Imagine my surprise when I returned to Brussels and received a text message at 10:30pm saying that that not only were we playing as an opening act for Congotronics vs Rockers, but that HOQUETS would be actively participating in four of the concerts that the ensemble had planned, and that rehearsals started at 9am the following morning.
So first off, a photo of the unlikely reality of the situation: our hoquets on the stage with the other instruments (even I think it is photoshopped !).
Shock soon waned and curiousity took over. What would the project be like and who were the musicians involved?
My investigation started with Mariam as she is the nearest on the stage. We encountered a puzzling heraldic symbol on the comforter that protects her steel drum. Three crowns with the monogram S-F. Many conjectures were made and I am not sure we reached a conclusion, the mystery remains.
I was quickly struck by how Baila tunes his xylophone, I think many of the rockers are (look at other posts)! It was nice to not be the only ones who leave wood shavings on the stage ! Normally due to the nature of our instruments, and the force with which we hit them, there is always a ‘snow of splinters’. Baila either saws off or chips away the wooden slats to change the tone. And his saw came in handy when one of my sticks broke and I needed to make a strait cut to ‘fix’ it.
Shortly after meeting Juana, we engaged in a “stage warming” ritual, where one wears gloves and jacket, and makes an assessment of what needs to be done.
Upon looking at the fire escape plan, we noted a striking resemblance to a “fortress of evil” that was presented in a very popular science fiction film, involving something called “The Force”.
I caught Vincent practicing scales on his fretless bass,
a general rehearsal where Matt and Mariam are singing then the stage with all the musicians except for “special guests”.
At the end of the evening we didn’t know how to open the door which caused for a funny photo opportunity, it soon came to our attention that we had to sneak out of the kitchen.
The next day was “opening night”
Here is a shot behind Visi and Mbiya, solid playing throughout the concert.
Another sneak photograph, of rehearsals in action.
Here is Deerhoof’s contribution “Super Duper Rescue Head” as seen from the front.
Rehearsal was over, it was now time for the evening to begin…
We found out that Hoquets opening slot was cancelled, so we set up shop in a gallery nearby, François and Maxime get ready to rock.
Then It was time to hit the stage ! Excitement builds ! We are just seconds away from entering on to the stage.
Here is the setlist with cryptic notes that hint at what should be done and when…
And here is a photo that was taken during the concert at le Cirque Royal.
Backstage, after the concert, Visi and Mbiya, started singing “Hey Hey Tchantchès!” and a wild encore started and we danced. Too busy to take a photo…
Finally a look at our hero Tchantchès, for whom we wrote our contribution to the project. He is a marionette.
I don’t think I can describe the joy of sharing the stage with musicians for whom I have very much respect and appreciation, look at the list of the folks involved! It is a pleasure to share again the stage with friends I have been lucky enough to work with before. And to share this experience with my bandmates.
I am looking forward to Couleur Café, Vieilles Charrues & Paléo. Very excited to see how the project progresses !