Meakusma 2019:
Belgium, Bass & a bit of Ben



Danke? Merci?? Cheers??? I found myself constantly recycling these words of appreciation one September weekend last year. The reason is not because I’m linguistically gifted, but rather because I journeyed down to Meakusma in the East Belgian town of Eupen where a shift of the Belgian-German border post-WWII has meant that the language spoken around town is in fact German. That being said, the majority of festival goers I encountered happened to be of the French or Flemish speaking kind. It seemed the entire Belgian “underground” electronic music community had flocked to Eupen, making their way from the country’s more established cities to hear experimental music at its rawest. When a one way train ticket costs you €6.80 from anywhere in the country, it really is a no brainer.

Meakusma is a somewhat unorthodox summer festival in that all the stages bar one are in fact indoors. Here is where I would have had a moan were it not for the mediocre weather. As the proceedings got under way on Friday evening, I found myself discovering some extremely talented musicians. Ugne & Maria, a Lithuanian duo, kicked things off in one of the German named stages I can sadly neither pronounce nor remember. The overlaying of synths and live violin samples had me in awe, and was the first of several new experiences for me that weekend. I was sure to let them know of my praise of their performance while serving them at the bar the following day.

As the night went on, the conventional instruments got packed away and the kick drums came out to play. The main stage was curated by Ben UFO on the Friday. While the sheer number of acts playing simultaneously meant I couldn’t listen to as many as I would have liked, Ben played a seamless set as always. Though not that genre defying given the platform which Meakusma gives its artists to break down barriers and explore the unclassifiable, I’ll let him off on the basis that it was that flawless. In and amongst the list of bangers, he dropped Lurka’s rhythmically irresistable Stay Let’s Together (and what is my track of 2019) - a track so nice, you might as well play it twice. And considering the antics going on in the crowd, I’m going to say that they wholeheartedly agreed.

Saturday saw the introduction of the outdoor stage (again, we’re not going to waste your time with official stage names here) which brought and maintained fantastic, positive vibes all afternoon and evening. This area along with Dublab’s Sleepless Floor held in a loft covered in exotic plants, Turkish rugs and Moroccan carpets were the two most unique stages and offered intimate spaces which other festivals so often overlook. Artists from the previous night’s performances could be seen under the marquee mingling with the crowd and soaking up the atmosphere created by Tapes and 7FO. With 7FO on the guitar, Tapes really had some fun distorting, filtering, reverbing and god knows what else-ing the dub infused sounds at his disposal. No shock that he’s one of the first acts I rinsed when I got home.

On Sunday morning I woke up and went to church. Seriously. Saturday and Sunday took Meakusma away from the festival site and into the town of Eupen, borrowing a couple of their churches for the afternoon. After queueing up to get into the place of worship, I scurried down the centre aisle and only just managed to bag myself a place on the floor with my back leant against the end of the pew. Charlemagne Palestine, in a classic shit shirt (Mexican themed of course) climbed the staircase to where the monolithic church organ sat. He muttered some hymn-like sounds whilst holding what I reckon were two glasses of brandy, before putting everyone in a state of trance for the next half hour by means of the grand, antique organ. Trying to break through the applause, he repeatedly belted “The organ is the best synthesiser in the world!”. An intense yet enjoyable experience I had never witnessed before, and that’s probably the perfect way to sum up Meakusma festival 2019. From cassette-only sets to a ukelele, violin and drum trio (with many, MANY sequencers, turntables and synthesisers in between); Meakusma brings a whole heap of music to the table. I dare you to pull up a chair.