Werchter On The Honours Trail

Belgium’s Rock Werchter appears to have set out on its annual award-winning way by attracting 320,000 music fans across four days July 1-4.

In February in Holland Live Nation Belgium chief Herman Schueremans collected three Virtual Festival Awards to add to the various ILMC Arthurs his festival has won. This year’s gathering looks to have been another award-winning scorcher in more that one sense.

Temperatures touched 37C (99F) on the opening afternoon and stayed there apart from a 15-minute shower on Saturday.

As with the UK’s Glastonbury Festival the previous weekend, some fans suffered from heat exhaustion, although nobody was seriously ill. The counter-measures already in place to deal with blistering heat included handing out free sunscreen, increasing the number of free water points and the construction of a new shell-like building called The Shelter. It enables people to spend some time out of the sun during the day and doubles as a dance stage at night.

The space needed to construct it comes out of the extra 1.5 hectares that was created by re-configuring the site and moving the catering trucks’ parking to a nearby piece of ground.

Werchter’s international appeal was once again underlined by the fact a quarter of the audience came from outside Belgium and The Netherlands.

The musical highpoints included Pearl Jam being joined on stage by Them Crooked Vultures, an extended set from Green Day and a stunning stage performance from Pink. “She was the first artist in the history of the festival to bring her own crane,” Schueremans explained.

The other acts keeping Rock Werchter at the pinnacle of the European festival market included Muse, Jack Johnson, Florence & The Machine and The Temper Trap.