With international players such as Tomorrowland and Pukkelpop to its name, Belgium is by now almost universally known for hosting some of the biggest-scale festivals in the world, regardless of its own moderate size. But it was Rock Werchter that first set the wheels in motion back in the late seventies, and four decades on is still one of Europe's most popular festivals.
Taking place in the town of Werchter near Leuven in the country's Flemish region, the festival has long used the term 'rock' loosely, inviting an eclectic mix of acts to its four stages. This year Muse, Florence + The Machine, Mumford & Sons, Greta Van Fleet and Tool top the bill, along with The Cure who return after that famous performance in 1981.
Not letting the size of the font determine the quality of act, however, we've put together a list of some of the other gems spanning a healthy variety of genres playing over the weekend who are not to be missed.
Listening to the records of Icelandic composer and pianist Ólafur Arnalds is something of a spiritually enriching experience, but can't compare to the immersive experience of witnessing him live. Known for his lush arrangements, astral light shows and dual 'ghost' pianos that twinkle and chime in response to his own compositions, Arnalds' late Thursday afternoon performance in The Barn is guaranteed to be an early highlight.
Though slowly gaining traction in the UK thanks in no small part to a great reception at this year's The Great Escape, over in Belgium these native post-punks are getting mainstream radio play. Expect, then, a mad turnout over on the Main Stage on Friday as they reel off their dark and energetic shoegaze-y hits.
Birmingham's Mahalia has had an underrated role in the UK neo-soul and alt-R&B scene for a few years now, but her latest string of singles, the unbelievably dreamy 'Grateful' and the life-affirming 'Do Not Disturb', demand much more attention. Just the right amount of emotion and energy for an afternoon performance on day four at KluB C.
All Them Witches
If it's a bit of bluesy and psychedelic stoner-rock you're after on Saturday afternoon then head to the Main Stage for Nashvilles's All Them Witches. Commanding the scuzzy and sassiest of riffs that pull a snarl on your face whether you like it or not, last year's ATW had a lot of slow-burners, so expect some well-needed changes in dynamic. This set is likely to step the day up a notch.
Though his comedic and vintage videos may make him look like your mum's guilty pleasure from the 80s, Sydney's Donny Benét is a staple of the contemporary post-disco scene. Simply put, it's hard not to enjoy his mix of walking bass-lines, tightly-locked Nile Rodgers-esque guitar riffs and dreamy chorus melodies. An unexpected but entirely welcome addition to The Slope on Saturday as the late afternoon sun begins to fall into the evening.