Wednesday, 1 December 2010


De Rots Rock Concern, the finest old music venue, bar, hostel, CD & T Shirt shop in Antwerp.

Why was I there? The answer is simple, at the invite of my good friends Kevin & Chris.

The Gnomes of Antwerp, we went with the Langford Crew (Langford is a small village somewhat north of Stevenage) to support two local bands who were playing at De Rots.
On Friday it was Cheezy and Z Helmitz and on Saturday, Sharp'shooter.

Thanks to Kev & Chris for a couple of the photo's in this blog.

We also went to sample some of the splendid Belgium beers, including the famous 'Bolleke'

So, firstly, the story.

The journey began, by coach, fairly early on the Friday morning, several people had already been 'In the pub' in time to sink a couple of breakfast beers before setting off, which, by some quirk of nature, they did manage to set off on time but had to take a detour to pick up Cheezies passport, but they still picked me up as planned!

The journey itself, a drive down to Ashford to catch 'Le Shuttle' to Calais and then on to Antwerp, was punctuated by frequent toilet and smoking stops which probably accounted for why it took something like 8 hours to get there!

Being on the coach with Cheezy and Z Helmitz, Sharps Hooters & the 'Langford crew' was somewhat akin to travelling in a mobile pub, lots of drink, loud music, loud but good natured banter, it was an experience in itself.

We even entered Antwerp illegaly as the coach took the cars only tunnel under the Schelde, however, we arrived at De Rots Rock Concern in plenty of time to unload the coach and for Cheezy & the boys to set up, they weren't playing until 8 so there was plenty of time for drinking as well.

Antwerp is a lovely city, there are so many places to see and so much to do (Apart from sample several of the 800 + splendid Belgium beers) but more of that later.

Friday night Cheezy and Z Helmitz played a storming set of the most unusual covers and good old Punk & Oi, the locals and the staff seemed to love it as much as we did and everyone had a splendid time, afterwards some of us chilled out in the Heavy / Black metal lounge before a late night pizza and then crashing out for the night at De Rots.

Cheezy and Z Helmitz in action.

Saturday morning started in a style that was to set the theme of the day, after a sensible coffee & croissant from the shop next door it was on to the Duvel for breakfast and then a quick trip with our bags to check into the hotel that would be home for the next two nights.

After checking in at the hotel a little group of us set off on a walking tour of Antwerp taking in the sights and sounds and cramming in as many of the 'Must visit' pubs and bars and slurping away through as many strong Belgium beers as our senses could take!
The Cathedral

The old City Square

We did fit in a splendid meal and made it back to De Rots in time for Sharps Hooters, who are, I must say, one of, if not the best, Prog & Hard rock covers band I've ever seen.

Sharp'shooters in full swing

De Rots was packed and they played for three hours non-stop going well past the 10:00pm live music 'curfew' in force in Antwerp's old city area, of course, there was still plenty of time to sample more fine beers as many places stay open until 3am.

Sunday started slightly (but not that much) more slowly than Saturday, this time we headed off in a slightly different direction to take in some more of the must see places and try yet more beers, one of the most charming and surreal places was the Cafe Beveren otherwise known as 'The Dancing Bar', average age of clientele 60+, one lovely old Wurlitzer Juke Box and a full sized fairground organ, it was so quirky and fun, one of those 'must do' experiences.

The Cafe Beveren

The castle on the banks of the Schelde

A very well laden barge

We ended up at The Amadeus Restaurant, famous for it's Ribs, once you finish your rack of ribs they bring you more, and more, and so on, coupled with good beer, nice wine, great company, it was another splendid experience but I was shattered after so much walking that I, & Chris, returned to the hotel for Country File, Antiques Road show and the Strictly Come Dancing results, how rock and roll is that?
We missed the Gay Bar and the several visits to De Rots in between other bars, I can't say I'm that sorry!

Monday morning, after checking out of the hotel, we had plenty of time to do yet more sightseeing, beer drinking and shopping but only after starting with a very civilised Hot Chocolate, Rum & Cream.

Just one of the many passing trams

At mid day the coach arrived and, between passing trams, we got it packed, and set off on time. The journey home was a little less noisy and far less alcoholic than on Friday, it was of course still great fun, would I do it again? Of course I would.

An now, why not enjoy beer or two before the poems?

There will be many more poems to come from this trip but for now, these three that follow, were all inspired by the De Rots experience.

The Old Child Catcher of Antwerp

Above the sound of rattling trams
And cars on cobbled streets
Inside De Rots Rock Concern
Play Cheezy and Z Helmitz
Cheezy berates the eager crowd
As they play loud punk and London Oi
We dance, we drink, we sing along
As a group of young Belgium metal-heads
Dance a conga by
But who’s that joining on the end?
A sinister drunker figure
Could it be?
Yes it could
It’s Kev the old child-catcher!

Crashing with the bands

Bodies sprawling
Drunken snoring
Clothes scattered
Silence shattered
Bright lights
Sleepless nights
Hung-over mornings
Tired yawnings
Music playing
Bodies swaying
Sweat smelling
People yelling
On tour
Once more
Just crashing with the bands.
And finally.
Sharp Shooting in De Rots

It’s Saturday night and De Rots is heaving
SharpsHooter are playing and hearing is believing
Without question the 10pm curfew is broken
The music turned down a notch just as a token
But the band plays on

Everyone is dancing, everyone is singing
Everyone is drinking, the place is really swinging

Happy mayhem somehow has a way of ensuing
When rock fans of all ages are happily pursuing
Drinking heavily and steadily into state like a trance
To a hard rock beat that just makes you wanna dance

Smithy ‘swallow dives’ from off of the stairs
Kev catches him on his shoulders up in the air
And proceeds to spin Smithy round and round
Then sets him down like a spinning top onto the ground
Where he scatters the punters like 9 pin skittles
Until at last he himself settles
In a heap on the floor
And the crowd shout out for more!

And the band played on
And the beer it flowed
And we just kept on going
Until we reached overload
So here’s to the next one
Before we hit the road
Here’s to the next one
Let’s hit the road.
So, until the next time, it's goodbye from me.


  1. It's only rock'n'roll but he likes it, likes it, yes he does...

  2. Cheers Chris, it was great fun, and brought back a lot of memories of the sort of stuff I used to do in my youth, but what the heck, age is in your head!

  3. Tears are making the key board all fuzzy. When I stop laughing I'm getting another beer.

    Its better than pictures for bringing back the memories.
    More more more.

  4. Thanks Kev, what a weekend it was, part 2 will follow very soon now that The Giggling Pizza has been penned!