Pianofabriek in Saint-Gilles is a remarkable cultural space, which hosts plenty of activities from courses and workshops to concerts and meetings, everything in a mix of a warehouse garage with an awesome façade covered in musical notes. Complementary to the already existing and very rich cultural offer in Brussels, Pianofabriek is a Flemish alternative opened to individuals and groups supporting projects with innovative and creative character, focusing on neighborhood and its diversity from a metropolitan and international perspective. Janneke Pis Festival which took place on the Saint Patrick’s evening this year, was a project of the training assistant stage technicians who followed specializing courses there. Unfortunately, in my ignorance, I knew nothing of this before, being focused on getting there to attend the concert of one of the performing bands. Lucky, a very helpful volunteer, who saw me trying to take pictures during the gig, was kind enough to start a conversation with me and offered to tell me more about the place, the event and the band. The band was the only thing on the list that I knew something about.
It’s been 3 years since I first saw MASSIS opening for Soulfy in Het Depot on 9 March 2014. And they have become one of those bands that I would gladly see live each time they perform, if possible. Since then, they have kept themselves busy on the even busiest music scene of Belgium, with concerts all over the place, from Leuven to Gent, releasing an album and working on new songs. Their line-up changed a bit and has been enhanced with new sounds, with new members that brought on the stage of Pianofabriek a MASSIS better than ever. But the stage had been also as good as it should have been for such a band. The location had one of best sounds ever and the merits should go to all the training technicians for making possible to keep everyone plugged-in to a very intense full hour of great music.
MASSIS played in what I understood to be the space for theater performances, which fit perfectly with their opening track, Dramatic Tune, followed by a few other new songs. It took them only until the end of the second song to bring the small venue and its audience in complete liveliness. One of the new tunes, Angst, needs to be specially mentioned as it sounds already like a pièce de résistance for their live sets, probably as big as No3, which is another good loud appealing song; it raised the energy levels bar quite high but MASSIS has enough songs to keep it that way throughout the concert. Songs which are quite sophisticated, fast and highly structured but MASSIS makes them seem easy to be played. But isn’t this exactly the thing that players with a great deal of experience do … make everything seems easy.
Reviewing my little notes taken during the gig, I noticed I instinctively wrote down one common phrase next to each and every of their older songs: ‘became more technical’. The awesome acoustics of the venue helped a lot in acknowledging this enhancement of their already powerful non-commercial sound. Thee Hangman (for which they have a video that you can watch here) sounded considerably enriched, ending in a complete a wall of noise. Push became an obvious example of one of those songs in which the entire band comes together for complete enthrallment. Purty Mouth Boy live gained layers and layers of sound, handing the rhythm over from one instrument to another at insane speed and skills. With Pé Reynders on guitar and Werner Sempels on electronic samples and sounds, the latest members to join Andy Heurckmans (guitar) Jo Reynders (drums) and Erwin Reynders (bass), MASSIS is in a very good place right now and hopefully the music scene will be blessed with a new album soon.
Three years ago, my first impression of MASSIS was that they are a great full of energy presence playing a high quality and very enjoyable noise rock. And first impression matters, they say. Today I would also add the substance I learned over these years and which I only intuited back then, namely that the enjoyable component mentioned above has depths and intensities which reverb each time in meaningful live experiences.
- Andy Heurckmans – Guitar
- Pé Reynders – Guitar
- Jo Reynders – Drums
- Erwin Reynders – Bass
- Werner Sempels – Keyboards&Samples
Purty Mouth Boy
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