore venue, the Vort’n Vis, whose inception we were both involved in).

You were either ‘in’ or ‘out’ and although I was certainly ‘in’ for a while, in hindsight my brush with Hardcore was both short-lived and limited. It all happened in ‘89 and ‘90, while being in 5th and 6th grade, but petered out quickly from ‘91 onward, when I had become a chemistry-student at Ghent’s University. I never owned the obligate (and preferably obscure) Japanese or Finnish Hardcore EPs, I never wore the crust uniform but if my recollection is correct, I played two gigs with ‘Rothead’ (in total) and acted as the organizer for three multi-band concerts (to be precise) – all this in addition of course to countless visits to Hardcore gigs. In my memory most of these were held in winter (rime covering the naked fields of the Westhoek); there was always the issue of how to get somewhere and to make sure not to have to hitchhike back at 4 a.m. in the dark cold night, but excitement was a guarantee, as was the meeting up with friends who could be counted on to be there, the sudden and repeated crystallization of a scene from individual lives. I remember ‘The Ex’ in Diksmuide, ‘Gorilla Biscuits’ in Kortrijk, ‘Bad Religion’ in Amsterdam, but above all the gigs at home-base the Vort’n Vis, with local bands, the great ‘Chronic Disease’ from Brugge or ‘Scraps’ from Lille, just across the French-Belgian border.

Perhaps I need to tease apart my dalliance with Hardcore from my involvement with the Vort’n Vis, because even though the two are one and the same thing for most people, for me they were not. Hardcore clearly was music but also an ideology, and I never understood the strange tension that existed perennially between these two poles. Guys just in it for the music (rabid record-collectors) were bad because they were too far on the music side. But Straight Edge was bad too because they were too far on the ideology side; and so on – ad infinitum. In contrast, the Vort’n Vis (and its inception) was a refreshing experience, as what the venture lacked in ideology, it made up for in fun, the fun to open and run a wrong café in a right place, or a right café in a wrong place. I must make a special reference here to the good soul Johan D., who borrowed (he wasn’t the only one) his vinyl records to the Vort’n Vis, where they suffered from unspeakable abuse in the grit of long smoky nights. His records constituted a colorful mix (and allowed me to see for the first time the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland) so that music-wise too, the Vort’n Vis was a little more airy than the Hardcore scene. I’m not even talking about the variety of people potentially walking through the Vort’n Vis’s door on a Saturday night. Motor Club ‘MC The Kings’ comes to mind (a motley heavy-metal crew on mopeds), hence also why it was wise to run the café with two, which is what I did for quite a while, every other Friday, together with the aforementioned Peter.

Circling back to the ideology part of Hardcore once more: one component of the Hardcore ideology that always puzzled me was the idea that multinationals were bad by definition, simply because of them being multi-national. One example of a target having to endure this type of over-simplified hostility was Coca-Cola, a peddler of sugared drinks. (Although I’m sure there’s someone out there who could easily whip up a list of all Coca-Cola’s heinous crimes.) [Brob: People could try and track down the booklet ‘Dirty Fingers in Dirty Pies’, which was distributed in the punk-scene in that era, to get an idea…] It’s important to be mindful here that we were still prior the widespread usage of e-mail, internet and cell-phones (let alone social media) back then. If anything, the tendency in all areas of life has been toward more globalization since. I had the good fortune of having worked for two multinationals in the meantime – good fortune because as an individual I was in both cases treated very well. When I left the last multinational I worked for (to become a stay-at-home dad), they were in the process of settling a healthcare fraud case for 3 billion dollar (after having plead guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges), while at the same time achieving significant milestones toward the free distribution of a malaria-vaccine in Africa. If multinationals are to be bad, it can only be because the people in them are bad and I’m not willing to go that far. There were assholes in Hardcore too.

A component of the Hardcore ideology that did pass the test of time is vegetarianism/veganism, the societal importance of which has only grown in the past decades, among other because of global warming (another novelty!) and ecological pressures.

However, what stands out the most in hindsight (we’re 20 years later now) are the great people I met during those few years (and not ideologies): Bruno, Peter, Johan D. (all three mentioned earlier), Brob (whose lanky silhouette adorned the back wall of many a concert-hall) [Brob: I think Klaas refers to the distro-stalls I used to put up…] and of course Jan C. as well, who not so long ago graciously (in name of the Vort’n Vis) repaid me the 600 euro that another Vort’n Vis co-worker (an ass named Titus who went on to buy a moped with the money) had stolen from the cash-register during one of the gigs I had organized. As I was a teenager spending my last years in recomposed (decomposed) family-units, they provided me with a home away from home, or a home away from many homes, before I finally left for university and learned to build a home within myself (however corny that sounds). I was a bird of passage and the Vort’n Vis / Hardcore scene was my temporary resting-place. (And a place of great times.)

Klaas Hardeman (; Ghent, Belgium, Sep. 14, 2012

Vort’n Vis genesis

Posted: July 5, 2012 in History
Tags: , ,

Sure I can tell something of the starting-days of the Vort’n Vis, I’m one of the co-founders. I originated from a combination of a few things:

* ‘Just Something’, my puberty punk-band of that time: with Patrick Cherchy (bass & vocals), Patrick Calliauw (guitar), myself (guitar & vocals) and my brother David (drums),

* Jan Claus who was playing (with Patrick Calliauw) in the ‘Modern Underdogs’,

* and a few characters in the margin (sort of fans), can ’t name them all…

We were all regulars at the café [pub] San-Marco, the youth-centre (JOC) and café Den Bolhoed; the local alternative places of the Ieper centre during those days (ca. 1985)… We were looking for a new rehearsal-room, the former one (which I had managed to get by flirting with the daughter of the baron of Ieper) was converted into a war-museum (which it still is)… Through my dad, Jan Claus got in contact with the brewer who owned the café The Biker. That was closed and after negotiations with the OCMW [social welfare centre] and such, we were allowed to rent the place; the upstairs floor was still inhabited by some poor guy… Pretty soon it became clear that our new “rehearsal-space” was gonna become a café and a party-place.

In the beginning we stuck together and organised in a rather free and anarchic way, which was great but had its consequences (cash-register being robbed, drug-(ab)use, violence, etc.) and after a while (which was to be expected) the pushing and shoving for power started, the biggest mouth often got his way. I never really got to have my say on a management-level but I totally chose for anarchy and the cooperation. Jan Claus wasn’t gonna let himself be pushed of the throne even though people often tried…

Nowadays rehearsals are not even allowed at the Vort’n Vis…oh irony of fate…because of the noise and such… And the local bands don’t even get a place on the hardcore festival…

I completely respect those with an other opinion but on that level the V.V. is as conformist as the local supermarket… Coca-cola sells better than a cheaper brand cola, end of story…

Oh well, no nagging…the V.V. is still there and we (punks, skins, hard-rockers, etc.) have proven that it is possible to get along and corporate on a fairly anarchic basis. On a musical level a lot of things passed by and happened, changed,… When I oversee things quickly, besides a fair number of dramas (suicide, overdose, murder, theft, rape, addiction, assault and battery, illness,…), a lot of ve-e-e-e-ery nice things have happened (marriage, birth, career in rock-business, nice parties,…) and a ‘scene’ evolved (with a positive impact and a ‘no nonsense just be good’ attitude…) around the V.V.

So the original intention of the de Vort’n Vis grew, in the courtyard of my parents’ house, discussing about a new rehearsal-shack (I hardly believed in it myself) but went wrong already after about 2 months. The real cooperation (aiming for rehearsal-spaces, a music-studio) principally failed. But what resulted from it was indeed the voice of the youth, and that was from the beginning the main reason for its genesis, the incentive and the cause of our existence…

That is how it was for me as a co-founder. As fellow party-goer and musician I have other experiences, feelings. In the end (and since the beginning), the Vort’n Vis is a great café…

Joeri Stubbe; musician/artist

Jan Claus

20 (+) years Vort’n Vis

Posted: November 16, 2011 in History
Tags: , ,

(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]