Weather Makes Chokri Chuckle

Pukkelpop Festival organizer Chokri Mahassine was happy to see the weather forecasters get it wrong as the rain stayed away from Kiewit-Hasselt and his Belgian event pulled 125,000 across three days.

It equaled the record set in 2004 and Mahassine’s team was particularly pleased with the 50,000 sellout crowd that showed on the third day, which had a main stage lineup including Placebo, Daft Punk, Arctic Monkeys, and HIM.

It’s a vast site and the crowd size and festival infrastructure are based on the very maximum numbers it’s likely to pull, so a sellout means Mahassine’s highest hopes were fulfilled.

Another no-show from Babyshambles didn’t smudge the picture when Pete Doherty took one of his last opportunities to cancel a European outdoor. He has to stop doing it now, if only because the season is all but over. He’s run out of festivals to miss.

It was Pukkelpop’s 21st, although it missed 1989 because the headliners pulled out with only six weeks to go.

Mahassine set it up in 1985 with Live Nation promoter Herman Schueremans, whose Rock Werchter is the only one above it in the Belgian festival pecking order.

Like Schueremans, Mahassine is a member of the Flemish parliament, and the name of the Sociaal, Progressief and Alternatief party he stands for might equally serve as a description of his festival.

Among the other acts being social, progressive and alternative at Kiewit-Hasselt August 17-19 were Radiohead, Daft Punk, Placebo, Keane, Massive Attack, Beck, Scissor Sisters, Gomez, Audioslave, and Arctic Monkeys.

– John Gammon