08/04/18 @ Absolutely Free Festival, Genk, Belgium (Sun Kil Moon)

edited August 2018 in Gig Reviews

Got the Eurostar from London on Saturday morning for this gig, riding off about 4 hours' sleep. Arrived in Brussels then got the train to Genk.

Genk is some sort of old mining town, and I end up speaking to a couple of guys, one of whom runs the hotel. He very kindly offers to drive me to the festival, but I'm hungry and so he takes me to a kebab van he knows, and yeah, it's a good kebab. He chainsmokes quite a bit and gives me lots of cigarettes. We shoot the shit about Belgian football, the World Cup, mining and Genk.

After a couple of hours he drops me down to the festival in his car, I thank him and head in. I've arrived at about 7, so I have a little while to wait. There are a few bands on, mostly pretty unremarkable. They had some sort of token system where you had to exchange your money to get beer. I drink quite a few Cristals, which one of the bar staff kindly informs me is made in Limburg, the region Genk is in. It's rather good.

Anyway, I meet a few people, mostly intrigued by my Mark Kozelek / John Dillinger t shirt. Somebody asks if the other guy is Josef Fritzl. So, I'm sat around and I see Mark walking around with Jim White, so I speak briefly to them and shake his hand, he's very polite. I get a bit flustered!

A couple of hours and more Cristals later it's time for Sun Kil Moon. As they're setting up I can see Mark going over some of the songs with Tony and Jim.

They open up with 'Daffodils', one of my recent favourites. It's really intense and builds to quite a racket by the end. Jim's drumming is fantastic. Then it's straight into 'The Black Butterfly', which again is quite brooding and dark.

Between songs, Mark goes into a bit about Ghent and Genk and how much he loves Belgium. He seems in a good mood. He announces 'This is My Town', and dismisses the crowd's cheers with, "you don't know that song!" It sounds lovely in this setup.

Then it's '666 Post', which again sounds great. This is the only track Mark doesn't pick up his Telecaster on. He picks up the guitar and starts playing a repeated single note, launching into 'The Possum'. It sounds so strident and powerful and it gradually builds and builds. After the first part drops out Mark, Tony and Ben do a sort of duelling guitars / piano thing like on the album, which sounds great. He changes some of the lyrics to 'I'm thankful for Genk...' etc.

He announces their final song, 'Dogs', which sounds absolutely ferocious and it's a fitting closer. He makes the band do the ending again, then announces, "Perfect ending!"

It was such a focused, intense, beautiful performance and made the effort of coming completely worth it.

Afterwards, I hang out with some Belgians, who are good fun. They recommend the Belgian band on after SKM, who they describe as like The Fall. They're not really anywhere near as good, but everyone's into it and I'm drunk so I go with it.

Then there's some DJ playing big indie tunes. I've run out of money so I go back to the hotel about 1am.

The next day, I have a walk around Genk, it's a nice little place. Now I'm on the train back to Brussels, going to check it out then go home.

Black Butterfly
This is My Town
666 Post
The Possum

Sun Kil Moon:
Mark Kozelek - vocals, guitar
Ben Boye - electric piano
Jim White - drums
Tony Sheer - guitar


  • Posts: 1,185

    Great review, thanks for taking the time.

  • edited August 2018 Posts: 433

    sounds really like you were having a really good time and mark apparently, too. from what I've gathered via personal experience and this site here is that Mark's festival gigs are pretty much hit or miss. I went to see him once in the Netherlands where he played an indoor festival and he ended up in a pretty pissed mood due to people noisily leaving the concert room. He ended up mostly just banging on a drum and shouting his songs along with a few insults towards the crowd and city itself.

    Great that he was in a good mood at a festival.

  • Posts: 963

    @gustavostillsnash Fantastic piece of writing

  • Posts: 56

    Frank O'Hara would be proud.

    Posts: 557

    Ahhh I remember my carefree festival days! Thanks for the review, nicely done!

  • Thanks for all the kind words. As you can tell, I did have a really good time.

    I saw him at a festival once before and he seemed on okay form, but this was miles better. There was a bit of chatter but mostly the audience were very attentive, going particularly wild for 'Dogs'.

    Roll on the October UK tour...

  • Posts: 219

    I had wanted to go, but the heat was killing me and Genk isn't that close for me. However, it sounded like a fine little festival for the price of three used batteries. It's also nice to hear that people exactly had listened to the music, which is usually not the case with festivals, especially the ones that are (almost) free.

    I can't wait to see Mark Kozelek in Londen en Amsterdam. I have just heard that he is also playing at Explore the North, which in a lovely church at a small festival in Leeuwarden. I'm going to buy tickets for that as well.

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