W Festival Belgium

“That was a belter, so was the Belgian beer…”


Department S played the W festival in Belgium last weekend, and what a hoot it was. It probably ranks as one of the most pleasurable gigs I’ve ever played; the hospitality was first class and the technical crew (who were all volunteers) were absolutely ‘on it’ in every respect.

We travelled over on the Eurotunnel train on the Friday so we’d be fresh and ready for the gig on Saturday afternoon so I booked a hotel for Eddie, Phil and myself in the lovely old town of Mons, about 45 minutes drive from the venue. I gave the nearby city of Lille a wide birth as it’s usually just full of Brit tourists which is never fun.

We arrived in good time, just early enough to saunter into the town for a beer or two. We hit on a bar on the town square and settled in to enjoy the ambience, talk shit and watch the world go by. The choice of beer was a bit confusing, they all seemed to be really strong, we couldn’t find one that was any less than around 8% but we thought that as we we’re essentially drinking halves, it didn’t matter.

We had a lovely chat, then moved on to another bar for some food, all the while, having more beer. I’m not sure how many we had, but by around 11 we were feeling tired and sloshed so decided to go back to the hotel which was when I found out that my legs weren’t working properly.

Walking back to the hotel with Ed navigating there is always a chance you could get lost, despite him using his phone to navigate, and this was no exception. We wandered around for ages in what seemed like an ever increasing circle with legs that weren’t working. Phil and I were in hysterics, absolutely pissing ourselves. At one point I was laughing so much, I couldn’t stand upright and had to hang on to Phil’s arm for support. Shortly after that, I thought it would be a good idea to rugby tackle Phil through a hedge into a garden. We ended up in a heap and I think we narrowly missed falling in some dog shit.

Despite being a bit sloshed, I took over the navigating with the help of Google maps and had us back at the hotel within 5 minutes. By this time we were hungry so decided to order pizza and more beer at the hotel, not a wise move.

I woke up in the morning with all the room lights on and my shoes off, so I had at least achieved something before I fell asleep! I threw up the remnants of last night’s pizza and went back to bed. Breakfast was hard work, I forced down a bit of egg, well, we had paid for it so I had to have something, then spent all morning nursing a hangover from hell. Thankfully Phil was driving.

We arrived at the venue for the festival nice and early. There was a dressing room reserved for us (Paul Young had three of them) and it was next to Katrina’s as in Katrina and the waves. The hospitality was laid on, some really top notch food, a nice outdoor lounge area and a free bar. Of course, as a professional, I didn’t drink before the show, but it was comforting to know it was there, not that I really fancied any more Belgian beer to be honest.

The show was great, we pulled in a good crowd into the tent and we gave it a blast, all too short for my liking. Afterwards, we chatted to some fans and retired back to the VIP area. I was too pooped to stay for the rest of the night so we hung around for a bit and decided to have a drink at our hotel in Kortrijk which by all accounts was very nice. Our drummer had been there for a couple of days and reported back it had a nice bar, swimming pool etc.

photo by Luc Luyten

The only problem was, when we went to check in, they had no knowledge of our booking (through the promoter) a few frantic phone calls later and it turns out, we were at the wrong hotel. For some reason we were booked into a hostel elsewhere.. a fucking hostel? as it happens it was ok and we all had our own room. It was late, I was tired, I didn’t care.

An easy trip back the next morning and that was that. A lot of effort to play one show but it was worth it. If you get a chance to do the W Fest next year, give it a go.

See you at the Byline festival this Saturday fuckers!

Pete x

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