Kurt Overbergh, artistic director of the AB, is a daredevil. Tell us something we don’t know; I hear you saying. Allow me to give you a short explanation: in a world in which festivals all too often frivolously skirt around social themes, with BRDCST he has chosen to deal with them head on. Afrofuturism, opinionated women (in music), interculturality … You name it, he uses it as an invisible thread to carefully set AB’s indoor spring festival in motion. He has written an essay about the five-day music festival and what inspired him to challenge people ‘to put what they’re doing aside and look for the diamond’ and it’s sure to blow your socks off! Happy reading.

BRDCST: A FESTIVAL THAT WANTS TO BE ANYTHING BUT CASUAL

When Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ came out last year, the press in the West spoke mostly about the alleged infidelity of hubby Jay-Z. Just to be clear: what Shawn Carter does with his maverick member is of no interest to us. But African-American fans instantly understood what the album was all about. They understood that ‘Lemonade’ was an unadulterated ode to one of the social themes that has been close to their hearts in recent years: black consciousness. ‘Lemonade’ was brimming with layers, you really couldn’t ignore it. ‘Lemonade’ was an attractive package, but those who dug deeper discovered the diamond, what the album was really about.

The BRDCST programme initially appears to be an attractive (but well-considered) patchwork of artists clustered around musical themes like post classical, contemporary electronica, noise & drones or out there jazz. You immediately recognize resounding names like Run The Jewels, Forest Swords (who curate an entire evening) or Squarepusher’s live transformation into Shobaleader One. But music lovers who dig deep will also find something to suit, with artists like Carla dal Forno (Blackest Ever Black rules!), cellist Oliver Coates (check out: Radiohead’s ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’) or Parisian Treha Sektori who serves up wonderful dark ambient. Basically: a musical tasting at the tip of your tongue!

But those who dig really deep will notice multiple layers within BRDCST. It was a conscious choice to focus upon socially relevant themes like interculturality & afrofuturism and we intentionally endorse increased attention for musically contrary women, doing so without identifying these themes as such to the outside world. Let’s just call it the invisible thread running through BRDCST. So BRDCST consciously emphasizes interculturality and extends a hand to labels like Glitterbeat, Portugal’s Principé, and Sahel Sounds. Glitterbeat – a label that will be making the difference in 2017 – trashed the term ‘world music’ and raised the flag of Global Vibrant Sounds. Worldly sounds? Yes! But, most importantly: they must be innovative. Bargou 08 (from Tunisia  and with Brussellian musicians) and King Ayisoba will completely convince you. Principé coaxes the hottest kuduro into a mix of raw ghetto funk and techno, from the hand of young, black Portuguese Nidia Minaj.

We can all object to Donald Dumb’s (sic) female-unfriendly statements, but are then also obliged to embrace Inne Eysermans’  (Amatorski) call to offer even more (contrary) women a stage. Let’s bring it on: Les Filles De Illighadad (the latest discovery on Sahel Sounds) is a wonderful counterweight to the male-dominated Toeareg culture. The Icelandic post-punk of Kaelan Mikla sounds like a time warp to the early ‘80s. Then we blissfully dream away to Antwerpian-Sarajevan Casio-synth princess Miaux and the Broadcast (the band)-referencing sound of Vanishing Twin. Finally, avant-garde performance artist Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle) comes to present her strong opinion and her book ‘Art. Sex. Music.’.

With Killer Mike (Run The Jewels) and Moor Mother, BRDCST firmly supports afrofuturism. The term was first used in’93 by American culture critic Mark Dery in his essay ‘Black To The Future’ and the movement really seems to be gaining ground, in both literature and music. Thundercat, Shabaka Hutchings & Yussef Kamaal are also (fervent or not) supporters.

Look, festivals are still too anchored in the decades long domination of the Angelo Saxon maelstrom. With BRDCST, consciously opt for a (modestly) more intercultural approach.\

Look, festivals are too often still non-committal and lazily avoid socially relevant themes. What’s more: festivals were once completely shunned by society. Let’s be honest: that time is long gone. BRDCST consciously opts for social stratification. Especially at this moment in time.

And damn: it feels good!

Kurt Overbergh
Artistic Director AB

©2017 Ancienne Belgique